I have both love and loathing for the following statement:
“I will always be there for you, no matter what.”
The second half of that sentence is what I wish to put under the microscope. Honing in on the use of this promise helped me understand myself and expectations from others. It also brought magnified help and clarity to a healing mind and strained relationships.
Take a moment and think back, how often have you knowingly made the statement “No matter what” or how often have you unknowingly made that same statement? I believe a vast majority of people have said it in their lifetime and mean it, while others say it for pure lip-service.
I love the saying “no matter what” because it has been said by those I love dearly. If it is not directly stated, I still know it through their actions. I love the saying because it carries comfort and is a type of binding soul-insurance between individuals when life gets bumpy. “No matter what” carries the power of assurance and re-assurance. Here is how I know this.
When I admitted myself to the hospital over three years ago after my last bender, I had to lay in the hospital bed and detox for twelve hours. I was unable to get there by myself, so my father took me. I was aware of what I requested when I called him early that morning; I needed help and finally hit the sickening low I needed to hit. I don’t remember the last drink I had that morning, I think it was around 5 a.m. By the time the ER doctors tested my blood alcohol level (BAC), I was a 0.43 BAC.
For those that know a little about BAC, I should have been dead; especially since I did this daily for at least seven years. For the better part of those seven years, I would drink myself blind and I unknowingly established a great system of mithridatism for alcohol; albeit no one was setting out to poison me. All jokes aside, I knew I was not dead but I certainly was not out of the woods.
Before too long the doctors came in to check my heart with an electrocardiogram; the test passed and the doctor said my heart was in good condition. When she said that to me, I very much internalized her statement and thought “No, my heart isn’t good. It’s broken and so am I.” A broken heart or not, the next thing for me to do was sit in the bed and detox to a safe level while being monitored. It was over that twelve hours that I was left alone with my own mind.
Being with your own mind in a situation like that can be torturous. The only thought I had was who would be there when I finally could pick myself up from this situation. Who would be there “no matter what?” I knew my dad would be; he stood there proving that fact. Soon my mom showed up to the ER room and in her supportive way did the same. I knew she hadn’t given up on me.
A couple of good friends text me and said they were there to help and would be there “no matter what.” The support that came from my parents and good friends made me cherish that statement even more. As I lay there I gave increased consideration to who I have said it to and if I could stand behind it as my parents and friends had so proven. My wife at the time and her family had reached a repulsed state by my addiction; their ability to stand by me “no matter what” was tested and I never saw or heard from them again in any substantial form.
It was painfully dreadful to know, that a promise of “in sickness and health, for better or worse” was seemingly interpreted by the other party as “in health and health, for better or better.” At least, that is how I interpreted the matter that long day. But I had to come up with my own conclusions. Due to the radio silence from my ex-wife and her family that said they would be there “no matter what”, I had to draw lines and theories to my own conclusions; not all of them were healthy. At that moment, I began to loathe the statement “No matter what.”
There is obviously more to that story (two sides) but on account of being respectful and avoiding the airing of dirty laundry, I will stop. I don’t want to come off angry or like I am still attached to that situation. I am simply reflecting and despite those events and past feelings, I have found emotional repair. After careful reconstruction, I am now married to my best friend and mother to my children. She gets me. She puts up with me and knows my program. She loves and supports me “no matter what.” How I love her and will always support her, no matter what!
Circling back to the ER, my father mentioned that something good will come out of all this, he is a positive fellow after all. For twelve hours I tried to convince myself that there was a positive outcome. In that situation, however, it seems like a life sentence of dread with no possibility of parole. My mother sat beautifully pensive and patient with me for some time; after a few hours, I realized my parents were there for the long haul. At the moment, it was hard for me to grasp and accept. Being a father I now understand the extent and measures that parents will go through for their children, no matter what.
While in rehab and working my program, I observed a lot of individuals that did not have supportive parents. Their childhoods were marred and fractured by the ones they invested the most trust; it genuinely broke my emotions to hear some of their stories. I am one of the lucky ones, a person with a mom and dad that succeeded in every way with raising their child. Despite what they saw as I lay in a hospital bed detoxing, they raised me right; I was there because of my choices and unchecked emotions, not any folly on their account.
By the end of the evening, I knew my parents and close friends were there “no matter what” and they have so been named my “no matter whats.” They are the true loved ones that operate on a different, even higher, plane than most. My “no matter whats” show up and always will.
You, the reader, may find “expected” individuals in your life to be no-shows. You may also find the “non-expected” to stick around. Pay attention to those that stay by your side and through your cataclysmic events; they are the ones that can help piece you back together while not enabling your poor behaviors. This, however, does not take away the hard work you must do yourself. In sum, you need a support system, I call them my “no matter whats.”
I would like to add a bit more to one of my previous posts titled “Letting the Train Wreck.” I mentioned the following when quoting the movie Batman Begins:
Why do we fall, sir?” is a quote taken from one of my favorite conversations in all of cinema. This question is asked by the Butler Alfred Pennyworth to a distraught Bruce Wayne/Batman towards the end of the film Batman Begins. This moment recaptures a previous conversation the two had earlier almost verbatim, however, circumstances had changed; the train had wrecked. After Bruce’s attention is summoned by the emotional recognition of what his butler said, Alfred answers his own question with “So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”
Bruce takes in the weight of what Alfred is saying and asks: “You still haven’t given up on me?” The loving butler simply, but emphatically, says “Never!”
This is an example, be it a cinematic example, of a “no matter what.” I find it to be a profound scene and it has always stayed with me for almost fifteen years.
I keep a close, endearing love to the statement “no matter what” because I have a deeper understanding of how it can be tested. It is important to live up to the promise made in the statement. I have often reflected about the twelve hours I sat in that bed detoxing and what became important to me. Knowing I wasn’t alone and having people there despite my self-destruction helped me to dust off and continue.
I know it is hard to love and trust someone who is in the midst of their addiction and heavy use. I have been on both ends of it and I will forever be indebted to those didn’t give up on me. That broken heart I mentioned earlier in the ER has since been healed by those that came through on the promise to always be there no matter what.