The relationship with the cowboy was a revelation to me. We got along. We did not fight. If we had disagreements, we discussed them rationally. He had endless patience with me. I had a lot of patience with him as well. We had tons o' fun together. And we were a good AA couple - even though he was sober only a few years.
As you might imagine, we started talking about him moving into my house. And we started talking about getting married. And I don't think that was unreasonable.
Then one night in October, 2002, he called me. He was on his way to his brother's house. He was angry about something that I didn't understand. And it took only a few minutes to realize he was also quite drunk. I thought I was going to die. Just absolutely die. He disappeared for 3 or 4 days. I later learned that he drove to Montana and just got insanely drunk and slept in his truck for days. This put all our plans on hold - what turned out to be permanent hold. He was remorseful and resolved .... bla bla bla.... I listened, bla bla bla. The oldest story in the world. It doesn't even bear repeating. We didn't break up, but our relationship definitely changed. My heart was broken.
By summer 2003, I wanted to take a vacation and realized he was not reliable enough to plan one with, so when my old (gay) buddy from school asked me to come and visit him in Seattle, I did it. He was also in the process of getting sober - again. He said he would take a week off work and we would go be tourists by day and go to AA meetings at night. I asked him if he would indulge me in driving up to the small town in Northern Washington where I had lived with my husband and had last left - without saying goodbye - ten years earlier. I wanted to go on the night my old home group met. I looked in the directory and it was still listed, and still on Tuesday night. So, we ventured up there.
He had a very fancy Lexus convertible, with a navigation system - which was very high tech in 2003. When we got near the meeting, the voice of the system said we had entered an area where there was no data... it was really remote. My friend was somewhat horrified about this tiny town... I was so happy to be back there. Just before we got to the meeting place, I told him a list of people I hoped to see. Do you know that all but one showed up! I was afraid they wouldn't be there, or that they wouldn't know who I was, or that they would not welcome me!
Here is what I wrote about that: " I was afraid. I became very aware after reflection that "we"- B and I - really disrupted a lot of lives with our insanity. I knew I wanted to go back there, but I didn't realize I needed to go back there. Wow. The first person I knew who arrived at the meeting was Mike. With grey hair and lots of wrinkles. He pulled up in his truck and pointed at me and said "Mary!" and I was afraid they wouldn't recognize me, or welcome me! J. & R. and I had the best time. Lots of hugs. We exchanged phone numbers. What a homecoming it was. I'm glad S. was there with me to see it."
It was such a wonderful thing to go back to that place I had loved so much, but a place where I had experienced the worst times of my life. I loved those folks and I really believe they kept me alive through that marriage. I got to tell them that. I also got to apologize to a couple of people I felt I had hurt. It was so good to be able to do that.
When I got back to Denver, I celebrated my 19th birthday at my old home group on the north side of town. It was so very special to me because of who gave me my 19 year chip. I had known her since I got sober. She got sober 9 months before me. I disliked her pretty intensely and the feeling was quite mutual. She hated the fact that I cussed in meetings, and so I cussed all the more if she was around. She disapproved of me, and she let me know it! By the time I was celebrating 19 years, I wrote "T. gave me my chip and told me she loved me, and I told her I loved her. You end up truly loving the few people who are left standing. Thank God I am one of them."
Thank God indeed.