I’m coming up on a very special anniversary. It came to me recently ￼while scheduling an annual training I give to volunteer tutors in the community. Last year I rolled into that training with a mid-grade hangover, one I probably wanted to call in sick for, but knew I couldn’t get out this commitment. So I took my generic Excedrin, sipped some coffee, put on lipstick and sucked it up. If there is a god above, I’m sure she blesses that sweet group of retired citizens who remained enthusiastic and eager while enduring my persistent scowl all morning.
But the training is not the anniversary I speak of. No, it’s when I got home that afternoon. Though I hung my head defeated, deflated, and disgusted with myself, out of nowhere a moment of courage took over me. I pulled out the tattered slip of paper my counselor had given me months before, reached for my phone, and before I could talk myself out of it I texted a woman I barely knew.
Hey, do you remember talking to me on the phone once last year, about alcohol? I am wondering if we could go to a meeting together sometime?
The moment passed and a rush of shame came over me. What did I just do?
Fortunately, she didn’t take long to respond. Yes! How about Monday night?
I said okay. Thank you. I’m so grateful. See you then.
It’s been almost a year since I sent that text. A year since I went to that meeting. A year since I met my future sponsor and began to unravel the deeply twisted knot of my glossy, functional alcoholism. It wasn’t the last day I took a drink – since then I have had several, though not spectacularly. Relapses, they are called in the twelve-step world. But I know that the ~350 days without alcohol I’ve amassed since that dark day in August punctuate years of daily drinking and the self-loathing that drives it. I don’t remember a year of my life with such clarity, or at least so few headaches. Recognizing the power of this kind of milestone is not something I hear about in the rooms, but this is my path, my own journey of recovery.
Did I mention this is also the year of COVID-19? And I turned 40, for fuck’s sake.
I’m doing alright, y’all.