I attended my friend Dorothy’s 60th Birthday party last night. It was a beautiful affair at the Sunday House in Delray Beach Florida. I met Dorothy in the rooms less than a year ago. We had just celebrated her one-year anniversary in recovery a week before. Both her husband and son are Executive Chefs so the food was incredible. Family had flown in from Texas and in total there were about 25 in attendance. The venue was elegant, and the atmosphere was filled with love, shared memories, and laughter. Dorothy had asked me to come not only to share her birthday with her and her family but also for support in her recovery. Wine was served with the meal. Dorothy, her sister, and I drank Pellegrino. The party progressed and as it neared the end, no one had imbibed to excess. It was lovely.
It brought me back to my first year in recovery and my first party in recovery with my family. I had chosen not to include myself in family get-togethers until after I had a year and a half in recovery. An important event came up and I decided to attend. I felt I was prepared to attend, and had a solid foundation beneath me. Every family event without exception, has always involved alcohol as it does in many families and events. Again, I drank Pellegrino. I arranged for sober support, which was a phone call away. I had also addressed the issue and my trepidations in the rooms before I went. I felt confident and was prepared to be in that environment, as well as be there as a support for my family.
The weather that day was beautiful and the party was outside. I was glad I had the beauty of nature surrounding me. Nature always blesses me with calmness, and gives me strength. It was also great to see everyone again. Food was plentiful, as was the alcohol. I was in awe of the variety of drinks offered, and was also curious as to my attention to the bar. I am not sure exactly when the energy shifted, but it did. As the night progressed, it predictably became the party atmosphere that I had grown up in. Shots of plum brandy, beer pong, blasting music, slurred conversations, messes everywhere, and associated drama. It was 11PM and the drinking had been going on for hours. It showed no signs of ending soon, and it was my clue to leave. Before I left, I spent at least 30 min trying to persuade two family friends NOT to get on their motorcycle and drive home. I watched from a recovery perspective for the first time in my life. I also felt grateful I was in recovery.
Normally I would have stayed at the house when I visited, but I had chosen to stay at a hotel the night of the party. In the morning when I returned to help clean up, I was reminded of how it physically feels after a night of partying hard. I had plenty of memories to trace back to. This reminder was a very powerful one for my recovery. The headache, the upset stomach, the burning eyes, and just feeling like CRAP. Again, I felt blessed and grateful that I had another life and I was in recovery.
I celebrate that I have a program, recovery support, friends in recovery, my Higher Power, the 12 steps, and I celebrate that I have two families. I did not have to lose anything. Both families I could help, and both families I could be a part of. My biological family, and my recovery family. I could love them both, and be a part of both. I celebrate that.
When I think of my friend Dorothy and me, even if we came from different backgrounds with different dynamics, we ended up in the same place. We are a family. We share a common bond, we are there for each other, and that’s what families do. I celebrate that.
In the beginning of my recovery, I thought I had to give up everything. Events, relationships, and even fun! That is just not the case. The stronger, and more solid I got in my recovery, everything came together. My awareness came to light, and I see that I can celebrate it all.
I would like to end with an excerpt from the Promises from the Big Book: THE A.A. PROMISES
‘If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.’
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
I celebrate that!
Patricia V. Pavkovich has worked as a MAP Program Coordinator for Origins Hanley/South Padre Island since September, 2015. Patty has a B.S. in Secondary Health Education and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. She is a yoga instructor and enjoys riding her Harley in her spare time.