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A New Season
celebrating Jonah's recovery
Co-Create, Marple, J Dziak, and hkfgc joined the list of subscribers this week. Welcome to the little space of the Internet!
This week marks the 62nd post of Release and Gather’s 10+ months of publication on Substack, which also coincides with my youngest child’s recovery from opioid addiction. When I began writing here, I was also learning that my brother’s Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) had made a reappearance and that I was a perfect match for his stem cell transplant.
Yeah—I think I’ll add a blog to my very full plate.
No, that’s not what I was thinking back then, but maybe subconsciously I knew I needed to do something for myself, and I hope along the way that my words have made a difference to someone else who’s navigating the tough spots in life.
My tough spots these days are more like rocks in my shoe rather than boulders in my path, and I’m grateful for a season of relative calm. This week my journey has given me mostly wildflowers and butterflies. I received a wonderful note via snail mail from our 11-year-old granddaughter Chloe, which was food for my soul.1 Our older son, Noah, messaged that he was promoted at his job at the bank where he works. My heart soared for him! And then I was able to see our other kids as we came together for Jonah’s graduation from his long-term treatment program. At last!
Some of you have been reading along as I’ve shared (with his permission) some parts of his recovery experience. I wrote about his job interview at 90 days and the outcome of that interview (and a few other words about choosing the wrong path). I told you how he was forming bonds with the other clients and how some were really helping him—especially George. I shared some really funny stories when we went to the beach for the weekend on his first pass. I updated you when he reached six months, again when he hit 7 months, and yet again at 8 months. Thank you for praying for him and for rooting for him. You have no idea how much that has meant to this mama or to him (yes, he’s been reading along for a while now).
Graduation was an informal affair, but we were able to see so many of the counselors, clients, and former clients (including George!) who helped Jonah along the way as well as his sponsor Ben, to whom I am indebted forever. We also met some guys Jonah has helped and is continuing to help. That’s probably what makes me proudest.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Jonah read something he wrote, and I asked if I could share it here because it was just so beautiful.
“yeah that’s cool with me”
So here are Jonah’s words—I hope they help someone.
I couldn’t talk about how terrible it was before I came to [redacted]2, but to be fair, I don’t think I could put the full extent of the pain into words. I’m at a point in life where I would rather understand my journey than it be understood by others. I’ve been told I’ve been an all-or-nothing-person my entire life. I agree. I feel like a did a speed run through my addiction. It was less of a gradual path and more of an exponential one. Exponentially, my hatred for myself, the world, and my life grew.
There was one thing I had yet to try—sobriety. If I remember correctly (something I still struggle with), I made the decision to complete the program within my first month in Extended Care.3 I knew I didn’t have anything or much of anyone going for me outside of treatment.
Most people don’t get a chance to take nearly a year to separate themselves from the chaos of their life, to focus on their mental and physical health, much less do it with almost no outside influences. I had traded a battle with substances for a war within myself. It was me versus me at last—no distractions, no running.
In the beginning, I was lost. I felt like a 20-year-old newborn. I wasn’t sure if I was doing anything right, but I knew to do the opposite of what I did before. I quickly realized that no one else were sure if they were doing anything right either. I stuck with it.
I dug deep into my past, deep into my inner self, slowly stripping away every layer I’d painted on top of my broken foundation until I was left with a vulnerable skeleton. I allowed others to read these bones. They let me know that they were alright, that the most genuine part of myself was left.
With a foundation that was now loved and cared for by myself and the people around me, I was able to start painting this bare metal skeleton I have. Layer by layer, with some sanding in between, I painted myself with the image of what a younger, innocent version of myself would have needed.
This journey has been tedious and challenging, but just as equally enjoyable and worthwhile. I am more than blessed with this newfound life, and I thank everyone who has helped along the way.
Jonah continues to work at a local paint and body shop and loves the work of painting vehicles—especially when they are imports with very cool paint jobs! In his spare time, he’s also begun distressing and modifying vintage clothes, which further feeds his creativity. He’ll be moving into a sober living house that will keep him plugged into this treatment organization. He will also continue meeting with his counselor and sponsor outside the program. Jonah understands what he needs to do to remain in recovery. I’m confident he has the motivation and accountability partners to ensure his success.
I wish I could share with you all the photos I took so you could see the happiness, mirth, hugs, and camaraderie in the room. I can’t, obviously, but here are some pictures of some of the family. Thanks for celebrating with us!
We took a road trip with her a couple of months ago, which I wrote about:
I’ve redacted all references to the facility and area, but if you are looking for a program for your loved one, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
Extended care, or “EC" for short, begins after the first 30 days in a more clinical setting. EC is comprised of several houses that are closely monitored by staff 24/7. It’s like sober living but with many more rules and requirements. During their time at EC, clients “phase up” based on requirements they’ve completed. The entire program normally takes about 8-9 months to complete.