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  • Writer's pictureJack Shain

No Room For Doubt

The other morning I woke up extra early. I sat down at my computer excited to publish my first blog post. I managed to not check any news (thank god!) or updates on my phone. I logged into Facebook only to see my friend Greg talking into a camera. The blurb above stated, “ came back positive for coronavirus.” (You can watch his video here). My excitement drained and I was left with a harsh reality. My friend Greg was the first person I knew to contract the virus.

It was only a matter of time before I knew someone who contracted it. And it will only be a matter of time before I know someone who may get it and die. But I was horrified when I saw the post. This was an individual who has witnessed me navigate my 20’s and offered me snippets of advice that have helped guide me. With his announcement, Covid-19 officially no longer became a “they” problem. It had manifested into something very real, tangible, and personal. And to be honest, I could not watch the video for over twenty-four hours.

What made it worse was my own mind. It likes to remind me that the news provides numbers in order to make headlines. It tells me data and statistics are concrete, and give people an idea of what is really going on. But then, it makes me believe those same numbers are distant to my immediate interactions and perceptions. With this distance the numbers become abstract, and there is a safety in that abstraction. "If it stays on the fringes, then I cannot get hurt." That was the security blanket I made up in my mind. And my covers just got pulled, leaving a grim perception that this may and probably will become a lot worse in the upcoming weeks. It feels like there is nowhere to run. (Oh, believe me, I am a runner.)

Someone pointed out to me early on in recovery that people usually walk into 12-step fellowships as either a fighter or runner. Seven years ago, I knew I was the latter. This looked like being unable to leave my apartment, check emails, interact with people, attend class, answer the phone, look at myself in the mirror, etc. I was controlled by fear, and I drank and popped a lot of Adderall to help soothe it. I have completed the 12-steps multiple times, and they have now become my most precious tool to navigate resentment, anger, doubt, and trauma. But despite all that, I still wanted to run at the news of my friend. I could not summon the courage to click 'play'. I assumed the answer was the worst possible outcome.

Instead of being held by fear, I have to remember what my sponsor has told me time and time again, “that God is either everything or else he is nothing.” I used to hate that saying. I always felt it was too extreme (coming from a guy who would stay up for 8 days at a time chasing shadow people). It was too absolute of a statement, and my newcomer brain hated how it left no room for debate or doubt. My only argument was "it's bullshit!" -- an argument that proves nothing and leaves me a grumpy cynic. Today it reminds me that I am not the center of the universe -- neither is this blog! There is a process unfolding outside of my control. All I can do is what is in front of me and stay out of the results (Another cliche I used to hate saying. My 22 year old self would shoot me!).

Today I am grateful that my sponsor's gentle reminder holds no room for doubt. I have walked through situations that used to baffle me. I have witnessed miracles of people who had no right to be sober change their lives. So I finally watched the video and found Greg has been quarantining himself and his symptoms have subsided. I reached out to him and he is allowing me to share his video links. He is feeling much better and on the road to recovery. He has even made a new video.

I don't know how this is all going to play out. I cannot keep up with the news and information being dumped into my feed. How could any of us have been prepared for this? Somehow my entire life became busier when Los Angeles decided to shut down. And I am grateful for that. The White House and Senate passed a stimulus package this morning. And telling them to F off, is a step towards arsonist. As bitter as I have been towards the government, I still adhere to their advice: stay indoors, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.

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