~ LOSS ~

Dear Friends In Recovery ~

My name is Mari and I have a compulsive disease which manifests itself in many ways. Food is one of those compulsions ~ but there are more. I am also recovering from this disease one day at a time using the Twelve Steps as my program ~ but some days are still harder than others. In fact, some days are so hard that just getting through it seems impossible. Such a day was yesterday. And today I am journaling about it and appreciate your letting me share it with you.

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

T.S. Eliot

Yesterday was a day of craziness in my life. It was also a day for learning lessons and I am grateful that I can now feel the feelings that not so very long ago I blocked just to keep from doing that. Yesterday for me was the kind of day that makes you sit back and question who you are ... why you're here ... what your purpose in life is ... or even if you have a purpose.

I suffered a terrible loss yesterday and, although I will grieve and mourn that loss in the days, weeks, months and years to come, I will survive it. I'm not really sure what happened and many times life does that to us ... things happen and we are given reasons but the reasons themselves don't make sense. What actually happens is that there are underlying reasons and I believe God might be testing us in a way and one of our jobs is to figure out the underlying reasons. Perhaps in His wisdom, this is the way that proper attention is given to our character flaws that might have been overlooked far too long.

I used to not believe in testing fate ... or circumstances ... or events ... or people. But now I believe there can be good tests and bad tests. And I also believe that we aren't really testing fate or circumstances, or events or people ... what we are testing is ourselves. Our coping mechanisms. Our morals. Our authenticity.

A few years ago I began exploring. Not geographical exploring ~ although I've done a lot of that also. But an exploration of my soul and my psyche. I had stopped exploring for a while because of my disease ... but I agree with T.S. Eliot who reminds us that we should not cease from exploration. How else can we ever figure out who we are in just one lifetime if we quit trying? How else can we come back to the place we started (and by place I don't mean a physical place ... I'm talking about a place in our mind or in our heart) and "know that place for the very first time." It has taken me my whole life to really *know" the place I started ... and I still don't know it completely. But I'm still exploring. And testing. And learning.

Years ago I read a story that impacted me greatly about all this ... and I would like to share it with you. If you've read it before, I hope you'll read it again. And I hope it says as much to you as it does to me.

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose.

His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond.

The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart.

A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like.

When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New York.

"You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel."

So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen. I'll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened:

A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose.

As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, sailor?" she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away.

I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her.

This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.

I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment.

"I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?"

The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!"

Dear God,
Sometimes my tests fail ~
Sometimes I must continue exploring ~
Please help me to not cease exploring ~
And to one day really know the place I started.

Love in recovery,
My Journey to Recovery
The Recovery Group

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