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I’m Still a Recovery Advocate…

I’m Still a Recovery Advocate…

I’m Still a Recovery Advocate…

I haven’t been writing much recently… To tell you the truth, I barely think of drinking or not drinking anymore. The last time I even got a bit of saliva in my mouth for the stuff, was watching Holder on The Killing swill beer at a family dinner. Spouting the “F” word in front of the children and generally making a fool of himself. I love that character though – a tough guy with heart. An addict at heart too. It’s weird that I’d get a hankering for booze while watching someone implode in front of his loved ones, but it’s familiar. And that’s what addiction is all about, right?


That show has a lot of scenes at NA meetings. Does anyone else find TV meetings totally foreign? These gray character actors slumped in folding chairs. Sharing all kinds of nasty stuff, mumbling their confessions like Tom Waits in cultivated, whisky soaked voices. If I could find a meeting like that, I’d be front row every night, finding out where the bodies are buried…


Recovery Advocacy…

I’m still an advocate. I am trying to keep my walking groups going at Sanford House. But I was sick for two months straight (no exaggeration) and it’s still cold and dark in the morning here. And I am finding it hard to inspire anyone to listen to me crow about the benefits of rigorous exercise while coughing up a lung.


Oh, and I attempted to pitch the Ted Talk folks on rewiring the addicted brain by hiking, with a 104 degree temperature… That went over like a lead balloon.


I’m traveling a lot. Meeting with lawyers, therapists, mental health and addiction professionals. So much of what we all do is predicated on misery and the dispelling of same. And there is no question that it is not about getting sober so much as staying that way. The smartest of noggins begin to nod vigorously when I talk about the role of family in the recovery process, attempts at widening the path so narrowed by addiction…


At the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals conference…


The Good News is…

But here’s the good news. I am still a recovery advocate – still a student of the world. And the more smart people I meet, the more I realize that long term recovery is strengthened by the simple things. Love and community, rigorous exercise in the out of doors, laughter… And although I still try to isolate (I vant to be alone…), I know in my heart that connection is the key.


That seems easy enough…


I went to church yesterday, to hear the very smart Reverend Dr. W. Frederick Wooden. And as it often happens, when I am open and listening, I received a banquet of food for thought. The responsive invocation was adapted from Louise Erdrich’s The Painted Drum.


Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.


What is advocacy if not giving back? Even giving advice, dispensing empathy like PEZ from a plastic super-hero’s mouth? And the beauty of recovery is not the fact that we are not miserable anymore. It’s not in the stories we tell – the before and after.  It’s that we are experiencing the world – pain and all – in the present.


Taste as many apples as you can.


Taking time to “smell the roses” while meeting with addiction professionals in Grosse Pointe, MI. The view of Lake St Clair from the War Memorial…

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Comments (6)

  1. Avatar
    Sue Brinson
    Mar 19, 2018

    How come you're not drinking?
    Contary to this question, I cannot answer unless I bullshit
    I was at Sanford when they had the guest speaker on food addiction as it relates to other addictions. I was at SH for my alcoholism. I was so hoping to hear you speak (was unaware of your ill state, got to say you still looked pretty darn good) as I have researched many of your writings and talks. I am still active and struggling with my addiction. The painted drum really hits home. My intellect agrees and acknowledges isolation is a killer. But I am so stuck.

    • Marilyn
      Mar 25, 2018

      Sue. I would be happy to help you get “unstuck” if I can. It seems that I just like to pour things down my gullet – but I have learned to rewire my brain to want other, healthier things. This recovery gig is not easy my dear, we need all the friends we can get. My email address is marilyn32082@hotmail.com – drop me a line.

  2. Avatar
    Mark D Goodson
    Mar 20, 2018

    How come you're not drinking?
    Cuz it puts me in cuffs or psych slippers
    It’s great to see you out and about in the recovery world! I agree with and admire the way you view advocacy. A lot of people attache selfish ends to their advocacy nowadays. Nice to see someone keeping it real.

  3. Avatar
    Jun 18, 2018

    I really do love your “Waking Up the Ghost” pieces, even if it’s less frequent nowadays. I can hear your voice in your writing. Miss you. (Also, that tablecloth looks fab).

  4. Avatar
    Jul 29, 2018

    How come you're not drinking?
    I’m not drinking because not drinking makes me smile!!!!
    6 days sober!!!

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