Comfortable in Recovery

By Todd Hirt 08/11/16

Through my journey in recovery this past year and a half, I’ve been briefed by my peers, my fears and my insides on who I am.

Comfortable in Recovery
via Todd Hirt

One day, my friend asks me, “Todd, why do you wear flip flops so often?”

Looking down at my feet I questioned the question, thinking, “What’s wrong with flip flops?”

My friend continued, “I mean it’s not even really warm out today.”

I responded this time, “What’s wrong with flip flops?”

“Nothing,” my buddy replied, though he was really meaning “something.” I felt a little embarrassed by my friend’s comments, but the truth was I was just too damn comfortable to give a damn.

Flip flops are certainly not the most fashionable of footwear. But after this conversation with my buddy I realized why I do wear them so often. I do it for the feet! For 26 years, my feet have been carrying around my stubborn frame, and I feel they deserve respect. To coop them up in an ankle restricting, plastic and suede case of shoe and lace seems simply wrong to me. I abused my body, mind and soul for years with chemicals. I refuse to abuse any part of my whole today, especially the two things that keep me moving forward as I face anxiety: authenticity and being comfortable in my skin.

Thinking back to my younger days, I had always been comfortable with being comfortable. I wore flip flops with socks long before it was ever proclaimed lame, and like a hipster in retro admittance of originality: I was lame way before it was lame.

So let’s circle back to the beginning with this square, myself. As a child, I was never really a fan of laces—keeping the Velcro game strong for as long as possible. Hell, I was about seven years old, with no sense of fashion. I sure had a sense for casual. I remember jumping in my dad’s shoes, stumbling around like a clown. And I remember the first time I tried to clown around in his flip flops. They were so easy to slide on and evacuate from, I loved them!

I immediately requested a pair of my own. I received what is commonly found at gas stations and convenient stores along beach towns: flip flops with a tough rubber sole, complete with a plastic “V” situated above, perfect to match the puzzle indent between my big toe and the one next to it. I wore them to school, I wore them to my friend’s houses, I wore them out. However, as I grew up a bit, I realized flip flops were not logical or fitting in all environments and I had to face that reality. Sort of like getting stripped of your childhood blanket.  

I’ve always known how to be comfortable, I just forgot about the rest of myself that had to live in my skin. Fitting into environments became extremely difficult as I grew older; anxiety became a lingering thing. A constant rain of “what if” and “no” dropped from my mind and soaked into my tongue, weighing it down and preventing it from making words or actions. It was exhausting being so mentally active in avoiding any activity. It only got worse when I began using drugs heavily. It gave my seemingly void existence a moment's worth of bliss in being overcome with self-pleasure.

I sat hunched into my knees, content with having a remedy to this anxiety and sadness. Though, the remedy stopped working, and I couldn’t stop trying to make it work. Out of this cycle that continued for years, I began to hope for a better life without drugs. The hope was meaningless and only active in-between highs. Ironically, the willingness and hope to try something different came when I was absolutely hopeless. Thus, I found recovery, which for me is through Alcoholics Anonymous.

Through my journey in recovery this past year and a half, I’ve been briefed by my peers, my fears and my insides on who I am. I am comfortable being exactly who I am as I discover that meaning more and more each day: each day as I wake and throw on my moccasins; as I leave the gym and quickly transfer into those beautiful athletic flip flops with the upside down “U” shaped bridge above; and while I write this without any damn shoes at all!  

My feet have gotten me through a lot up to this point. The entire duration of my active addiction, I ran. I ran from family, friends, the police and the hardest to lose of all, myself. I barely kept them washed as I lay in exhaustion and disgust from all the running. They stayed hidden and laced up while I nodded off and fell to my floor, or couch, or bed (if lucky).

When I woke to despair and sadness, wanting to give up, they stood by my side, and below my whole. They took it one step at a time, no matter the pace of my mind and the race of my thoughts. They knew their motion and duty to keep me upright. So I take a long stretch and crack of the toes that says “good morning.” I thank them in this manner. They respond, “Where to next?” And these days I respond, rather than lay in self-pity. I reply with productive steps because they will always be my physical guide to where my thoughts and ideas want to go. And with this newfound blessing of recovery, the thoughts and ideas seem to feed on fruitfulness.

So this is an ode to all the feet out there; maybe still running in conjunction with the pace of the mind, in vicious circles of more. May your hearts take action and get you the serenity you deserve and surely can have. Recovery has helped me to get back on my feet. And for the pressure and wear I’ve put on them and continue to put on them, it is only fair they receive a sitting ovation. So here I sit, barefoot and free, my feet looking up with a smirk as my hands work my fingers, typing away.  

Todd Hirt grew up in Salinas, California and moved to Prescott, Arizona to seek help for substance abuse. Since moving two years ago, writing has become an essential tool in sustaining his recovery.

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