with Tabasco

Ralph and I sit on the bleachers and watch our children in the pool. My son is so tall and so thin but still has that baby face. To me, anyway. Despite the fact he wears his pants at near-waist, his swim trunks are always hanging exactly low enough that it is precisely just-barely decent enough for public attire. He doesn’t seem to mind a bit. He runs up and holds me close and gives me “a hug for safety”, his warm wet little otter-body a welcome grasp.

Our daughter is growing too. Tonight a friend asks, “Does Phoenix need new clothes?” Good god the answer is Yes, and I think I’ll be answering thusly a while. Watching her now her bathing suit looks fit to burst; I sewed it only a few months ago. She shakes the wet hair out of her eyes and smiles at me. She is a tender little sprig and I’m so fortunate to have her in my home.

My mom flies in from the Seattle airport and then drives home; she’s back from laying my Grandfather to rest and celebrating a mourning Thanksgiving with the extended family. Only a little over a week ago I heard news he was ill and now he is gone. My close friends are giving me the support and the consideration I need during this time. I am still considering the loss. I have so much to say about it now, but I do not know if now is the time.

I find myself with few elders, an estranged family, and painful memories.

Oysters on the half-shell in a restaurant. Reminders. My grandfather liked the oddest foods – amongst them I remember hardtack and hangtown fry. Hangtown fry! I am trying to think of something more odious but it is hard. Maybe I will make up a mess of it and do an offering, then feed my dog, who would surely be interested in the fragrant meal.

Tonight is a time for reflection. Trying not to think of the bank account for this evening. A few slim bills for groceries over the next ten days but I was able to pay all our other bills and for that I am grateful.

Black beans soaking on the counter and tomorrow will be another day.

better to travel well than to arrive

At times it is almost agonizing how lovely some of my readers and friends and family can be. At a certain point I can only say, simply, “thank you” – thank you to the people in my life, thank you to the Universe and the power that flows through me and every being on the planet – just; Thank You. There’s no way to give quid pro quo for what has been given me. Deepest, deepest gratitude. Humility. A joy in living. A real life to live.

I have received so much support from so many since I began disclosing my journey in Recovery. As pertains to this space, I wrote a brief post and received some wonderful email (and it’s still coming). I opened myself up, I gave myself in honesty, and in turn others have shared with me; supported me and stood by me.

My friends who aren’t in Recovery, who I’ve shared with over the past months – well, they’ve given me so much too. I was at a party the other night and every woman there was drinking a cocktail or a beer. And for a moment I felt a panic – not that I would drink, but precipitated by how alone I felt, no one would notice if I slipped off into the deep end. Just then my friend D. turned to me and said, “How are you doing? Does this bother you?” She looked right at me and she was calm and she cared. I answered her (truthfully) I was okay (no individual or circumstance can “sabotage” my sobriety), and I thanked her for asking – but the important lesson was:

I am not Alone. People do care. It is Unrequited Bullshyt that they don’t. I’m only as Alone if/as I segregate myself.

By the time I stopped drinking I’d become about as limited as I’d ever been. And yes, in an essential way hidden even from myself, I believed I was alone. I knew I was sick but didn’t now how, exactly. I didn’t think anyone could understand, nor help.

So anyway, I wanted to clear up a few things. Regarding my online journal, my sobriety, and my recovery, those in any 12 step program know it’s group policy not to share publicly what happens in the rooms. For myself, when not implicating or fucking about with others’ lives, I can still write and I will. Or as I wrote in an email response to one of my friends:

“I’ve always felt I owed it to my readers to be as honest as is possible and practical. I need to start talking openly about Recovery because it is such a big part of my life. I only hesitated for so long – well, primarily – because I can’t write the things I hear in the rooms (according to AA traditions) – this is also due to the fact locals read my blog and stories/people might be recognized. I’m sure that makes sense. I will be writing about myself and my recovery as long as I know it’s within the bounds of what’s appropriate! Not always easy to know.”

I’m treading with caution.

On the flip side of the coin, my problems were – and still are – physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional. The moment I admitted I was sick, the power of any social stigma became laughable to me. Still, I don’t owe a performance to anyone. Last night another dear reader wrote me, in part:

“I see from that [Ebert’s article] it’s enshrined in the practices of AA that ‘nobody has to speak.’ I am glad that you staked that claim for yourself in today’s post; it should be as true of the blogosphere as it is for that intimate room, and maybe even more so. Your blog is already a very, very generous document. Nobody should be going after any sliver of you that you’re not willing to give.”

