What a lovely surprise! I didn’t realise he was from around here, but at tonight’s AA meeting there was a rehab alumni. Quite possibly one of those “hopeless cases” back then – out of every cohort of roughly 20 people, only two or three seem to stick with it and at first glance he might not have been the horse to bet on. Back then, about six months ago, he was drinking around the clock combined with a coke habit and had not gone a day without using or drinking since his teens. Had the scars to prove it too. And here we are on a balmy London summer’s eve at a meeting and I’m chatting away with a super smart, bright-eyed and all round great guy who so far is rocking recovery and has come so far from that spot he was in. He looked so well and I told him.
“I feel well!” he smiled. “Even on a bad day I don’t want to drink, I never want to go back there.”
It’s a miracle every time. It’s a miracle when someone fights their way back into life and the frighteningly bad odds also remind me that it requires a lot of work. It’s not luck of the draw because recovery rarely lands in your lap – it’ll push you to your limits and then further still, but it is absolutely possible. Hell, here I am and who would have ever thought THAT? Not me, that’s for sure and yet here we are.
Do you know what else is a miracle? I collected my 18-month chip this evening. Strictly speaking it’s 18 1/2 months, but hey, I was away on the 23rd July. And there were no other recovery birthdays in the meeting today beyond my 18 months. Obviously there would have been people there who have been sober for much, much longer than I have, but tonight I was the last to collect a chip! Fancy that! My recovery chip was the one at the end, the longest time out of all of us who collected a chip today! WHOA! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, y’all.
No, 18 months isn’t very long but that felt really, really good. A year and a half ago I was so proud to get my 24-hour chip, the chip that signified to me that I was going to get serious about this sober malarkey, that first little step on my journey. I was even prouder to stand up and go and collect my 1-month chip when that time came. Back then I’d look to those collecting their 1-year chips and so on – yes, at those also collecting 18-month chips too! – and hope with all my might that this would eventually also be me. And this evening it was. Today this is me and it feels amazing.
The chair was about figuring out how to live sober, amongst other things. How to live life without our crutch and numbing agent. The lady told us how nervous she was and kept losing the thread, so when I shared I told her this is exactly me but how I too now find it so miraculous that I can speak up and tell my story. I shared how I could relate to learning to live not necessarily sober, but essentially learning to be ME.
What inspired me the most however, was seeing the guy who was at the rehab when I first started there, who’d been in such a bad way when he came in. I remember him talking at the time about how shaky he felt about leaving and how he worried about how he’d fare back in the world again. And now look! Wow. What inspired me was to see him look so well and how his eyes sparkled when he talked about his wife and kids and the holiday they were going on. It’s good stuff, that – chatting about how great this old life actually can be when we’re free and at peace, no longer slaves to our addictions.
So here’s to another day sober! Long may it continue. God willing.
Today I’m not going to drink.