From the March 2014 magazine.

March 2014: Out of the Nest

At 24 she was finally sober, but it took that extra shove to make her program soar

I found my way up the wooden, rickety stairs of a San Fernando clubhouse in June of 1986. There were five women and eight screaming children, and I was absolutely sure that my life was over. I would never see daylight again that was not filtered through layers of cigarette smoke and the smell of (what I now know is) AA coffee. There would never be fun or laughter again. I would never know another lover or friend who had an ounce of personality, and I would grow old just like those five 40-year-old women I saw sitting around those AA tables.

If any one of those women had tried to tell me about the ride I was embarking upon, I would have called them all liars and stomped down the stairs much quicker than I had climbed up on that hot day in southern California. Those sober women, however, did not try to tell me who I was or what it was going to be like, nor did they shock, belittle or shame me. Had those things happened, I might never have come back. The chairwoman, Peggy, asked my name and asked if I wanted to share. The others said, “Keep coming back,” and one of them may have told me that I never had to take another drink, even if I wanted to.

-- A.W.

Oregon City, Oregon

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