34 years clean and sober today, one more day in the company of millions around the world who choose recovery one day at a time, one hour at a time, one breath at a time.
For the 41 years preceding recovery, I believed I was a social outcast. In my heart I was homeless even though I was sheltered by an intact family. I was very hurt, very angry, very much the victim. I acted out in ways that were controlling, dominating, and violent in thought, word and deed.
Compassionate people responded to my need for safety. They did not try to “fix” me. They provided the space for me to turn myself around, face the light within me so I could see the light within others. They walked their talk so I could walk in their footsteps. We collaborated.
A mind experiment from metanoia.org illustrates this concept:
- Imagine you are standing in a circle of people.
- In the center of the circle, there is a source of light.
- But rather than facing the center and the light, you are standing with your back to the light, facing outward.
- When you stand this way, facing away from the light, all you can see is your own shadow.
- You cannot see the light.
- You can only look into your shadow.
- You cannot see the others in the circle with you.
- From what you can see, you are disconnected and alone in the dark.
- Now imagine that you turn around to face the light that is in the center of the circle.
- When you turn toward the light, you no longer see only darkness.
- When you turn toward the light, your shadow is behind you.
- When you turn toward the light, you can now see the other people who are standing with you.
- You can see that the light is shining on everyone and that you are all connected in its radiance.
I am not blissed out. I am not happy, joyous and free all the time. I am sober, emotionally resilient, able to bounce back within hours from disappointments, challenges and shocks. There is a steady undercurrent of reality checks on my vulnerable, wandering thought process which comes from my heart.
I’ve learned to question all verbal authority, especially my own. I’ve learned to trust the things that are not said and cannot be said, or when they are said have multiple meanings, metaphors and poetic beauty. We all have a semantic of our own understanding, a unique meaning, a complete anarchy of translation of events into our next move. When I saw myself in my garden shovel, there was a soul-touching quality to that metaphor about the work that remains to be done.
My work today is to bring forth a diversity of more structures, more spaces, for my companions in this life to uncover, literally dig up, the light within us all, so we all can see it. My shovel is communication, the strength of collaboration and communion, the weakness of my walk that does not match my talk, and the courage to keep on moving, regardless. Before recovery, I thought I knew things, and that knowledge, having all the right answers, was important as well as impossible. Now I let go of knowing anything and enjoy the adventure of …. I’m at a loss for words here… ah! the adventure of being lost!