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Find Your Tribe, Find Support, and You will Never Feel Alone!


Find Your Tribe, Find Support, and You will Never Feel Alone! 


I left the house dressed in layers.

October in Boston can be a tricky bitch.  One minute it can be blistery and cold, especially in the morning, but when the sun comes out and it warms up, being outside is almost tolerable.

I was on my way to the first of two meetings I had that morning and wanted to clear my head.

As I turned right onto Milton Street, I walked past modest homes with American flags hanging from the front porches of almost all of them.

This neighborhood, my neighborhood, is full of police.  I’ve seen them coming home at dinner, sometimes startled, even though I’ve been here for over a year, because of the guns strapped to their waists.  The Ford sedans they drive and the detective badges hanging from their necks erase the unease.  Kids greet them at the door.  Jump into their cop arms.

In Dorchester you don’t tell people where you’re from by your street name or by a landmark, or even by a bar or pub.

In Dorchester you tell people where you live by parish.

I live in St. Brendan’s.

When I once told a woman where I lived here, she screamed, “Oh my God!  Are you OFD?”

“I don’t know what that means.” I replied.

The look of disappointment in her eyes was instant.

“Then you’re not,” she sighed.  “It means ‘Orginally From Dorchester’.”

Neighbors look out for each other here.  They take each other’s barrels in on trash day.  Shovel entire sidewalks on the smaller streets because there’s a lot of elderly too.  In the summer, they close off the streets for block parties and cookouts.

I walked down Milton Street and took a left into Cedar Grove Cemetery.

The last time I was here, I was sitting in my work truck, drinking my lunch, and staring at my grandparents grave.

I hoped I’d be able to find it again.

I was walking this time.  I was sober too, which was probably the biggest change.

I found it after a few minutes.  I remembered that it was near the water, on a slight hill.

My mind flashed back to my grandfather’s funeral, when I was still just a kid.  I hadn’t taken my first sip of alcohol yet.

The casket slipped that day, and slid forward a few feet.  I remembered dad saying, “Joe’s in a rush to get to Madeline”.

I thought the priest was going to faint.

The rest of us smiled.

That’s what dad do, I guess.  They make the rest of us feel okay, especially when the situation is as far from okay as imaginable.

I sat on the ground and talked to my grandparents.

I told them their youngest grandson wasn’t doing so well.  He was sick and hurting and needed help but refused to get it.

I asked them to look out for my baby brother, because none of us could do it anymore.  We were out of options, so maybe they could watch after him.

I said a few other things, things that are between me and them and then slipped through the fence at the back corner of the cemetery.

Then I walked to my second meeting.

I walked into a room with over two hundred people in it.  They were laughing.  They were joking.  They were hugging and they were smiling.

I felt safe in that room, and in a thousand others, just like it.

These were my people.

They had helped me when I was out of options myself, when I had nothing left but a tiny bit of willingness.  I didn’t even have hope back then.  It had disappeared.  But I did have that little bit of willingness.  And these people helped me crawl out of the darkness.  One day at a time.

So no, I’m not OFD.

But my peeps are.  My tribe.  My clan.


Jay Keefe is a staff writer and the Director of Happiness for The Addictions Academy.

National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer

Published Author of “And Drink I Did”

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1MBF5fo

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