Sunday, June 07, 2009

What it was like: Year Six

It turns out I am missing my journals for the period of August 20, 1989 to August 30, 1990.  That saves me from looking at all the stuff I wrote.   This missing period is most of my sixth year of sobriety.  

I came back to Denver from New York in August 1989.  I didn't have anything to return to, no home, no car, no kids... I had a storage unit.  And a home group.  I was happy to be back in Colorado.  I stayed here and there for a week or so after I returned until I could rent an apartment.  I got a small apartment 2 miles away from the club.  I bought a bicycle for transportation.  I learned how to ride the bus.  I got a small job at the club (and promptly lost it - imagine getting fired from a $3.65 an hour job at an AA club!)

I was learning how to be a human being instead of a human doing.  I was learning to love myself even when I wasn't doing anything stellar.  I was learning how to let go of things and trust God.  Oh, I would have been able to "tell you" about all this stuff in my first couple of years, but this was a very deep experience of surrender which I had never imagined before.

I missed my kids horribly, but they were being well cared for by my ex-husband and his new wife.  I was actually very grateful that my kids had a good place to go while their mother was not really able to care for them.  I was getting disability checks in the mail, and believe me, if there was ever anyone who was disabled, it was me.  It was enough to live on in my new humble lifestyle. I was actually able to save enough money to pay cash for a 1979 Audi - the first used car I had ever purchased in my life!  I think I might have loved that car more than any other I have ever owned before or since.

On November 1, 1989, a man I had met earlier in the year came back to town.  He was from Australia, he had been in Denver attending a school.  He had decided not to go back home after being in the United States for 6 months or so.  He had been in California, and we had stayed in touch.  But in November, he clearly wanted to come to Denver to see me.  I was a bit scared, but excited too because he was a very appealing man to me.  He was stunningly handsome, charming, intelligent, sober 8 years, and he really liked me!  We "fell in love" and by February 1, 1990, we had the Audi packed up and were moving to Canada. 

It hurt like hell to leave my kids, but I was also anxious to go somewhere "neutral" to start a new life with this man.  When I hit the Canadian border, I got a visa that stated that I was not to work or go to school.  Oh my goodness, I was mandated not to do anything!  It sounded like heaven to me.

He had a job and I didn't.  So I stayed in our beautiful apartment all day reading books.  I think I was still so worn out from my first 5 years of sobriety, it took more than a year to feel really rested.  I would attend AA meetings, but we found that we didn't really feel comfortable in the AA meetings in the town we were in.  We remembered a man who had come through Denver just before we left, he was from a town in Northern Washington.  He had given us a card with his name, phone number and his home group.  On one Tuesday night, we decided to drive an hour and a half to visit his home group.

It was a revelation to both of us!  Neither of us had ever been welcomed so warmly anywhere.  We found some AA fellowship the likes of which I had never experienced before or after.  We started driving down every Tuesday night.  And then we started making the Friday night meeting.  And then the Tuesday group "traveled" one night a week, so we started joining them for that.  We were really so at home there.  I really learned about what an AA group should be in this small town in northern Washington.  We knew each others' last names.  We knew where everyone lived.  You could drop by to see them at any time.  If you were acting like a jackass at the grocery store or the bank, everyone knew it.  There was such a degree of accountability.  They had high expectations of each other, and it is my belief that people tend to live up to others' expectations.  I will write more about this group tomorrow....

In the summer of 1990, his job called him away to work in Alberta and he wanted me to join him.  I thought it was for a couple of weeks.  It turned out to be 6 weeks or 2 months.   It was a long time in a small town where I couldn't find an AA group.  It may have been there, but it was so anonymous, it was impossible to find.  After a month or so, I started having dreams that I hopped a freight train to get to my home group.  

I did finally force the issue, and drove my little Audi back to British Columbia and back to our apartment.  I loved that apartment and I loved my AA group and was so glad to be back.

I got to celebrate my 6th birthday there.  I remember waking up that morning, in this pretty apartment, with my handsome soon-to-be-husband, and thinking "You cannot get here from there."  There was no way that it made any sense that I could have this wonderful sober life, all out of the ashes of a life that was a disaster.  

It was clear that God could make use of the most twisted situations and turn them into something good.  

"There is no waste in God's economy."  -- As Bill Sees It




11 comments:

Steve E. said...

"There is no waste in God's economy." Like there were really some good parts in your early sober life.

Mary, these are outstanding snippets of a super, sober autobiography. Thanks! it is a lot of work to put these together.

Scott W said...

I like God's economy.

Your recovery story is miraculous.

Ed G. said...

What an odyssey (I had to look up the definition). I'm so very impressed in the HP active in your life...
Blessings and aloha...

dAAve said...

I don't know how you can remember all of this.

AnyEdge said...

I don't know what small town in Northern Washington you're talking about, but my sister lives near Bellingham, and I've been to a meeting there. It's great. My sister has a small farm (and a blog! newtofarmlife.blogspot.com) there and I visit her from time to time. It's a beautiful part of the world, and there's a lot of good sobriety there.

Mary Christine said...

Bellingham was the "big city" closest to this small town.

AnyEdge said...

Wow...Bellingham, the big city, eh? That's just... a total schism in the fabric of my mind.

Gin said...

I am loving these stories. Thank you so much for taking the time to type and share them.

Syd said...

It sounds like a great gruop that you had. Your biography of sobriety is fascinating to read.

Hope said...

Bellingham holds a special spot in my heart and a little Dutch town not too far away does, too.

Cat said...

Wow - that has to be one heck of a small town!

The group you talk of sounds like a good place - I think they are worth their weight in gold when you find the right place with the right people in it.