Desire for Happy Destinies

Merlyn Karst

I am writing this on my natal birthday. I arrived 88 years ago. The road of life provided a rewarding and satisfying journey. That is, until I found myself on dangerous and lonely roads. I tried finding direction using alcohol—my only drug of choice. Instead it fueled chaos and consequence. I needed a new road and new direction.  I first heard the words “happy destiny as I was listening to A vision for You when I joined a group seeking help and hope

I found fellowship, ritual, and comfort. I listened to the stories of lived experience of peers who found recovery structured daily living. I began “trudging the road of happy destiny.” My long-term recovery journey now exceeds two decadesThe real blessing comes from achieving otherwise doubtful longevity. Like many to many millions, the physical importance of diet and exercise was constant refrain. Trudge rhymes with drudge, and there is certainly that in the recovery process, there is a bit of mental exercise in the ups and downs of daily living. I appreciated the recognition of milestones reached on the journey.  Chips among dips.  

Coincidentally, I wrote a blog titled The Power of Story—in Song. In doing some research, read about the life and times of James Taylor. I loved Fire and Rain and the line “I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend” which Carol King responded to with “you’ve got a friend.” I had friend who warned, “alcohol is out to kill you. But first it wants to get you alone.” Friendship and fellowship are essential on the recovery journey.  In the Taylor story it notes that a key part of his recovery has been physical exercise. He says, “It’s the one piece of advice I give to people in recovery: You’ve got to start moving. It’s the only way to get your nervous system back” My birthday began with a session in a warm, deep water pool at the YMCA. I love the physical well-being, a quiet mind, and settled nervous system.  

The Phoenix is a national recovery resource providing a variety of ways to “start moving” to those in need in many communities. We are very fortunate to have the presence of The Phoenix in my Southern California community. The Phoenix offers a free sober active presence to individuals who have suffered from a substance use disorder and to those who choose a sober life. Using a peer support model, they help members heal and rebuild their lives while also striving to eliminate stigma around recovery. Together we…Rise, Recover, LiveThe only membership fee is 48 hours of continuous sobriety. They’re here for you when you’re ready—because together we are stronger. As they state, this is about rising together to meet the challenges of recovery and telling the world that, today, we are living our lives to their full potential in ways that put physical, mental and spiritual health above all elseFrom CrossFit and climbing, to hiking, running, cycling, surfing, yoga and more, we believe fostering human connections in mental, physical, and spiritual fitness is a powerful way to rebuild wounded bodies and spirits and restore hope. 

Since moving back to Southern California, I have reconnected with former associates serving the justice system’s recognition and implementation of First Step and Second Chance Act. Also, California’s special actions reducing felonies to misdemeanors resulting in programs needing to serve individuals outside of and beyond incarceration—including parolees. An area to research relates to what inventory of recovery capital a parolee may possess from their experience and activities during incarceration and help build on that. To know more about the subject go to: recovery capital: its role in sustaining recoveryGrants and contracts support effective use of supervision, education, and motivational direction to reduce recidivism and reinforce the value of services like peer-to-peer programs, skills training, and supportive housing.  

As written previously, communities across the country are working to implement innovative programs within the justice system Fortunatelythe value of Medically Assisted Treatment and Recovery is recognized in overcoming craving and providing relief from the agony of withdrawal.  With the absence of both, the brain begins to be receptive to positive behavioral change. 
It is hoped that information and evidence of the positives for chance, choice, and change will diminish the usual resistance to support services like sober housing and lessen stigma and discrimination for those experiencing the mental health issue of substance use disorders. There is no honor in denying help and hope.  

With closing words of comfortWe shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Happy Road of Destiny. 

 

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