Man on Fire

When I first came into recovery and started to attend meetings and work the steps I quickly became accustomed to a common expression.

“On fire.”

For instance, veterans will reminisce those early recovery days when their “ass was on fire.” Essentially what it means is when addicts hit a bottom and they have become so desperate that they are willing to turn to something other than their drug – then they come running to a program like their rear-end is burning.

I like that. My ass was definitely on fire when I moved to Nashville searching for answers. Now, over a year later, I am still a man on fire but the flames of confusion and desperation have turned to slow-burning coals that melt away toxic thoughts and destructive actions.

The healing, albeit painful, fire gets hotter the more God breathes on it.

This past weekend I flew to Florida to attend the wedding of a dear friend. On the way I rented a car (well actually minivan because they were out of cars) and plugged my phone into a port to charge. This minivan was meant for me because right when I plugged it in to charge, it started to play the music on my phone! Pearl doesn’t have this feature so I wouldn’t have even thought to play my music from my phone during the drive. One of the first songs that played was a favorite of mine from a group called Bastille.

“Things We Lost in the Fire.”

In fact, oddly enough, this song played twice during my trip and the second time was after the actual wedding ceremony and that’s when it started making me think about something: grief.

I have mentioned in other blogs that grieving “what was” has been an extremely painful process and I find myself grieving the strangest things. The day I left for Florida I was at school going through my wallet trying to find a business card from a mechanic (Pearl is sick). I didn’t find the card but what I did find was a Starbucks coupon card. From Korea. In Korean. Emotions like sadness and loneliness hit me hard when I looked at that card and read the Korean slowly like a K-5 student reads. I had to grieve the many memories I shared in several Starbucks peppered throughout Korea. I had to grieve that many of the people that went to Starbucks with me are no longer in my life. I had to once again grieve leaving the country that became my home.

I know I have to do this – there is no other option. I know that if I don’t grieve then I medicate. If I medicate then my disease wins. So as painful as it is – as much as it sucks big time, I grieve.

I grieve the things that were lost in the fire of my disease.

As I sat on the beautiful white-sand beach taking in a wedding ceremony (the first since my recent divorce) I had to grieve. I felt a tremendous amount of happiness for my friend and gratefulness that I could be a part of it. But I also felt a ton of sadness. I was sad that my marriage is over. I was sad that the same beach that welcomed a newlywed couple enjoying their honeymoon 11 years earlier, only felt my footprints now. I was lonely when I realized that almost everyone in attendance were married and brought their kids along. My kids live halfway around the world so the only way to include them was to send videos so they could see what Daddy got to do over Labor Day.

I cried tears of joy for my friend and tears of grief – all at the same time. So I was reminded that day and I am reminded often that the coals of grief are still burning. They may very well burn for quite some time. It brings pain remembering the loss but it also brings healing. The growth occurring because of the destruction brought about by the flames are why it’s all worth it.

I did lose a lot in the fire.

But I am gaining so much by allowing God to keep the new fire burning…




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