Now that the most often I see people is via meetings online, I do get to feeling a little cooped up. To combat this, I sometimes go for a drive, grab something to eat and sit in my car, catching up on my favourite podcasts. (I mean, I do go (sparingly), to see real live people, too, but that’s not the point of this post.)
The last time I felt cooped up, I was on more than a mission to simply escape the four walls I’d been looking at for way too long. A recent prayer suggestion from my spiritual director, regarding a strained relationship, was waiting for my undivided attention. Unexpectedly, another relationship had required such firm boundary setting that I was feeling bereft of emotional energy and that needed some reflection, too. What to do, what to do, echoed in my head about both situations.
After grabbing my meal, I went and parked in liquor store parking lot. In between mouthfuls of food I people watched. Trying, but knowing the futility of, to guess who was going right home to drink their purchase and who was replenishing their liquor cabinet, able to close that door without a second thought. It was not lost on me that I’d come to a liquor store parking lot to take a hard look at generational trauma that was impacting so much in my life. Nor that, at the end of that week, God willing, I’d be looking at 35 years of hard won sobriety. Generational alcoholism, generational trauma. Sitting under a lamp post’s light.
It was here then, that I turned to a podcast episode, unaware that all that was swirling within me would converge within it. If you haven’t heard of Kate Bowler, please go take a listen to her podcast, read her books. The phrase in the accompanying photo could’ve been written by her. She is the best combination of wit, wisdom and grace plus hard earned, uninvited grit, that lets you know she’s been there.
Earlier in the day I’d texted my therapist and, after explaining all that was happening, ended by saying, “what’s up with the universe? ”She replied, “isn’t the universe a hoot!” No. “Definitely not.” She replied by sending me an emoji of an owl hooting, tiny owls flying across my screen with little hooting noises accompanying them into the ethers. Her levity collided with my angst, and I laughed wholeheartedly, despite myself.
Right at the end of the episode with Elaine Pagels, Kate talks about how she’s learning something from Elaine about how love pulls us forward. As she says those words, my body is wracked with sobs and out of my mouth comes all the stuff that needs to be said. Sobs and words tumble out until I need to pull my oxygen hose away from my face lest snot plugs it up. Wailing, keening sounds I don’t recognize as my own, punctuate the air with my grief.
Eventually I do the gasping short breath in - breath in - exhale shudder that a two year does when they’re about cried out. My shoulders relax. I grab a handful of tissues and wipe away snot from my face. I put my nasal cannulas back in my nose and take some deep breaths.
I look up and take in my surroundings, grateful that I parked towards the back of the lot. Grateful that no one pulled up beside me during my snot nosed prayer. Not a car in the lot except mine. For a moment I imagine what a fellow member of sobriety might have thought had they seen me wailing in a liquor store parking lot on the cusp of my sobriety birthday. Then I imagine what someone coming from the liquor store might have done. I picture them yanking open my door and offering me the contents of their brown paper bag.
I would’ve told them that what I needed to drink in, was something not found in a store. I can only imagine their confusion had I told them I’d found it through a podcast. Hoot. Hoot. Hoot. 😉