I am writing to you from la frontera, the borderlands.
I live in the desert.
The vultures scream above me flapping wings, blizzard of feathers, revolting in the bleak sky.
The dry heat envelops, wraps its arms around me, rocking and quieting me.
Sunlight blinding. Atop white hot rocky formations, the heart is barren.
I see a tree, my face etched into her naked branches. Her skeleton bent toward the sun as the lizard scurries up her spine.
I live in the desert.
There is life here.
-written October 2016, right before my husband went to rehab.
The Place Between The Now and The Then: contemplations in early recovery.
Then: Spring was devastating in 2016. My husband was an active spiraling dope addict. The warm-up just a reminder of the life that was passing us by while we were locked up in the cold winter cave that was my husband’s addiction. Yeah winter seemed to never end. Now: it’s spring 2017. Life’s different, life beckons to me, her arms outstretched, her embrace warm.
“Without pain, how could we know joy?”
Oh the pure immeasurable joyful bliss recovery brings. Oh the euphoria that exists only so divinely in its duality, emerging from memories of bleak suffering. This was a week of anniversaries for my husband and I. Each new milestone is measured by its 2016 shadow counterpart, not just cerebrally and cognitively, but on a raw emotional level. Now: Friday April 7, 2017 my husband celebrated 6 months of sobriety. Then: On that date last year, my husband was heavy into junk, any opiate he could get. Now: This past week on April 13th 2017 was our five year anniversary; we enjoyed a sober and relaxing dinner together after work. Then: On this date last year my husband was unemployed, on the couch sick and I was in a dark place with him. Now: This Easter 2017, we ate at my parents and went for a hike with our dog. Then: Last year we (I) cooked at our place with family visiting; my husband disappeared for about 2 hours and withdrew cash from our bank account to get high. I accused, he lied, I cried, we fought, and I probably drank too much wine. Last year we lived in a tomb where death surrounded us. Then we walked out. Okay more like struggled, thrashed, and clawed our way out. But what I’m saying is after the tomb, well damn, you really and truly appreciate life. The place between life and death in early recovery. This is the duality I speak (write) of.
There is no large without small, no shame without pride, no strength without weakness, no bravery without fear, no joy without suffering, no pain without pleasure. No life without death.
Perspective is fucking everything. Awareness of this, I think, it can save us. Save us from what you ask? For starters, our excessive need for more, more stuff, more things, more money, the never enough attitude, the ‘her house is bigger and her car is shinier than mine’ shit, the social media comparison game, the marketing capitalistic mind corrupter, the fake reality tv, the we are the things that we own mindset, the endless consumption, the meaningless and boring materialism that degrades our humanity. Once you have emerged from the tomb, the material seems trivial, and there is elation in the place between life and death; it’s actually a space of pure life, stripped down, free of the “things”, unencumbered, naked. I reside in a joyful receiving of a life once departed. This must be the gratitude gangster speaking, but yeah perspective is brilliant.
Early recovery is the space in between, it is la frontera, the borderlands. The flourishing, yet deadly, scorching, and breathtaking desert. Between memory and history, past and present overlapping, the future one of never ending possibility. Particles moving backwards and forwards in time existing in all possible places at once, the universe splitting into billions of parallel universes, and yet on earth I am more connected to the dirt and mud through deep roots than ever. Between infinite galaxy and finite earth. It is blurred here, and it is beautiful. There is also pain here.
The emotions are still raw; I have relapse dreams and when I wake the vivid and intense emotion I feel is exactly that as I experienced when my husband was using. It comes in waking too, the emotion I mean. When he doesn’t answer the phone, or accidentally parks in a snow covered handicap parking (he must have been high). The feelings wash over, my body and my mind taken out to deep obscure sea. It’s like regressive time travel, dropping me in a nightmare. It’s the bobbing, floating, salty place between dream and reality. Ocean’s frontera, a tidal borderlands, deep, expansive, moving, life-filled. From duality’s womb, la frontera births exultation.
Journey Through The Now and The Then:
Fight like crazy
Today my husband is 190 days sober. He is in early recovery and he is beating opioid addiction. It is spring, I am discovering rebirth in the borderlands. I am experiencing gratitude. Here and now, in the space in between, grounded in the past, taking flight into future, my memory reminds me to gently fight for our freedom.