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my heart is a boat on the sea

I

The Search

Into the darkness shall come the Light

And along with the Light, the Son.

For tis the Fate of Man to strive

“til a God-like dignity is won.

For thence shall flow the bliss of Love.

And the Solitude of One….. Paul Jelaco  2009

It never occurred to me in 2004 when I had no other options than to get sober that my life would ever be able to reflect any goodness or light. I certainly hadn’t felt anything good about myself in a really long time. Truthfully, I felt that disappearing would be my best gift for the world.

It had been that way for as long as I could remember and it didn’t change for quite some time after I started to sober up. About a year into sobriety, I decided to get a sponsor and work the steps. I wasn’t eager about it, but I had to rack up some recovery capital and I had no idea how else to do it.

I couldn’t figure out how to pick a sponsor. I knew of several characters with time in my meetings but I found most of them caustic or bully-ish. I grew up with bullies and I wasn’t about to be shamed or coerced into any spiritual action. That happened in my childhood with my family’s church and I am left soured to religion in a PTSD sort of way.

I had seen Paul around for awhile. He was a classic big book thumper. He carried an AA book to every meeting. He often shared ” the only thing you need to know about God is you’re not God”. He was gentle and I thought I could probably manipulate him. I wasn’t right.

He insisted that I do things in the traditional way. He also insisted that I consider the notion that God does not create Junk- (meaning me) It took awhile for that to sink in. Luckily it has.

Paul saved my life. He gave me life really. He never lost faith in me. Even when so often I had no faith in myself. I think he was actually proud of me. He saw all the things my internalized shame doesn’t allow me to see. He forgave me for being human. I only wish he had forgiven himself more. Although I learned from him that what we believe and how we maneuver in the world don’t always match.  That comes with emotional sobriety.

Paul passed away riddled with cancer and a long bout with treatment. He was a counselor in a methadone clinic near the park that I live near. I shut down spiritually when he passed. I can’t say I’ve completely recovered from his departure yet. Years ago and I’m still a basket case – living in neutral with no real desire to shift in forward or backward.

Oddly enough I am working with some people that he used to work with and am a counselor in a methadone clinic. One of my co-workers gave me a poem he wrote. My heart is tender and so I post as I remember.

I love you Paul. Thank you. Safe travels..

There’s a lamp that won’t light In my poetry room And children out playing And a big full moon My man’s barricaded down in his womb He’ll be coming out soon I remember when I met him He blew in like the wind No one was more beautiful Or dangerous than him He blew through my soul Like a tangerine wind He’ll be coming out soon I never knew I Was built so strong My heart My heart is a boat on the sea I never thought I Was built for hurricanes My heart My heart is a boat on the sea

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