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."