I’ve been talking a lot lately. To alcoholics, addicts, homeless people, neighbors, co-workers, family, friends, people I don’t know and people I know well. Sometimes I over share or volunteer things about myself that are pretty raw and occasionally unhinged, but it feels like the natural, authentic, thing to do given the circumstance. There’s a time and place for everything but, sometimes, when you’re struggling, it just pours out. I’m accepting that and giving myself grace.

When you’re lost in darkness and can’t see the meaning in your moments, speaking will never fail to help you. It will ground and inspire you countless times because, as I’ve learned, the human experience—the vast range of emotions and experiences—is something we all share. There have been innumerable situations in my life lately where I shared something personal about myself with someone and they in turn shared a similar experience and subsequent advice and insight.

God puts people in our lives at any given moment that we need to speak to and that compels us to share our truths, and to lay bare our struggle and suffering, our joy and happiness and our journey.

Community social support, such as peer support, can be just as effective as clinical or professional help in many circumstances. This is why programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and PAL exist; they wouldn’t continue if they weren’t dramatically effective.

As I pick along my days lately and push through depression, I’ve been afforded multiple opportunities to speak with people, and to try and help people. I haven’t hesitated to accept and meet all of them fully on. I’ve cleaned people’s homes. I’ve clothed, shook hands, and hugged people living in alleys. I’ve gone out of my way to scrub dishes, pick up dog poop, call people who are struggling, help people find employment, work late hours for my employer, and be present for my children and my wife even when I feel like I have nothing left in me.

I’m not special. I’m not saying this for clout or prestige or to appear any type of way to anybody. I just do these things and share them with you because frankly, sometimes, I have no idea what else to do. The foundation, the very basis of my spiritual journey in recovery was built on these principles – and today, at ten years sober, going through a remarkably difficult season mentally, I’ve fully fallen back on them. They keep me (somewhat) sane. They keep my feet firmly planted on the ground. The most important thing one can do in their recovery is to give of themselves to others—trying to be useful and helpful in any situation, regardless of how they might be feeling.

When I don’t want to do something – that is most often the most important signifier that said thing should be done. The world can be ugly. We are confronted with loss, pain, discomfort and suffering. These are all inevitable. But our ability to transform that pain into something more enables us to grow beyond the roots of despair that try to plant themselves in us – contrary action and service sever the cord of self-pity.

Do something for somebody. Share something with somebody. Does it feel uncomfortable? Good. Keep doing it – it works. We do not know the intricacies of God’s great plan – only that we are the instruments, the players – he is the director. I make myself available and He uses me every time. I say something off the wall about myself to someone and it turns out that it’s what they needed to hear – they needed to feel less alone, heard, and validated. They needed the help – and so did I.

Don’t ever stop fighting, giving, loving, and practicing vulnerability. It is, in my personal belief, the purpose of life itself. To give freely. It has afforded me a new lease on life, broken the chains of addiction that wound themselves around my weary limbs for years, and even though I don’t feel it in this very moment – will build new foundations for stronger, brighter futures once more.

God bless,

Sean, In Recovery