At the end of August I went to a gathering at Rowe Camp and Conference Center of Kindred Spirits. I decided to go because it was the last of the three weeks my therapist had been away, and I was having a hard time, especially being alone. It appealed to me because of it’s emphasis on recovery and authentic expression of feelings.
“With its roots in the 12-step recovery movement, Kindred Spirits encourages authentic expression of feelings and a commitment to balance tears with laughter as we awaken our hearts and move into our wholeness.” I signed up, thinking that at least I wouldn’t be alone and meals would be provided. The fact that those two things were so important to me is because my trauma was caused by being left alone too long and too often, and because my cries for food were rarely answered.
I visited my brother Jack, a recovering alcoholic (I think he has four years sobriety by now, maybe even more!) at his home in Camden, Maine. He took me to some AA meetings and I was struck by their liveliness, and the way people were willing to tell the truth about their lives. I had been going to an Al-Anon group in Littleton, but it had been unsatisfying. Too few people, and the same ones dominated the conversation telling the same stories. I told Jack, and he said “anyone who comes to AA has admitted they were powerless. After that there’s no point in not telling the truth.”
So I went to the camp. It was totally completely wonderful. I was neither depressed nor terrified at all during it. I knew that if I got depressed I could go to someone and talk about it. I think because I felt so safe, I wasn’t vulnerable to negative feelings.
I thought it was well designed for a newcomer because we had “family group” every morning for two hours. This provided a group of people that I got to know intimately. We got to share, first as pairs where one person would talk for five minutes, while the other listened, and then switch roles. Then there was an opportunity for each person in the group to share what was up for them that day. So I was immediately provided with a number of people I felt at home with.
In the afternoon there were “life-shops” available, some at 2:00, some at 4:00, and some that took the whole afternoon. I went to one on Grief and Loss, one on Soul: asking your soul a question, One on Conscious Living and Wise Aging, and one on Black Lives Matter. They were all healing and nourishing and inspiring.
In the evening there was dancing, which I didn’t spend much time at because I need to get to sleep at a reasonable hour, the “Candle Connection” a ceremony held in the Chapel which I found very moving, the “Talent Optional Show” which I planned to leave early but couldn’t. It was too funny and moving.
I’m so glad I went and am very likely to go again next year.
From my journal “Things to be grateful for today: the chance in Grief group to talk about the loss of what I never had. Good food. Having people around so I haven’t felt lonely or depressed or terrified.”
Overheard: “It’s hard to be grateful for a growth experience.”