September 2016

When you’re ready

 She sat across from me in my living room in a comfortable chair, shaking, crying and far from comfortable. This new sponsee, sober for less than 30 days, was currently in an outpatient program, making one meeting at a time—sometimes—and living in an abusive home. She was talking non-stop. I wanted to know how hard it all was. But I know.

I share my story and ask if she’s willing to go to any lengths to get sober. She tells me again of her struggles, all the things being done to her, all that she has to handle, what is she dodging and avoiding. She says she’ll try to read the Big Book and try to make next Saturday’s meeting. She asks if I can understand. I do understand.

Again I ask, “Are you willing to go to any lengths to get sober?” Excuses, rationalizations, justifications, victimization, martyrdom … I listen and I know.

I remember. I sat in her seat 37 years ago. I was 22 years old, scared, living under abuse, and my first sponsor said to me, “Are you willing to go to any lengths?” And I said, “Yes.” No more excuses, rationalizations, justifications, no more playing the victim or the martyr—I said yes.

I walk her to the door and with a hug I say, “You don’t have to do this alone. We’ll be here when you’re ready.”

I’m grateful to be able to carry the message. And with tears, I also remember I can’t carry the alcoholic.

Kate, I hope someday, somehow you read this story and when the next sober member of AA asks, “Are you willing to go to any lengths?” you say yes, and step into the sunlight of the spirit, where a life of joy and freedom is waiting.

Molly S., Albuquerque, N.M.

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