Zen and the Art of Recovery Maintenance

I’m really finding that I get a LOT of relief from thoughts of drinking when I am active in something productive.  That’s probably obvious to some: that productivity would sort of take your mind off drinking.  I’m surprised at how much more I focus when I’m DOING these days instead of just, say, reading.  I read a LOT.  I mean, like, a lot a lot.  And I’m finding that even memoirs right now are less compelling than my rhubarb plant.

I wonder if this has to do with my newfound ability to focus.  Meditation and being sober have combined to give me a boost in awareness.  I’m able to concentrate on what I’m doing and JUST DO IT.  Not like the Nike ad, not necessarily being all ramped up and excited about whatever I’m doing.  But just being awake to the process of, say, watering the plants or folding the laundry.  When I’m reading Little One a book, I’m not also compiling my grocery list.  I don’t find my mind wandering quite so far afield …and if it does,  it’s not into anxiety and stress and fear.  Usually.

And I’m out of square feet!  So from here on out it’s just watering, picking, and starting baby lettuces.  Sigh.  No more deciding what goes where or digging or anything.  I don’t have tons of area or anything, but it’s a nice little garden for us.


Little One is 4 years old, and she is named after a flower.  So, of course, she is growing flowers of the same name.  It’s pretty sweet.  And she’s a naturally careful child, so she loves to dig a hole just the right size and put in starts.  It’s a very zen activity, watching a preschooler garden.

When Little One is otherwise engaged, I get to listen to the HOME podcasts, or The Bubble Hour, both of which I love.  It’s tremendously heartening to hear so many stories from so many walks of life.

I’ve found myself crying over the broccoli during some of those podcasts.  My heart breaks a little for the guilt and the suffering some of those folks have had to endure.  The mom in me just wants to put my arms around them and tell them they’re loveable, they’re worth it, it’s ok to be human.


So why is it so hard to accept that love and gentleness when it’s given as a gift?  I’ve been told numerous times that I behave as though I’ve got a scarlet A across my whole countenance.  Like everyone SHOULD be mad at me and I’m not worthy of forgiveness.  And I’m trying to put myself in the place of those folks on the podcasts who bring tears to my eyes.  I’m trying to learn to forgive myself.

Maybe I’m too close to the subject, maybe it’s too soon.  It’s a work in progress.

I’m sort of all over the place tonight.  Bear with me!

At Group (for the Intensive Outpatient Program I’m finishing up) last night, I was surprised to be reminded that when I started the IOP 10 weeks ago, I did NOT want *anyone* to know about my addiction or my recovery.  One of the folks pointed out what a really big deal it was to decide to not only be open about what I’m experiencing, but to put it out there on the internet.

That surprised me.

I forgot how completely terrified I was of  anybody finding out.  Listening to all those podcasts, reading all those memoirs, finding these blogs…it’s all made me so much stronger in my recovery.  All of that connection has made me less fearful about sharing my experience because I’ve been so busy soaking up all of the brave voices that have come before me.  I guess that by immersing myself in all of that recovery sharing, I feel like my story is less abnormal than I would otherwise have felt.  Because I don’t feel alone, I don’t feel like I have to be quite so ashamed of the past.

I’m part of a tribe of recovery geniuses.  I’m not a genius myself, yet, but I aspire to be one.  Or I aspire to simply continue to enjoy the company (virtually and in real life) of recovery heroes.


Anyway, today was pretty awesome.  I got in tons of gardening, and was even gifted some beautiful starts and seed potatoes, so that my little gardens are much fuller than they would have been!  I took the kids and friend swimming at the gym, made some good food, finished a mystery.

Spouse Extraordinaire is out of town and he is Little One’s usual bedtime buddy, so I’m filling in and hoping I’m doing the job justice. 😉

Here’s to a beautiful Friday and forgiveness and freedom from addiction!


*Right after I posted this I went dinking around with the “search” feature on WordPress and ended up here.  Thank you, Paul S., for this amazing post about shame!


4 thoughts on “Zen and the Art of Recovery Maintenance

  1. This is lovely. I so hear you on connection with the “recovery tribe.” What an incredible blessing. Thanks for being part of mine. I think a lot of this work is about learning to live with the grace that saved us – the people who love and support and accept us when we didn’t earn it or even when we let them down. That is not something we can repay but I hope to live *up* to it, if that makes sense. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You had me at the “Scarlet A” mention about not feeling like you are not worthy of forgiveness. I get that completely. I still suffer with playing small and not feeling like I am worthy of people’s love and affection. That I am both above it and beneath it. It’s a struggle to remain right-sized and to accept people’s gifts of time and energy as gifts, rather than feeling I must be imposing on them.

    Over time I have learned to be a little bit more gentle with myself (easy to say, hard to do for me) and to also accept everyone’s good intentions and actions towards me. A simple “thank you” suffices and not feel like I “owe” anyone. I was told many years ago that to deflect and to deny people’s gifts, of any kind, is to selfishly remove their good heart and spirit. So I just nod and say thank you.

    And speaking of – thank you for the shout out. I really appreciate it. (and while I am momentarily shameless here, I also have a podcast…lol. http://www.buzzkillpod.com).


    Liked by 1 person

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