I picked her up in Capitol Hill a little after six in the morning. It was a fairly long ride out east. I thought I recognized the address and asked, “Do you work at the medical complex?” She replied very directly, “No, I work at a treatment center in the detox unit.” It was the 2nd of January and I commented, “I bet this was a very busy weekend for you.” “You have got that right, it’s kind of hard to watch.” “How long have you worked there?” I asked. “Almost 5 years” she replied. “Wow, you are truly committed to caring for that population” I said. “Yes I am.”
We drove along engaging in the chit chat that often fills the space. I then decided to put something out there. “I have been sober 29 and a half years.” “That’s wonderful, it’s six for me. I started drinking when I was 12 and by the time I was 18 I had been to three treatment centers. I had my last drink before I was 20.” “If you got into recovery at 20, you won life’s lottery at a very young age and you get to spend the rest of your life cashing in the ticket one day at a time.” I said. “I realize that everyday. I don’t take for granted what has been given to me.” she replied. “I suspect as you see the same folks cycle in and out of detox, that this is reinforced on a daily basis to you.” She laughed, and then she said, “Yep!”
As I shared in Prelude, recovery is central to my journey and identity. The magic that happens when one addict shares with another is the genius of 12-step recovery. 30 years ago I was not consciously seeking sobriety and recovery. It found me. I went to my first AA meeting for someone else and while there I realized that “her story was my story”. A few months later at an intervention for my brother, I was asked, “Are you tired of lying about your drinking?” In that moment I had a ‘spiritual experience’ and have never taken another drink. I have been to a few thousand AA meetings and I know how fortunate I am.
I asked Holly if she ever loses heart watching the same folk constantly cycling back through detox. She replied, “Yes, that is hard but every so often something happens that keeps me going. Not long ago I was in the parking lot of a grocery store in Cap Hill and a woman called out my name. ‘Holly its me, Betty’. I honestly did not remember her or recognize her. I walked over to her and she told me, ‘I am so glad to see you. I want you to know what a difference you made to me. It was about 15 months ago, you believed in me and just listened. I am in recovery now and reclaiming my life. I am so grateful to be able to thank you’. I realize that I am in the seed sowing business.”
We pulled up to the recovery center and she gathered her things to go to work. “Go sow some seeds Holly… you certainly left some in here for me today.” She laughed, “That’s what we do…”
Onward and Upward,