The Blind Will See…And Maybe Even Be Led
  (original post December 29, 2013)
This morning, as I was sipping my coffee and contemplating the day, I was thinking of writing Part 2 of a previous post later in the day. That plan has changed over the last four or five hours because of a couple conversations I have had with two different individuals since then.
When I went into church this morning, I recognized someone whom I haven’t seen in over three years – the guy who was pastor when I began my withdrawal journey in October 2009. It brought back many memories. The first one was a day in January 2010 when I went into his office and resigned as the treasurer of the church (which I had been for several years). I recall sitting there sobbing and apologizing for being too ill to continue in that position. A few weeks later found me suicidal and in the psych hospital under suicide watch.
The second memory was of an evening in the hospital when he came to visit me. He is one of those people who can’t even walk into a regular hospital without being extremely uneasy. For him to even set foot in a psych unit is nothing less than miraculous, but he came to see me anyway. I was very ill and mentally “cloudy” when he was there, but I remember thinking how hard it must have been for him. He could not understand what was wrong with me, but he knew “something” was very amiss with Don. It probably did scare him to think that this shaking, “out-of-it” mess sitting before him had replaced the stable, capable friend he once knew for no apparent reason. It sure had me terrified because I also was wondering where Don had gone.
The third memory was of the day he resigned from the church (out of nowhere). I had just gotten off the Klonopin in that same month and was very ill. I took his announcement very hard because my brain kept accusing me – lying to me that I was the reason for him leaving. Even worse, my brain told me that everyone else knew he was leaving because of me. Of course, it wasn’t true, but I felt like an outcast anyway. Every week he would ask me how I was doing – expecting me to be better. That was not going to be the case for another 14 months –after he was long gone.
When I was about 22 months off, I wrote him a long email explaining what I went through in withdrawal and that I was once again well (and had recently resumed the bookkeeping position at church). His reply was fairly short, but he was very happy to hear that I was well.
Today he thanked me for that email (from 18 months ago) and for letting him know how I was doing. I told him about the healing house (owned by the church) and explained that someone who is going through the same type of withdrawal that I endured is now living there. (He once lived there with his family. It is a vacant parsonage.) He thought that was pretty awesome.
Now that I am healed, he has a better understanding of what I went through – that it was withdrawal from benzos and not a case of me “going off the deep end.” He now “sees.”
The word that he used to describe my story is “powerful.” When I think of that word, I think of the nearly complete power our ailing, lying benzo brains have over us while we are in withdrawal. But the awesome part is that, as we heal more and more, the brain grudgingly relinquishes that power and gives it back to us. It has no choice. It may “kick and scream” for what seems like an eternity, but it has to give the power and control back to us.
That was a satisfying conversation for sure, but the second one was even more so. During my 2-year withdrawal, I somehow managed to go to church and at least be there in body (but not mentally). There is always a part of the service when we get up and greet each other usually with a handshake. I was so out of it that it was very difficult for me to do that. There is one guy who would often be affronted if you didn’t acknowledge his presence either in words or with a handshake. I’m sure that I mostly avoided him. He used to kind of “glare” at me, and I am sure he viewed me as a disgustingly weak man. After all, I felt as helpless as an infant for two years. He had absolutely no understanding of anxiety, panic, or depression. They were only signs of weakness to him.
Since I have gotten well, I have made it a point to say hello to him and shake his hand. He has attended the small group I lead a few times, but I believe he is turned off by my insistence on speaking of the love of the Creator (which I could talk about forever) rather than justice and judgment.
In the last few months, when I shake his hand, it’s almost as if he does not want to let go. I have sensed that he has wanted to speak with me, but he doesn’t know how to ask me to do so. He doesn’t know how to talk about his “feelings” – what makes him ”tick.” He knows that I do. He sees that I have something in me that he not only wants but desperately needs. He is very difficult to approach and, in many ways, kind of scary. I have been waiting these months for the “right time” to arrive to speak with him. That time arrived today.
After the service, I went into the restroom to wash some paint from my hands. As I was drying my hands, he came in and just stood silently. I asked him how his work is going. He basically lives to work. His family is very dysfunctional, and all of them seem to be unhappy. He is clueless about how to express his feelings – except rage – which he does at the drop of a hat. His childhood was the pits, and he has baggage that he does not know how to get past.  I spoke to him at some length about my withdrawal, illness, and how I view life. He knows something HUGE happened to me. The cowering, weak person from three years ago has been replaced by a happy, calm, positive and very strong man (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). Although my personality has remained the same (I’m a “Dreaming Idealist” – or INFP according to Myers Briggs), I am a completely changed person. He now sees that the apparently “weak man,” was, in reality, incredibly strong. Now it is obvious. His eyes have been opened.
Both of these men were “blind” with respect to what I was going through. The “sight” of others comes when we heal. Healing is undeniable. It is the proof.
It is amazing that, when others see what we have once we are well, they want it. They don’t know how to get it, but they want it. Even more amazing though is something else. It still floors me. When we are in withdrawal, many of us often have very “bad” feelings toward “normals” (those who haven’t endured withdrawal). “Despise” is not too strong a word really. In fact, we are afraid that, when we are well, we will still not like them and maybe set ourselves apart from them. I obsessed over that, and many who are still in withdrawal also do. I am finding that the fear of that “self-imposed separation” was unfounded.
The friend I talked with today clearly has severe emotional problems. I am finding that nearly everyone has similar problems. Many of us ended up on benzos and other psych drugs because we had similar sorts of problems. We went to the physician and got an expensive pass to hell on earth because of those drugs. If we had met one or more “healed ones” back then, we would not have had to go through that hell. Or we would have at least known where to go for help if we had not heeded their initial advice.
I am finding that what I have is so attractive to others that they are willing to listen to me and follow my advice. My friend agreed to meet and talk face-to-face. That by itself is a miracle. He sees a person in me who has had plenty of trouble and suffering and who “sees” his suffering. That’s one of the gifts of healing from withdrawal – a sort of “discernment” of suffering and pain in others as well as a confidence that we can help them – simply by taking the time to listen – to just “be there.” We recognize suffering because we have become “expert” in dealing with and surviving one of the most insidious forms of suffering. Even more, I find myself actually feeling sorry for others because I have something so wonderful, and most others are dealing with all kinds of life situations causing them stress, anxiety, depression, and so on. I have something akin to “immunity” to those things.    
We have an incredible gift (a rare gift) that can be used to help others – whether or not they ever took psych drugs. Our healing opens their eyes, and they will follow us because healing has given us something they don’t have, but they want it. They need it.