Happy Sunday, all!
In my last post, Five YEARS and a Career Launch, I shared a lot about new opportunities, and of course, the celebration of five YEARS of recovery. What a way to end a year full of so much beauty. Next up....
2016 included a lot of learning opportunities, especially professionally. I spent much of the year developing the position I accepted in finance. I continued to provide some direct care, facilitating morning fitness groups for anyone who wanted to join. 6am was way too early for most people, especially early to be moving and working out. It took dedication and commitment, two of the most critical attributes of those who stand a chance in long-term recovery. I realized at an alumni event that of the 25 or so people that came back, more than 20 had been regular attendees at the morning exercise group. Having that realization, I knew there was something to be said for exercise and its correlation to recovery. Exercise was one of the hobbies I knew helped my own recovery, and seeing it benefit others validated that, very strongly.
I began to learn more about nutrition, as well. I had always eaten just about anything, good and bad, trying to keep up with the bad diet by working out more. My old buddy always said "You can't outrun the fork." I tried proving him wrong, but know today he was right. Exercise and nutrition, when maximized, have such a profound impact on recovery. Recovery is such a process, and there are many levels of wellness which can be attained. First and foremost, getting out of the grips and having the obsession to use drugs and alcohol removed has to happen. From there, things like education, exercise, nutrition and spirituality help build a foundation which can be unshakable. And that's what began happening in my life. That sets up for dealing with anything that happens, and learning from the worst of times. And that's a beautiful thing, because those times will come.
As mentioned previously, 2014 and 2015 were years of significant losses in my life, and 2016 would prove to be the same. My grandma got sick in the summer, with some stomach problems that put her in the hospital. The docs did what they could and ordered her back for some testing a few weeks out, something that should have been done sooner. She ended up back in the hospital and within a few days, was transferred to Abbott Northwestern. By the time I and other close family had arrived, the outlook was grim. They could either let her body try to work the problems out, which wasn't likely, or do surgery, something that left a 50/50 chance at living.
It was a challenging week or so watching her condition decline. She lost mental capacity along the way, and it was clear her body was shutting down. Family came in to see her from all over. As challenging as that was, hindsight has me realize it was such a blessing to be around, to be sober, to be present during those times. Some of you will remember from my story that I lost my other grandma while in treatment, and my last interaction with her was not a good one. After that interaction, I knew she was sick, yet never went to be with her. This time, in 2016 with my other grandma, it would be much different. I sat with her, combed her hair, held her hand, talked with her, and supported her in any way I could. I left on a Sunday night, feeling some sort of feeling, knowing they'd be taking her back to our hometown to a hospice program the next morning. I almost turned back, but knew I had to let go at some point. She never made it back home. I got the call the next morning, she passed early that Monday morning.
One year to the day that my grandpa passed away, grandma was gone. And just as I was able to with grandpa's funeral, I'd be able to contribute to grandma's celebration in a unique way. Grandma wasn't part of any churches. We held a ceremony at a facility down the road from all her family in Massachusetts. My brother and I teamed up to organize and facilitate the ceremony. There was no better way to honor her than to be there in her final days, to celebrate her with family and to send her off with the best memories. A far cry from what addiction has in store for us. Addiction would have likely had me miss most of her final days and maybe even her celebrations.
Recovery does work, and it provides opportunities to be complete with those we love. I'm incredibly thankful to feel closure with most of the loved ones I've lost in recovery. It's more drive to continue living the life I'm living. There's such an extraordinary life out there, and even through all the losses, so much peace and joy to be experienced. I'm incredibly grateful for that today. The opportunities would only grow in frequency and gravity as the years went on. Stay tuned for the next post, and subscribe below to receive notifications of new posts.