Today I have 60 days without alcohol. I think this is the second time in 20 years that I could say that. I am walking the walk slowly, carefully, because I know how very close to the edge I am most of the time – if I picked up a drink right now, it could be another year before I come up for air. If I do.
I look in the mirror and the face looking back at me so closely resembles someone I once knew, when I was a little girl. Mom was in her 30’s then. She had the same chestnut hair and eyes, the babyish cheeks layered with blush (on her presentable days) in a desperate attempt to fake cheekbones. We have the same chewed up cuticles. She left me a long, long time ago, and yet she looks back at me forever.
I finally walked into the right 12 step room when it became finally clear that I had looked myself in the eye and failed too many times. How many times had I asked myself to stop, made a plan, set a goal, then dropped it all? Dozens and dozens of times. I didn’t keep track, but surely my journal has. And then there’s that women’s guide to sobriety book with the receipt from 2007, which tells me something. There is still so much about recovery that I don’t understand yet, but I am quite certain about one simple fact, that I am not capable of doing this on my own.
So I go to meetings. I sit in the metal folding chairs. I smile briefly into a few faces when I should, but keep my eyes down most of the time. I grip the mug of peppermint tea that I never forget to bring. I read the literature, repeating passages with a pen in my hand. I do what I’m told to do. At my favorite meeting, I find myself laughing and clapping a lot.
I want to be one of those folks who stopped in time. I hear the stories about hospitals and jails and wonder – am I in the right place? But then I look in the mirror and remember who didn’t stop in time, who never found help, who took her last breathe as a young woman with young children. The disease is in my bones and in my psyche. The craving for an increasingly blurrier edge to everything lurks ever nearby, waiting to pull me in and pull me down. So I go to meetings. And when I go, she goes with me. We go together so that one of us can finally find freedom.