Thursday, June 11, 2009

What it was like: Year Ten

At nine years of sobriety, things were just about to start happening.  My dad, who had been in a nursing home for several years, had a stroke.  I went to Iowa to sit at his side as he was dying.  It seems like I was there for months, it was only a week.  He died on August 29, 1993.  I loved my dad so much, it was so difficult to lose him, even though he was old, in poor health, and had lived years longer than anyone thought he would.  

I came back home to Denver - to this man who had invaded and was occupying my home.  My daughter was just starting to "act out," and so despite years of court battles and thousands of dollars in a custody battle that I had lost, my ex was suddenly happy to have her come and live with me.  And I was happy to have her.

Somehow watching the way my husband treated my daughter was finally the thing that made me willing to walk away.  One week from the day my dad died, on September 12, 1993, I walked away from my home.  I had a backpack.  It had a change of underwear, my toothbrush, big book, and my journal.  And I didn't care what I lost anymore.  I just needed peace for me and my daughter.  

We went and stayed with an AA friend.  I had to find a car and an apartment and suddenly this did not seem like an overwhelming task.  My sponsee loaned me her car so that I could go look for a car.  I went to many buy here - pay here lots until I found one where they were willing to finance me... which made no sense at all.  I remained friends with the owner of that lot for a very long time and always made sure he knew that he made it possible, just by financing that old hail-damaged Ford Escort, for me to have a new life.  (I did pay every cent I owed, and on time every month.)  I borrowed against a small inheritance to get the money I needed for a deposit and first month's rent.  

I found a wonderful apartment that will always be one of my favorite places in my memory.  It had an exposed brick wall all across one side of it, and a screen door, a deck for my plants, and it looked out on a courtyard full of trees.  My daughter and I shopped for towels and sheets, and we picked fabric and I made curtains, it was a wonderful new beginning.  It was close to the kids' dad's house, so I had one kid living with me, and two just down the road.  They could just as easily come to my house after school as their dad's.  They spent a lot of time with me.   It felt heavenly to me to be able to spend peaceful time with my children again after all the years of upheaval.

I had found a new sponsor sometime in my 9th year.  She was another AA superstar.  A circuit speaker!  She hung out with all the "right" people.  She talked about the "right" stuff.  I thought she was a blessing in my life - and maybe she was.  She was adamant about me needing to leave my husband.  And I have talked so much about this relationship here, I will try not to go into it too much again, but it is so much a part of my story...

I was still working in the Medical Records Department of the large hospital.  I really loved it.  

I was still going to church.  In November, I was able to go to confession for the first time since I was a teenager.  On that day, for the first time in my life, I was able to say that I was grateful to be an alcoholic.  I knew that my alcoholism had enabled me to have the humility to just suck it up and do things the way they are supposed to be done.  I was able to be a Real Catholic.  I can't tell you what that means to me.  

In June of 1994, after my husband had moved into my sponsor's house, I made the decision to file for divorce.  I wrote this in huge letters in my journal "I don't have to have an amicable divorce.  I just have to have a divorce.  He doesn't have to like it.  He never liked my best efforts to please him so if he is unhappy now, that is not my job.  My job is... to thine own self be true, keep my own side of the street clean and be honest and don't try to hurt or not hurt anyone.  It's all manipulation and the same thing."  So, I filed for divorce and had his papers served at my sponsor's house.

I also quit my job.  I had my rent and bills all payed for the summer.  I decided to take one last summer to myself.  I went to a 7:30 a.m. AA meeting, and then 9:00 a.m. Mass, and then the 10:00 a.m. meeting every day. I was elected to be the GSR of my group - which was my favorite service position ever.   I went out for lunch a lot.  I went on little day trips to the mountains.  I had a great summer. 

In the middle of the summer, I went to a job fair at my church.  I applied for a state job, thinking I would get a job selling license plates or something like that.  How amazed I was when I got an interview for a job in the Medical Records Department of a hospital!  But that story is for next year.

I celebrated 10 blessed years of sobriety on July 24, 1994.  I was given a gift of a blank book for my birthday.  I wrote in it on my 10th birthday and then every year since my 13th.  

"Ten years without a drink.  The hardest, longest, most painful, most joyous, most alive years in my life.  You know, I have almost been sober a quarter of my life  Next year it will be one half of my adult life.  God loves me so much."


Steve E. said...

Mary, another "page-turner". Thank you, and also thank God, the light is beginning to be visible at the end...somehere under a door? Like?

In four years, I will also be sober half my life, started at age 40. I SO look forward to that day, actually I look forward to each day these years. One is just better than the one before. Always.

Who COULD have known?

You are almost halfway through the 24 years, and you might as well do #25--what MORE could happen to you before your actual 25th that has not happened this year?
Peace to you.

Tall Karen said...

This is such a beautiful thing you are doing. I love your honesty and expression of what you walked through...not over, not under, but through.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing more of your story.


Gin said...

I love it! God girl you have been through so much! You give me hope and faith that I can do it too! I am on the opposite side of the coin - living with an active alcoholic, but I know I will be okay and you help me to believe that.

Pam said...

I loved "that he did not have to like it." I KNOW JUST WHAT YOU MEANT!
I'm just lovin' you thru these journal entries.

dAAve said...

... and the beat goes on.

Scott W said...

It's interesting you have so much medical records karma.

I love those fellowship lunches.

Trailboss said...

Your blog is the first thing I read every morning. I am really enjoying this look into your journal.

Ed G. said...

I love how each of our stories seem to have a purpose...

Blessings and aloha...

Syd said...

MC, it took a lot to walk away. I'm glad that you did. Your heart may have been trampled but your soul was so solid. It's a wonderful thing to read of your experience, your strength through all the bad times, and the hope that you held in your heart.

Banana Girl said...

If there were punctuation marks for speechless, I would leave them here.... LU J.

Carol said...

Isn't that something that we cannot see what pain is done to us but when we see it affect our child, we are moved to action.