17 years sober. 9.9.01.
I like to share a few thoughts each year on this occasion, in hopes that my words might help someone. Today’s thoughts are random, but here they are.
My first greeting of the day was from my forever sponsor, Ray. He’ll always be there if I need him, in the flesh or not. Ray was there when I walked into my first meeting, me having the great fortune of deciding to get sober in my hometown, after living back there for only one year, after being gone for over 25. I highly recommend this if you need help with that fearless personal inventory. After about a week, he nicknamed me Humble Pie. He still calls me that. Hilarious, that guy. Ray is the first person who pointed out to me that other people’s judgements of me are about their relationships with themselves, not me. He may have stolen that from Buddha. I always accused him of stealing the smart stuff he said. He never cared. I’m not sure where I’d be without him. For those first 7 years, while he was my rock, I didn’t have ANY friends who didn’t drink. Just him. Whenever I whined about this to him, he laughed and told me to toughen up. He asked me which of my old friends I missed. That was hard to put a finger on.
Those first few years, I was SO angry. He walked me right through that. Allowed it, encouraged it, weighed it, taught me about it. Heck, I’m still angry. But not about the same things. That’s something.
I quit teaching the year before I got sober. As I floated through some jobs straight out of sitcoms (including substitute teaching), Ray kept telling me to keep my eye on the prize. I said I wanted to “make things.” Today, I could tell him I finished coaching and editing a writer through the 4th, and I think final, draft of her memoir. What a feeling, making something from scratch. Every blinking cursor is that for me.
Every single year of sobriety is different, that’s the only thing about it I know for sure. Looking back on what used to bother me and what didn’t, versus those same things now, is a trip. Here’s hoping I never stop learning.
Last week, Christopher Lawford, a recovery WARRIOR, died from a heart attack at age 63, after a hot yoga session. I haven’t seen one obituary without a headline about his “struggles” with drugs — though he’s been sober for 30 years, that seems to be his legacy. But in reality, he won the struggle. The incredible number of people he helped — that’s his legacy,
When I walked into one of those jobs I mentioned earlier, one of the women there said, “Oh, you’re Kitty Sheehan. I heard you used to be totally wild.” I’ll take that as my legacy.
One last thing. I almost didn’t write a blog post today. Cause you know, blah blah blah. Then I got an email from a former student of mine. From second grade! On John Lennon’s birthday a few years ago, she wrote me a letter, after she googled me. She never forgot how I had my class circle up on the floor so I could tell them about John Lennon, the day after he was killed. I didn’t even remember that. Thank god for young minds. She said she reads my post every year and hoped I would write one this year. So this is for you, Dawn H, in Iowa. Love to you, always.
I’m off to celebrate! Much love to you, too.