The last day of November, and a dark and rainy one it is. I had a restless night, woke every hour or so to the sound of great drops splatting on the roof. When I looked out the window around 3 a.m., sheets of water were pouring down the hill. At seven, the gray cat began walking on my face, purring feverishly. It was time to get up. I meditated for half an hour, which felt good, despite the wave of sorrow that so often burbles up, chatted with my husband, checked my favorite recovery forum, then drove across town through puddles and potholes to an acupuncture appointment at my HMO.
I’ve had acupuncture before, but this was a little more bare bones–a large room with beds curtained off and people in various stages of treatment. I could hear snoring from the bed next door, and, later, a long discussion with a practitioner about which foods had anti-inflammatory qualities and why one shouldn’t eat sugar. The middle-aged man who treated me was gentle and soft-spoken, kept thanking me for coming, asked permission for every single step he took, and finally left me to rest with needles up and down my spine and a glass cup on my lower back.
The room had quieted, and I lay on my side with a heat lamp shining on my back, listening to the hum of the ventilation, cars passing on rain-slick streets, my mind drifting back across the years to the birth of my eldest son, when I sustained the injury that later resulted in scoliosis–a large baby and a precipitous delivery that nothing could have slowed down, and a complete pelvic realignment. For a completely natural phenomenon, childbirth can cause an awful lot of trouble.
Would I have drunk less without that pain? Who knows. Pain, depression, what Martin Seligman calls learned helplessness, the belief that nothing you can do will make any difference, it all entered in. I never believed I had much personal power–power came from others or from collective action–so I rarely sought fixes for things that went wrong, I just lived with them. Women of my circumstances and generation weren’t raised to be active on their own behalf. Life happened, and you went along with it. Most of us were more proactive for our children, but even there…there is much that I would do differently today. At least I hope I would. Passivity is bad for the heart and soul.
And speaking of that, I’d like to put in a plug for a couple of active women who’ve organized a series of podcasts on iTunes called “The Bubble Hour,” airing the stories of people struggling with addiction. The latest is the voice of Michele from Mished-up, telling her story with humor, courage and honesty. Very big thanks to Ellie and Lisa, the shakers and movers.