The meeting started as it always does: The Serenity Prayer, “How It Works”, AA announcements, non-AA announcements and then we give chips to celebrate certain lengths of time in sobriety. This week brought a pleasant surprise because we gave out a one year, two year and three year chip, all to women who were always in attendance at this particular meeting.
The ninth month meant we read the Ninth Step in “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”. Then after reading a few paragraphs, we pulled tickets. The meeting was exceptionally crowded so it was decided that we would set the timer to two minutes instead of the usual three. We use a timer at this meeting because attendance is high and this is insurance that more can share. There is not a soap box for anyone. But, we are very sensitive to anyone who needs to share outside of the time limit and share they did. Most of us left the meeting exhausted yet inspired.
I am not sure in any meeting I have ever attended, if I have witnessed so many women who have called on the strength of their Higher Power and the 12 Steps to get them through. By the end of the meeting I had to ask myself, “Where would I be today without the 12 Steps and recovery?” “Where would I be today without the fellowship; a connection to others just like me where I am understood and loved?” “What would life be like without faith and trust in my Higher Power?” “Am I as strong as I should be; as I can be to remain solid in my recovery?” The women I heard were. Here is a short version of what I heard and why I want to share this with all of you.
Celebrating one year: Her child was taken from her and was given to relatives. She struggled in and out of recovery. Court dates came and went as did the hope of reuniting with her child. But, little by little, one day at a time, she achieved one solid year of sobriety. She also has custody of her son. As a matter of fact, her sponsor was babysitting so that she could receive her chip at this meeting.
Celebrating two years: A few weeks ago her 25 year old son was taken from her. She lost him to mental illness. The autopsy showed he just died. His body and mind shut down. She is celebrating his life. Recovery and specifically Step Nine brought her and her ex-husband together as parents of this young man at least for this period of time. We listened to her in awe as she spoke of this experience and marveled at her strength.
A woman with at least 20 years of sobriety shared how she was in terrible pain and was going to have tests done to find out why. She was given a prescription for pain meds but was being cautious. But her issue was not her health. She had been caring for her young granddaughter for a period of time and was eagerly enjoying the new school year with her. The child’s mother (ex-daughter-in-law) was angry at her ex-husband so decided to take the child the following day. The child was to be whisked away from her home, her school, and her grandmother and there was nothing our friend could do. She cried as she told the story but she kept talking about God’s plan and His reason for this to happen.
One woman shared about another in recovery that many of us knew. She is a mother of two young adult daughters and recently remarried. She went to the doctor because she was not feeling well. Today she is in the hospital with cancer awaiting massive chemo. Her long-term prognosis is not known. She continues to welcome women and men from the fellowship into her hospital room and is positive this is only a stumbling block in her life.
Lastly, a young woman pregnant with her first child had been in and out of the hospital for the past few months. She and her husband were told the baby had a heart problem, and then the baby was not growing, and there would be immediate surgery and whatever other horrible things parents can be told about their unborn child. She put her faith in God and never waivered from believing God would only give her what she could handle. The baby was born last week. He is only three pounds but no heart problems and there will be no surgeries. Sounds like a miracle to me!
These women are not different from any one of us except that they were given a challenge and accepted the challenge. Most of us think we cannot be as strong as someone else; that we wouldn’t be able to handle certain situations. And we can’t by ourselves. These women are examples of the strength, courage, and faith we receive as a result of 12 Step programs. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed out path.” They are following the path. Are you?
Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.