Monday, January 21, 2013

Seeing the miracles.

Being a part of the recovery community, I certainly have seen my share of hurt, disappointment, and people lose over and over to this disease. I've watched people relapse, and although I am still quite new with 882 days sober,  I've know some to die. I've seen people attempt treatment multiple times, only to drink every time they get out. And when they do walk through the doors again, I am always happy to see them, no matter how bad they have messed up. Because I was shown that same love, and I know what it meant to me.

In my ever-widening circle of friends that have supported me, I think of a pair that I want to share with you. I will not use their names, to protect their anonymity, of course. But I love these women, and I love what I've seen happen between them, in the last year.  I have their permission to talk about this here.

I'll start with Mary (not her real name.) She is a thirty-six year old, single mother of a 7-year old beautiful boy. Mary is an alcoholic of the most serious kind.  Before going to treatment, she walked through the door of one of our 12-step meetings.  She sat next to Clara, a beautiful woman who is always welcoming to the newcomer.  Clara gave her a phone list and told her to keep coming back.

Mary continued to drink and ended up in treatment shortly after that.  She did her twenty-eight days at Hazelden, and drank again the day after she got out.  She drank for a week straight.  During that drunk, she pulled out the phone list, called someone on it for help.  The first person she reached said she couldn't take any sponsees at the moment, which is a bummer, but totally okay and does happen.  That might stop someone from trying again.  But Mary didn't stop there.  She then called Clara.  Clara told her to call her when she was not drunk, and she would be happy to work with her.  Mary ended up in the hospital, almost dead from a pre-existing heart problem.  She was tired of living like that.  That was her last drunk.  She has been sober since 11/11/11.

That is magical, but it doesn't stop there.  Mary's marriage was falling apart, as her husband was chaotic.  As Clara and Mary worked together through the steps, Clara saw the stress this caused on Mary, and told her if she needed a place to live, she could come live at her house.  She would always have a roof.

Let me be very clear here.  Mary was doing the work to remain sober.  She came to meetings, worked with Clara, as she would have with any sponsor.  She had over four months of sobriety before she made the call.  And in March of last year (Clara's birthday), Mary called and said she needed to take Clara up on her offer.  Her husband was being extra cruel, and she needed to get out of there.

Clara is in her sixties.  She lived alone, as her grown children live out of state.  She is very active in 12-step groups and a solid figure to the community.  I don't want to say she is Mother Theresa, because she would smack me.  But she is just one of those people you want to hang around.  I like her because she laughs at almost all of my jokes.  So I know she likes me.  You know my theme.  I need that shit.

I remember hearing that Mary had moved in with Clara, and my first reaction was, "Oh god, Clara is being so codependent."  That is what a nosey, judging bitch I can really be.  Mary was working hard at her recovery, doing a great job, Clara had the room, and so it made perfect sense.   I'm glad no one asked my opinion at the time.

Now, for most people living in a town-home alone, having a child and mother move in with you is a huge risk.  No matter how good of a person you are, having people in your personal space, for any length of time, can really be awful.  But for some reason, these three fit together with ease.  That is such a rare and cool thing.  I have been so impressed by this.

The drama queen in my REALLY waited for that to blow up.  I can truly be a cynical, creepy gal.
I waited and waited for one of them to talk shit about the other.  To talk about how the boy leaves his toys around, or how one of them ate the other's food.  But there has been none of that.  There has been a relationship like one you don't see very often.  Of utter respect, acceptance and admiration. And if anyone deserves this to work out, it is the three of them.

I have watched Mary blossom in the 12-steps.  From someone who hardly spoke, never came to lunch, and shrunk into her chair, to someone who leads meetings, sponsors people and has crawled up and out of her hole.  I've seen the wonderful mother she is and has always been.  She is so strong.  Of all of the crap that has been handed her way this past year with this divorce, she has remained level, accepting, SOBER, and grateful.  I learn from her every single time she opens her mouth.

This is the miracle of working the 12-steps.  And she has done it exactly how it was meant to be done.

The coolest news we got from Mary is that she recently put an offer on a home, just about 8 blocks from my house, and it was accepted.  So not only, since 11/11/11 has she not drank, she helps others, she is ALMOST divorced, and she is going to hopefully (if nothing falls through) be a homeowner.

I was let in on the house information before Clara was, because Clara was out of town.  Mary asked me to not tell anyone, until she had the chance to tell Clara herself.  ANYONE who knows me KNOWS that keeping secrets is difficult for me, but of course, I did it.

I had the pleasure of having lunch with Clara the other day AFTER she knew the news, so we could talk about it.  The pride in her face when she talks about Mary.  For every person we sponsor, doesn't grab ahold of these steps and run with it.  The joy this experience has brought her is immeasurable.  The gratitude on both ends of this relationship is so beautiful.

And the pleasure and joy it is for me and the rest who get to notice these miracles all of the time, well, they offset the sadness of the ones who either keep trying and failing, or who don't make it.  This is just one story.  There are millions like this.  It doesn't work for everyone.  But when it does work, it is fucking kick-ass.

I want to thank my dear friends for their permission to tell you this story.  It is way more beautiful than I could explain here.  I love you women.


  1. That is a beautiful story and even more so because it's a true success story and then even more because you told it!!!

    1. Thanks Holli. I get to see a lot of good. It's awesome.

  2. I too am a recovering alcoholic. Finding out I was pregnant is probably what kept me from going further into addiction. I was towing the line pretty closely, and working in outpatient treatment, dealing with court fines, and also working for a criminal defense attorney, I do know people can change their lives. It is always beautiful when someone decides to change their life, cut out the addiction, and work through the struggle. Thank you for sharing!