|This perfectly captures how I feel today.|
Today marks 24 years of continuous sobriety, 24 years of living life on life's terms, 24 years that I haven't (thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous) used alcohol or drugs to alter my reality or mask my feelings.
Those of you who know me up close and personal can attest to the fact that my feelings are, um, pretty much right up front. HAH! I know at least one person who'd love it if I would stuff them every once in a while. (No, he wouldn't. Not really.)
If you don't know my story, you can read the 16-year version of it here. What's happened in the eight years since?
I still live in the same house, I have the same dog, and I'm living with the same person. In fact I'd married that person just a few months before my 16th AA anniversary. I've now lived in the same house with the same person and had the same dog for a longer stretch than at any other time in my entire life. People, places, things and dogs used to fall by the wayside when life got sticky. My MO was to run away – from husbands, jobs, homes, family, friends.
But I was always right there with me, and it wasn't until I quit drinking that I could quit running.
Or start, actually.
Running – the sport – is something I've picked up and a-l-m-o-s-t put away in the past eight years. I've run three half-marathons, the Army 10-Miler, a four-mile race and a 5K. I'd like to run again, but at my age maybe walking is better. But maybe not. I haven't crossed a marathon off my bucket list, and I still want to run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, á la Rocky.
I'm still taking an AA meeting to a nearby women's prison, and still marveling that having that meeting serve fewer women than it used to has made it more effective. The meeting is a highlight of my week, every week, and no matter how I feel driving to the prison, I always always ALWAYS feel better on the way home.
What's new in the past eight years? I have five new grandchildren, who are now seven, six (triplets) and four. My daughter is about to graduate from law school. My son has been promoted to a new and important position at his place of employment. (My parenting skills, believe me, had nothing to do with my children's success. But my pride in them knows no bounds.)
I lost my dad – a strong Truman Democrat and the son of a strong Roosevelt Democrat – four years ago. That was a blow. I wanted to die right along with him. But I didn't die, and I didn't drink, and I'm carrying on his values and ideals because …
The other thing that's happened is that I've ventured out of my safe little world and become a loud, proud Democrat, working for candidates, being one, taking positions. I've become involved with the WV Federation of Democratic Women on the local and state levels. I think I'm making a difference, and I'm standing up for something besides me-me-me.
Because you see, alcoholics are selfish and self-centered to their core. Or at least this one is. If I'm not comfortable, you won't be either, I'll make sure of it. I'm shedding that behavior, one day at a time, but I have a long way to go.
Thanks for being here with me. You know who you are.