Works In Rough Going: Recovery Community and Communication During the Pandemic
Personal survival for individuals in the substance-abuse recovery community is generally contingent on regular, meaningful contact with other recovering people. Recovering addicts and alcoholics attend groups, meetings, spend time doing step-work with their sponsors and, later on, with sponsees of their own. Being highly aware of both the essential nature of these activities and the very real risk of relapse that addicts and alcoholics can face at any length of sobriety, when COVID-19 hit and shelter-in-place orders took effect, I worried deeply about members of the recovery community. What I witnessed and experienced over those first couple months of lockdown was profound and inspiring, and also painful and imperfect.
The drawings in this series contain words collected and curated from text message exchanges between members of the recovery community during the COVID-19 pandemic. I paired their messages with the images that these words evoked for me when I took the time to sit with them. Text messages are fleeting and digital; they aren’t meant to last. Yet during the pandemic, these pixels on screens became lifelines. I wanted to honor them, to memorialize them and commit them to permanence, deliberately and slowly. Creating these pieces gave me an avenue for channeling my fear, grief, hope, and most of all, love, for those who suffer from the disease of addiction.