Hart to Hearts: Simply Recover

Those two words are sometimes what offers hope. No great parties, no brass bands and parades. Simply recover.

Just over 10 years ago, I told my husband one night that I feared that if I didn’t stop drinking alcohol, I would die. Even with that fear, I couldn’t seem to stop.

On the night before the solstice at a small celebration, I met a woman who mentioned to me that she was part of AA.

“I never tell anyone this,” she commented, seemingly baffled by it. “But it makes sense here.”

A part of me wanted to tell her my secret: the hangovers and blackouts, the fear and the dread, but the words wouldn’t form.

Less than a week later, I bottomed out in spectacular form. The details differ from other drunks, but the story is likely the same: I finally had the will and the fuel to stop drinking, and on December 26 of this year, I will have been sober for 10 years.

I attended one AA meeting — the one that woman had described as her home meeting in our brief conversation. She was there, and did a double take as she recognized me. “You, too?” she asked. I nodded and tears began to flow. Her face softened. “Your first time?” I nodded. “It’s okay,” she murmured to me, “you’re safe here. Get your tea and come and sit with me.”

Any of us who have arisen out of the darkness of being actively addicted know the rough work of finding a different way of living, discovering our new selves, the excavation of the wounds and worries and heartbreak and sadness beyond words. And we know, I think, about the glimmers of hope that arise from the chance meetings, the kind words, the strange grace of falling so far down that up becomes possible.

Ten years after that chance meeting and the grace-filled days that followed, I find hope in remembering anew that new life is possible and worth the journey.