I feel deeply, that much is clear to me and all that I know.
I am alive and without drugs or alcohol to calm me down or to escape from uncomfortableness of my intense feelings that happen even when I feel joy. Using mind altering substances as a way to cope is a place I never want to be again.
So I write to ground myself and perhaps to help others?
Today my closest friend, who ironically I met in a twelve step meeting 10 years ago, achieved what many dream of but never achieve, including me. She became a doctor! After 20 long years of ups and downs, all the while she stayed sober and my friend the past ten years, she did it, and I was there online to witness it.
Tomorrow I am taking her out to a special dinner to celebrate!
But I wish to share the story how I met her and what she means to me.
I was working in a crisis intervention unit and we would be on call 24 hour shifts on the phone and going out when needed in person, often accompanied by the police. I had no idea when that phone rang what or who would be on the other line. It could be a depressed teenager wanting to talk or a crisis at an extreme level of needed help, suicidal, homicidal and everything in between.
I was good at the work although my husband complained about the phone calls at 2am and the documentation after would take time and diligence so that everything was clear for the next crisis specialist who was to take over the phone line at the end of my shifts. I worked in this position fresh out of earning my Master’s degree in psychology. This was post diagnosis; I was self diagnosed in 2008 with Schizophrenia, soon after confirmed by a team of doctors at UCLA and fine-tuned to Schizoaffective Disorder by my same psychiatrist who I still see today. Honestly, I don’t know how I did this job in retrospect and left it after 2 years working in the trenches.
I had started drinking because the medication had left me feeling bland and I soon found that alcohol livened me up, but I took it to extreme degrees in and do not recommend anyone to do so. I was attending school and drinking some nights but knew where to go to stop and got 3 years sober under an old school sponsor who was by the book. I got my life back on track, completed school, stopped going to twelve step meetings and relapsed for a day. But God had my back and I resumed my meetings again.
The year now was circa 2012. I was attending 12 step meetings after relapsing on alcohol from the stress of the job. I was identifying as a newcomer, which means in my first 30 days since my relapse. I was trying new meetings and I remember this one young lady (Sue) sharing from the pulpit how she got sober at age 16, but she had so much wisdom and 20 years sober. I wished to speak to her but was shy to approach her. Little did I know that through the intervention of circumstance, God, or the rhythm of the universe, I would become her helper in a dire situation, her sponsee and closest friend for the next ten years! And today she became a doctor! Feelings of joy overwhelm me so I blog instead of picking up a drug or alcohol.
I got the call that night from a mother panicking because her teenage daughter was suicidal with a plan to end her life. I grabbed my packed bag and headed out to respond to the scene. Upon arriving I witnessed a family in the grips of despair, mother and daughter sitting on the driveway with their backs resting against the garage door, in the dark and cold night, waiting for me to arrive. Hoping for a miracle!
As I got nearer, I realized it was Sue (the sober lady I admired from the meetings) who was the mother, arms around her precious teenager who was sobbing and so grateful for my arrival. I was good at my job, and got them the help they so desperately needed. They were ever grateful. I did feel to take Sue to the side to share with her that although I was a newcomer, I had just had a one day slip, and that I was fit and competent to help her out. At this point she wasn’t worried and kept my anonymity safe. I determined her daughter needed hospitalization, found a bed for her a few hours away and began the process of getting her an ambulance ride, all the time checking in with her, teaching her grounding skills and the like.
This teenage girl whose life I saved by the help of God’s grace and power is now married, stable and the mother of twin baby girls. I don’t any credit for it. But what came out of it was that now Sue became a pillar of my sobriety and like I have said my closest friend today.
There is more to this story but I will save that for another day.
Thanks for reading, and celebrating with me Sue’s victory of becoming a doctor and wonderful grandma like me:)
Wishing you all a sober, happy, peaceful and loving night!