This is the time of year that reflections on those final months of active addiction seep into my awareness. In late October or early November of 1985, I was railroaded into the Care Unit (or so it felt), signing myself out after 4 nights (I have my mother's day planner from that year. The notation reads: "jeanine signed out of Care Unit against medical advice! She'll call later". I'll never forget the look on her face across the Thanksgiving table when she said, "I just don't understand." I didn't understand either, though did my best to justify my behavior.
Somewhere between that look, and a phone call from my sort-of-ex a week later, I had my moment of truth. For me, it was catching my reflection in a mirror as I searched for a vein that wasn't there. In a rare moment of insight, I saw my future if I continued on the same path and it was a blank wall. So when the phone rang in the middle of the night with my ex on the line from parts unknown and he said, through the crackle of an international call, "Jeanine, you need help," a little, tiny voice that was me said, "ok." I don't remember consciously deciding to admit I needed help. Thank you, God, for that the part of me that wanted to live.
I am older now. I used to think of who I was at 31 and cry at the damage I'd done to myself and those I loved. Today I simply shake my head at the chaos I created and contributed to. With gratitude, I think of the people on both sides of the divide (addiction/recovery) who contributed to my sitting here today, healthy, and very sober nearly 33 years later.
Today, on this eve of Thanksgiving, I light a candle and sit in gratitude - for my health and recovery, for a strong marriage and good friendships, for family connections over the miles and the years, for work I enjoy, for community, for peace of mind most days. I remember those no longer here, and today choose to focus on the love rather than the loss.
As I drove away from my home group last weekend, I noticed another member walking down the street, a member who'd left the meeting 45 minutes earlier. I have no idea what other obligations they had, but it struck me that it has been a long time since I walked out of a meeting because I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I didn't really know what that meant - "uncomfortable in my own skin" - until I experienced the internal comfort of serenity. Not boredom, as I initially thought of it, but true serenity. It's been quite a ride to get here, and I'm grateful for every minute of it.
Our Christmas lights went up on a recent dry day, though I won't turn them on until December. I won't listen to the holiday music station until then either. I plan to savor this quiet week before the hustle & bustle begins in full force to really feel my gratitude for this amazing, yet simple life.
What or who is on your gratitude list today? We're having a quiet Thanksgiving at home - what about you? May you enjoy the blessings of the day, whatever you do in solitude or community, or somewhere in between. My prayers, today, go out to those suffering the results of the California wildfires, and to all those who grieve so many recent and untimely losses.