In the movie “Castaway”, the main character is the sole survivor of a plane crash and ends up stranded on a deserted island, where he is the only other living thing on the island. He ends up creating a friend out of a volleyball that he names “Wilson”. It takes him over a year, but he finally figures out a way to construct a raft and use the wind and the tide to get him off the island. But as he’s leaving the island, he looks back on the horrible place he’d been stranded on. Rather than joy about leaving, he’s filled with intense sadness. He was going away from the place he had called home for such a long time and he was sad and distraught to leave that life behind. He could have easily given in to his sadness and returned to his island home. But his desire to get the life back, that he had before the plane crash, was greater than his desire to stay in the place he had become attached to. He also ends up losing Wilson, his fake friend, which was devastating to him. Once he was rescued and given his life back, he found that his past life and all the people had changed. But regardless of that, he learned he now had joy in the simple things in his life, like just being able to drive, and having appreciation for the small things he used to take for granted, like just having an ample supply of drinkable water.
When I first attempted sobriety, I was afraid to leave that life and completely close the door to the alcohol and drugs that I called ‘friend’. Somewhere in my mind, I always wanted to keep the escape hatch open for returning to using, so that I wasn’t saying goodbye forever. I kept looking back, which made it impossible for me to completely give it up, so I always ended up relapsing and returning to alcohol and drugs. Once I did finally decide to really say goodbye to my deserted island of alcohol and drugs, sail into sobriety and leave that life behind, I was filled with sadness and emptiness. My alcoholism and addiction had isolated myself from everyone, alcohol/drugs had become my pretend friend, and using had become my home. So there I was, saying goodbye to my drug/alcohol friend, leaving the using that made me feel safe, losing my alcohol/drug support system, and giving up my escape route. It felt like I was losing everything, even though I really had nothing left. I could have given in and returned to my ‘home’ , but the desire to get my life back, that I had before alcoholism and addiction, became greater than the desire to remain on my island of using. I think that was ultimately one of the main catalysts for my recovery. That, and I could no longer stand being stranded and alone on that miserable deserted island hell of alcoholism and addiction. So I was finally willing to put pride aside, ask for and accept rescue. Most importantly, to accept the help that was offered, not just on my terms, in my way and how I felt it should be, but in the way and on the terms of the people who were offering me rescue.
Once I reached out for help, allowed myself to be rescued, got sober, and got my life back, I felt that the people in my life had changed. In reality, the people were all still the same, but my outlook on life, and how I viewed everybody in my life, had changed. I found that I now had a deep appreciation for the small things in the present moment, especially vis a vis my life on the deserted island of addiction and alcoholism that I had left behind. There was no longer regret about leaving that life, no agonizing over what I had done in the past, and no worrying about the future. I was just happy for all the things I had in life, not what I wished I would have or could have had, but what I actually did have right now. I now appreciated all the people in my life, happy to just be alive, in the here and now. I set down all the weight of shame, blame, resentments and guilt I had been carrying around, and started walking. I was delighted to be on the solid land of sobriety, with the return of all the possibilities and freedoms I had lost, but which I now had back again.