How a Gray Haired Women Cured My Restlessness... At Least for Now

Yesterday, I was texting back and forth with Brian Clark. Brian is my business partner in Copyblogger. He’s someone I look up to and someone I trust.

When we were chatting, I was spit balling a bunch of ideas to him. I was frantically texting him in between sets of my workout. Jules and I do a morning workout together every morning, and the texting was interfering with this important time I spend with my wife. My body is doing jump squats and my mind is in the clouds.

I heard my phone buzz. When the set was over I went to see what Brian had said about all my amazing ideas.

“Why you so restless?” Brian replied.

I don’t know.

The Cause of Restlessness

I thought about it all day yesterday. The truth is I have always been restless. It’s why I write so much, and it’s why I need to have this personal blog that remains separate from all the content I create for my companies.

Why am I always so restless? Why am I always so restless? Why am I always so restless?

I couldn’t stop thinking about my constant thinking.

I woke up this morning in an instant craze… I jumped out of bed, I got my coffee and I frantically searched for a moment of peace.

I searched for peace in my computer. I searched for peace in my notebook. I went and refilled the bird feeders and I searched for peace in the birds.

Finally, I texted Brian for advice.

I said…

“Hey man, I’ve been thinking about what you said yesterday. The truth is, since I got sober, I have always struggled with managing my angst and controlling my restlessness. You got any advice?”

Brian gave me some good pointers, but in summary, he told me that his trick is to remain grateful.

Gratitude. What a Concept.

Gratitude is a big part of my sobriety. It’s easy for me to forget where I come from and what I had to do to get here. It’s easy for me to forget about the people that helped me along the way and it’s easy for me to forget about the higher power that I have relied on. I want to take credit for this gift that was so freely given to me.

I haven’t been to a 12 step meeting in more than 15 months. I’m not a 12 step cheerleader, but meetings have played a huge role in my life. There is nothing like sitting in a room full of people that are all sharing their experience, strength and hope with each other. It makes me forget about all my problems. It’s the most “in the moment” I can be.

The pandemic has shut down all meetings.

It has created a huge surge in addiction rates, overdoses, relapses and deaths. It’s obvious to see why. Loneliness, isolation and lack of 12 steps meetings have clearly played a role.

After a few hours of pacing…

I decided to get out of the house and get some headspace. So I went to my favorite coffee shop. I’m sitting at the corner table of Ugly Mugs writing this post.

And the most amazing thing is happening.

At the table next to me is a beautiful gray haired women. She is sitting in acceptance. She is clearly comfortable with who she is.

Across the table from her is a young, restless girl. Her demeaner oozes insecurity. She is squirmy. She is out of place in the orb of control and confidence that this older gray haired women portrays.

This doesn’t add up. What are these two people doing at the same table with each other?

I already knew the answer. I know exactly what this is.

On the table in between them is a book. The book is called “The Women’s Way Through the 12 Steps.

This is the cure to restlessness.

Helping Others

The more I think about myself, the more disturbed I am.

During this pandemic, I’ve spent more time inside my own head than I have in my entire life. It’s all I think about.

  • How can I do better?

  • What’s the next deal to close?

  • How can I grow?

  • What company can I buy?

  • How can I get more Twitter followers?

  • Should I stop eating toast in the morning? My abs aren’t as shredded as they were when I wasn’t eating bread.

  • How can I change the way I feel?

Our baby is due on March 28. Now the thoughts intensify.

  • Am I going to be a good dad?

  • What will the world look like for my child?

  • How much money do I need to save to keep my wife and kid safe?

  • When is it going to be good enough?

God dammit. Even writing that is exhausting.

The Women with the Gray Hair

Just a moment ago, the gray haired women was at the table alone. The restless girl she was helping had gotten up and walked away.

I said something I haven’t said in over a year. I leaned over and said “excuse me.”

She turned her head towards me. I could see her eyes widen. It’s been so long since any of us have been approached by strangers.

I asked if she had a list of any open meetings.

Her eyes lit up. They were bright hazel and they sparkled yellow against the juxtaposition of her dark mask.

The gray haired women said …

“I have a list of zoom meetings. I haven’t been to an in person meeting in over a year.”

I said …

“Me neither. I can’t remember the last time I saw two people in a coffee shop going through step work. Seeing the book on the table made me emotional.”

She started getting tears in her eyes.

I wanted to hug her. The tension between us is longing for connection. It’s longing for fellowship. It’s longing to fill the space that recovery and fellowship can occupy between strangers.

I remained sitting. She stood over me with tears in her eyes.

The gray haired woman said …

“We will always have each other. We are so lucky to have this.”

She extended a fist pump to me. Her small weathered hands pressed against my knuckles. It was the best we could do in the moment, but it was good enough.

I watched her walk away and she waved at me through the glass.

For this moment, all feels right in the world.

I found the answer I was looking for. Only now I realize that I knew the answer all along.