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image credit… jon estwards

i am a mixed up bag of spices- sometimes sweet, sometimes savory, a little or a lot peppery, way too spicy at times- whatever… but it rarely stays exactly the same- just like indian food. this has taken some adjustments to maneuver all the moods feelings. at first it felt heroic and adventurous to just be feeling feelings without trying to change them. as this became habit, it was revealed that there were things that had been submerged – feelings and thoughts and memories which rose up like corpses in a new orleans cemetery.

there was another process which included understanding what these corpses were, how they got here, and how best to dispose of them this time so they wouldn’t make another appearance. man- this bit took a high toll- i let go of friendships, of jobs, of some finances, and some safety nets. some of these skeletons were connected to me at times i honestly couldn’t remember right away. it took awhile to remember the babysitter in 1st grade who was physically inappropriate. it took even longer to understand that the shame i have always felt throughout my life was not deserved. it was carried by me unnecessarily for decades because i was (am) an odd duck.

luckily, i have travelled through a quagmire of old bodies, thoughts, and feelings, and have reached a bit more solid ground. it has been a relief and i seem to be opening my heart again. amidst this opening was a reminder for me today. a reminder of a basic philosophy that has shaped my outlook. my bi-polar mind and my inability to self-soothe led me to an hiv diagnosis at 27. for the next 12 years or so i lived waiting for the other shoe to drop. i expected to die. i planned on it, actually. i forged ahead with work, but threw myself into partying because it was easier than being quiet and contemplating what could be.

then in 1996, i began to take hiv meds and my dark future-less self had to regroup. i didn’t have a plan and i didn’t have a clue. and it seemed unfair that i had to suddenly get one. so i made an impetuous decision to move to san francisco and continue the party. turned out to be a tough path. ran back here. bottomed out on crystal. burned a lotta bridges. tried to die and didn’t.

then recovery flowed into my life, like the mississippi waters flowing into that sea-level graveyard and it rooted up dead bodies and spirits that had long been buried. damn – the clean up is a bitch. but one thing i have concretely come to know. at 27, i became convinced i had no future and had no life. considering the hand i had been dealt, it is a miracle that i am alive. it is not responsible for me to take this simple and neon-like fact for granted. every day i wake up is a day i had never planned to be here. with this in mind, it makes no sense for me to be anything but joyful. i am in awe of my presence and my life. and i try to begin and end each day by recognizing this.  i remembered this grace today in the middle of the day. remembering it felt like getting a really big hug.  and it definitely helped. a hella lot.

One thought on “grace

    Jeremiah Andrews said:
    October 7, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Introspection is good. Looking back to see how grace had filled our lives, even though we might not have been paying attention. How did we get here and why us and not them? I like to ask that question, because it gets no answer because it is rhetorical now.

    We are still alive. There is a purpose for us today. So I ask the question, “are you doing what you love? and if not why not?” Time is of the essence.

    Paul Monette wrote beautifully about living on “Borrowed Time” I keep him on my bedside table and read from him occasionally, lest I get maudlin and drop into survivors guilt!

    You have a rich life. For the people in it, the place you live, the food you prepare, it is almost like redemption on a plate when I read the gastronomic feasts you prepare! I get jealous!! tee hee You remind me of Babette a woman of dichotomies who redeems an entire community through her gift of cooking… I have a copy of Babette's Feast on my computer. It is a fascinating movie about love, redemption and grace.

    Self appraisal is important in recovery. I am glad that you have softened on yourself. That is also grace. The longer you stay clean and sober the better it will get. Every turn of the leaf and the turn of a year you will grow. There is only one way to go and that is up.

    Keep it that way.



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