The very hour I first…believed, recovery was possible?
Seven o’clock, Tuesday night…1995!
The plane, the plane, flew overhead. As the prodigies from Farnum Rehab Center, made their way to church! A building devoted to keeping AA groups in the basement. In case, life and sobriety got out of hand.
What a wonderfully, large, smoking meeting! I remember it as though, it had been the beginning of my climbing the ladder out of…rock bottom.
The plane, the plane, flew a flyer behind it. Bright red, blue and sparkle-full!
‘We Can Help!’
Had been all it said.
Course, it had been an advertisement for a local car dealership.
That did not matter.
It had been a revelation for a bleeding from the heart, addict.
“It’s like there’s this wave coming toward me, but there’s nothing I can do about it. And then it reaches me, crashes over me and…and I’m done for another day. I just give up. Give in to it. Because how do you stop a wave?
You don’t. And you’re wise to recognize your powerlessness to do so. But what you can do is learn how to negotiate this wave. Work within the context of its inevitability.” Wally Lamb
Drunk, dime store, damsel, relishing in her own distress. Hanging on to the coattails of women…she would never possess. Always the maid of honor to…a friend of a friend, like a stylish cosmetic commercial of let us make pretend. In patchwork denim, she had been a provider of words dishonest and deeds…hurtful.
Could it have been the year after the year to remember? So long ago, the damsel could not recall…
‘had the stamp on my ass been…return to sender or lyrics from ‘love me…not tender?’
Either way, that ain’t no ‘lady’ had been the roll call. Friendly, but damaged. Uniquely attractive…with a soul that had been a bit mismanaged.
In a church hall, decorated in fervently overstated sayings…
Cute but troubled, the not quite young Miss in frump, had been eager for sex not dating! A high-priced escort…would be a description that is not overstating.
It had been a women’s meeting of hopefully recovered drunks. Hens in a disillusioned hen-house, talking trash…gossiping junk!
Across the basement storage space. Nearest the door…to make a quick escape. There she sat. Innocently unaware of her sweetmeat charm.
Many elders on the road of recovery, warned, ‘hey, of the vulture…be wary!’
We all are aware how this tale ends. A lift up to the 13th step means not lovers…maybe not even friends. Now I am not one to point fingers at glass houses or over indulge in anything but humility.
After all, it has been 15 years since the last hangover and I parted ways. Easy does it is typically my manner and my sober way. And, much as I like to avoid my wrongs.
And, much as I like to avoid my wrongs. As guessed, this is my swan song! Please do not use my ‘fragile’ handle with care recovery as nothing but wrong. 13 steps, typically, can go nowhere but down. Down to the gates of hell…Where many have been known to never break addiction’s spell.
Yet, for once in my stewed, free-spirited life…I seemed to do something right.
It has been 15 years and I have never felt cleaner. My favorite addict fell in love with the sober dreamer.
Can’t say as, bad behavior and I will forever be done…
Yet, my love has taught me to want to be a…better person.
One of the most important amends I had to make…while stumbling my way around early sobriety, had been very personal.
So personal, I continue to not forgive or forget what destructive path…I sent myself down. Apologizing to others had been difficult. Yet, forgiving myself for the shit I pulled…years into sobriety, comes with difficulty.
The very first meeting I attended after a month and a half in detox/rehab, had been at Howard Rec., Concord, New Hampshire.
Now, Howard Rec is located right smack dab in the middle of our lovely state’s…state run mental health facility. New Hampshire Hospital holds many memories for me. Most of which I cannot comment on until a later date.
However, it could be said that…Howard Rec scared the shit out of me…from childhood to adulthood. The stories of sociopaths running around with chains…unknowns with gray Johnnies, limping and drooling…chasing down small children such as myself.
These were some of the horror stories I had been told to dismay me from cutting across the State Hospital lawn…to get to school.
Course, as an early teen in the late 70’s and early 80’s and a budding addict, I went headstrong across the lawn every chance I could.
Current day, Howard Rec., 1995, wet behind the ears with too much coffee and not enough drink…I, deer stuck in headlight’ grappled for the rec., room door.
What I came upon was a scene from a National Lampoon movie. A not updated gymnasium lay before me. Warped basketball floors, tilted back nets with strings fraying. And, a garden variety of alcoholics…in many stages of sobriety. All dress in black.
My first thought?
‘Is this the Johnny Cash wake?’
Truth be told. After the confusion and my wanting to tie one on…at the Frosty Mug. I discovered the meeting had been for a woman who, along with mental impairments, been sober for 25 years.
Her husband, who she had met while being a patient at the state hospital, quickly noticed the look of a newbee…in the halls.
Brushing well wishers aside, he made a bee line for your’s truly.
I had almost made it to the girl’s bathroom, toilets a half a foot off the ground. But alas, no!
Henry grabbed my shoulder with the strength of several men…though he appeared to be older than dirt.
“Where you going girl? Norma, would be pissed if she chased away an addict!”
I didn’t really have a response. I just listened. And, listened.
Henry told me of his struggles. Norma problems with major depression. And, their marriage of sobriety. What influenced me most?
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. Your really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. That’s Lucy! Norma loved watching, I love LUCY! She believed that laughter…along with Thorazine and AA meetings…were really the best medicine!”
All at once, a vision…
Some woman shuffling along, smile on her face, Big Book in hand…and television set to TV land’s, I Love LUCY!
I broke out into tears, laughter and almost…puked.
Henry, not long after that meeting, went on to see his wife, Norma. Every couple of months…I take an afternoon and binge watch, LUCY.
EARL'S PLACE: "AN OPEN & RESPECTFUL ONLINE SPACE TO DEBATE OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES FACING THE GLOBE," CURATED BY AWARD-WINNING COLUMNIST, EARL PLANTE, AN UNFLINCHING ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL & ECONOMIC JUSTICE