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”. He finally figures out a way to construct a raft and use the wind and the tide to get him off the island. As he’s leaving the island, he looks back on the horrible place he’d been stranded on. But rather than joy about leaving, he’s filled with intense sadness. He was going away from the place he had called home for years 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 he found joy in the simple things in his life, like just being able to drive and 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 option open to return to using, so that I wasn’t saying goodbye forever. That also made it very difficult to completely give it up, and I always ended up relapsing and returning to alcohol/drugs. Once I did finally decide to really say goodbye to alcohol/drugs and my deserted island of using, sail into sobriety and leave that life behind, I was filled with sadness and emptiness. Even though I had isolated myself from everyone with my disastrous and catastrophic alcoholism and addiction, alcohol/drugs had become my friend and using had become my home. So there I was, losing my drug/alcohol friend, losing the life I was familiar with, losing my support system and my escape route. It felt like I was losing everything, even though I really had nothing. I could have given in and returned to using, but the desire to get my life back, that I had before alcoholism and addiction, became greater than the desire to remain where I was. 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 willing to ask for and accept rescue.
Once I reached out for help, allowed myself to be rescued, got sober, and got my life back, I found that I had a deep appreciation the small things, in the present moment. Especially vis a vis life on the deserted island of addiction and alcoholism 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, at that moment, not what I wished I would have or could have had, but what I did have. I was appreciative of the people in my life, happy to just be alive, in the here and now. I was delighted to be on the solid land of sobriety, with all the possibilities and freedom that came back with it.