"I'm taking care of my friend for three days who had surgery and he's rude and unkind to me. I am three weeks in recovery after a relapse. I went to the store to pick up his medication and I also picked up a 4-pack of wine. At the last minute I put it back and did not drink."
"I was an addict at 20 years old and I worked as a prostitute for 8 years. Addiction took 40 years of my life, and I spent time in prison."
"I am sick and tired, I hate my job, people all around me are drunk and high, and I'm not going to meetings like I used to. I don't care anymore about anything; I just want to cry all day."
"I am so grateful for my recovery family. Sitting around me are woman who I respect and I see that recovery is a priority for them and they love themselves. I am learning how to do the same for myself when I come to this meeting and hear what other woman in recovery say and do."
"I will do anything to stay in recovery, just tell me what to do and I will do it. I never want to go back to my old life. I am too happy and I would not trade my life in recovery for anything."
“Thank you all for being so honest. I am so grateful there is a program that works and I have this fellowship and meeting to go to. I am truly blessed. I look forward to each Saturday afternoon when I attend a Big Book meeting.”
These statements were made by women in the meeting I attended this past weekend. Hard to believe these messages were said in the same meeting! Yet this is a typical woman's meeting, and it was wonderful. All the women shared honestly from their hearts, phone numbers were exchanged, we supported each other, we spread the message, and we learned more about ourselves and each other. What is intriguing is the first three comments were given by woman who were early in their recovery. The last three comments were given by woman who had several years of successful recovery.
I recognized myself in the voices of the women in early recovery. The daily struggle, rush of emotions, temptations to drink, shame, guilt, and negativity. It is common in early recovery to have a low tolerance for things and to avoid social interaction. It is not unusual to take off right after a meeting to avoid conversation or to even be fearful of seeing someone you know! I also remember not wanting to say anything for fear that it was not important enough or who would really care what I had to say? I was reminded of my past and of the empty bottles as well as the empty promises that I would stop drinking the next day. I was reminded of the desperation I felt. HOW do I do this recovery thing? What if I fail, then what? I did not know each day or each hour if I would pick up a drink or buy a bottle of wine. It was a struggle. Yet as the days added up successfully that I did not drink I gained confidence in myself that maybe, just maybe I could actually do this!
I also recognized myself in the voices of the women who were "seasoned veterans" in recovery. They exuded health and happiness. They said they worked hard to keep their recovery intact. They expressed overflowing gratitude for their lives and it was evident that their recovery is a priority in their lives. The strength of their conviction was clearly conveyed when they said that anyone can have a successful recovery if they are willing to do the work. The smiles on their faces, joy in their hearts, and the tone of their voice said more than their words could ever express. It was palpable. IT WAS HOPE.
To this alcoholic there is room for both the message and the mess, and they equally serve a beautiful purpose. Recovery has taught me to be tolerant of everything that crosses my path life, it has given me tools to help me to do that successfully each day, and to go with the flow. To follow the path of least resistance. To let go.
The mess reminds us of our early days in recovery and we need to remember this clearly and never forget it. How our lives became unmanageable and that we were powerless. We also need to support our brothers and sisters who are suffering deeply and are in a daily, sometimes hourly struggle of addiction. We have walked through this fire and came out safely on the other side. Through our experience and strength, we can take their hand, deliver a powerful message, and lead them to a life beyond their wildest dreams. The message is one of HOPE. It is available for all who are willing, open-minded, and honest. We need that today in the world more than ever. If you have a message of hope, please share it. Those who do not know there is hope desperately need to hear your voice and the message.
Patricia V. Pavkovich works for MAP Health Management as a RSS coordinator, Recovery Support for Origins in West Palm Beach, FL, and South Padre Island, TX. Patricia has a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Health Education and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. She has two daughters. Patricia ran the Marine Corp Marathon, is a yoga instructor, and enjoys riding her Harley in her spare time. Sober date is March 14, 2014.