September is Recovery Month! I have attended a couple of events, the public viewing of the Anonymous People and the Family Night at the Armory. So thankful for events that celebrate our resilience and help us think about our own stories. I bought a copy of Anonymous People and Guts by Kristen Johnston. Kristen says that silence is death. We have to come out of the shadows with our stories.
It’s been my honor to be the sober partner of my husband in long-term recovery for close to 40 years. His commitment to sobriety happened early in our friendship when I asked if he would chose alcohol over love. He said he would do anything for love. I was dating someone else at the time that was pressuring me to drink; when we broke up I told him he wasn’t even a good friend. Months later Mike told me he hadn’t had a drink since our conversation. He told me that for an addict if a little is good, more is better.
My father was in long term recovery his first and last black out night while a soldier in North Africa in WWII. He told me that he had an uncle who was an alcoholic and it was obvious to him that he had the same illness and it would be good if he never drank. I guess I was pretty young when I decided that I would never drink.
I wish I could tell you that our honest conversations with our children protected them from addiction. Being strong and confident they all made their own choices and one of the three inherited the illness that came from both sides of our family. So during those early years when probably all children try their first substance he was caught in the web of addiction. This has been my mantra… get well in the community where you live. But in his case it took being 3381 miles away in a 6 month residential program after two outpatient programs and one 28 day program. Recovery is a journey that takes incredible resolve and for some it takes drastic measures. We don’t give up!!
Criminalizing addiction hasn’t worked any better than criminalizing mental illness. The war on drugs filled our jails and prisons to overflowing, but failed to treat the illness. Drugs and alcohol fuel the vises that hurt our families and destroy our sense of safety. The issues we have in our community aren’t really about them, they are about us! All of us! This is my challenge today: Be a FRIEND!! And if you are in long term recovery, share your story. It will change your life and someone else’s.