"Yes, I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes. You'd know what a drag it is to see you. ~ Bob Dylan "Positively 4th Street"I've always loved this song by Bob Dylan. Filled with bile, anger and vinegar I have often wondered who he was writing to - not about, to! This was a salvo aimed directly at someone rather than a "fire for effect" composition. This person must have at some point seriously disappointed Dylan to the fullest extent!
Be carefully who you disenchant, especially when they are a master at turning a phrase!
No, this is not the message I wish to leave you.
This last verse of "Positively 4th Street" quoted above is one of those quintessential Rock lyrics along with Randy Newman's milk truck hauls the sunup ("Living Without You"), and Neil Young's sailing hardships through broken harbors ("Tell Me Why") along with countless Springsteen and Billy Joel verses.
I've known people who I've wished could "stand inside my shoes" if only to give them the experience of seeing themselves outside of their consciousness, to give them a mind opening out-of-body experience. These are the "negative energy" beings we have all encountered throughout our recovery journeys and have either jettisoned when possible or established boundaries by which we can maintain a relationship.
It is actually by standing outside of our own shoes and looking at ourselves objectively, lovingly and honestly that we can ever begin our own recovery. This follows the gut-wrenching acknowledgment of being defeated by the addiction of our loved ones.
We know this, and again, this is not the message I want to convey.
I'd like to turn Dylan's verse inside out a bit and, applying it to the relationship we have with our children who have brought us to recovery. Perhaps, to truly love our addicts while hating the addiction that brought them down there are certain things we need to know, certain things we need to own and believe.
Imagine if for just one time we could stand inside the shoes of our children who have succumbed to addiction. We would know and feel the misery and terror of what it is to be … them. To step inside their shoes we need to consciously trust that no child wakes up one day and declares, "I'm going to throw everything away and live my life for an addiction."
We need to know in our hearts and believe and own that addiction is a disease, not a character flaw or punishment. We must allow ourselves the gift of accepting addiction as an affliction as random and devastating as childhood leukemia. Standing inside our children's shoes, we can feel the conflict of the highs and euphorias brought by self medication and lives chosen but never wished for.
We've all seen this. We've all seen this in those quiet times when our children attempt to reach out, but cannot, attempt to escape, but cannot. There are those lucid moments when The Addiction might lose its hold for a moment and our children may express that longing for days past before hope and accomplishment were replaced by addiction's call.
What a drag it is to be our our children.
Now we can see this, we can feel this. It is sad, yes, simply feel this, don't attempt to fix or own this feeling. In that overarching universe of despair we encounter while in our children's shoes we can also discern a faint glimmer of hope for little victories to come, a chance for our children to pull themselves out of their mire.
How many times have we heard our children say, "I was really good at …," or, "I know this isn't the way I want to …," or, "I'm gonna do … ," or, "I think I'd like to be a … ."
For some of us, standing inside our children's shoes may be our first move toward openly and honestly loving our children while being just fine with hating The Addiction. It is a mindset change and a heart tenderizer paving the way to the continuation of our recover journeys.
These shoes are not comfortable. There is a reason for this. We can put them on when we are ready, we can feel the sorrow, slip them off and give them back. We can breathe and let go of the pain that is not ours to hold and move on with a new-found love for our children in our hearts and souls.
"Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked in his moccasins." ~ Sioux Indian Prayer