Reestablishing and Reconnecting
(original post November 4, 2013) 
As I have been continuing my post-withdrawal life, I am having more and more opportunities to reestablish relationships that ended in October 2009 when benzo tolerance withdrawal hit me broadside. Last year I did a great deal of hiking with two guys I used to work with until benzo withdrawal brought me down and I was forced to retire. I had ankle surgery this past August so we have been unable to do much of anything till today. I still have an air cast on and had to hobble around today, but the hike was not really the focus of the day.
I am finding that my relationship with my two friends is somehow more “enriched” than it was before I became ill in withdrawal. The “enrichment” goes both ways. They are grateful to have their friend back from wherever he was in withdrawal. They see a “better” me – a relaxed me – a person who “absorbs” life and is absorbed by life. I was never that way before withdrawal. They see a man who is spontaneous and finds goodness and humor in nearly everything. The cynical pessimist is gone. I am thankful for them and appreciate them in ways I never have. I am truly interested in what they have to say and their views on life. While on Klonopin, I tolerated their stories without really showing any interest because they bored me. I was interested in absolutely nothing. I was unable to care about anything or anyone – except my addictions.
Before we got to the hiking trail, we stopped by another friend’s home to visit. This was the first time I had seen him in several years. I had worked for him many years ago. We had always had a special bond at work because we were the technical “go to” guys that others came to for technical help. We were the “brain stormers” – the “outside the box” thinkers. It was extremely gratifying work. In withdrawal, he did email me a couple times, but I was essentially brain dead. I could barely add or subtract two numbers. I was virtually unable to even put enough words together to form a sentence in response to his messages. We literally lost touch with each other.
Today was so so different. I was “back.” He could see Don had returned from wherever he was for two years. I could see the joy in his eyes. I could feel the same joy inside myself. We recalled many different things we had experienced together, and we laughed heartily. I have no idea how I remembered so many things from so long ago. The brain is an incredible thing. I got to share everything that has happened to me in withdrawal, and I could see him pondering it and dissecting it in his own brain. He will be a great ally to have as I try to find ways to help others in the psych med withdrawal arena in days to come. We will be doing “outside the box” stuff together again. It was a great “reunion” – very poignant and “tender” in a strange sort of way.
I am finding that, as I continue with life’s journey, my withdrawal experience continues to enrich my life in very good ways. And somehow my presence enriches the lives of others –maybe because withdrawal transformed me into someone others find pleasure in being around. Maybe the joy I have in being “set free” from the prison of benzo withdrawal sets others free somehow. I don’t really know, but I like it.
The relationships I had before benzo w/d (even the very best ones) pale in comparison to the ones I have now – whether they are relationships that have been reestablished or they are brand new relationships. I appreciate them more, and that seems to “lead” others to appreciate them more as well.
Withdrawal has made me someone others like to be around. Who would have believed it?