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The Far Side of Brokenness

Day 65, Sept 3, Sullivan’s Island, SC

Friday’s ride was short, slow, and delicious, including tidal flats and the soaring heights of the Cooper River Bridge, historic Battery Park and stately mansions in Charleston to the quiet Sullivan’s Island, all in a mild sunny clime. I got off the Elliptigo today for good but will finish with a walk to the beach and the Atlantic with family Saturday, the same way Beth and I walked San Francisco 2 months ago to start InJoelSteps. Terry will finish his cross country ride Sunday when his family joins him.

From painful long and steep climbs, cars or trucks brushing frighteningly close, excoriating heat, frustrating headwinds, the loneliness on the road, to logistical struggles, there was much about this journey that was stressful and challenging, that broke me down, and much more about it that inspired awe. I stand viscerally confounded by the size of this country and the long empty spaces between clusters of people. Sometimes a person in recovery just needs their effort and struggle navigating that distance through fear, frustration, pain, and loneliness to be acknowledged and recognized for their success on that difficult road, one much harder than the one I am symbolically and by proxy, completing.

I’ve come to believe that this world is built upon a foundation of paradoxes, of conflicting truths, and that one truth can be a path to its seeming opposite. That brokenness opens a doorway to healing and beauty. That the most profound grief can be a window into a sublime gratitude. That the suffering of the addicted can be a road into a character founded on humility and strength. And that there is a healing weakness that can reveal genuine strength.

Tomorrow, we walk to the ocean, freeing Joel’s ashes that I have carried across the country in his steps, and this portion of InJoelSteps will end. I will transition into another phase emphasizing story collection and telling via writing and video to continue to humanize the alarming statistics surrounding SUD, progressively fatiguing the prejudicial bars of stigma that handicap treatment and prevention of this family crisis.

Our presence in person or collective attitude helps to bring the beauty only seen on the far side of brokenness.

Addiction is a treatable brain disease that disables decision-making, and stigma disables healing.


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