FaceBook reminded me that it's been 7 years since I published Shadows and Veins, the novel loosely based on the last few years of my addiction. Every so often, I receive a royalty deposit of $1.78 or thereabouts, which always brings a chuckle. I will never get rich from my writings. But, amount aside, those little royalties mean that someone, somewhere is reading my book (it's in the local library too). This is an absolute dream come true, a primary goal realized. As a kid, shivering underneath my grandmother's purple quilt at night, reading one adventure or another long after mom's call for "lights out!" I imagined that someday I, too, would write a book that would take the reader someplace that hadn't been before. It took many decades to have something to write about, and to develop the discipline to actually sit down and do it, but here we are, 7 years later.
Part of what the publishing reminder also means is that it was 7 years ago that my dear mother went on hospice care, which means in October, it will be 7 years since she passed. And oh, do I miss my mother. Less acutely than in those first few years, but I feel the empty space, nonetheless. I am a relater - long term connections are important to me and she was my longest and strongest.
My mother is gone, though her memory is in nearly all that I do, and I am beyond blessed with several long and strong relationships. A couple of weekends ago, we had dinner and watched a ball game at one of my oldest and dearest's house. As she and I huddled in the kitchen, talking while the guys cheered the home team on TV, we marveled at how many Saturday evenings we'd spent in various kitchens, talking about this and that - sometimes with raucous laughter, sometimes in conspiratorial whispers - and here we are now, coming up on 64 and 65 years old. We met at 18, and now she's a grandmother several times over, and I'm getting ready to retire. Crazy.
And crazy that I went dancing on Friday night with women I've known since grade school. Granted, it was a "happy hour" event (6-7:45pm - perfect!), but there we were, grooving to old R&B. Where we used to talk about curfews and boys, our conversations these days are more about Medicare and politics, but again - crazy.
Crazy in a good way. I definitely inherited my mom's attachment to stability, which means, like several of my friends, I live near the neighborhood I grew up in. I’ve shopped at the same grocery store for decades, and am coming up on 10 years at my employer. Several of my friends are movers, uprooting every so often to try out another part of the country and sometimes that appeals to me, but I know I'd eventually want to come home.
“To thine own self be true” is my theme for this year, which means knowing what that self is. It took time in recovery to understand that I crave stability, that I am practical, that I do best with structure, and that yes, I feel better if I make the bed each morning. My self-awareness was pretty low when I first got sober. At 31 it was all about “him,” whichever him(s) was in the picture at the moment. Bringing focus inside my own hoola-hoop, learning to listen to my gut, paying attention to my own particular HALT’s – are all part of the journey. With long term recovery, it would be disingenuous to claim that I don’t know who I am. What have I been doing all these years if not inventory, and sponsor talks and bouts of therapy; practicing the principles in all my affairs (with the emphasis on practice).
I am many things – a wife, a step-mom, a sister, a cousin, a friend. I am a supervisor, co-worker, a team member. I am a (slow) runner, a traveler, a reader, a lover of old Motown. And, I am a woman in long term addiction recovery – without that designation, none of the others would be possible.
Who are you, today, as a person in long-term recovery? Has how you would describe yourself changed over the years? If you were to apply "To thine own self be true" today, what would that mean?