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