Is just “being tired” good enough?
I mean, is being tired a good enough reason to quit doing that thing that you never should have started? Is it okay to simply say I want to stop harming myself in a variety of ways?
Is it a good enough reason to start doing the right thing? Is it okay to say I want to make healthy choices now?
Just because I’m tired?
12 Step groups have a saying: “I got sick and tired of being sick and tired.” But is being tired a legitimately good reason to make changes in one’s life?
Being tired means a lot of things.
It means I am worn out. It means I have been trying to do this on my own. It means I am ashamed of what I have done. It means I am afraid of consequences both current and ongoing. It means I am ready to give up. I am finally ready to admit I need some help.
Maintaining a life of addiction is exhausting. Continuing to live a life of hypocrisy takes a ton of energy. There is so much planning and plotting that needs to take place. There are so many stories that need to be developed. There is checking and re-checking to make sure the same lies are being told. There is constant paranoia of everything that is so thinly held together finally falling apart.
And then there is the guilt. Guilt at damaging one’s own physical and spiritual body. Guilt at damaging our family relationships, work relationships, friend relationships. Guilt at letting people down. Guilt at feeling so guilty that the only way we can get over it is to take more of the drug that led us to feel guilty in the first place.
All of it is so overwhelmingly exhausting.
But I still ask: is that enough to start making changes? Shouldn’t there be some sort of light bulb idea, a moment of clarity, an urge of a convicted conscience to do the right thing?
I don’t know. Maybe.
What I do know is this: I just wanted to stop.
Addicts in early recovery are tired people. Their bodies are going through withdrawal. Their routines have been altered. They are starting to pick up the pieces and mend that which was broken. Some people in early recovery have difficulty sleeping because their drug of choice was a depressant. Their bodies don’t know how to go to sleep without it. Some people in early recovery do nothing but sleep because they are so depressed and filled with fear they do not know what else to do.
Addicts in early recovery are not looking to be coddled. Or to be seen as a victim. Or to be pitied. But they would love to not be tired anymore.
And that is why being tired is a good enough reason to start making changes. Because on some days in early recovery, I didn’t want to not drink. I wanted to not be tired.
I was appreciative in those early days of recovery when people simply said, “Good to see you,” and meant it. Because I hated answering “How are you?” But I was grateful for those people who were genuinely glad to see me. I was grateful for the numerous people who babysat my children so that I could go to a meeting. Or spend time alone with my spouse.
I was grateful for those people who supported and encouraged me because I was too tired to do anything on my own anymore.
For those of you who are not addicts but are in relationship with people who are, please remember this: you do not need to fix them. Indeed, you cannot. Please also remember that addicts are not always bad people. They are often good people mired in a struggle that they want badly to overcome.
But here is what you can do: help them rest. Sit with them. Work with them. Worship with them. Go to movies with them. Eat meals with them. Babysit for them. Find even more creative ways you can help them rest.
Because sometimes, they are just really tired.