It is great to be back in the garden here in Boston, Massachusetts. I must apologize for the length of time since my introductory post “Hello from Melindaville.” I have just returned from taking a renewal retreat, where I spent two weeks by the sea.
I completed the rough draft of my memoir, “Lost and Found: A Journey” (working title) a couple of weeks ago, which I only started during the first week of May. Writing this memoir has taken me on an incredible journey of self-analysis and self-realization; I believe this has been another important step in my ongoing recovery……
Uncovering painful past memories, such as the ones I have written about in my Melindaville Blog, such as “Childhood Reflections,” or “Should Prostitution Be Legalized,” took me on the mother of all roller coaster rides this summer, often leaving me emotionally battered and bruised. I found it very difficult to view my life experiences under such a magnifying lens, writing about the abuse in my childhood, as well as the years of self-inflicted abuse left me feeling raw and tender.
However, as well as being painful and even traumatic at times, I am also left with an enormous sense of gratitude. Although I knew I had been through a lot in my life, writing my book made me realize how truly fortunate I have been—almost as though I have had a guardian angel watching over me. I survived two heroin overdoses, three suicide attempts and countless forays into extremely dangerous neighborhoods, where I recklessly ventured, in pursuit of scoring drugs.
Although my sense of gratitude increased with the writing of my book, gratitude has been a major factor in my recovery since nearly the beginning. One of the earliest things I learned in recovery was to be grateful. In fact, the very first night I was in recovery at The Freedom House, Sharon, the housemother, sat on my bed and told me what kept her own resolve for recovery strong was a nightly ritual of saying ‘gratefuls.’ She told me no matter what happened during my day, I should always end my night reflecting on the things, for which I should feel grateful.
I clearly remember what I was grateful for that first night. I had been living on the street for about six months, like a stray cat showing up at various friends’ homes, hoping for a couch or floor where I could sleep peacefully for the night or drifting recklessly through the dangerous night streets, riding city busses because I could find no one to take me in on those nights.
So, that first night, I was grateful I had a warm and safe place to stay. That was all. I was not yet grateful that I had stayed clean for that day because I was still in the process of mourning the loss of drugs. In the following months, this would change—and at the top of each grateful list was the gratitude of staying clean another day.
Sharon’s ritual of saying gratefuls became a practice I’ve never abandoned nearly fifteen years later. I have found it has kept me grounded, focused and humble.
I’d like to know what you’re ‘grateful’ for? Do tell!