Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Day I called AA...

A woman spoke with me for over an hour. I have written about this a thousand times here. She cajoled me into agreeing to attend a meeting with her that night - and that was what kept me sober that first miraculous day. She was so sweet and lovely, I asked her to be my sponsor. She was sober a year and a half. We were nearly inseparable. We just became the best of friends. In a little while, I realized she hadn't actually worked the steps, so I needed to find a new sponsor. I did find a new sponsor but she and I remained fast friends.

My kids call her "Aunt," actually her nick name was "Aunt Witch." I don't even remember why. But it was funny. We talked on the phone for at least an hour every day. And I mean every single solitary day. We also spent a lot of time sitting at dining room tables, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.

We lived through her daughter having her first psychotic break and ending up in a psychiatric hospital (I work there now and from time to time I remember coming as a visitor so many years ago). We lived through four divorces between us. Three marriages. More relationships than I would care to recall. She helped me raise my kids. We knew each other's families. Her family kind of adopted me because I didn't have family in town.

The photo above (I hope it is blurry enough to be anonymous) was taken at her birthday party in July of 1987. I was three years sober and 35 years old. We had a huge party at her house. Her husband (the multi-gazillionaire) was out of town, and we acted like adolescents. We even set the roof on fire with fireworks... but were able to put it out. I don't know who took the photo of us standing together. But I do know that years later when I was in the hospital after my hysterectomy, she brought the photo to me, in a frame. It meant the world to me. It still does, it is still on my bulletin board - I don't know what became of the frame.

We laughed together, we cried together, we got angry together, we prayed together, and we stayed sober together. We mainly laughed a lot. She always saw me as being better than I know I am. She thought I saw her as being better than she was, but I disagreed.

We loved each other. We thought we would be friends forever. We speculated about what it would be like to be old ladies, still best of friends.

But things change, don't they?

She met a man, and he lived far away. In the UK. She gave away a lot of her possessions, she packed a few, and moved away from everything she knew and loved to live with him. That was when I got my first computer - so I could e-mail her. We e-mailed each other every day.

At one point, I planned a trip to visit her. But circumstances intervened and the trip was cancelled.

When her mother died, she came and stayed with me. When she left, I had no idea I would never see her again. That was in 1998.

A few years later, her e-mails started getting weird. She had always been a good writer, but suddenly her writing became almost incomprehensible. In the wee hours of the morning, she would write long and rambling e-mails complaining bitterly of her husband and in the morning it would all be forgotten - for her. It took me a while to realize she was drinking again.

I tried to remain her friend, but it became increasingly difficult. I began to dread her phone calls, and depending on the time of day, I would sometimes let them go straight to voice mail. Our e-mails became more sporadic.

She started sending me junk e-mail. I wrote to her and asked her not to do that, please. And I never heard from her again.

I got a Christmas card from her last year. I sent her one too.

I guess that is what our relationship is reduced to.

I can't begin to describe how sad this all is.

It all boils down to one person drinking and the other person being sober. That just doesn't work (in my experience). Particularly when our relationship started by her telling me about AA and how by her helping me, she would be helping herself.

I am the only twelve step she ever did.

I will be forever grateful that God put her in my life. I hope someday it will change. But for now, I can be grateful for a wonderful friendship I got to enjoy for 16 years before she moved away.


Paul Garrigan said...

Hi Mary, this is terribly sad. When people relapse it reminds of that film 'Awakenings'; I'm not sure if you have seen this movie. It is about people who have been in a vegetative state for years but they take this medicine and come out of it for a long time; they get their life back. At the end of the film though the medicine stops working and they go back to how they were. Recovery can be like that and so can relapse – at least in my experience.
I would never look down on anyone who is drinking again, but I just can’t be around them too much. They are only a shell of the person they were in recovery. Of course if they were to want recovery again I’d be the best friend that I could. I hope that your friend one day comes back to you; she sounds special.

I relapsed after two years sobriety in my twenties. It took me ten years to stop again. It was a hard time but for me it had to be that way.

Colleen said...

Oh ,this is unfortunate. But, being part of a recovery group, this happens, and all you can do is hope that the fallen find their way back. Congratulations on your recovery!

steveroni said...

Posts like this (very well-written, BTW) are so worthwhile to be read also by long-timers--like some of us. Reminders that we are all in One-Day-At-A-Time mode.

Thank you, Mary.

shadowlands said...

Father Corapi always says.."It ain't over till it's over, so you pray for me and I'll pray for you"

I think I might stick that on my refridgerator!!

Mary, I reckon you are the person on the right of the photo? Just from how I imagine you. Bet I'm wrong, I usually am ha-ha!

Syd said...

I am sorry about the loss of a friendship. She made some bad choices that ultimately contributed to her return to drinking. I am glad that you stayed sober through all of it.

dAAve said...

A Reason.
A Season.
A Lifetime.

Carverlane said...

Oh, Mary, that is heartbreaking.
If she only made one Twelve Step call, thank God it was you!

Pam said...

that hurt my heart.

Kathy said...

Mary, I read your blog daily. I am not an alcoholic but my husband's niece is. My father was and died at 48 (I was 15). Had a stroke at 45. It's very sad about your friend and your relationship. I also wonder how your friend is doing that tried to commit suicide. My niece (30) had a friend that drank herself (litterally)to death a few months ago. Very very sad. Even with that and the thought that she could lose her child if this gets out of hand again, she still is drinking. I know it is a day to day battle/struggle that goes on. I just wanted you to know that I keep you in my thoughts. I know your blog is a help to others.