Month: February 2014
This season has been marked both by breathing easy and slumps of disappointing anticipation. Even though life in recovery is so much clearer, I’m finding that I’m still impatient for the outcome…and that I still plan for the outcome to be what I want. Thus the ebb and flow of ease chased by discontent, clarity clouded by entitlement.
But, as with everything, I’m learning from this exhausting pattern. Thanks to some new-found grace, I’m willing to look more objectively at myself and how I got here. Not only do I feel informed, I find less need to keep protective hands up. Like the slumps aren’t as scary, don’t trip me as long, have merit despite the pain.
Of course, I still am surprised when, life feeling more or less effortless, all of a sudden I’m hit head-on with major frustration. Makes sense. Being startled is…well, startling. But I can say I’m not getting whiplash every go, and I’m doing more maintenance work ahead of time, too.
A simple craft is a great way to be easy with myself, listen to what is important (typically my sanity over meeting some imposed expectation), and meet some basic need. My creative outlet this week? Simple counter top accessory rehab. I bought a new knife set but wanted to be able to utilize my old wooden knife stand. A little sanding, paint, and a few minutes time–I’ve got a cheap, fun, revamped kitchen necessity.
Recently, I was in a 12-Step meeting and heard something read from the Big Book of AA* as if hearing it for the first time, specifically the word “recovered.” The text reads, “We aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it…. So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness…. But why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.” (p. 132)
More than a year in my Anon recovery program, I do know it is about “progress not perfection.” So the words “we have recovered” are hard for me to swallow. As I sit with this text, I am understanding this line can refer to finding a solution to our pressing problems. Gaining enough stable ground/serenity that we are able to place our own oxygen masks on first so we can help another with hers. I try not to get hung up on semantics: recovering, recovered, recovery. I’m grateful for a solution, and I am recovering and exploring and trying and making mistakes and learning.
So, it’s not without some fun word play that my creative project for the week is recovered furniture! Personally, I enjoyed the old fabric but it wasn’t my husband’s idea of coordination! We’re both pleased with the end result, which now matches our bedroom color scheme.
Simple and satisfying!
* The Big Book of AA is used in most recovery programs (not exclusively AA/Al-Anon) as a main text. It’s available to read free online here.
Had you asked me last year what I felt about celebrating Valentine’s Day, I might have spewed curses and said I hoped everyone who opened a Valentine’s card got a paper cut. A really painful one, too. I might have said that.
It was a rough season for my husband and me. The presence of addiction in our 7 years of marriage was continuing to be revealed. Birthdays and Valentine’s always come in a clump for us, and in 2013, all I wanted to say on Valentine’s was, “No thank you.” And maybe “Fuck you.” OK, probably.
It has been a long, enduring season since. I still find myself losing my balance, one foot clumsily finding its way onto the roller coaster. But the time, vertigo and all, is sweeter today. Today, I can say “Happy Valentine’s” — no bitter sneer included.
Today, buying a gift for my husband isn’t where I am. But I am glad to give the gift of time and love through creativity. In honor of the loving recovery we, together, are making, this week’s project: A Home-Made Valentine for My Valentine Restored.
Materials: card stock (I used thin matte board covered in plain paper), awl, needle ‘n thread, fun paper, marker/pen, craft glue, bone folder, envelope to fit (NOTE: I pre-poked holes for sewing, this may not be necessary if just using card stock)
The Process in Pictures:
Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all.
Writing brings out the language of my spirit. It is one of the passions I let fall by the wayside as the busyness of life piled in, and I closed my eyes to it when I found myself at the crucible of disease and addiction. I have before and since discovered much healing in writing. It is in large part the reason I began this creative recovery project. I hoped writing would weave its way back to me gently.
As a gift of self-care, I enrolled in some brief, local writing workshops. I attended my second class this week. One particular portion of this writing class included time for open sharing of our work. The teacher made this a “safe place” by instructing us to offer others encouragement with “say back”–meaning we could comment only by saying back to the author words they had written, words that stood out to us. This was an incredibly satisfying and surprising way to hear what others retained and appreciated about my work. It brought to mind the safety of my 12-Step fellowship, where sharing is encouraged and no advice is given, no “cross-talk” allowed. As a sponsee and a sponsor, I am finding that simple “say back” is one of the most powerful aspects of hearing myself and others in recovery. You in your words, me in mine.
I’m flexing my young writing muscles. I have hopes and aspirations for this writing work, but my recovery self is placing a hand on my shoulder and reminding me to simply take the next right step, just one step. And I’m finding that my well of writing inspiration isn’t so dry. In fact, it is still and patiently waiting to be plumbed. One Day at a Time.
I’ll share a short poem I wrote in my class:
I Am From
I am from a porch, swing, cement steps, cold to touch. Inside is an out of tune piano with keys that feel heavy and broken. I am from the blackberry rows behind the house, and I am from the bees guarding those berries. I am from a cellar too dark to welcome and an upstairs bedroom that felt like sad memories and shattered hopes. I am from a big dining table with many chairs. Wide open woods that slope to a creek. I am from that damp, dark wood, no trail to find. Ferns and Lily of the Valley and wasps and birds. I am from the cool, slick stones under inches of water, icing my fingers as I touch moss and rock. I am from voices, singing “Up in the Tree So High” and brave women who knew what it was to want. I am from books and paper and letters framed on the wall. I am from the hands that wrote those letters, from chewing gum hiding places and a good tin cup for drinking. I am from the creaks in the floor, the wood stove, a shelf, a door, wallpaper. I am from alive and dead and a place that lives now only in my dreams.