Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

Tag: Kaylie Jones

Addiction and Recovery Stories Out The Wazoo

So a couple weeks ago I got a comment from someone who called this site “egotistical” (though to be fair, the person also said they’d gotten help from reading here while in early sobriety). Which made me think about the site’s recent content. I suppose it could be seen as more self-referential than it used to be when I started writing two years ago. Back then I was reviewing books and interpreting medical studies and conducting interviews with interesting people.

In fact I have a bunch of interesting people that I want to interview for this site. Including, for example, Dr. Abraham Twerski, founder of internationally recognized Gateway Rehab and author of a gabillion bestselling books. He has recovery stories out the wazoo. Catching up with this rabbi and addictions-specialist later today. … I have more books to review than I know what to do with. But most of the reviews, interviews, and feature stories now go into other publications that have a wider readership than this blog (plus, they pay).

For example my interview with Marianne Warnes, the mother of Carrie John, a University of Maryland Ph.D. addictions researcher whose boyfriend and lab partner helped her shoot some drugs he’d bought from an online pharmacy—and who subsequently died of anaphylactic shock, because the drugs weren’t actually drugs but a contaminant. New York Times writer David Carr (author of a memoir of addiction/recovery, The Night of the Gun) liked that story:

 

Also my review of Kaylie Jones’s helpful and eloquent book about her recovery from alcoholism, Lies My Mother Never Told Me, which appeared last week in Renew Magazine. My Q&A with Kaylie is online, but to read the review you have to buy the print edition (which rocks, by the way. Please subscribe. Next issue: Bill Clegg).

I get lots of mail from readers these days, too. An interventionist recently wrote me asking what I thought about this idea:

I am passionate about my intervention work, and I stumbled upon the following recently re: “eIntervention.”

He provided a bunch of links to studies about getting sober online that I haven’t yet looked at, but this is an interesting phenomenon—the fact that more and more people are getting sober, or at least beginning their journeys toward sobriety, via the Internet. I did the same, which is how I became Guinevere.

More stories: I’m in the process of putting faces to the avatars/usernames I’ve known for four years. I met up with one woman last month in New York; in a few days I’m meeting up with another guy who’s moving from the Rocky Mountains back to the East Coast. This summer I hope to connect with one or two more of these amazing, open, dedicated, sober people with whom I’ve been “eRecovering” for four years. It’s interesting to feel so close to people you’ve never met. Until this year I’d never met any of them, but I’d trust each one of these folks with the keys to my house.

Plus I have non-addiction stories coming out my ears. I have ideas for paintings (as well as commissions) lined up like a row of beans to be picked. I just gotta get in there and pick them. I also have to get used to planting seeds in the next bed over while the current bed is bearing.

As always, trying to take life and its opportunities and challenges one day at a time. Until last week I’d spent five weeks losing blood. Seriously anemic. Hard to do much without enough hemoglobin, you know? Tough to get oxygen. But yesterday I went running for the first time in maybe three weeks. Can I tell you how good that felt?—I could feel my lungs expanding, I could feel my muscles stretching and powering me over the hills, I felt the medicine. Drugs always worked for me (until, as they say, they didn’t anymore). And exercise works for me, too. I sometimes wonder when or if it might stop working.

If you have thoughts about beginning your journey to sobriety online, or if you have an interesting addiction/recovery story of your own, please comment below or email me at guinevere (at) guineveregetssober (dot) com.

Step 11 in New York.

Just back from New York, where I talked with Bill Clegg about his new memoir, 90 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF RECOVERY.

Bill Clegg in the West Village, April 3, 2012.

Getting messages from readers who may have seen the Newsweek excerpt, asking what I think about the book, and whether Clegg is “for real.” “Is he sober?” one reader asked.

Check back to find out. I’m splitting the goods between this site and Renew Magazine, for which I review books. Check your bookstore or better yet subscribe—May’s issue will have a review of Kaylie Jones’s LIES MY MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME and a Q&A with the author.

I like going to New York. I’ve decided to go as often as I can. I used to think I had to have a special reason for going anywhere: a meeting, a conference, a bunch of appointments with important people, Something To Do. My new special reason for going to New York:

Because I want to.

This time, when I wasn’t working, I went to a couple of Al-Anon meetings. One was a Step 11 meeting at Blessed Sacrament church on the Upper West Side. I got there half an hour late because of subway delays; when I opened the door to the meeting place in the rectory at 11:30, there were about 20 people sitting in chairs around the edge of the room. The blinds were drawn, the lights of the huge crystal chandelier were off, and they were meditating. I sat down and joined them.

Afterward I sat in the church to be quiet and look at the candles. It was Wednesday of Holy Week; a homeless guy was lying in a back pew, sleeping; I expected half an hour of quiet time, but suddenly everyone else in the nave stood up and I saw that the priest had walked in and was getting ready to say Mass. So I stayed. I hadn’t been to Mass in—gosh, 25 years? but just like the good Catholic girl I was (and somehow, somewhere inside of me, still am), I knew all the responses; I listened to myself saying them as though it were another person standing inside my skin, talking through my mouth.

Later that day I went to another meeting at Caron in midtown. The weekly topic of this meeting is “intimacy.” It was one of the best meetings I’ve ever been to in my life. They talked frankly about all kinds of ways of being intimate, including sex. I wrote a piece about this experience for another publication and will let you know if and when it’s out… I’m thinking of starting a similar group in my town.

In New York, I stay way downtown. This is my subway stop:

It’s a challenge to maintain my patience in New York because the subway system drives me crazy. Most of the stations are invisible above ground. In London, where I learned to ride subways, the Underground stops are all marked by the ubiquitous and brilliantly designed Tube logo:

In New York you have to morph into a rat to know where the subway stops are. You have to have a nose for holes in the ground. You have to sniff out which stops are uptown-only and which are downtown, and you have to memorize the information in order not to waste time. But once you get inside the stations, you’re likely to see some good art while you’re waiting for the trains.

Just pausing to look at the mosaics is part of recovery for me. It requires me to slow down, be present in my body, be aware. I can appreciate the handiwork of a dedicated artist.

Then just before I left I went to St. Patrick’s and lit a candle for my parents.

The rose window and organ, St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York.

When do you pause to look around you at beauty you take for granted? How do you manage to do it during a busy day?

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