Ten years ago today was New Year’s Day 2003. I woke up in disappointed, discouraged disbelief that I had thrown away two months just a mere 8 hours prior. I swallowed rum, Vanilla Extract, and NyQuil with a chaser of Listerine. I descended on these things like one-woman pack of hyenas on a carcass.
Struggling with sobriety, I went to a first meeting following my relapse. People said “Hi, how are you?” and I answered. I spoke slowly and methodically, bracing myself for a look of disappointment, discouragement and disbelief. I saw none of that. What I saw was encouragement. I was embraced not disgraced. I was encouraged not discouraged. I was believe in and not disbelieved in. While I didn’t have “approval,” I didn’t have disapproval. I was appointed to the potential for a new way of life – not disappointed. I left there feeling stronger. It sustained me for a while longer.
By the time the spell started to wear off, by the time the strength had begun to ebb, it was time for another meeting. Day two. After that spell had started to wear off, by the time the strength had begun to ebb, it was time for another meeting. Day three. Etc.
Ten years ago today I had a one-bedroom apartment, and it felt empty and lonely and brimming with anger. Today I live in a three-bedroom house with a family and it feels full and lively and overflowing with love. Ten years ago today I had newly declared bankruptcy. Today I can pay my bills; it’s a struggle, but today I’m not standing next to a stray dollar on the bar wondering if the bartender will think it’s mine and get me a draught or whether she’ll realize it was her tip from someone else. Ten years ago today I had shaking hands. Today I don’t have the hands of a surgeon, but nor do I feel like people are staring at me and seeing how awake and angry my nervous system really was. Ten years ago today I had little hope for the future. Today I know that each day keeps getting better and can’t imagine it being better than today.
My dad called me this morning to wish me a happy anniversary – and a happy new year. I couldn’t believe he remembered. But like my friend Joe said, “How could he forget?”