By: Marilyn L. Davis
In 2011, I lost my job. That sounds like I was careless and misplaced it similar to keys. As if I could run around in frantic circles, or reflect on the last place I saw it, and then magically, I would find my job again. What is accurate is that, my job, after more than 20 years had ended.
Jobs, unlike keys, are not hanging somewhere, just misplaced.
When my job ended, this prompted me to look at other ways to advocate about recovery. I had opened and run a women’s recovery home
and had learned to listen, and learned to write. I found that writing something served several purposes. One, to make sure that the writing reinforced what I was saying, as I could not remember if I had given the information to each woman verbally. It is like teaching any subject; you have heard yourself say the same thing so many times, that you could forget if you said something important to this year’s students. Writing, on the other hand, guaranteed that even if I missed telling someone, the women were exposed to the basic message in their TIERS Personal Discovery Guides.
The other self-serving motive was that I knew I could reference it should I need it for groups; or to avoid an argument if someone said, “You never told me that.”
Silent Telling: Diminishing the Shame and Defensiveness
Addiction carries so much shame and guilt that pointing out what needed to change verbally meant that many women heard this as simply an attack. They could not listen to or sometimes hear the similarities in my life and theirs if I told them. They could not hear the hope that I had for their changes and a new life because they got defensive. However, they could hear my message of recovery, redemption and renewal when they read.
When a woman no longer felt attacked, different or singled out, she could talk about her experiences, her dashed hopes and dreams, the demons in the night, within and without. When she wrote about her life, I could learn about her fears, her courage, her guilt; the things that she fervently wanted in life and what she was willing to face with bravery and dignity to accomplish a different life. I found a passage by Holly Payne, The Sound of Blue: A Novel
and had a poster made for my office.
“Where the rivers meet you tell me of your black dreams.
Your memories make me uneasy.
But I listen because I know my listening, like all other listening allows you to heal.”
When I reflected on what I missed the most from the house closing, I remembered the listening. I was now writing; how could I incorporate the listening into that? Those two endeavors seemed almost contradictory; writing is conveying words, listening is hearing them spoken and sometimes, unspoken by others. However, I knew how much value I placed on reading, and thought that perhaps writing for a greater audience might accomplish the same results for others. But I had to overcome my fears about my abilities and risk rejection of my writing.
Show Your Writing to Someone
I took a gamble and showed my writings from the house to a friend, a published author of poetry. I was hesitant to show him as I suffer from poet envy. He knew my fears of turning the writing over to someone to edit.
However, editing is believing you have a lovely tulip patch, full and rich with color, all standing erect and reflecting your care. The editor knows that, just under the surface, there are hidden bulbs of wisdom. They also know that the article needs pruning or may ask that certain passages are culled; others may need to be elaborated on to help the reader understand.
Then you have to spread the tulips and sentences out; giving each their prominent place in the garden or the article. Readers can focus on a single passage or read the entire article; now exactly as you wanted it and thought it was before you gave it to someone to edit. I listened, I learned, and I ended up with what I wanted.
Listening to Pain and Promises
With the house closed, and my work edited, I reflected on how much I missed hearing about the pain of addiction and the promise of recovery. After twenty-five years of listening and talking; hearing and advising; surrounded most days by as many as seventeen women in various stages of recovery, my world became almost silent.
This same friend suggested that I write from my personal experience on sites like LinkedIn
, joining groups about addiction. I took his advice; testing the waters; seeing if I made sense to those in the field, and listening to their responses to my words. When I read the feedback, although positive, I knew that I was preaching to the choir
as we say in the south. They too understood the untold misery of addiction and the rich rewards of recovery.
Were there other avenues and opportunities to write about recovery? Ezine Articles
, Hub Pages
and Sober World
all seemed relatively safe formats to share the lessons and hear the responses from those either not influenced by addiction or for those wanting support for their recovery. I took the advice of Neil Gaiman
from The Graveyard Book
“Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.”
Finding the Missing Key
Writing helped me find that missing key; misplaced for a while when I thought it only had one door, the recovery house. When I changed my focus and perspective, I realized I had other opportunities to spread the word of recovery and listen to the voices of those who were changing, growing and becoming their better selves in recovery.
have an opportunity to share your knowledge about your passions.
Just as I discovered doors opening on addiction and writing, Two Drops of Ink
might be that other platform you’ve been looking for to share your writing, wisdom, how-to knowledge, or get exposure for your blog or book. A quick review of our submissions page might just be worth your time
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing