23 years ago today

Most days I don’t remember exactly what I was doing x number of years ago. But, today, on this evening I remember clearly what I was doing 23 years ago. I was house sitting in St. Paul, MN. I was (sorry to our family friends in whose home I was sitting who might read this post!) very, very stoned (marijuana) and a little drunk. I was in emotional crisis, too. I was suddenly truly terrified that I might be an alcoholic.

Three months before, I had wondered if I was an alcoholic. A few years before, even, I might’ve wondered. Back then, though, I was more interested in diagnosing other people’s problems than I was interested in looking at my own.

So, for three months in the spring of 1996, I didn’t drink any alcohol. (I got high. A lot. But that wasn’t drinking, I reasoned.) After three months, I celebrated being not an alcoholic — it was really easy, I was sure, to not drink! — with vodka lemonades alone in a bar in Minneapolis.

That evening, I befriended another 20 something woman who told me she was a heroin addict in recovery. I didn’t know much about substance use disorders and I don’t think it crossed my mind that it was odd that she was drinking with me. We celebrated our non-alcoholism a lot, without a hint of irony. Somehow I got back to the house where I was staying back over in St. Paul; I’m pretty sure I drove. I contacted (via America Online) the hot guy I’d been messaging with and he came over. He was an alcoholic in recovery. I knew that. And, honestly, it made the idea of not drinking a little bit more interesting to me. He was really cute! We made out for a bit and then he went home. He was conflicted about hooking up with someone who wasn’t sober who was also thinking she might need to be. I’m grateful that he left.

July 3, 1996 was the first 24 hours of my life in recovery from alcoholism. I haven’t had to take a drink (or get high) since that time. My life today is happy, joyous, and free.

Since that time, I’ve learned that I have a disease of the body and mind. To recover, I had to not only stop putting the alcohol in my body—putting any alcohol in my body sets off a phenomenon of craving that makes it impossible for me to control how much alcohol I drink. I also had to get honest with myself and do some internal housecleaning so I could connect with a power greater than myself.

See, the weirdest thing about alcoholism is that if I rely only on my mind, it will tell me it’s safe to drink eventually. No matter how much will power or common sense I have, and no matter how many awful consequences follow getting drunk, without spiritual help I will find myself thinking that taking a drink won’t hurt me. It’s a bizarre disease! But, the spiritual solution (of depending on my higher power to remove the idea that I can drink safely) really, really works.

It works so well that I forget how hard it was for me those days. Living was difficult back then because I didn’t know how to be in the world with all the feelings we humans have. I lived in fear most of the time, but was convinced I was afraid of nothing. These days I’m still human, so I have my ups and downs, but for the most part I find myself in what Thich Nhat Hanh and other Buddhists call “the Middle Way.” My Quaker practice and my other spiritual practices help me stay grounded and present in this day. Life feels like a gift, even on my worst days. (Okay, on my worst days maybe I binge watch something on Netflix and don’t feel much of the giftishness of life, but because I’m living in recovery, I always know things will get better!)

I love living in recovery and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If anyone who is reading this has any questions about it, please don’t hesitate to ask!

wordpress weirdness (old posts republishing)

With a new plugin here on wordpress that finds broken links, I took some time the other day fixing links and saving the updated information. Apparently, this sent out posts as if they were new to some of you. I’m honored that you elect to receive my posts! but I’m sorry you’ve been flooded with old — extremely personal, I now see! — posts from a decade or so ago!

question for my fellow William H. Hall High graduates

Is my denial more intense than I even realize? I’ve been digging into my own racism for a few years now, and I simply can’t recall memories of overt racism when I was in high school. I am confident that my absence of memories is NOT proof of the absence of overt racism. I suspect strongly it’s just proof of my obliviousness as a typical white suburban girl.

There was lots of indirect racism — just as real, but it’s not the kind of racism I’m thinking about at the moment. Like, I’m sure that most of us white kids assumed Black people were arrested more because they committed more crimes rather than the truth that they were targeted more. Or we believed it was possible and good to be “color blind.” There was the racism involved the way we socially segregated ourselves, but “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, and other conversations on race” helped me understand that a little better. For sure, our high school and we white students were racist (we benefit from white supremacy, so unless we were actively working against racism, we were part of the problem). But my question is about overt racism when white people were alone. In the wake of yet another ivy league-bound kid being exposed as using overtly racist language, I am asking myself again, did I witness overt racism when I was growing up?

Did kids use the N word or make overtly racist jokes when Black people weren’t around?

If I did, I definitely don’t remember it. I’d like to remember, though. I want to know the truth.

I’d love to know your memories of our high school’s racism. Commenting here is fine, or emailing me at heather at grantwinners dot net works or messaging me on any of the social media platforms where you’ve found this post also works. Thanks in advance for your help in building my memory!

Elizabeth Warren *almost* has my vote; her racism around Native/Indigenous people is still a problem.

Even though she was a Republican until the 90s, I like Elizabeth Warren. I like so many of her policies — I even just like that she has policy ideas — but the Native people I follow on twitter still consider her aggressively racist. I am listening to them. I’ve been trying to find more writings by Native/Indigenous people about what Elizabeth Warren should do to begin repairing the harm she has done and continues doing.

There are many articles explaining how and why Warren’s actions have been racist against indigenous people (Google it if you haven’t heard), but I haven’t (yet) found many stating what she should do to begin making real amends.

On twitter, someone replied to a thread — someone, it turns out, who is a freelance writer and co-author of this amazing piece explaining Warren’s racism! — with what seems (to me, at least) like a decent summary of what Warren should do. I’d love for Warren’s campaign staff to read these suggestions and take them seriously, perhaps reach out to this person and talk with them more:

In text (images follow), tweets by Cole DeLaune @ColeDeLaune1:

What would be the beginning (not the end) of the conversation re #ElizabethWarren fostering a relationship with Indigenous America that’s not aggressively racist:

1) a mea culpa that accounts for all components of her decades-long anti-Indigenous record

(1/2)

2) denunciation of the bigotry of her supporters (like the #Brokeahontas hashtag) + acknowledgement of how she contributed to that dynamic

3) inclusion + representation of Indigenous/CNO perspectives in leadership team even if inconvenient 4 her personally

#ElizabethWarren 2/2

Affirming the existence of Indigenous America in her broader at-large policies (ie publicly including tribal institutions in her higher ed overhaul) would also be helpful

https://twitter.com/ColeDeLaune1/status/1129139485063540736?s=20
https://twitter.com/ColeDeLaune1/status/1129141102924058624?s=20
https://twitter.com/ColeDeLaune1/status/1129141427877715968