Recovery and "The Moth"

One of the best sentiments and explanations of recovery I ever found came from a TV show. 

That might be silly, but it was so profound to me that, at the time, I was brought to tears. And to this day, I still think about it often. Sometimes dissecting the depth of it. Sometimes just letting it drape over me without any real thought.

So, on second thought, I guess there isn't anything silly about that. Because that's what art does.

Anyhoo, it was an episode of Lost which (I've found) to be sort of a polarizing TV show. So, if you're on the "eh" end of the spectrum, hang with me here because it's worth it. I promise. :) A few days after they crashed on the island Charlie, drug addict, begins going through withdrawl. Previously, he had given his remaining stash to John Locke, telling Lock to keep it from him.

CHARLIE: You hear what I said? I want my drugs back! I need them!

LOCKE: Yet you gave them to me. Hmmm.

CHARLIE: And bloody well regret it. I’m sick, man. Can’t you see that?

LOCKE: I think you’re a lot stronger than you know, Charlie. And I’m gonna prove it to you... I’ll let you ask me for your drugs three times. And the third time...? I’m going to give them to you. Now. Just so we’re clear.

CHARLIE: Why-- Why are you doing this? To torture me? Just throw them away -- Get rid of ‘em and be done with it!

LOCKE: If I did that, you wouldn’t have a choice, Charlie.

Choice is an entirely different part of recovery I think, but that's something I'll have to muse over and write about later.

In summary, though, Charlie's withdrawl eventually worsens, and he comes back asking Locke to give him his drugs for the second time...

CHARLIE: I want my stash, Locke. I can’t stand... feeling like this.

LOCKE: Let me show you something... (Points out a cocoon on a tree trunk) What do you suppose is in this cocoon, Charlie?

CHARLIE: I dunno. Butterfly, I guess.

LOCKE: No. It’s much more beautiful than that. This is a moth cocoon. Ironic. Butterflies get all the attention. But moths? They spin silk. They’re stronger. Faster...

CHARLIE: Yeah. Wonderful. What’s the --

LOCKE: See this tiny hole? This moth’s almost ready to emerge. It’s in there right now, struggling, digging its way through the thick hide of the cocoon. Now I could help it, take my knife, gently widen the opening... And the moth would be free. But it’d be too weak to survive...

The struggle is nature’s way of strengthening it.


Now, there's an entire other conversation to have about the interaction between Locke and Charlie, what each of them are doing, how healthy/unhealthy it is for recovery, etc. But this post isn't about that. This post is about that little cocoon with the moth inside, fighting to get out and be free once and for all.

And that is the image I carry with me on my recovery. Most especially in the beginning when there were many relapses and sliding backwards and hatredfrustrationanger that now when I had decided I wanted to get better I still "wasn't".

But the struggle is part of recovery. Not just a "well, that's just how it goes and the way things work" part. But, I feel, a truly miraculous and necessary part. And, with the help of this two minutes, I was able to see that my struggles were actually aiding me. The sliding backwards, the relapses -- they were still moving me forward in my recovery because they were strengthening me in ways I needed to be. In self-understanding, in patience, in forgiveness, in determination, in conviction.

When you're in the mix of it, though, it definitely doesn't feel that way. Because that's what the eating disorder wants you to think -- that those moments mean you are weak. But, in actuality, it means you, and your recovery, are becoming an even greater force of nature. If I backslid again, I could remind myself that I have before, but that I was also able to right my ship. I had the strength to do that. Me. Myself. I had the choice and I kept choosing recovery. And a recovery with relapses and struggles, I think, might be stronger than one that is "perfect".

It’s frustrating for me –- I can't seem to find the words explain how I feel about it. I really wish I could, though. Because, now, that part of recovery -- that horrible, tortuous, hope shattering, drowning-in-guilt, "I can't even do this right" part -- strikes me at as something inexpressibly and achingly beautiful.

Because we can look at those moments and know we have been forged by fire.

("The Moth" script borrowed from: