Live, On the Road, From New Jersey

John McManamy Health Guide
  • I’ve just boarded AMTRAK out of Newark headed for WashingtonDC. Last night I gave a talk to a DBSA group in Morristown, NJ. I first spoke in Morristown three and a half years ago. Back then I was cowering behind a lectern, reading from a prepared text, trying to control the quaver in my voice.


    Now I was standing out in front of the audience, with no notes, laughing and joking and having a great time. The written version of my talk contains no funny lines, but every time I get out in front of people something unexpected and improbable just happens to pop out, and I leave it in for my next presentation. One lady came up to me afterward and told me this was the first time she had laughed in five weeks, which is perhaps the most gratifying feedback I have ever received.

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    I told the lady that I was writing her a prescription for Seinfeld every day, plus The Daily Show. Her daughter nodded appreciatively. Laughter is often the best medicine.


    Two DBSA colleagues who had heard me speak from way back commented on how relaxed and at ease I was this time around. I said it probably had to do with the fact that I was a bit more practiced now. No, each one told me independently. You’re way further along in your recovery. People actually envy you. Envy, in the good sense of the word.


    Recovery is an incremental, barely perceptible process. I have noticed since moving to the San Diego area that I’m feeling a lot better, but I feared I could be living in a fool’s paradise. We are all experts at self-delusion. I’ve been dealing with a marriage break-up, and in this situation it is all too easy to kid myself.


    This visit back east was the true test. A few days before, it became obvious that my family was happy for me. Now my New Jersey mafia was giving me the unqualified thumbs up.


    I won’t go so far to say I’m recovered or have found the secret of happiness. Life throws us way too many curve balls for me to get over-confident. Yes, I am often the worst judge of my own situation, but my east-coast “people meter” does not lie. Something in me has definitely shifted.


    And I’m very happy about that. 


Published On: March 29, 2007