When It Don’t Come Easy

Another gray day with damp chill from a foggy sea.  The ironwood tree in the back yard is whipping back and forth in the wind and my back neighbor’s fading prayer flags flapping wildly.  I am dressed for winter in a turtleneck and vest and thick socks, sipping a mug of hot coffee and listening to the bittersweet music of Patty Griffin’s “When It Don’t Come Easy”

Red lights are flashing on the highway
I wonder if we’re gonna ever get home
I wonder if we’re gonna ever get home tonight
Everywhere the water’s getting rough
Your best intentions may not be enough
I wonder if we’re gonna ever get home tonight

I love the background cello. Another song, “Heavenly Day,” she introduces as the first love song she ever wrote in her life.  “I wrote it for my dawg,” she said  “and that’s the truth.”

Got nothing to tell you, I’ve got nothing much to say
Only I’m glad to be here with you
On this heavenly, heavenly, heavenly, heavenly
Heavenly day….

I was twitchy and irritable when I started meditating this morning, a horrible itch in the bottom of my foot, back hurting, nose stopped up. Amazing how it all just falls away.  (Watching some episodes of “In Plain Sight” on Netflix streaming last night, I kept wondering what a little TM would’ve done for Inspector Mary Shannon, so angry and driven.)

Despite a certain degree of mellowness, I’m sad today after canceling my trip to Vancouver and Galiano Island.  The latter sounds so quiet and serene–birdsong and the sound of the sea.  Here, the roar of the freeway only subsides around four in the morning, when you can hear individual cars and trucks going by. And other urban noises get added on in the daytime: wailing sirens of ambulances on their way to the nearby county hospital, power saws and nail drivers, beeping delivery trucks backing up our hill.  When I was younger, I loved the sound of the city, but it’s the sounds of nature I crave now–wind in the pines, water over rocks, chattering squirrels.  Could this have anything to do with the constant ringing in my ears?  (Word of warning to you younger folks: keep the volume down!  My doc tells me it was probably those sixties/seventies rock concerts that gave me tinnitus.  I notice a lot of musicians wear ear plugs these days.)

And, I will truly miss the company of this sober friend.  I let so many friendships fall by the wayside when I was drinking, out of shame or lassitude or embarrassment.  I originally met this woman through an on-line recovery site.  Eventually we began emailing back and forth, and finally met in person a couple of years ago.  People you’ve gotten sober with challenge you in unique ways.  It’s not so easy just to make superficial chitchat, you get into a deeper level of sharing very quickly–different than sharing in meetings, where people tend to let things lie unless they’re put very strongly.  Different also from sharing with my husband or non-alcoholic friends, not that there aren’t plenty of cross-over subjects, but admitting your alcoholism to others with the same problem gives a strong foundation to the relationship.  Both of you start out vulnerable, with something you tend to hide from people you don’t know very well, something that’s brought great shame and terror into your life.

That kind of admission doesn’t come easy, and to be able to make it to people who not only don’t judge you for it, but have been there themselves…it’s a gift to cherish.

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4 Responses to When It Don’t Come Easy

  1. This is so beautiful on so many levels. Your writing has such a calming quality, I thank you.

    I’m a big fan of Patty Griffin (I recently shared her song, “Making Pies.”) She has such talent. I remember the first song of Patty’s I ever heard was “Not Alone.” “You are not alone, laying in the light, put out the fire in your head, and lay with me tonight…” Such poetry.

    I hope this evening finds you well. (I’ll turn my music down a notch on my next run, at least I promise to try.)

    • sswl says:

      Oh, I LOVE “Making Pies.” Must’ve missed your earlier post with it. And, yes, beautiful lyrics to “Not Alone.”
      I’ve just discovered Patty Griffin. Have been listening to “When It Don’t Come Easy” and “Up to the Mountain” all day. Thanks for the additions!

  2. cleo says:

    Hi Susan – discovered you through RoS. I am so enjoying your writing – thank you. And loved the Patty Griffin song

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