Recovery

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Last year, though drug-riddled and ill, still she wanted to please me. She saw a vintage sewing machine – my favourite make – in the window of a charity shop. She thought of me, and asked to see the manager, who told her she could put down a deposit. The manager knew it was for me – we go way back to schooldays, when we used to spend our weekends together, sitting on five-bar gates, swinging our legs, flaunting our budding sexuality, watching cars go by, and getting into scrapes with unsuitable dates, using each other as an excuse for escape. But that’s another story.

When I next saw Laura, she asked me if I would like a sewing machine, and I gruffly said that all I wanted for my birthday was for her to be clean.

She bought the machine anyway. It weighed a ton, but she carried it back to my flat, and I was grateful. It was beautiful, and worked like a dream. I thanked her, gave her a hug and told her I loved her, but I couldn’t resist smiling sadly, and saying, “Maybe I’ll get that other gift next year.”

I turned 62 yesterday. She gave me a book and a lovely card, hand-made by her, but most important of all, she delivered the miraculous gift I had been longing for.

Laura is clean.

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Laura was a child of spirit, born into a world of flesh, and she didn’t adapt in the way that most of us do. She spent her childhood confused and unhappy, but she was brave. She tried to fit into a world that understood her no more than she understood it. She was beaten down, time after time. The day came when she couldn’t take another beating, and she turned to street-medication.

She has felt, and witnessed, things that we cannot imagine. She knows what the bottom of the pit looks like, because she’s been there – in a place where we have never been, because our hearts beat differently.

I knew that she had to witness pure darkness before she could see the light, so I turned away from her. It was horrible – I looked down on her from my safe window, saw her staggering by, and felt my insides shredding. I coped by being angry, by feigning indifference, by talking to Serenity, my mannequin, by chanting affirmations – any way I could, I coped. I woke some mornings terrified that she may have died in the night, all alone – yet knowing she hadn’t, as I would have felt it as her life ebbed away.

She was sliding on black ice. She slid until there she was in utter darkness, with her eyes closed. When she opened them again, there were glints of light twinkling in the distance – not one, but many. There was her boyfriend Joe, me, her sister, Sarah, and other family members who never stopped loving her – and not only those, there were many – twinkling away, in this country, and all over the world – in America, Australia, Canada, Africa. I hope you all know who you are – all you who sent your good wishes, your healing thoughts, your love and your prayers – she saw your light. I know I’ve mentioned it several times, but I can’t get over what you have all done for her.

Laura’s 31 now. She’s no longer a schoolgirl; she no longer has to try to fit into a tight box for the convenience of school or society. She can practice her own unique dance, and she will be admired for it. She’s been burnt and frozen by life. She’s been cut, bruised,and fractured, but her scars make her more beautiful. She is her own person, brave, strong and creative. She’ll achieve her own kind of greatness.

Joe says that when the world points its finger and speaks of the mistakes of others, they speak out of ignorance. They don’t know the background. They don’t know that what they call a mistake may have been the right thing for the individual at that particular time, or that it may have seemed like the only choice available. I think he’s right.

We have a lot to learn from those who have climbed out of that dark pit.

I’m in shock, and for once it’s happy shock. I keep finding myself smiling about nothing – except that it’s not nothing. It’s all-consuming.

©Jane Paterson Basil

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52 thoughts on “Recovery

  1. This is great news. I remember you posting a photo of your daughter a few months ago and I also remember you talking about her walking past your window and how sad you were. Jo is right, it’s easy to point fingers hen you’ve not walked in someone else’s shoes. Happy belated birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jane, so so happy for you, for Laura, for your family, for Joe. Such wonderful news. What awesome birthday presents, especially this one 🙂 Many, many blessings to you on your birthday and this new year filled with love, hope, happiness xxxxx

    Like

  3. Thank you for this post. I’ve watched as drugs and alcohol sucked the potential out of so many young lives in my family. Now that they are all middle aged we find some coping and others still trapped. Your story proves that there is always hope. Posting to FB.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds as if your family, like mine, have been hit hard. I hope that they all find their way to recovery.
      Thank you for sharing the post; as I’m sure you can imagine, I want to shout my good news to the world, to put that message across – no matter how dire the circumstances, there is the chance of recovery, even when all our hope is gone.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad for you, for her, for everyone, that this story had a happy ending. We all need reassurance sometimes that It Can Be Done, even when things seem otherwise. Congratulations. I can’t imagine the effort that took, nor the toll it took on you during dark days. I hope this sticks.

    And…what kind of sewing machine was it? Inquiring wife wants to know.

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a Pfaff. I’d have to pull it out if you wanted to know the model. I also like Frister and Rossman. They used to be good for heavy fabrics like denim and canvas.
      Don’t encourage me. I used to be so obsessed with my sewing machines that I couldn’t go away on holiday because I’d pine for them. Every so often I give one away, to prove how strong I am. I’ve managed to get down to four. I rarely sew, these days, but every so often I take one out and sniff it, as a special treat.
      Ha! You probably think I’m joking. 😉
      I’m ecstatic about Laura’s recovery. The suffering of those dark days has been wiped out, as she seems more well than she was before the drug problem emerged.

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      1. I’m very familiar with Pfaff, as my last girlfriend was a sewing goddess and had one. The thing weighed more than my Volkswagen Beetle, but man was it well made. Good for you! And please tell me sniffing is ALL you do. (And you don’t have to look for the model number. I’m not a Pfaff geek where I would know the difference to that level.)

        About about a decade ago I thought of getting my wife a Pfaff or a Bernina for Christmas. But – true story – driving home from the sewing store where I was shopping I passed our local Historical Society building and I spotted what looked like a sewing table they’d set out in the trash. I got out of my car, saw that it had a false top, and opened it. What popped up was a classic all-metal Necchi machine, a model similar to the one on permanent display at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art! It was in almost perfect shape, just needing one drive belt. I dragged the whole thing home and gave it proudly to wifey…who set it up as a museum piece in our living room. She is a stitcher, not a sewer, and I didn’t know there was a difference. Now I know. Got her a little Singer that does a bunch of stuff, but is much lighter and easier to carry, and she’s happy.

        And I’m happy for you. And Laura. Still 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s an incredible find. The Historical Society must be crazy.
          Necchi sewing machines weren’t available where I live, back when I spent almost every waking hour sewing, so I never got to see them, but I’ve checked them out online, and they’re PRETTY.
          We’re all happy! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It was actually kind of sad. The Historical Society building was in itself a historical site, dating back to 17th century pre-colonial days. It developed structural problems and was deemed unsafe, and the town ordered them to get out IMMEDIATELY. Apparently the building was really in imminent danger of collapse. They had to hurriedly set out all sorts of office furniture, etc., that they couldn’t move to the new place. I’m sure they didn’t want to, but that Necchi just didn’t make the cut. (And yes, it really is pretty. Maybe I’ll post a pic soon.)

            🙂

            Liked by 1 person

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