Awakened early this morning by screaming sirens and the chopchopchop of a helicopter, not exactly a serene beginning to the day, but when I opened the curtains, there were buttermilk clouds in the eastern sky, their edges silver, lit up by the morning sun, and my spirits rose. Now, mid-morning, rain clouds are drifting in and chirpy little brown birds are flitting about my neighbor’s overgrown garden. Sea gulls fly by occasionally, retreating inland ahead of the storm, “a substantial change in the weather,” the paper says, “a Pacific storm system.” Good. I like storms, the kind we have around here at least. You can keep your hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, and blizzards.
I went out early to get milk and yogurt. Workers were hosing down the sidewalks in the neighborhood shopping district and people streaming in and out of a popular cafe with steaming coffee in one hand and a bagel or scone in the other, presumably for a walking breakfast on the way to work. It feels luxurious not to be rushing off to work. This time of year, I would’ve been driving through the dawn, hoping to hear the wild parrots in the palm trees approaching the Mission Dolores. Instead, I went home and had cafe latte and a fresh, hot croissant. What a life.
I was thinking about my life this morning as I wrote a response to a newly sober person, thinking how completely miserable and isolated I was in the throes of alcoholic drinking, the shame of the almost daily blackouts, the lying, secrecy, the denial that went on and on, the repeated promises to myself to quit, the bewilderment and hopelessness that I couldn’t. None of it was enough to stop me. I needed hope–hope that my life could change, hope that if I gave up the thing that numbed me to misery, something would come along to counteract the misery. I found it first in cognitive therapy, where I learned depression could be treated, and then in the world of people living sober, fulfilling lives, where I took heart that I could do it too.
I think we don’t always realize how inspiring our meanderings about daily life can be. When you are there in that darkness and misery, normalcy seems impossible. It’s as though you are trapped in a basement, and one day you realize you can peek through a slit in the window at people walking by on the street, living their normal lives, and one of them reaches down and says, c’mon, climb up out of there and join us. The carrot and the stick, you need them both. I am so thankful to the people who reached out for me.