Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction is like a long walk.
The path that brings one to recovery in the first place can also feel like a long walk, so it’s fitting that Recovery Cafe Clark County has started offering recovery walks every Wednesday morning.
The walks are about 30 minutes, and 1 to 1 1/2 miles around the Cafe on East Fourth Plain Boulevard in Vancouver. There are usually about four walkers each time.
Olivia Zakit, who has 10 years sobriety from crystal methamphetamine, has felt her confidence build when she joins the weekly walks. Zakit was in a car accident last year and suffered a traumatic brain injury. So in addition to recovering from drug use, Zakit has been walking a path to recovery from her wreck.
She’s enjoyed the unity and fellowship of the walks. Each walk ends with a stop at Black Rock Coffee Bar on East Fourth Plain (and drinks of coffee are paid for by the cafe).
“It has helped me come out of my comfort zone and stop isolating,” Zakit said.
Lyn Anderson, a program coordinator at Recovery Cafe Clark County, brought the walks to the cafe with the help of William O’Connor, another program coordinator. Anderson learned of the idea after visiting a Seattle Recovery Cafe.
Anderson said people open up during the walks. They allow themselves to be vulnerable with each other, sharing details of their past and information about support groups or opportunities they know.
“As people are trying to recover, they are trying to build a community, too, and make some healthy habits.” Anderson said. “Myself, I love Vancouver and all the trails and parks that we have here, but I don’t like going by myself.”
O’Connor said that one time, a member one year into recovery stopped on a walk to take a picture of a house she’d been in during a police raid. It had been a while since she had seen the house, and viewing it again reminded her of how far she had come.
“A lot of us have past trauma in this neighborhood. We reflect on that,” O’Connor said. “When you can go, ‘I never have to look back on something like that again,’ it’s a reminder. Some people might go, ‘Well that seems like it would be tragic to look back on. Wouldn’t you have shame?’ Nope. Those are the things we use to save each other’s lives now, so we look back with humor, like, ‘Man, I was an idiot back then; and it’s OK, and I’m not now.’ ”
O’Connor, who is known at the cafe for his humor and outgoing spirit, said the group mostly talks about their surrounding environment. Maybe it’s something growing in a garden. Maybe it’s a garish paint color on someone’s house. Maybe it’s a lawn in need of mowing. O’Connor joked that they discuss the “fun, judgy stuff,” but made sure to mention it’s all done in love.
The way O’Connor speaks of the walks, he sounds like a Dr. Seuss for Recovery.
“It’s the little things you see when you never get to drive. When you walk, you see a lot more, and it gives you pause to reflect on what is going on,” O’Connor said. “We take so much for granted when we drive through a neighborhood, or drive through anywhere as opposed to when you walk. It’s a little more spiritual. I think God didn’t mean for us to fly through the world at 9,000 mph missing everything that is awesome.”
If you go
What: Recovery walking group.
When: 10-11 a.m. Wednesdays.
Where: Recovery Cafe Clark County, 3312 E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver.