I am going to be telling a story at a CBC DNTO with Sook-Yin Lee live show today at 7pm in Saskatoon. It is a story I have told in lesser detail before. It is a hard story for me to tell.
It is a story about my sobriety, and I am going to tell it with a lot of humour, because there is a lot of humour to be found especially in the hard things. In order to find this humour, though, I've had to dig through this story over and over and over. I've had to pull it apart and put it back together repeatedly so I can grok it.
I told a shorter version of it first in 2012 as part of my TEDx talk, and I've told it again in person in bits and pieces when people have asked about it. Over the last two years, I have let it lie still for the most part. I had to pull it out again, though, when this DNTO thing came up.
As a result, I spent over four hours driving a two-and-a-half trip from Regina to Saskatoon while I repeated the story out loud over and over and over in the car so it would be ready to say out loud on stage two days later.
Spinning and respinning this story, finding all of its pieces and throwing out its nagging detritus, turned out to be a pretty heavy deal, which is why this normally two-and-a-half hour trip became four. I had to stop to talk to cows. I yelled at a skunk. I ate a Dairy Queen Blizzard. I walked through a field. I pulled over so I could belt out some Angel Olsen with my eyes closed. I crouched down in tall prairie grasses and listened to the breeze pick it up and play it against each other.
I watched my shadow stretch out alone but also at one with what lay before us. I was isolated and at one and devastated by loneliness and filled with the love of storied connection.
Stories do this deep tearing and healing within me. All things become the paradox of simultaneous brokenness and wholeness.
It's a mad feeling to hold both things in your heart and know them. It means we're okay. Freedom rests within us.
I've been in Saskatoon for a day-and-a-half now, stealing bits of time to wander and tell and retell and tell again this story I puzzle through, that I seem bound to say out loud at publicly recorded events in front of hundreds and, by extension, thousands of people. It's my weirdest accidental habit.
I repeat getting naked and coming clean, both literally and metaphorically in the story, and metaphorically on stage.
What a strange, broadcast repetition. I am clean, I am clean, I am clean.
And this evening, I will say it again. I was lost. I was naked. I was reborn. I am clean.