POWNAL — Sometimes, Juliet Wright hugs her guitar as if her life depends on it. She listens to the waters of the brook running close to her bedroom window in the Vermont woods, and knows that, like the poet Robert Frost, she has miles to go.
This is the momentary peace to be found in solitude, in the life of a recovering co-dependent, whose torment Wright so well explained four years ago in her first book, "Everything is My Fault," (Hidden Angel Publishing, 2012).
In 2013, I read that book with much interest prior to reviewing it, knowing virtually nothing about the subject. I finished it feeling a bit distraught, yet hopeful Wright could exit a maze which compelled her to always put herself last, often in unhealthy and obsessive ways.
The first book was a primer: other people were right; she was always wrong. Her desires were never a priority; the needs of others always mattered more. This was not being selfless; it was Wright not having an identity unless it was attached to what others wanted, even if those things harmed her.
Fast forward to 2016. Wright chronicles her continuing struggles and path to recovery in her recently released titled "Everything is For My Recovery," (Hidden Angel Publishing, 2016). Just as her first book, it's a considerable opus at 416 pages. It aims not only to tell a personal story, but also offers practical steps at recovery.
Wright is a singer, songwriter, recording artist, author, and teacher who spent much of her youth as an equestrian and was active in music and theatre. She attended Interlochen Arts Academy where she studied piano, music composition, theatre, and dance. In 1986, she graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Studio Music and Jazz Guitar Performance.
After simultaneous careers on the west coast as a professional musician and a public school music teacher, Wright returned to Vermont in 2007. She now teaches music in the Pittsfield, Mass. public schools as a travelling orchestral instructor who covers multiple elementary schools.
Wright vividly frames her co-dependency against the backdrop of her job, which she said she loves. In the following passage, she doesn't let her readers forget the fight is always raging:
"What other people think of me is none of my business. My therapist told me this and I like it. Other people's thoughts and opinions are about them. They have nothing to do with me. Thank you, God. I'm sitting here fretting and stewing about what some of my [students'] parents think of me. So if what other people think of me is none of my business, that is great news."
Wright, who describes herself as a devout Quaker, doesn't hide her faith or spirituality – or hide behind it. She adeptly describes how important both are to her, but this is no Jimmy Swaggart bravado at play.
If anything, Wright works at projecting confidence in her storyline, but remains humble and grateful for the baby steps she takes in her co-dependency recovery. This includes both setbacks and triumphs. She writes about this dynamic with admirable self-accountability:
"In order to get rid of my defects, I have to accept they are there and they no longer serve me as behaviors. I have had the integrity to admit my wrongdoings, and now it is time for me to receive with gratitude the responsibility of changing my behavior."
To that end, Wright walks more than talks. She has been instrumental in founding the Bennington chapter of Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA), which meets every Thursday evening from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m, at the Turning Point Club, 465 Main St.
The book is well-organized in sections which explain and recount some of the context of her personal journey with co-dependency. Other chapters focus on the actual method of recovery, and how one woman named Juliet Wright goes about working towards it.
And while working through Wright's narrative, it becomes clear that she is a courageous soul who must do battle with demons every day of her life, just to survive.
This last point can't be overemphasized, as it alone makes "Everything is About My Recovery" a worthwhile read. There is something there for all: the student of psychology, the addict, the spiritualist, and as once put by Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis, "every man who struggles."
Juliet Wright lives in that maelstrom, and her new book explains how she navigates it. When Wright hugs her guitar – one of her healing talents - she means that grip more than the rest of us could ever know.
For more on the writing and music of Juliet Wright, visit: hiddenangel.net. The Bennington Bookshop will host a reading from "Everything is About My Recovery," on Sat, June 11. Info: 802-442-5059.
— Telly Halkias is an award-winning freelance journalist