Wednesday, July 3, 2024

People who would not mix...

 My long-term friend, the Tarot Card Lady (on Instagram and Facebook) noted in a recent post related to the daily card, that instead of tying self-image to what we do, try looking at what it is you (I) enjoy. What a concept, especially as related to the subtle shift from achieving and striving to simply be-ing. 

I thought about that while on a long walk, realizing that despite my internal protests, I am an athlete, a distance-walker (previously runner). The story I tell myself is that I'm not really an athlete because I'm so slow, or too this or not enough of that. And then I sit at my desk and look up at a wall of medals and photos of me at various events. Oh yeah, I guess I am an athlete. I'm also a writer, though again, the internal voice is around "not enough" - not good enough, not self-promoting enough, not productive enough, blah blah blah. OK Critical Self - just hush.

The question could be, not "What do you do?" but how do you inhabit your life? How do you show up for yourself or others? When I review my day, is the image of a flurry of activity, liked or tolerated, or maybe a "What did I do today?" Or, satisfaction with time spent alone, with friends, with family? I don't always have choices in how I spend my time, but most of the time I'm able to go with "want to" rather than "have to" or "should," which is definitely a gift of long-term recovery (and getting older!).

What matters to me these days is connection - talking and laughing with people I love, like the group of old school chums who get together monthly, or the cousins who meet for breakfast every other month, being intentional about staying connected after our mothers (the glue) are gone. This past week I invited myself to a small gathering of one of my home groups, with a visiting member in town. What a joy to sit across from each other in person, to share our passion for recovery, still lively all these years later. And then on Sunday, I got to hear an out-of-town speaker who my husband has raved about for years, and now I know why. For me, the program hits my heart via a mixture of laughter and tears, celebration and solemn acknowledgement of how fortunate we are to have made it out alive. 

Later on Sunday I drove to a local rural park for a Celebration of Life for a long-time member. I didn't stay long, as I didn't know anyone there, but felt it important to show up and give my respects to this person who'd been key to my early sobriety. About six months ahead of me, he had a broken leg when we first met, and was staying at his dad's house near me. I don't remember if I volunteered or was assigned to give him rides to the daily nooner, but I knew that he sure needed a meeting (ha ha and so did I). He shared wisdoms and insights that I still draw on today, like "If I only go to one meeting a week and miss it, that means I'm two weeks without a meeting." One day I told him how I sometimes missed the physical sensation of my drug of choice. As he explained it, that was a part of life we experienced that not many people do, but that it was over and now we got to focus on being sober. Made sense at the time, and got me through that day without picking up. On another occasion, on our way to the nooner, I stopped at the meth cook's place to drop off some things he'd left at my house - we were still kind of involved, but those early months of my recovery were rocky as he grappled with the change. Anyhow, on the front porch, he started to give me grief (I think he mentioned how I'd gained weight - well obviously, since I'd stopped methamphetamine and started eating). My pal Kelly, simply got out of the car, all 6 foot 4 of him, and said, "Is everything alright?" which sent my semi-significant other back into the house. Yes, everything was alright.  Yes it was, because I was letting go of one life and picking up another. Kelly was a biker, a drug addict, larger than life, who in these later years, played Santa for kids of women in treatment and gave new guys a place to stay. He definitely walked his talk.

We are normally people who would not mix - the biker, the social worker, the naturopath, the artist, the attorney, the librarian, the engineer, the hospitality staff...  Normally, maybe not, but what is "normal" anyway? Just the setting on a washing machine, according to a friend. There wasn't much "normal" about my life before recovery, but by the grace of the 12 Steps, I've been able to take my place in the human race. Being a productive member of society wasn't a particular goal of mine, but once here, it sure feels better than being part of the problem.

How do you inhabit your life today? How do you respond when asked, "What do you do?" How might you shift your response to who you are rather than what you do? What does community mean to you? How have you connected this past week?

Tomorrow is the 4th of July holiday here in the U.S. - something to celebrate for some, not so much for others. Whatever you do on this day off, stay safe.

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I've had some questions about how to purchase the NOW WHAT workbook. You need to go to the WEB VERSION of this blog page for the link on ordering. Please contact me at  or with questions. And a reminder that the workbook, 78 pages of discussion and processing questions, is available at the Portland Area Intergroup at 825 NE 20th. for you local folks.

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