Six Years’ Sober

Six years ago, I went to a retreat center on top of a mountain in a last ditch effort to get sober. I was there for 8 days. Here’s what I wrote while I was there:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

I’d never heard of an Ayurvedic massage, not before my self-imposed rehab at a mountain retreat that promised yoga, meditation, vegetarian food, and healing. No meat or alcohol allowed on the premises.

It was here on a table, on top of a mountain so high that we often walked through clouds, that silent women anointed my body — my forehead, my palms, my feet — with warm, fragrant oil. Their skilled caresses and the lull of soft Indian music made me feel like I was in another world.

Like anything might happen.

I vaguely remembered something about the anointing of saints, of Jesus. I read later in the Ayurvedic literature in my room that it was a call for healing. For miracles.

I wondered if the silent women could feel how desperately I needed a miracle. I knew, though, looking in the mirror later, that desperation was a feeling that I could no longer summon up. Instead, a familiar numbness clouded my mind, obscuring what used to be concern for my own wellbeing.

“Miracles happen here,” claimed the retreat’s website.  I needed one for myself, no doubt. But also some to bless those I had damaged with my need to anoint myself with wine.

During my final days at the spa, I was anointed for the last time. Afterward, the woman wrapped steaming towels around my head and feet so that I was covered in a shroud of white, with a sheet wrapped tightly around my body.

Like a corpse I thought. The anointing of the dead.

It’s up to you, she seemed to say.

I could take this blessing from the gods and hold it tight forever. Or release it and turn away. Let the unforgiving tide roll in and take me out to sea.

I want to hold on.

13 thoughts on “Six Years’ Sober

  1. Congratulations on your six years!! Do you continue doing the ayurvedic oil massages? I find them off the charts, like very core medicine, more important than almost anything except maybe sleep. No idea why they’re so calming and powerful, and need to do them more regularly 🙂 Especially for a dried out body (inside and out) from alcohol. So glad you gave yourself that gift and it brought you on this path away from the poison. Adrian

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  2. Hi Shawna congratulations on your 6 years. You are my sober sister – I too celebrated 6 years on 31 March. I remember reading your blog in the early days and finding so much strength from your words. Congratulations again !

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  3. Six years is immense. So well done! Sorry I’m late in commenting but I’ve been so absent here. Like Tori I remember reading your blog and finding it relatable and comforting. ❤️

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    1. So good to hear from you too! I can’t believe it’s been so long since we were all here, blogging away. We had kind of a mini family here, you know? And if found your site mirroring what I was feeling at the time, particularly around kids. Seems like it was years ago. ❤️❤️❤️

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  4. Same, Shawna. It HAS been years! I’ve barely written during the time and it’s gone past in a flash. Although my brain is a little foggy because of Covid, I can still remember the people here who’ve meant so much to me ❤️💜❤️

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