May 19, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

Today is May 19, and we’ve spotted the Land of After! Or at least an initial party, gathered in bright sunlight at Derryfield Park from 11 to noon, had a chance to see what recovery may feel like for many in the next few glorious months. About a dozen folks sat in chairs, on blankets, on grass, maintaining a proper distance from each other for the most part, had Hope’s first Pop-Up All-Recovery Meeting.

Here are some fairly random first impressions:

–A young man battling Spice after having defeated most other substances he’d found along the way. He spoke of his young son. He spoke of anger. Mostly he spoke of feelings, of having to become accustomed to those pesky emotions we’ve all spent years trying to tamp down or explode.

–A guy talked about learning about himself in the pandemic, and being shocked by the everyday heroism he’d experienced—women who had been terrified by technology now running Zoom meetings, folks he’d thought were arrogant bags of wind who turned out to be pillars of the community.

–A man from New York talked about moving to Manchester in recovery and how everything was different, but how recovery was recovery was recovery, and that he couldn’t wait to become part of the local community. Although he lived through a recent re-occurrence, which he called a relapse, he can’t wait to get back to helping others.

–A young college student spoke of the challenge of juggling school and recovery and mental health issues. I don’t want to blow this guy’s anonymity, but I know his dad and know a bit about from where he came. His transformation over the past few years must be seen as a modern-day miracle. By the way, he just earned a 4.0 grade point average, not that he mentioned it in the meeting.

–A woman spoke of using the time of the pandemic to get used to “being” instead of always “doing,” of learning to accept and love herself. The challenge of no-challenge, of living without distraction.

–A single father with an elderly mother and a young son talked about emotions in early recovery. He’d lived in lengthy sobriety, then discovered a heretofore unknown love of stimulants. After some real time in recovery, working on himself and with a mentor, he’s now feeling ready to pass on what he’s learned.

Those are just snippets that popped into my head, pieces of information that happened to have stuck for a while. What those snippets aren’t is more important than what they are. They aren’t the feel of recovery, just the details. Let me briefly explain.

Think back to the most intense and passionate romantic relationship you ever had, the one that comes to mind when you gaze back over your life. Imagine having someone provide the following facts about the relationship:
–Met Jordan at a pool party at my friend’s house
–Celebrated our first month together with Cheetos—baked for Jordan, crunchy for me
–Talked about marriage but neither of us was ready for it
–Began fighting over stupid stuff
–Broke up
That information, that data, those facts don’t come close to describing your relationship with Jordan, and neither do anecdotes capture a recovery meeting. Why not?

Magic.

Relationships have some mystical aura and so do recovery meetings. Today, a dozen of us gathered like elves deep in moonlit forest and practiced the magic of bonding together as folks who have broken free from the demons of addiction. We may tell tales of our escape, but it’s not the tales that carry magic. It’s the experience of telling them to other survivors, with their heads nodding, their faces smiling and their hearts melting.

There will be many more pop-up meetings. You come too!

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Keith

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