The good thing about having a few years of sobriety is that you can look back and see how far you’ve come. When I came into the rooms, I thought I was quite fine. Drinking was my problem. Once I gave that up, everything else would fall into place. I spent a few years being very angry, angry that my Best friend Alcohol was no longer with me to help through the travails of life. Resentment and anger were also close friends, and little did I know that I was going to have to say good-bye to them as well.
The only way I could even begin to see my progress was through the eyes of my friends, especially the women in the rooms who were with me from the start. After a meeting a few months back, a wise friend made the offhand comment, “you were a mess when you came in. Look at you now.” A mess? I had no idea that was how I looked. After all, I had it all together. I was well-educated, financially secure, had a husband and two kids, was on several boards, was active in my kids lives and active in the community. Come on.
I guess it slipped my mind that most nights I was numbing myself with my favorite bottle of wine.
A few nights ago I went out for an impromptu anniversary celebration with 5 other women after our Friday Night Women’s group. This meeting was one the first meetings I ever attended and I’ve gone there consistently over the years. Looking around the table, I felt a rush of love and gratitude. Each woman at the table is critical to my recovery. They all have a lot more time in the program than me, but more important than that, each one has a special quality I cherish. We span a few generations. C and M are in their 70′s; C with her quick intellect and quiet words of wisdom, M with her gentle kindness and laughter. D is my surrogate sponsor and stand-in mother although she is only a few years older than me. T is the singer-songwriter of the group. I’ve watched her perform many times over the years. I love her beautiful voice and spiritual presence. B is the comedienne of the group, always making us laugh with her sardonic Jersey accent. B was my temporary sponsor for a while but we are both so goofy that we never managed to do much step work. B is also the friend who sat in my car for hours after we’d gone out to dinner with our other friends. All these women had one thing in common, they knew how to listen and they shared their hearts. We all shared the gift of laughter.
Yesterday I sat down on the floor next to my aging Golden Retriever. I remembered when she was a pup and I was working part-time as an environmental educator. I worked close to home and when I wasn’t out teaching and gardening with children, I’d run home during my breaks to carry her up and down our outside steps to do her business. She was afraid to climb those big steps when she was so small. I realized that she doesn’t have a lot of time left, her eyes are cloudy, her skin is slack. I sat down in the middle of my cold slate floor and cried my eyes out.
I prayed for my son, my family, my dogs, and I prayed for the strength to carry on. I turned it over in a big way, for me. It was one of those spiritual experiences you never forget. I felt closer to my higher power than I had in a long time. And I guess that sums it up for me. During these really dark times I know deep in my heart that I am not alone. My higher power is always with me and for that I am truly grateful.