Writing about these years prior to sobriety has been so enlightening to me. I have spent almost zero time over the last 25 years doing anything other than looking at "my own side of the street" and believe me, there is plenty there - as you will see if you continue to read for the next couple of days. It is amazing to go back and look at the chronology.
But as I said, I had intended to write today about something that happened to me on Monday morning and I think perhaps it is one of those things that take a more gifted writer than I to communicate well. But I shall try:
On Sunday evening I watched 60 Minutes as I frequently do. I watched a segment on healthcare with great interest, as it is my field. I was struck by the story of a 68 year old man who was hoping for a kidney and liver transplant. Unfortunately, his heart was also pretty shot. His doctor was trying to kindly tell him that he was pretty much done and that he wasn't a reasonable candidate for an organ transplant. At the end of the show they announced that this man had died a few days after filming. I felt so bad for him. Not for the fact that he died, but that he probably had a pretty rough life, he looked pretty rough for 68, and yet he thought he should be able to get medical care to reverse whatever had happened to cause such massive organ failure - and I could speculate what that was, but it would be speculation and unfair to him. And I probably once thought that 68 was pretty old. But I am going to be 58 in a few weeks and I am planning to run a marathon next year for crying out loud! I don't think I am old. But he was only 10 years older than me, and he was old.
On Monday morning, my thoughts turned grim, as they sometimes do. In the bathtub, pondering, what the heck have I done in this life? My career has not turned out as I would have thought. I have not made the kind of money I wanted. I haven't been able to travel to Europe as I wanted. It seems I am perennially single. And the question came to me - Have I made any difference at all?
And the answer came to me like a bolt of lightening.
Yes! Because I have been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for the last 25 years, I have made a difference. I have shown up and been privileged to share my life with other alcoholics. I am not one who brags about how many women I sponsor or have sponsored and I do find it offensive when others do. But I know that over 25 years, I have been fortunate enough to sponsor quite a few women. I can't really remember the first one, but one of the first was a 15 year old girl. I was in my 30s. I just loved her (this could be my mantra for the women I sponsor, I almost invariably "just love" them all). She moved away and I stopped being her sponsor. She later drank again, but now is sober again. She is now in her late 30s! To say she is special to me would be an understatement. I have been present at births of babies and held the hands of sober mothers. I have been to the funeral of the child of sponsee. I have held the most feared secrets and learned that I could be trusted - believe me, that was news to me! I have had so many wonderful male friends over the years, something else I didn't know I could have. I have found out things about myself I would never have known without being constantly being challenged by these wonderful women and men who have been in my life.
What a deal. I brought to you my broken self, thinking that by asking for your help I was admitting defeat and that my life was over, and in return, I have been given a life beyond my wildest dreams. I have been stretched far beyond what I would ever have been without you. Thank you all.