I bought a summer shirt at TJ Maxx. Risky move because half of the stripes are white and me wearing white is like drip painter Jackson Pollock with a blank canvas. I took the tags off and wore it for an hour in which a splatter found the front. I washed it according to the instructions which I’ve just recently decided would be a good life change. The spot came out. Then I threw it in the dryer with wet black stuff.
Yep, that happened.
My laziness flirts with insanity where I keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Before the shirt thing I washed lots of white undies with a never-washed bright pink polka-dot tablecloth.
I could say, “This always happens to me!” or “I can’t do laundry to save my life so what’s the use?” or “What an imbecilic dryer and stupid tablecloth!” or “I SHOULD have been able to combine those things! The world is not fair!” or the old standby, “I hate my life!” Clearly instead, I need to take some steps to follow the instructions, change it up, invest the time to do it right, forgive myself, accept, amend or remedy the consequences. Washing clothes seems to work for other people who adhere to a code of procedures and practices which, if followed, nearly ensure success. I’m just not willing to do that when I think that THIS TIME, colors and whites will respect each other’s boundaries.
You know, you would have thought that combining a big load of white underwear with a new pink tablecloth might have been my bottom. It wasn’t. I didn’t learn and I didn’t change — not enough to avoid more consequences of white fabric with black dye. I will next time. I will try again.
People in addiction have relapses. I understand that it’s not as simple as laundry mistakes, but they do. They might have put themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, they may have a trigger feeling and forget that they have a tool for that or choose not to use it. I knew the tag was there with the instructions but I didn’t use it. I know that when you throw something white in with black, there’s a very good chance it won’t go well. I did it anyway.
When people with addiction have relapses, it’s easy to say, “Treatment doesn’t work.” “They’ll never change. Give up on them.” “Let’s not invest in people with addiction because some of them need several treatment experiences. Clearly they aren’t getting it.” People with other diseases? * “So and so had another heart attack — that’s it – no more hospital visits for him. Treatment doesn’t work. He ate bacon again and I saw him drive through KFC. Bad decisions. Clearly, the treatment didn’t work.”
Upon admission to the hospital I’ve never heard a doctor say, “I absolutely guarantee that you will get well upon leaving here. We will treat you perfectly, you will understand it all, your medical professionals execute everything perfectly, for the perfect length of time, you will personally do everything we tell you to do perfectly after you understand it perfectly. Upon release – voila! You will not have a hiccup. If you do have a complication, we do not want to see you ever again. You have failed, we have failed and the treatment program has failed. You’re on your own.”
Treatment does work. People’s physical bodies start to adapt without substances and their minds get redirected to cope with life differently. Their spirits are freed to connect with God, respect themselves and serve others. They find communities of others with their common disease who live in the solution and not the problem. Does the person have to get on board? Yes. Does it happen on day one of treatment? Not usually, I am told. Do some people get out and drive through KFC, throw white clothes in with darks and do what they know hasn’t served them well in the past? Some do. Many try again if they didn’t get it the first or third time. Many succeed and live the life God has for them — 23 million of them in long-term recovery as I write this.
Sarah shouldn’t wash clothes. If she doesn’t get it now, she never will. In fact, no one should do laundry. Laundry doesn’t work.
*In 1956, the American Medical Association declared alcoholism a disease. I know, I didn’t like that word either for a while. I thought it gave my dad a free pass. I learned it’s not a free pass for bad behavior. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed.