I had gotten a couple of promotions at work and was doing a job I really liked. I had been on the Ethics Committee for a couple of years and had learned a lot. I felt that I really belonged at my workplace - which is a feeling I hadn't had in too many places other than AA.
I was still living in North Denver, but that year, on Cinco De Mayo, I decided I really had to move. I lived 2 blocks off the main cruising drag and the days around the 5th of May were a scary nightmare where I had to either stay indoors and not leave the house, or leave the house and stay away. It was terrifying. There was a shooting in the alley behind my house. For as much as I loved the house and the neighborhood, I knew I needed to get away. So I started looking for a house to buy.
I applied for a mortgage and wonder of wonders, I got pre-qualified! There were a couple of old debts that I needed to clear up, so I did. I spent months looking and finally found a townhouse I wanted to buy. It was tiny - 870 square feet, but it was in a pretty area, very close to my workplace and my morning meeting place, and it was painted green! I made an offer and it was accepted!
The closing was on July 24, 1998 - my 14th AA birthday. I went to the closing and gratefully signed my name a thousand times. I went to the meeting to celebrate that night and had a whole new realization.
Many of my old friends were at the meeting, including my first boyfriend in sobriety - the one who brought wine and beer on our first date, and the young man from East LA who had lived with me. As these people shared in the meeting, they painted a picture of a person that I later realized that the newer people didn't even recognize. A few of the people in their first 5 years or so talked to me after the meeting and told me they had never seen this "crazy" behavior that was being described. Wow! What a thing to realize that I hadn't "acted out" for a very long time and I had really changed.
You may have already gotten the idea by reading these year by year descriptions that my recovery wasn't something that happened overnight. Actually, in my first five years, it SEEMED to have happened. But there was something amiss in those years. It looked good from the outside, but it was very very not good. At 5 years, I lost it all, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me because I could not have stayed sober or probably even lived at the rate I was going. I had to rebuild my life from nothing. And finally, after a while, things started piecing together.
But my priority could never be the material before the spiritual. That never works. Not for anyone. Not ever. (It may sometimes seem to, but it never does.)
I am so grateful for the Loving Hand of God, who was with me through all of the times, good and bad. These blessings could never be earned. It was all grace.
I have gotten some e-mail about this post. It sounds like I am saying everyone needs to lose everything and start over... and that everyone's first five years in sobriety are crap. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am just telling MY story... that is how it worked for me. Everyone has their own story.