“You know what I want to read about?” my friend asks. “How it’s okay to have 11 years in recovery and still want to kill yourself sometimes.”
“What a coincidence,” I respond. “You know what I want to write about? How it’s okay to have a lot of time in recovery and still want to kill yourself sometimes!”
The scene is exactly what you’d expect: I’m sitting outside a recovery clubhouse, checking in with a friend. She’s on her second cigarette in ten minutes and I’m having my normal reaction to talking to her. 97% filled with awe. 2% curious what she did in a past life to end up both wildly wise and spectacularly stunning in this one. 1% staring at her skin and thinking “But really? How can she smoke like that and have skin like THAT?”
She’s in the middle of giving me the pep talk I didn’t realize I needed. We’re talking paths in life and the steps we need to take to get where we want to be in the next few years.
Writing comes up. I tell her how much I miss it. How much better I feel about myself and my life when I plunk myself down in front of the keyboard every day. How it feels like a key part of my path on a deep soul level…and, yet, I don’t show up.
Because the question for me, as it has been for months, is how does one run a startup, plan a wedding, do all the things I need to do for my recovery, be a decent partner/friend/sister/daughter/person, sleep AND have time for hobbies?
But the real question, as we all know, is how does one NOT have time for hobbies? For the things that light us up on the inside? For the things that make life seem less a constant chore, more a fascinating experiment in trying to find joy and hopefully not killing ourselves?
(I’m pretty sure that’s the Merriam-Webster definition of hobbies.)
Don’t get me wrong: in early recovery or some bouts of depression, if you asked me what my hobbies were, I would have crawled out of my skin. I didn’t believe I had any and acknowledging that made me feel like there was yet another thing unfixably broken in me. So if you’re still at that stage, don’t worry. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Prescription: watch Liz Gilbert’s Super Soul Sunday talk called “The Flight of the Hummingbird.”
Her pep talk worked. Here I am, making time for the hobby that makes me feel most alive. Butt in seat, fingers on keyboard, seeing where it goes.
My hope? My ideal outcome for the path it opens?
One day I’ll be the kind of person who has long-term recovery WITHOUT sometimes wanting to kill myself. Because writing, and all that comes with it, will have healed me.
Then, should it happen to come with any positive externalities, I certainly won’t turn them down. I’d love it if the willingness to hit publish and share the journey play a role in fighting the stigma that accompanies some of the things I’ve struggled with.
And if, perchance, one day, instead of having conversations with my friends about how they wish someone was writing what I want to write, they say, “Aren’t you so glad you’ve stuck with writing? Now show me that picture of you and Kate Middleton at the mental health summit you keynoted again!” Well…I wouldn’t mind that at all (hint, hint Universe).