From Heartache to Hope

Life with the Alcoholic/Addict

I Love My Chickens—Discovering My Own Personal Recovery

Finding comfort in God's creatures can be very soothing.

If you have been reading my columns it won’t take much for you to be confused about this subject matter. Forgive me for deviating away from the world of addiction and recovery, to talk about my chickens, but hey….maybe writing a column on the simple love I have for them can be part of a special, different kind of recovery after all.

Recovery comes in all shapes and sizes. However, I think we have gotten used to the word recovery being associated with addiction and the hopeful side of one starting to live a clean and sober life style. But, as I get older (and hopefully) wiser I realize that recovery can be as simple or as complex as our lives dictate.

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Last week, I was having a particularly difficult day. Nothing specifically wrong, just not feeling as grounded and comfortable in my center as I usually do or as I would like. Working with clients about the complex issues of their loved ones addiction as well as my own personal challenges, it was just a day of feeling a bit ungrounded.

I have acquired a ritual that at the time had no meaning or thought behind it, but has become a mainstay in my daily life. I have a small flock (three) of chickens and every afternoon I let them out of the run to explore the yard. In addition, I have two Golden Retrievers and they wouldn’t think of hurting a feather on their body. So, we all hang together in the backyard for awhile as the sun wanes in the sky.

On this beautiful Santa Barbara day, I opened their door and saw my sweet little golden chickie run over to what apparently had become a special nesting place in the crook of a Giant Bird or Paradise plant. She waddled at a quickened pace as I guess nature was calling and her little legs and clipped wings were all akimbo.

Yapping the whole way, I was almost moved to tears as this little lady was going to perform a natural and apparently simple task with no fanfare and in the end produce a lovely, fresh egg for me to enjoy. She didn’t want anything in return, just naturally happy in her own chicken like way.

I sprawled out on a chaise lounge not far from the nesting spot and after a few minutes when she was done, she hopped up on my lap and I’m not kidding nestled down and snuggled in my neck.

I asked myself why I was so moved, so touched by this red eyed little creature. I’ve only had chickens for a few years and had no idea the impact they would have on me when I brought them home in a card board box. I have lost two to visiting dogs, cried my head off and then learned that they were at the bottom of the food chain and they were pretty expendable. Not in my book!

Holding the warm egg in my hand I silently questioned if they could really have this much personality and have the ability to move me in such a simple emotional way or was I being silly? Hopping up on my lap, was she really capable of sensing that I needed comforting and allowed me to enjoy the warmth of her body, and the softness of her feathers or was I reading much too much into this action?

I decided that it really didn’t matter as science was not at play here, just where my head and heart were at and I didn’t need to dissect my special “chicken time” for realistic approval.

The magic of that moment or any other that one can share with another living being; one of God’s creatures, that don’t have vocal chords, can be a true emotional “Kodak moment”. Though I was still feeling a bit off kilter, I was grateful to my golden girl for helping me out of self and into simple gratitude and appreciation. She made me smile and I swear she winked at me. 

So, when you might be having a rough day, a challenging week or month think about what kind of recovery might be helpful to you. Try something new; the proverbial walk on the beach or heading out on the trail is nice, but try connecting with a being that can’t utter a word, but can bestow love and be compassion with their eyes, their heart and of course their very, very special soul.

If I can be of service, please visit my website www.familyrecoverysolutions.com or call (805) 695-0049. In addition, I invite you to explore my book Reclaim Your Life – You and the Alcoholic/Addict at www.reclaimyourlifebook.com, PayPal or on Amazon. In addition, my book is available as an audio on my website only.

Carole Bennett, M.A., is a family substance abuse counselor, lecturer, columnist and author based at her Family Recovery Solutions Counseling Center in Santa Barbara, CA.

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