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December 1988

A Midsummer Night's Miracle

I celebrate my sobriety! I am filled with joy today as I reflect on what has come to me in the last four years. And the miracle of this program is that I didn't even know I needed sobriety! It is a humbling experience for me to realize how easily it could have slipped by me for many more years and perhaps even permanently; how close I had come to settling for life as a practicing alcoholic woman because I didn't know the strength of my own denial.

Women come to our Fellowship in a variety of ways just as men do. But some common paths emerge. Mine was one of these pathways I find common among my group. I had divorced, and I fell into the depths of fear about all sorts of things--physical, emotional, and financial needs headed my growing list. I was a single parent with a child I adored, a supportive family who lived close by, a good job using my education, with above average compensation for a working woman. But I was scared to death of being alone. My husband had been gone two days when the carpet in the living room pulled away from the tack strip and I immediately imagined the whole house falling apart with no one around to fix it. I even entertained thoughts that the house had been purposely booby-trapped by this man before he left, to convince me of my inabilities, insecurities, and inadequacies. It wasn't necessary--I was convinced on my own!

Two weeks later I was tired of being a gay young divorcee drinking wine while I fixed dinner, through dinner, and until my bedtime. Bedtime, of course, meant when I had passed out in front of the TV, awakened in my chair with a stiff neck, and crept to bed for the final two or three hours before it was time to go to work. Anyway, I didn't like this life. I needed a companion, a man, someone to talk to! So I headed for the bar and picked one out. First of all, I noticed what he was drinking so I could stock it before he came over. And then I made conversation and invitations. The next night, after I had indeed bought a fifth of the right brand, he did call and come by to see me. It was three in the morning and he was falling down drunk. And I was excited because I had a date! Let me never forget the hundreds of forms of denial in the disease of alcoholism that kill us slowly.

During the next nine months, we played this scene over and over while he moved in one shirt at a time. We drank great amounts, I became better acquainted with other drugs, and I supported him financially. He never worked one day, he was never sober one day, we never had a physical relationship. I was in more dangerous situations than I had ever known in my life involving guns and acts outside the law. My child was either at a babysitter's house or abandoned in her own home by a mother only physically present. And I was starting to be aware of blackouts when I drank. At the end of nine months, I gave up. I was desperate and confused and knew life must gel better. My sickness told me, "This is a good relationship that just needs a little work." So I went to Al-Anon!

Thank God for what we call around here backdoor entry into AA. The individuals in Al-Anon literally kept me alive for eight months while I fought toward my bottom. I went to meetings, talked to people, and drank. My only recall of controlled drinking came during this time. I decided I would not drink and not purchase liquor for a period of time because I was going to help him. Then he'd find a way to drink without me and I would say, what's the use? He doesn't want to do anything about his problem. I might as well have fun. And I would buy my supply and hide my bottles and sneak my drinks. Then it would be obvious that my drinking away from him was making no difference and we'd go back to drinking together at breakneck speed. We repeated this pattern over and over in eight very short months that seemed like forever.

My miracle came midsummer in 1982 when a dear lady I had met in Al-Anon meetings asked me to go to an AA meeting with her. She was (and is) actively working the Steps of recovery in her own life. She was a double winner. When I say she asked me to go to a meeting, what I really mean is that she asked me not to call her again unless I went with her to an AA meeting. I believed she meant it and forty-eight hours later, I was willing to meet her at a closed women's meeting that addressed the first three Steps of our program. I remember the warmth, the touching, and one or two things about past escapades that I could identify with immediately. But I was afraid to think about not drinking again. Even twenty-four hours seemed too long a commitment. I wasn't sure when I would need my medicine, my friend, my buffer to reality.

I asked many "what if" questions, and thought of situations that might come up when I would need a drink for sure. Patient people listened to me for long periods of time and at inconvenient hours. I had a guide through each Step I took. I had a sponsor who always gave credit where credit was due. She told me over and over that my recovery--the fact that each day I felt a little better--was because AA works and because God works. She would not let me give sole credit to her as I wanted to do so often.

Six years have gone by and my entire life has changed. I experience peace, I am comfortable in the presence of joy, and I have a personal relationship with God. And I didn't even know I needed sobriety!

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