The Thing With Feathers

One of the things you discover in recovery is that life continues to happen whether you’re sober or not. The difference is that you don’t have to make any situation worse by adding alcohol, drugs, or maladaptive compulsive behaviors to the mix. You can go from being a hot (or not-so-hot and possibly smelly) mess to something resembling a person of grace. Lately I feel like I’ve been more of a hot mess than a woman of grace. The only thing I’ve done consistently is say “I’m not giving up. Nothing is worth my recovery”. The beautiful thing about this whole crazy journey is that as long as I maintain that attitude, the woman of grace will eventually follow. I’ve been well acquainted with her in the past. You can crash into her car and she doesn’t even bat a perturbed eyelash. True story.

This woman, who I technically am (but who I am not necessarily in touch with), is also positive and optimistic. In the interest of reconnecting with her, I want to shift gears from the dark side of addiction and focus more on why recovery is worth it.

Here’s why: Recovery gives you back hope and enables you to have dreams. What did I used to dream about? Escaping. Numbness. Death.

I don’t think I was even twenty when I swallowed several bottles of pills, my face so heavy with medication that I could literally smell it, and begged God to take me home.

That was my hope and my dream.

Today I am thankful that I am somehow still alive and I have a new chance at life. I don’t feel that dark weight anymore. I have goals and aspirations and crazy flights of fancy. I continue to be surprised and delighted by the places life takes me.

Some of my aspirations are perfectly reasonable and attainable, like working as a freelance photographer or finding a publisher for a book. And then some of them are a little more far fetched (but not impossible!)… like getting some investors to help me buy an industrial space to convert into a clean and sober live music venue and nightclub. I would hire a mixologist to make beautiful and inventive non-alcoholic drinks and bouncers to keep it a safe space. (Why should sober people be condemned to coffee, Coca-Cola, bad soda water, and limited nightlife choices?)

I would love to get married, buy a house, adopt a fur baby, plant a garden, and travel. Hell, I’m going to do those things, if the powers-that-be aren’t otherwise opposed.

All that’s a pretty far cry from how I used to be, if I do say so myself.

One of the other things you discover in recovery is that life not only continues to happen but it also continues while you’re busy making other plans. And that’s actually a great thing. If you told me I was going to be where I am today, I would have laughed at you. I may never write professionally or own a venue or even buy a house. But if my first four plus years of recovery have set any kind of a precedent, whatever does transpire is going to be cool.

Nothing happens overnight either. I grew up in a boondock town with no traffic lights. I recently moved to a small city. At first the five lane highways, traffic, and feeling of consistently being lost made me want to hyperventilate. Now I’m zooming around like a pro.

Anything I’ve accomplished has been one tiny – and often painful – baby step at a time. At first I felt intensely uncomfortable and then I felt intensely beautiful and whole.

Getting clean, sober, or behavior abstaining might be one of the most uncomfortable things you ever do…and it won’t be the last. But on the other side of that is You. Not an emptiness seeking to be filled but a Whole Person. And if you’re anything like me, you will frequently find yourself in tears of amazement as you send out a Thank You to whatever or whomever is listening.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

Emily Dickinson