Hey there, readers! If you have been keeping up with things, you know that Sarah and i have been working on our relationship and have made more progress than either of us could have hoped for. i kept my Recovery goals in sight and am now back in the North, where my routine and outdoor stuff keeps me healthy and focussed. So all is good, right? Time to kick back, relax, and drink in the goodness, right?
Time for a story.
One of the few things i love about going to London, other than seeing friends and family, is the chance to do some cool shopping. New boots for my daily run/walk, so i have traction on the ice. Books and magazines at Chapters. i refuse to take electronic equipment into the bathroom. Archie comics and assorted magazines were created for these sitting situations.
Best of all? Food stuff. Grocery stuff. I go down to the market downtown and get fresh spices and organic specialty flours. Did you know that most graham crackers contain no graham flour? i came across a recipe that shows how to make my own crackers with real graham flour.
Not a lot of graham flour in Cochrane. But good, organic stuff at the market, so i will test it out and report back.
Red Fife flour for more bread experiments. And tons of spices. I need to go to Timmins (over an hour away) to get white peppercorns, so, yeah, i load up on whatever spices i may need in the next while.
Specialty dried peppers. My smoker season will be in full swing once the temps climb above -20C. I am experimenting with different kinds of rubs and chili blends. Yum, yum, yum.
And then i go to the ethnic market. i think it is called Asian Market or something, but it is a kaleidoscope humanity in there. i breathe in the culture and smells.
Fresh fish!!!! Cuts of meat for broths and such. Chicken feet for gelatin. Neck bones. For incredible prices. I have a cooler full of meat in the truck, which doubles as a freezer for now.
And i take hours walking through the aisles. Organic miso paste, shrimp paste, black vinegar, black rice, and the list goes on. John walks out with his bags filled to the brim. So excited and happy and grateful and just….WOW! Not manic, but feeling pretty damn great.
Yes i am. Often. Not like it is a life goal, or anything. Sometimes shit happens.
My truck’s back seat is filled with groceries and a giant cooler. i organize, as some things will need to go indoors, while other things can freeze without any explosions, etc. Things going into the house, i put in the front seat…this includes stuff for supper and so on. What a great day!
When i came up to my truck, i did what is natural in our part of the world, i pressed the automatic start and let it warm up. BECAUSE IT IS COLD, BABY! London, in mostly temperate southwestern Ontario, is in the middle of a deep freeze and extreme cold warnings are in place. Even for a northern guy, this is cold stuff. The truck runs while i load things appropriately.
i used to be able to multitask. That was a few head injuries ago, and my meds add to the fog somewhat. Now it is an accomplishment to chew gum and walk at the same time. Ok. Not that bad, but thinking about more than one thing at a time is work.
For example- while i am packing groceries- remembering the keys are in the truck while it is running. Why? Because when i opened the door to pack groceries, i reached across and put the keys in the ignition, so i would not lose them. You see where this is going, right?
Yup. The doors all locked when i shut the door on my side. i went to the driver’s side, and that door was likewise locked. i thought it was frozen, so i pulled a lot harder and finally reached into my pocket for the non-existent key. Seeing that key in the ignition was quite a revelation.
The heater is running full blast and the cilantro is already wilting. The truck has an automatic shut off when it runs too long, but not with the keys in the ignition. Danger Will Robinson! My anxiety increases, as i realize the only spare key is in Cochrane and i feel myself sliding into a panic attack.
My immediate reaction is to call Sarah. My cell phone is at the apartment in my survival backpack, which would have been in the truck anyways. Panic increases.
NO! Calm down, John. Breathe. You have done all this work and you are a grown man. Sarah is running around town, getting stuff for her trip. Time for big boy panties.
It is not the end of the world. Most of the stuff will be fine. You have CAA Roadside Assistance. They will come and open the car and all is well. Anxiety drops to manageable levels.
But how to phone CAA? i go into the mall. Screw you…malls are filled with people. Pay phone on the wall. No change for the phone. Go into store and buy two asian dumplings to get change for the phone. Return to phone and note that phones now cost 50 cents. Also note that 800 calls do not cost anything to dial.
Phone the car company and get a recording. An operator will be with me in about a half hour. A message reminds me we are in a cold snap, so everything is held up. The message also informs me calls are answered in priority, so if i am safe at home and the car will not start, set up an appointment for tomorrow. Anxiety begins to turn to anger. Fuck.
True to their word, the operator comes on after a half hour. i explain the situation and am told the service guy will meet me at the car in about a half hour. When i question the time frame, i am reminded that we are in a cold snap. Really?
i return to the truck and i stare longingly at the sub-zero snow gear i have in the back seat in case the truck breaks down. i am freezing in my go-to-the-store clothes. i want to return to the mall and it’s warmth, but can’t miss the driver. To make a long story short, i was out there for about an hour. And i froze up pretty well.
Never mind the rest of the story about my interactions with the overly cheery serviceman and his, “well, at least it will be warm when you get in” quips. Suffice it to say, my Recovery was compromised.
I stood there internally cursing CAA, the weather, the damn city and anything else that came to mind and then i realized i was scowling at people getting in their cars. Really?
Really, John? Are you going to let this little thing screw up what you have worked on these last months?
No. And so the battle began inside, me trying to be grateful verses me trying to engage in mental sabotage.
But i survived. And, frozen as i might be, i was grateful i had taken some time to think. A month ago i would have been pudding. Frozen pudding. A pudding stick, i suppose, but i digress.
The point is this: Recovery is a worthwhile adventure. Sticking to the basic things we know are healthy and affirming not only helps in tough situations, but there is that feeling of accomplishment and the knowledge that we have come a little further in our journey.
It is easy to beat up on ourselves when things go wrong, partially because we think the world revolves around our illness. Many times it does. But not always. Sometimes we fall short of our goals because of our internal triggers and patterns of behaviour that are no longer helpful to us.
If the holiday season has left you a little bruised and battered, you are not alone. Take a moment to breathe deeply. You know. The breathing they taught us at “the place which shall not be named”. If you can do that, you are on your way.
Because breathing is a big thing for us. i know it is for me. And each time i succeed it gives me a little more confidence. Not overconfidence. But confidence. Do the smaller tasks first. Take baby steps. Build a foundation on which to place your Recovery. A…bit…at…a…time.
i know you can do this, no matter if family or friends or anyone else thinks you can. i know Recovery has made a huge difference in my life. i am confident that if i keep putting one step in front of another and keep doing what is healthy for me, i will be ok. And so will you.
Happy to be where i am at for now.