Her name was Angie, we met in rehab in 2008, and I was awestruck by the tattoo below her belly button that read, “The Best Is Yet to Come.” Our backgrounds were similar; both daughters of physicians drifting through life–the hard way–with no distinct direction, just a whimsical spiral into the depths of addiction.
She was a heroin addict. I snorted pills, of any variety, as long as they kept me sedated 24/7. Life just wasn’t my jam, you see. I had visions of grandeur with no ability to execute, which is a heck of a dilemma for a frills and fancy-seeking addict.
“The Best Is Yet to Come” is not just a Sinatra song promising tasty plums from the tree of life and a ring-a-ding-ding future. It’s also a phrase commonly thrown around in recovery meetings, a cliché that seems to betray us when early experiences in sobriety don’t resemble that glamorous pipe dream we once envisioned for our lives.
Instead the pipe dream becomes a literal pipe, sans the dream. This is a common scenario when people grapple with the aftershocks of addiction, attempting to reconstruct the remnants of a shoddy existence.
Eventually, the clarity alarm rings and something within screams, “Help Me!” This is the real call to action. The white flag raises itself high and the message is clear–Man Down. We’re thus knocked to our knees, bruised and beaten. But eventually, with time and persistence, we’re back on our feet. Sanity propels us forward and the trek to freedom via recovery begins.
In early recovery, I would have never believed “The Best Is Yet to Come.” And then it came. Tenfold. Sometimes tattoos speak louder than words.
Eight years later, all that pain and suffering has made me wiser, stronger, and fierce as fuck. The pieces of my life, once fragmented and scattered (in various geographical and spiritual locations), have finally reassembled to form a majestic masterpiece beyond what even Michelangelo’s artistic genius was capable of conceiving.
You might wonder what my secret was? Simple: I got out of my own way.
It’s a strategy that might not seem all that profound, but the genius lies in the simplicity. Following that maxim was literally all it took for me to stay sober and for life to get better. And when I say better, I mean exponentially epic.
Nothing I could have ever imagined, dreamt, manifested, forced, coerced, or willed into existence could have ever matched my reality when I let go and allowed the universe to take over. True sanity is making a simple decision to let go of control and invite light in. Then repeat that decision all day, every day.
GETTING. OUT. OF. MY. OWN. WAY…. is the only way.
I’m a recovered addict. I want what I want when I want it, but what I reap doesn’t always match what I desire. No amount of strategizing will change that; in actuality, my striving and struggling tends to make things hellishly chaotic. So I’m left with two choices: (1) disaster or (2) do something different. After countless years of testing this theory, I support the latter: “Thy Will.” (Another great tattoo, I might add.)
Angie’s prophecy became a reality–who would ever have believed it? Certainly no one who came in contact with me during my active addiction. I was that miracle they talk about in AA meetings: a cross between a walking, breathing cliché and a savant poster child for recovery. All egos aside, I still do the work to this day. And on July 27, 2016, I celebrated four years of continuous sobriety.
I wonder what happened to Angie or if she even knew how much of an impact she made on my life. Even though we now may be worlds apart, we are one and the same: recovering addicts.
My message to her? Stay strong and stay positive, because you were right: The best is indeed yet to come. And when it does for you, Angie, if it hasn’t already, we’ll be united again in the realization of the promise that tattoo made all those years ago.