Early in sobriety I heard a speaker who said, “Everything in my life should be stamped ‘property of AA’.” I rolled my eyes. Now, looking around, I would say the same thing.
Nine years ago today I embarked on a journey that has no end. Desperate and suicidal, I hit one of many, many rock bottoms. Today I celebrate nine years without a hangover. Nine years without waking up with hangxiety wondering whose bed I was in. Nine years without that feeling in my stomach that I was undermining my health and my potential.
Getting sober is something I resisted for decades, although somewhere in my gut, I knew it was something I would eventually have to do. I’m extremely lucky I was even given the opportunity to get sober again after my first try at a age 19. There were many more opportunities to crash my car and die or kill someone.
There but for the Grace of God go I.
On October 18, 2013 a window of willingness opened and I slipped through it. In the AA Literature one of my favorite lines is, “We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.”
Trudge is a such a specific word. Such a specific and perfect word. The dictionary definition is “to walk slowly and with heavy steps, typically because of exhaustion or harsh conditions.” Ain’t that the truth.
As I learned early on, getting sober and living sober are two completely different things. In retrospect, quitting booze and drugs, once I was done with the physical cravings, was much easier than abstaining for the long haul. In that, AA is the only thing that works for me—despite how annoying I found all the slogans and the promises of “it gets better.”
In those first days of sobriety, as I tried to clean up the wreckage of my life, there was no way to see the path forward. I was only 35 but I felt old and like my life was over. I was waiting tables (and extremely grateful to even have that job). My dreams of writing and telling jokes seemed delusional. So I did something I hadn’t done before. I listened. I listened to people who had trudged the road before me and took it one minute, one hour, one day at a time.
Around my second year, I heard a speaker who said, “Everything in my life should be stamped ‘property of AA’.” I rolled my eyes. Now, looking around, I would say the same thing. AA didn’t just give me my life back—it gave me a whole entire life.
Today belongs to so many other people with whom I’ve trudged. It belongs to all the people in all the meetings I’ve been to all over the world. It belongs to those who got sober and passed away, like my beloved friend Kate, who I think about every day. It belongs to those two old drunks, Bill and Dr. Bob. It belongs to my sisters in sobriety, all those women’s meetings where I cried it out. It belongs to the people on Twitter who told me not to drink one night when I tweeted that I wanted to drink. Random strangers supporting me in the void.
I got emotional as I drove home today from a job writing jokes, my dream job, to my husband and daughter and dog. All of these things were unthinkable in those early, miserable days of getting sober. But I trudged. And I fought through the nihilism. And I worked all those steps again and again (and will work them yet again). I was saved by other people in the program who reached out and noticed when I seemed dangerously close to saying “fuck it”over and over again.
Thank you to all of you who have trudged this road of happy destiny with me, whether in the program or not, you’re all part of my recovery. A fellowship of trudgers. I’m so grateful for you. Thank you for my life.
And if you’re reading this and you’re struggling with addiction or alcoholism and you feel it’s hopeless and that it’s too late—I can only tell you from experience—it’s never too late if you’re alive. Take it one day at a time. It gets better.