Failure and Growth

February 4th, 2020

“I screwed up.”

I hate it when she says that.

I was driving the young woman back home after her workout session at the gym. Against my better judgment, I asked,”

“How so?”

“I relapsed on Thursday night.”

“How so?”

She was near tears. “I got high on dextromethorphan.”

“You got high on what?”

Dextromethorphan. It’s in cough medicine.”


“But I didn’t drink!”

Then she went on, “I’m trying to do the twelve-step thing and be honest! I don’t like this!”

It was quiet for a minute.

She asked, “Should I tell my mom?”

I replied, “You might want to wait on that. Call your sponsor, and ask her what to do. She would know who you should tell, and when.”

Then I added, “I’m not saying anything.”

The girl called her sponsor, and then told her mother what she told me. The response was surprisingly subdued.

Eventually, she also told her therapist and her parole officer. The PO didn’t seem terribly concerned. The therapist told the young woman to start going to weekly group therapy meetings, in addition to her weekly private therapy sessions. That sounds like a good idea, except for the fact that I have to get her to these sessions. The girl has no drivers license (four drunk driving convictions will do that), so I have to be her chauffeur.

She asked me, “Are you mad about this?”

I told her, “No.”

I’m not mad. I’m a bit frustrated perhaps, but I am glad that she fessed up to what she did, and that she is taking the necessary steps to avoid it happening again. That is a big step for her, and it is something new in my experience. I am not very worried about the relapse. Everybody relapses into bad habits at some point. It’s part of the human condition. We all fall down, and then we get up. We fall down again, and then get up again.

It is essential to look at the big picture. How is this young woman functioning overall, now that she has been out of prison for a month?

She is doing pretty well. She goes to twelve-step meetings every day. She works out at the gym every day. She calls her sponsor every day. She studies each day. She reaches out to friends, both new and old. It looks like she may have job in a couple weeks. She expects to be working as a barista at a new coffee shop in the local area. The owner is willing to display and sell the girl’s artwork.

The young woman is starting to draw and paint again. This is huge. She has always been a phenomenal artist. She has a gift for finding the best color, perspective, and proportion. She has an intuitive feel for how things should look. The girl’s emotions are visible in her work, sometimes in subtle ways. For years, she has avoided her pencils, pens, and brushes. Now her Muse has returned, and the images are beginning to flow.

Healing takes time, and it happens in its own way. There is both growth and failure. Maybe failure is just a necessary part of growth.







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