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  • Writer's pictureJack Shain

Our House Is On Fire

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

Hello everyone. My name is Jack Shain and I am the owner of Keep Left Recovery, a private drug & alcohol counseling practice in West Los Angeles. To combat the boredom and cabin fever many of us in Los Angeles may be feeling, I am writing a daily blog post. I really doubt this will cure anyone’s boredom, but it helps me. In full disclosure, I have not been writing for a few years. I somehow finished college with a creative writing minor and have never taken the opportunity to put it to good use. I do not know where this blog will lead or if anyone will even read it. My goal is to write 30 posts in 30 days and to share my experience in these uncharted times.

I was originally inspired to spearhead this project after meeting daily with a group of experts from Loyola Marymount University via Zoom. One of the common themes that we have been discussing daily is what to do in the midst of the Safe at Home Order. The metaphor we use is simple: Our House Is On Fire. Do we chase the arsonist or bring a ladder to the window so people can climb down?

Chasing the arsonist is easy and seductive. I have been programmed and conditioned to chase the arsonist. From media conglomerates' blatant use of propaganda to the sophisticated opinions of social media, I have found myself flirting with panic attacks and wanting to hide beneath the fortified security of my covers. I have relished in blaming and cursing Generation Z for partying on Florida’s coastline. And I have been thoroughly amused that one of the most conservative presidencies is quickly enacting socialist ideology and practices. But staring at my phone’s news app only leaves me anxious, neurotic, financially insecure, and resentful. All of this and I have not even got out of bed yet. Yes, this is what every morning has been the last week.

Bringing the ladder to the window is not as fun. It requires me to think beyond myself, and as a recovered alcoholic, I can say most of my thoughts are selfish in nature. But like in Business and Crisis Management, you need to pay yourself (aka take care of yourself) first. As the serenity prayer reminds me, COVID-19 is bigger than me, and I can do nothing to stop it from killing potentially thousands of people. I cannot stop it from halting all business and reducing my income to $0. I have plenty of friends who have already lost their jobs or had their hours reduced.

What I must remember is my life has become inconvenient. I now must participate in 12 step meetings via Zoom. Restaurants are takeout only. My job has transitioned to online sessions for addiction groups. Stepping outside is uncertain death for some. My lifestyle has changed incredibly. Hell, I had to postpone my own wedding by six months. At the rate things are looking, September still may not be a good wedding date. I am struggling to live without.

Again, I am uncertain where this blog's life will lead. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel. All I know is that I have to do something to keep my apathetic demons at bay. Isolation is not good for us Alcoholics and Addicts. My wife (as of one week ago--we had a civil ceremony to help alleviate the painful choice of postponing) and I are doing the best we can not to argue and bicker. My goal is to provide one person’s experience and bring some hope and strength to the readers’ daily lives. Please stay healthy and remain safe. Last but not least, I hate to say it, but listen to the government’s advice. Stay home. Engage in social distancing. And wash your hands. But... fuck the government too.

This article was written by Jack Shain CADC - II, Founder & CEO of Keep Left Recovery

House On Fire is a drawing by Grant Pace and can be found at:

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Mar 23, 2020

Congratulations on tackling uncertainty through your great writing.

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