the peer recovery support enclave we have begun at my workplace got its first bit of funding today. another clinic on campus that has been running in the black for the last couple of years got a small windfall from a grant we are both on and donated it to our peer program.
this is kind of exciting. it means that we have moved a step further in the direction of authenticity. there can be a bit of reimbursement for the volunteers, some incentives can be offered, and some modifications might be able to be made to the space carved out for the peer resource center.
when i heard this bit of news today, my heart lifted. a sense of progress and validation swirled around me like a scented candle when lit. sensory stimulation has not been a frequent visitor these last few years. working for a large organization has required me to stifle much of my creative urges and learn to develop patience and reserve.
i had lunch with a friend this week at tony’s market. had a grilled salmon with mixed greens and vinaigrette. lunch was great, but even better was the chance to talk with him about his life and mine. his youngest son just started kindergarten and has been in trouble since day 3- it made my heart smile- big time.
i got to share with him the unravelling of another truth for me. last summer, my good friend and sponsor was diagnosed with stage iv liver cancer and passed on before the autumn. i hadn’t understood what happened to me emotionally until these months later when my life shifted again and i was able to get some perspective. i now understand that i shut down pretty completely just like a storefront in the jewelry district at 5pm. the metal gate rolled down and locked out any chance of getting out or getting in. i became uber frustrated with an organization i was doing volunteer work with. i over-worked for awhile, over volunteered and then over reacted to bad policies and bad behavior and then resigned.i did this quietly and emotionless, but with my borderline-ish drama none-the-less. i became disenchanted with the team i had been situated with at my workplace and i transferred to another team. i didn’t make an announcement nor did i communicate my decision to any of that team. i spent about a grand on 3 holiday parties i helped throw which sent my finances into a turtle’s crawl. all of these actions are a direct response to my own emotional distress.
the frustrating part of all this is the lack of insight i had while these scenarios were playing out. the only awareness to which i was connected was the fact that these actions seemed to temporarily make me feel better. i nursed my sadness by withdrawing and turning inward all the while overspending to fill an emptiness i was trying to stave off- just like the little dutch boy with his finger in the hole of a dyke.
luckily, my whole life turned with new leadership at my day gig. suddenly i was asked to participate and be creative in lieu of the dummying down i had been doing for a couple of years. this incentive has jump started my emotional life and as the dead skin of my depression has shaken loose, i have caught of glimpse of where i have just been and it is both elementary and convoluted.
these glimpses of how i really am in the world are truly a bi-product of my daily decisions to not use. to grow up. to walk free. and once in awhile- like this week- i am able to be in touch with this freedom-and i just can’t get enough. i guess the more we change- the more we do stay the same.
i spoke with a friend yesterday about some ideas i have for developing a stronger sense of community among people in recovery. this guy is a networking nazi and very well known around town. he and i met after i had become a drug and alcohol counselor. he was a fairly high profile client. he had been instrumental in bringing crystal meth anonymous to denver and had been working as a peer navigator at denver’s drug court. additionally, i was walking and talking with him when he hatched the idea of “surrounded by recovery” which evolved into 2 years of recovery celebration at the capital which lead to a hand holding event each year around the gold dome with the intention of raising awareness that recovery works. when i met him, i had been clean only 2 years- he had been struggling for 5. i told him that i didn’t believe i could really be an effective counselor for him, but that it seemed he might need a good honest friend.
sadly all of his amazing and ground breaking efforts resulted in relapse for him. this humbled him and threw back each of the efforts he generated back several years. but this is life and this is how the brain operates. it likes dopamine. it bends and reshapes synapses to allow the dopamine release process to flourish and take over. if it were uncommon, our culture would not have many of the problems it does. he has again built time and has been dancing with humility which looks good on him.
as i spoke with him yesterday i ran down the basic concept of a recover resource and networking event in september and trying to market this. it includes using and developing a radio program- probably using blog talk radio. it’s a big task, but i think i am ready for a new project. and it would be beneficial to be able to reach more pockets of individuals.
funny- i feel a familiar sense of excitement in my gut. fear, hope, wonder usually accompany my muse. definitely excited to see how this unfolds. came across some web-based recovery support programs yesterday which i am hoping we can beta with some younger patients at my workplace-exciting. i have 2 interns starting on tuesday – this is my first mentoring gig as a counselor. i work 2 parties this week and hope to catch up on a couple of outstanding bills.
i am planning to restart cardio classes this weekend and see the star trek -in 3d-. i am ready for some fun.
with fun in mind, i remember a time in the late 70’s that i could throw a b52’s vinyl album on the turntable and let the whole thing play through- all the while dancing, bopping, and having a blast. today i find the same joy with nicolas jaar. he is a composer, dj, producer that creates a rhythm pattern that makes my heart and soul smile.
last july, we (the staff of a small agency) visited the 18th precinct probation office to discuss a new meth recovery group (MRP) we planned to start at a small agency in englewood. it would consist of 3 evening groups m-w-f which would focus on 3 different parts of recovery- MET- motivational enhancement therapy, CBT- cognitive behavioral therapy, TSF- twelve step facilitation- more realistically connection to sober communities.
we were received with reservations and went on our way. in august we received our 1st referral from a different probation office entirely. since that time we have had 10 referrals, we have 1 client (our 1st client) has been clean since his 4th week. the 18th precinct has sent us several of those and their dui referrals have increased as well. englewood is a small suburb of denver which has a reputation and a history of substance abuse especially meth. when i was starting the mile high meth project (now the mile high recovery project) in 08, we consistently got a volume of calls from englewood’s social services about individuals (specifically parents with small children) who had ongoing and agonizing meth issues. i was well aware of this unmet need going into beginning our MRP.
last night as we talked about what recovery means for each of us, i talked about the real miracle that comes with sharing experience with others.and i also talked about the idea that i get to do “this” meaning working with others who find themselves on a similar path. a participant indicated somewhat sarcastically that “get to” might be disingenuous. but as i consider it all, it is real. i do feel incredibly lucky to spend my time with an activity that holds meaning for me. damn, it has been a journey, with loadz’o twists and turns, but i am certain i am here and i am with enjoyment. life continues to move forward, definitely sometimes with more twists and turns.
my cousin gave me a journal that i left at his home after i moved to colorado in 1988. the 1st entry is dated 4/2/1981 and it goes through 1989. i didn’t do a very consisted job of writing entries, but it did take me on a trip back in time… there is an obvious void from 1984 until 1988 as that is when hiv really starting hitting my friends and my own life. my drug and alcohol use became its own animal and went on a nasty tear.moving to colorado in 1988 seemed to change the course of my journey. i drank heavily for 12 more years, but drugs were not as accessible here as they had been.
following is an excerpt dated…10/12/1983… (it could be titled “morning at the golden nugget”.
i wonder if it really is as much a time of restraint as it seems.outwardly people really do seem to be much calmer and more conservative yet they remain the same. what is to become of pent up emotions? they surely do not just fade away, do they get put on the back shelf and collect dust? perhaps they were in the window but faded to pale and matter little. just memories. either way time continues. so i sit at the counter at the pancake house at 5:30 am after having walked here in the rain. what really brings me here? it’s entertaining certainly, but i am sure that’s not why. so up walks Regan- a very bold and sassy trannie, to say hey, ask for my phone number and a few spare dollars. she drinks my water, takes it with her, drinks some of my coffee, leaving magenta beeswax behind like pigeon droppings.