I am bird-sitting two tiny fledgling swallows for a friend. They fell out of a nest and the mother bird flew away. So they are wrapped up warmly and fed every hour or so. My friend has had to go away and has left them with me. The housemate looked at their pink and black unfeathered scraggly nakedness and shuddered, so I am the sole surrogate mama. I have hot water bottles wrapped in blankets and I make up a sloppy formula and feed them with a small syringe. The tiny blind creatures cling tenaciously to my fingers with their hooked claws and gobble. Bomding. I am deep down just a dry-nosed vertebrate mammal with a nurturing instinct. My dogs are kept away which makes them furious and jealous, understandably. It is hard for any of us to understand there is enough love to go around.
From time to time people in early recovery come and confide their Step 5 to me. After years of blunted and oblivious alcoholism, the habit of beating oneself up, humiliating oneself, denigrating oneself, is second nature and it takes a while to realise that the point of Step 5 is not more of the same-old, but an opportunity to move towards freedom, to have things turn out differently. Secrets are for keeping when they are entrusted secrets from others, but many of our own secrets are best told. Even shouted from the rooftops. And these days I sit lightly to secrets, as I do to the sturm and angst of the newly sober. Freedom from addiction has a calming effect over months and years, self-importance and its flip-side counterpart self-loathing slowkly shrink away as our simple ordinariness becomes apparent.