If It Had Never Happened
(original post February 1, 2014)
  
At various times since I have healed, I have tried to “predict” what my life would now be like if I had not gone through benzo withdrawal. I know for a certainty that, if I had not gone immediately into benzo tolerance withdrawal (and also PAWS which is indistinguishable from benzo withdrawal) after I took my last drink of alcohol, I would either be an extremely sick man now from alcoholism or I would be dead. The benzo tolerance withdrawal and PAWS were actually an answer to a prayer of desperation I made in the summer of 2009 to quit drinking. (That’s a whole ‘nother incredible story that has been told in other places.) When the intense symptoms of panic and terror hit the day after that last drink, I knew it was an answer to that prayer. Even when I got off my knees after making that prayer, I knew what would happen to me, but I had no idea at the time that the Klonopin would have to go as well as the booze….but I digress.
 
Today I got a really good glimpse of what I could very well be like if I had not weathered benzo withdrawal. A relative came over this morning to do some plumbing for us. Both he and his wife have always been the “fearful” type. Strangely, when I was in benzo withdrawal, they seemed like pillars of strength to me – which shows how full of terror I was during those two years. 
 
A month or so ago his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The plumber fell apart emotionally. He began having anxiety, headaches, and other symptoms – even a fever of unknown etiology. He spent eight days in the hospital while they attempted to diagnose him. They found nothing. He still gets the fever. I am almost certain that the fever and all the other symptoms are psychosomatic in origin.
 
Anyway, he and his wife are perfectionists to the extreme. Their house could easily be show-cased in Good Housekeeping magazine. He spent quite some time installing a faucet in our kitchen this morning. When he was finally finished, it leaked at the base – not because of his workmanship but because the faucet itself is defective. He was so extremely upset – almost to tears. I tried to make him feel better by saying that we can go to the plumbing shop and get their opinion or get a replacement or something next week. At least we still had running water. My wife was not upset either and tried to humor him.
 
His response took us by surprise. “How can you just laugh about something like this?” He was clearly irritated with our carefree attitude and good nature. He expected us to be upset also - like that was the proper way to react. It was as though this leaking faucet was going to initiate the apocalypse or worse. I wanted to say, “Man, it’s only a faucet. ”
 
But, I knew for certain that, prior to my benzo withdrawal experience, I would have reacted much worse than he was reacting. I would have been screaming and throwing tools. I would have literally taken a hammer to the faucet. That’s exactly how I was. I am not exaggerating. My family saw it many times over the years.
 
I also lived with a very high baseline of fear before withdrawal. I was constantly freaking out about the economy and was insistent on buying precious metals and stockpiling at least 12 months-worth of food in preparation for the global economic crash. I was not in control at all. I was very fearful and cynical.
 
Now not much of anything bothers me. I really fear nothing at all. I know when to attempt projects that I am capable of doing, and also importantly, that those projects can be done in any number of ways to get to the endpoint. There is no ”perfect” way to do anything. The cynicism is gone. If there is a more positive person around, I haven’t met him or her yet.
 
Had I not gone through withdrawal, I would be an even sicker man than I was from drinking and taking Klonopin (if not a dead man). I would still be a tool-throwing, angry perfectionist afraid to live life the way it was meant to be lived.
 
I have told my story to my plumber relative and his wife, but they don’t “get” the point of the story. They don’t see that there is a fear that is so extreme and intense that it makes all the typical things in life that we fear more amusing than a comedy show. They have no point of reference – no experience with pure fear and anguish. Like so many, they are so afraid of the “what ifs” of life that they miss the point of life.
 
I have observed two simple yet profound truths about others with respect to withdrawal: Others cannot understand the suffering of withdrawal. It often irritates them. They want us to be like them. Similarly, others cannot understand the peace and joy as we heal from withdrawal and become well. It often irritates them. They want themselves to be like us.            
Anyway, if not for benzo withdrawal, I would never have learned what life is all about and how it is meant to be lived…..and that it is a real joy to live it the right way and for the right reasons.
 
I know the journey is brutal at times, but the rewards are very, very great.