What a lovely and supportive thing to say!

I dunno. When I started journaling publicly years ago I thought it would be fun – and exciting, and a way to vent, and a place to be honest about the things I was afraid to be honest about. I guess this is all still true. But other things have changed so much over the years. I’ve received so much support, so much love, so many Thank Yous, and my sense of Independence is near shattered. This so-called “generous document” you’re reading now developed a life of its own. I suppose I know I will write as long as I’m able; but I was foolish to think others wouldn’t read, and care, as much as they have. I’ve been on the planet long enough to know how wonderful people can be.

The world can be a painful place to live sometimes, and so many are living miserable deep down, hardened and diminished by Fear and Fear’s panicky manifestation Anger; eaten up alive even as they walk and breathe.

But we are not Alone. I just want to impress upon you that.

Back to regularly-scheduled programming tomorrow; I hope!

***

Today, a river (sorry, no pictures). One year ago, a lake:

Sunset

different names for the same thing

Today sucked. First? I was up all night – at least up to something marginally entertaining, watching the television show “Justified” on instant video. It was instantly deeply entertaining (Timothy Olyphant FTW), besides being more or less standard very dudely television fare (kiss kiss bang bang, ladies leave the room cuz menfolks is talkin). I eventually fell asleep and had a dream I made out with a local lawyer, non-related to any television viewing or any desire to make out with anyone besides my own actual man, and while the dream itself wasn’t the most unsavory I’ve had, it still to this moment leaves an ick-factor I haven’t entirely brushed off.

After I (eventually) staggered out of bed and washed up and opened blinds and brushed my teeth and got some laundry started, I dragged myself to the computer, cup of coffee in hand, to continue my day in a positive way – but, sadly, I was immediately exposed to something awful on the internet. And you know what? It doesn’t matter much what it was. It involved people I knew (and people I love), and ugly, soul-sucking behaviors, and apologism for the kind of social constructs I find most personally abhorrent, reprehensible, and hurtful. And I don’t know why, reading and doing the work and activism I do, I could stand to say I feel any sense of surprise to see such regressive and destructive attitudes and behaviors and why I haven’t just “evolved” (my mom’s phrase) into where I find these sorts of human behavior just kind of, shake-my-head funny. Or maybe sometimes I can – but not this morning. No, I sure didn’t.

I felt like shit the rest of the day, or most of it anyway. Depressed, overwhelmed, deeply sad. The timbre of the day’s experience felt like the rainy-and-dark depression that can overwhelm me seasonally, which I’d noted had been lifting lately. I took the best remedy I know, which was to go outside – in this case, a walk, joined by my children and later a couple girlfriends (who delivered excellent conversation). This helped, a bit. When Ralph got home he knew I was feeling bad and he did his best to take care of me, including dinner out. It helped. A bit.

Days like today I cannot imagine my life without my family. Yes, living without Ralph and the kids would be entirely different, I know that, enough it is silly to speculate on anything much. But while I have much to be grateful for, and a shared life with many passionate and incredible people who are supportive and loving and inspirational, there is something restorative about family life – and specifically my children – more constant than just about anything else. Even my daily and regular efforts in caring for them bring me to a mindfulness and in-the-moment experience that feels more Me than anything else – yes, even more than my beloved writing and sewing and my social interactions (in fact these three often distract me from my children, my husband, and my practice of mindfulness).

In the final analysis there is nothing that can take the place of the meaning and joy I find in the most simple things, plating up a ham sandwich and apple slices, or brushing hair and washing faces, or cuddling on the couch or simply bundling up and stepping outside for a walk while talking, the kids’ observations, their questions (which I feel honored to be trusted so implicitly with), their worldviews, their laughter. It’s rather confusing because people tend to frame joyful experiences with regard to grand or extravagant events, not those little things we have in our day, every day. As I get older and the more time I have with the children I feel an increasing experience of gratitude. It isn’t just that I like them, and love them, and find them my favorite people on the planet. It’s that I wonder how much passion would have passed me by had I not them in my life, and I feel grateful not to miss out on that passion.

A multi-part healing prescription: sunshine, exercise, friends, family, dinner out with my best friend and husband, and a bit of writing. Yes, I am feeling much better now – after all.