Wednesday, July 24, 2019

On Saturday, we held a “Cousin’s Reunion” at Wilshire Park in NE Portland, which I refer to as our ancestral homeland, given that four of us practically lived there on weekends during high school. That ground is steeped in memories – some good, some not so good, some foggy through the haze of cannabis, mescaline and cheap wine. If those trees could talk...  I often jog through the park on my morning run these days, remembering twirling on the merry-go-round after chugging from a stolen bottle of Spanada or Bali Hai in order to get drunk faster, sitting in a large circle passing a joint, and the shouts to “run!” when a police car climbed the curb (though they usually just told us to go home).

A sense of place figures strongly in who I am today. Years ago, when a friend and I visited Istanbul, I wondered at how it might shape a person to grow up in the midst of such antiquity. Here in the NW, the oldest things are trees, but I, too, am shaped by my surroundings – the soothing sound of rain on the roof, mossy sidewalks, spring flowering who’s intensity brings to mind a mild hallucinogen. My city has changed, with increased density, traffic, and long-time residents displaced to create trendy shopping districts, and it is home.

Like all of us, my sense of home and my sense of self have also been formed by people, more specifically, my people. We’ve grown into various and divergent ends of political spectrums and social theories, but we share solid parenting, childhood capers and a dry sense of humor. We don’t see each other much anymore, with our matriarchs gone, living in different places, and the general busyness of later adulthood, so our relationships can feel tenuous, yet timeless with the deep knowing of shared histories. Life moves on, and, I appreciate this opportunity to reconnect in person with the sweetness of the “how are you’s?” that we really do want to know. I am reminded that we are there for each other should the need arise. 

Kind of like in our meetings. I’ve seen our recovery community come together to help people move (sometimes suddenly), prepare for a new baby, walk through a divorce, attend funerals as support. We are “people who normally would not mix,” and we show up for each other.

I chose not to attend my high school’s all-year’s gathering the day after our family reunion, needing to show up for myself. I needed a dose of solitary self-care after 24 hours of intense interaction time. I can only do so much “conversating” before hitting the reset button. In the not-so-distant past, I was addicted to more, to not missing anything, so would push myself beyond healthy limits. No longer. Recognizing my need for down time has been one of the benefits of the self-examination we get to do in our inventory process. I’m cranky – what’s going on? No, it’s not your responsibility. Perhaps I am hungry, angry, lonely or tired? Or maybe it’s that I’ve been over-eating, or need some alone time. The HALTS evolve just as I do. I can feel just as uncomfortable in my skin from eating unhealthy food as being hungry, from being “over-peopled” to feeling lonely. And “tired” takes many forms – physical, emotional and spiritual.

What are the manifestations of your HALTs these days? Any changes or additions to the basics?

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