In my almost two years belonging to AA I've come to appreciate those "oh so special" moments. You know the ones: when someone reaches a month, when someone walks through some garbage, when someone has even the slightest revelation, these are all reasons to celebrate. And last Saturday was no exception.
It's a story about "L". L was there on my first night through the doors. She came up to me and gave me a hug, and told me to keep coming back. The next day I sat next to L as she gave me a big smile when I walked into the meeting and afterwards we talked and she told me a bit about herself. She was a teacher, she struggled with drugs and alcohol. She had been coming to AA for over a year because her husband said he would divorce her if she didn't and she hadn't managed to string more than three weeks of sobriety together in that years time.
This scared me to death. I thought, "OMG is it this hard?" If she can't get three weeks together in a year what am I going to do. Fortunately for myself, I had reached the bottom. I never wanted to wake up hungover on a Saturday with a pounding headache thinking, "there's got to be something better than this"! I found my sponsor and never looked back.
Unfortunately for L that wasn't the case. I saw her go through numerous sponsors, numerous treatment programs, in and out of the door. Crying, angry, complaining, mad because she couldn't drink like normal people. I saw her trying to hang onto a lifestyle that no longer worked and resisting one that could save her. She looked like hell. This sweet little petite lady, was so full of pain you could physically feel it just by looking at her face. She had a using son, who she was so busy trying to save, that she forgot to save herself. It was hard to watch.
She finally hit bottom. She went to Texas for an extensive treatment. When she returned to the rooms of AA three months later, she was given a dose of "tough love". She was told to "show up, shut up, and work the program". And little by little (sometimes slowly) she did. She surrendered. The rope was finally released from her grip, the program allowed to work.
Last Saturday she celebrated a year! I wanted to give her a standing ovation. Gone is the scared, tired look. She has a bit of peace, she has a smile. She is willing to listen, and to learn. In other words she is willing to go to any length to stay sober. She talked about not knowing who she was, and she's just beginning to find that out. How awesome it will be to watch her become the person she is meant to be.
After the meeting I stopped in one of my favorite book stores. I inquired about one of the owner's spouses who has been in AA longer than me but has really struggled. The last time I saw this person they had just hit a year, they were grossly underweight, and struggling minute to minute. The owner told me to check out where they worked and see for myself. As I was about to leave the shop L walked in. We burst out laughing and threw out arms around each other. How awesome it was to tell her how proud I was to be in this great program together. A moment I would have loved to savor.
I headed over to the place where the other AA member worked and boy was I surprised. A complete transformation had taken place. Healthy weight gain, a big smile, confidence and two years sober! How sweet is that! Sometimes I come home from those meetings walking on air. I just want to bottle up all that joy and use it for later.
But life has a funny way of keeping things real. Sunday I received a call telling me about the passing of someone we knew. This person didn't make it to the other side. They reached out but didn't think they could make it through the pain to get to the other side. Your heart breaks, you know things could have been different. But I've learned it's not for me to know the reason why, to reconcile anything, it's not for me to question. I felt as much sadness the last few days as I did joy. They seem to go hand in hand at times.
Living life on life's terms was not something I embraced. It has now become a part of me. Without sadness we could never experience joy, without joy we wouldn't survive the sadness. Each and every day the sun will still rise and it will still set, what you choose to do with that time will make all the difference.....