I discovered that one of the down sides of a life of stability was that when you are not the one leaving all the time, other people leave and it is YOU left behind. In January 1997, my best friend moved away to the UK. She was in love and left. I couldn't believe a person in her 50s would leave her home, her family, give away almost everything she owned and leave the country - for a man! Granted, I had done the same things a few years previous, but I thought this gave me special insight into why this was a horrible idea! I was pretty devastated that she left. It left a big hole in my life. I need to say that she is now married to this man and still lives in the UK. She did however start drinking again and as far as I know she is still drinking today, and it feels sad to me that my first sponsor has been drinking for probably ten years now.
A few months later, my other dear friend got a job in San Francisco, and decided to leave town. I was heartbroken. My Saturday afternoon hikes and movies became a thing of the past.
A really wonderful thing that happened is that I applied and was accepted into the big time university I had always dreamed of attending. It just seemed like it was too much to believe that I would be attending this fabulous university. They actually let me in! But why wouldn't they? I had a very good GPA for the couple of years I had been attending community colleges.
It was amazing what happened when I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and doing the next right thing. I didn't have to fix my life in one moment. I just kept chipping away at it. I remember one night driving to class, I had a huge final exam to take - in my worst class, Anatomy and Physiology. I started praying in the car, sort of begging God to help me take the test, and I realized that I had done my part by putting in the work required. I had studied for the test, so I could walk into the classroom and just do the best I could do. This is elementary for most normal folks, but I think this is rocket science to alcoholics. We just don't get simple concepts like this... it took me years of sober living to start understanding.
Another thing that I was chipping away at was a couple of big debts. When I started working again, Social Security took a dim view of the legitimacy of my disability. It seems that it is pretty uncommon for a person to call and just tell them to please stop sending checks. They felt I owed them a large sum of money. I also owed a pretty big chunk of child support. It felt overwhelming, but I thought long and hard about what I could do to pay it off and decided that I really could live without a car, which meant that I would not have a car payment or the other expenses associated with car ownership. I tightened my belt and lived pretty austerely for a while and focused on paying off my debt.
I did eventually pay it all off, but it was not overnight. If there is an overarching theme in my 13th year, I would say it is the slow inevitability of recovery in all areas of life, if one just keeps plugging away, day after day, year after year. The most amazing things happen.
On my 13th birthday, I wrote in what turned out to be my birthday journal - I write in it every year on my AA anniversary. I wrote mainly about the birthday meeting - who was there, etc. I was very excited because I was starting school at the university the next day. And I felt the need to write down what one of my friends said about me..."There are very few unique people in this world. In this room tonight, there are maybe 5, and Mary is 3 of them." I loved that.
I was so aware of God's grace in my life. It was (and is) a beautiful thing.