Love is Glass Bookcases and Rainbow Bridges

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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.

Silent killers

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.

I heard an old Wynona and Naomi Judd song today that feels right to close . . . “Love can build a bridge between your heart and mine. Don’t you think it’s time?”
Photo courtesy of Archbob

**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.

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  1. Great reminder here, Beth to reach out to others who may be suffering. It is easy to get busy in our day and not realize the person next to us is in need of help. Tess is such a beacon in this area.

    It is interesting how some are taught not to share what is really going on in their lives – not air the “dirty laundry.” It keeps people in the dark and fearful of reaching out for help. I seem to be one that goes the other and maybe could rein it in once in awhile, but overall open communication leads to healing.

    • Beth says:

      Agree about the open communication, Cathy, and healing. The interesting piece is that some family members believe they are openly communicating–their version of the truth (and there are no other versions).

      Thank goodness for recovery and the tools to deal with ALL types!

  2. Hi Beth!

    Great story ’bout the bookcase. Hmmm, wonder how it got there (that ‘ole horse-trader)? Pretty special, if you ask me.

    As you point-out, safety and love are vital when it comes to reaching-out to those who are suffering – compulsive behavior issues, anxiety, mood, psychosis – doesn’t matter. And modeling transparency is right up there with it, especially when, as you emphasize, accountability accompanies.

    Like you, I was raised to hold my cards damned close to the vest. But that never worked for me, even though I tried as a boy and young man. In fact, it was one of the foundations of my adult misery. Thank God for our personal wake-up calls, huh.

    “Educate yourself, keep the conversation going and above all, be the love you want to give to others.” Yeah, I’d say so.

    Thanks, Beth, for your continued dedicated work (and transparency)…


    • Beth says:

      Yes, Bill, thank God for our wake-up calls. Doesn’t it feel good to be real in this walk of life?

      So glad you keep coming ’round my blog world. You’re loved and appreciated today.

  3. Hi Beth, isn’t it funny what we remember about our first 12-Step meeting? For me, it was an NA meeting 27 years ago filled with a lot of bikers with lots of tattoos, leather, and chains – being as emotionally transparent as the others in that room. I also remember crying quite a bit (I was very depressed at the time), and when the meeting was over, many came up to me to hug me, telling me “Keep coming back, it works.” No one in my own family had ever shown me such kindness – and that day it came from the most unexpected, but much-needed, places!

    I work as an Addictions Therapist today because I know the value of that kind of transparency first hand. In fact, what I believe is that if more of us shared our stories honestly and directly, many of the rest of us would feel a lot less lonely.

    Thanks for a great article, Beth!

    • Beth says:

      Oh Candace, those walks down memory lane! Funny, but my first AA meeting was filled with bikers in leathers too! I was startled because I was raised to walk the other direction from “those people.” Now some of those people–one in particular named Ralph–is a lifelong, unconditionally loving best friend.

      Thank God for recovery where I can finally be who I could never fully be with my family of origin. So glad you’ve entered my life as well!

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