Two years ago this month, I attempted to get sober. When I reached out to my friend Holly Whitaker, who at the time was coaching the sober-curious, she asked me what I imagined myself looking like if I stopped drinking. How would things look if I made this commitment? And if I could be anywhere, where would that be? What would I be doing?
I said I saw myself standing on the beach in my home: Clearwater. I had finished manuscript and my family at my side. I felt free. "What do you look like?" I probably said "fabulous." That call was in the parking lot of an office where I dragged myself, daily, pretending to smile. Pretending to be OK.
Fast forward two years. I am sober. Through a monumental struggle, daily surrender, working a program, listening to a sponsor, sleeping, praying, and getting out of my own way (which I still have to do like every hour and sometimes every minute). I still have my family. I am sober. I still have a lot of work to do. I am healing. I am healed.
There's no manuscript (yet). And that place I mentioned? The place I always return?
As I write this, Hurricane Irma is hurdling toward Florida. It's where many of my friends and family are. Today I fear for their safety. And there's only so much I can do. We've opened our home to friends and family, some of whom are still on the fence about evacuating. (Our light is open and we pray they will come.)
Meanwhile, Texas is still reeling from Hurricane Harvey. Our nation is grappling with its very identity. I struggle with the fact that there are so many people literally fighting for their lives and freedom today.
Last night I was interviewed for the Since Right Now podcast. The hosts, Chris and Jeff, are early pioneers in the digital recovery space. I stammered over my story, said way too many "you knows," and got deep about that time I saw Brene Brown in person and wanted to throw up because she was talking about vulnerability and shame, and there I was at my rock bottom. But you can listen to the podcast for that whole story.
At the end, after we talked about the changing face of recovery and they asked if I had anything to add I told them this. Paraphrasing and editing a bit, in retrospect.
As a Floridian and a person in recovery and an American, this is what I know to be true today:
- My heart is breaking for this world. I'm scared for my friends, family, and strangers in the direct path of the storm. I'm scared for all people whose freedom and lives are in peril. (This includes Dreamers affected by the DACA decision and all people whose civil liberties are at risk today. E.g., all of us.)
- I believe that people in recovery are part of a group of people who are equipped, because of the hells that we have been through, to show up and fight for to others. To show compassion and empathy for the scared and shaking and broken-hearted.
- People in recovery know what it's like to run from, and if we're lucky enough, to run toward a place of safety. If we're lucky enough, we've found a safe harbor. We've found people who say "Come in. Rest your head. All are welcome."
- People in recovery know what it's like to be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually broken. To have weary bones and souls. And if we're lucky, we know what it means to have another human being say "Me too," and "It gets better. Even when first it gets worse."
- I've learned that I have to take care of myself to be any good to people in need. For me this means working a daily multi-faceted program of recovery. I cannot give away what I don't have. This includes health, stability, and serenity. And ...
- I am still fighting some of my fights. But I'm better than I was yesterday, and transformed from that girl two years ago.
- Those of us who are equipped today to help must. If we have weathered our storms -- and even if we're still going through them -- we have to show up however we can. (While still taking good care of ourselves.)
- None of this has anything to do with me, or the dream about returning to a beach. It's just to say: we must keep going, together. We can do this.
Today I particularly pray for people in the path of the storms who are detoxing and in early recovery, as well as those whose recovery is being challenged by chaos and disaster. I also pray for people affected by the storms, and those in the path for whom evacuation is not a possibility. For people with chronic and life-threatening illnesses, the elderly, and children. I pray for everyone who is scared. God be with them.
Stay safe friends. There is a harbor. I will meet you on the beach. No matter what happens.
I pray for strength for everyone in this storm.