Two interesting questions were posed to me yesterday.
1. What were the things I noticed when I first entered recovery?
2. As a person in recovery, what do I try to pass on to those new in recovery?
A giant glass bookcase
I don’t remember much about my first 12-step meeting. But I do recall a massive glass bookcase on one wall that contained all the literature the group used. I was given a blue book from the bookcase.
That group closed down a couple of years later and I gave no thought to the bookcase until it showed up in the lobby of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in Kansas City where I had been hired as the director of prevention services. (The organization is now called FirstCallKC.)
Although I don’t recall the details on how the bookcase arrived, I’m sure my boss (and sponsor and old horse-trader), finagled its arrival.
Odd that I thought about the bookcase yesterday. Odder still that I related it to the transparency I saw in those early recovery meetings. People shared the raw details of their lives; I was raised to never let people really know what was going on with me.
Today, I talk a lot about transparency and allowing others to hold me accountable. In light of Robin Williams’ suicide, I think it’s critical that those of us blessed with recovery model transparency for others.
People with addiction or another brain disease deserve to feel safe and loved. They can’t know those things if the world is too busy judging instead.
My friend Tess Marshall posted recently to connect, connect, connect. Don’t take no for an answer if you know someone is suffering. Show them how to look beyond the reflection in the glass to the people standing around the bookcase ready and willing to help.
Depression, mental illness and addiction can be silent killers. It’s our responsibility, our duty to reach out, to reach up, to reach back to anyone and everyone who soundlessly screams.
Educate yourself, keep the conversation going and above all, be the love you want to give to others.
**A special note about the photo: Its rainbow colors and brilliant sunset are dedicated to Keeper Baylor, a retired racing greyhound who taught me plenty about building a bridge of love. Baylor crossed the Rainbow Bridge today and my heart is forever grateful. Race on, my beautiful boy.