Tuesday, June 09, 2009

What it was like: Year Eight

It was 1991, and I had just celebrated seven years of sobriety.  I was back to Denver, less than a year after getting married.  I guess I could have been humiliated, but I was just so grateful to be back home with my old friends and my family.  I got back in touch with my old sponsor, who I loved very much, and I was grateful for that relationship.

I got a little apartment just a couple of blocks away from my home group.  It was the dumpiest place I have ever lived.  But I loved it.  It was mine.  I could easily afford it on my disability check. It was one of those apartment complexes full of AAs.  I knew a lot of my neighbors.  I got very close to several of them.  We would walk en masse every morning to the 7:30 meeting.  And hang out afterwards.  It was nice.

Somehow my husband talked his way back into my life.  It might have been because I loved him, who knows why this happened, but it did.  Obviously, nothing changed.  But I was commuting between northern Washington and Denver.  I wouldn't give up my apartment, thank God, so I always had a place to go.  But the emotional upheaval was tremendous.  

Some time during this year, my sponsor called me and asked me if I was sitting down.  I was.  She told me she was drinking.  I could not believe it!  This woman had been a superstar of AA... she knew all the "right" people out in California.  I thought I was hooked up with AA royalty with her... and here she was, drunk.  I was flabbergasted.  I sought a new sponsor and my only qualification was that she not be some old prissy Christian hag who was going to shove her religion down my throat.  There was a woman I disqualified just because she wore a cross around her neck.  

So I picked Eva.  Eva was from Mexico.  She was sober 15 years and went to a meeting every day.  She was truly an AA member.  She cussed like a sailor and I suspected she was a lesbian.  English wasn't her first language, it was barely her second language, but she did punctuate nearly every sentence with the word "fock."  I thought she would be great.  

The first time we got together, she floored me when she asked me "You're Catholic, aren't you?" to which I responded "yeah."  She then asked me how long I had been sober and I told her "seven years," to which she responded, "don't you think it is about time you go back to church?"  I could NOT believe it.  My best effort to avoid this whole topic brought me right here to this pivotal moment.  And I saw the hand of God in it.

I went to Church for the first time since I was in my teens.  I heard lots of good stuff there, which I swore I never had before.  I met with the priest and got lots of help from him.  I wasn't quite ready to hop in totally, heart and soul, but I was testing the waters, and found it was quite inviting.

I kept trying to return to Washington to live with the husband.  I was going to Alanon and trying to figure out how I could take responsibility for myself and butt out of his life and learn to live with this situation.  Alanon says that no situation is ever hopeless.  I wanted to believe that.  I wanted to BE the right person, not find the right person.   I kept telling myself that love was an action, not a feeling.  I tried so hard.  So impossibly wrongly hard.    

I celebrated my 8th birthday at my group in Washington.  I loved so many people there.  I was grateful to be there, but very very conflicted, because I knew I needed to go home.  There will always be a very soft spot in my heart for this beautiful valley and the wonderful people in it.  When I think of it, I think of the soft air, so full of humidity, so low in altitude, so full of the scent of moisture and flowers and trees.  I would walk every day under cedar trees, it was incredible.  But I didn't belong there.  And I certainly didn't belong with that man who was continuing to hurt me.  But I wasn't done until I was done....  And I wasn't done yet.  

I would tell you what I wrote on my eighth birthday, but it is all about an argument that broke out at Burger King after the meeting... between my husband and a man he didn't like.  It was heartbreaking for me... but I was getting used to heartbreaking.

Can you stand to read much more of this?  It is hard.  It is hard to write.  This is SO not who I am today. I am incredibly grateful.  But this is where I have been.  It is good to remember, because it seems like another person entirely.  Thank God.

15 comments:

Hope said...

I am so grateful you are writing this for us to read. Thank you.

Mike Golch said...

Thank you for sharing this.

Steve E. said...

...and you write so well, too. Succinctly descriptive.

Scott W said...

A life of recovery is a life of evolution. I can't afford to stay stagnant. I feed myself with program, creativity and as much communication with my Higher Power as I can find. I don't expect to be the same person in twenty years. I love what I have chosen this lifetime.

garden-variety drunk said...

thanks for all this great documentation of your sober journey. reading this makes me really really curious about my own journey and all the twists and turns my sobriety is sure to take. :)

Gin said...

You have been through so much and look here you are still standing and a better person today than ever. You give me hope. Thank you.

Pam said...

oh my sweet mary I am so loving reading this. It's all so amazing. I am so diggin' you and your adventures.

Lou said...

MC, not too long ago my son said to me that the most perfect thing in the world for him would be to have his very own place to live. He did not care how small, how old, how run down. Just his very own place. You had a sentence here that reminded me what he said.

This is beautiful..the roads, the valleys, the detours, the break downs..this wonderful road of life.

kel said...

I can read it endlessly, it is good stuff and so important. Thank you for sharing it.

Syd said...

I sometimes think that I am a poster child for Al-Anon. I have stuck through thick and thin, believing in love and that the situation isn't hopeless. I'm glad that I did because my wife is finally sober and working the program.

Kathy Lynne said...

I'm just catching up and even though this is all about you...it is soooo not about you. Please keep writing..it is very encouraging to see your progress and know that I am trudging that same road....xo

(because really, its all about me!)

Steve E. said...

It is heartening to read how so MANY peeps identify with your 'walking the walk', Mary

Please keep the 'annuals' coming--this is "Good Shit"...Really!
S

Carol said...

Yes, we can read it. You are modeling humility and I grow a little every time I see it. By owning your own truth, you show us how to do it too. I'm sorry it hurts. If you need to stop, then that is what you should do. But I hope that you don't.

GG said...

Thank you for sharing your story. In many ways, your 'voice' sounds much like mine. From reading your story I've been thinking more deeply about mine with a greater degree of honesty and courage, also with more compassion towards my self and the people in my life.

Ed G. said...

Oh, the dance we do...
...the dance we've done...
...the dance before us...

You are a blessing in my life.

Blessings and aloha...