Tom Petty, St. Francis, and Rehab

It’s not necessarily that we weren’t allowed to watch the news in rehab, we simply didn’t. I mean, who needs the news when you’ve got someone in Cabin C Seroquil eating all the ice cream in the middle of the night and the threat of smoking privileges being revoked because too many are sauntering into Group late?

Eh, maybe you had to be there. If you haven’t, good for you. Just take my word.

A few Big Events did seep into our awareness during my own stint at the ‘hab.

One of those was the death of Tom Petty. We learned about it on the news during morning meds. Naturally I was saddened by it. It felt so untimely for him, whatever untimely means.

But the point in sharing this is what this news inspired in me. For over a decade one of Petty’s songs had been my adopted theme. ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels’ was probably the primary cause of my 2007 Highlander’s busted speakers.

And the reason I was in rehab in the first place. Well, to be fair, not the song. But the concept.

I always felt so misunderstood. I wanted people to get me.

But on that 2nd day in October of 2017, as I walked back to my cabin (which bore zero resemblance to a cabin, unsurprisingly as the Ranch had zero ranchy animals to speak of) digesting my Prozac, Abilify, and other pharmaceuticals, I heard a voice in my head. Not to fret, in my case this was a good thing, although I questioned it at first. The voice said, “Doesn’t it seem like a good time, with Tom Petty dying and all, to let that song being the theme song of your life die, too?”

I agreed. Wholeheartedly. Which actually caught me off guard. It wasn’t a bitter disavowing of the song or anything like that. Somehow it felt like a way of honoring Tom Petty.

The time for lamenting that no one understood my feelings, my singular experience, had served its purpose. But the hourglass had long expired and I realized I had been escaping my own feelings for so long, it was no wonder people weren’t standing in line for a virtual tour.

In mid-November when I graduated from The Ranch (without horses, haha!), I was given a chip that was passed around and infused with hopes and well-wishes by my cohort and counselors. My favorite of those was the Prayer of St. Frances spoken into it by one of the staff.

I’m not exactly religious but I was raised Catholic and this prayer has always spoken to me, though on that day it felt different. Purposeful.

It was as though I…finally understood it.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.




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