I have four days to go until I hit six months of sobriety. When I do so, I’ll be traveling back from a long weekend visit with my in-laws (both of whom drink and both of whom know I’m in recovery). I don’t expect them to banish wine and bourbon from their house just because I darken their doorway, but I’m going to make sure I’m present and accounted for during the weekend and have no time on my own to get up to trouble. I know how easy it would be, but I also know how utterly disappointed my family and friends would be if I relapsed, to say nothing of what I would feel.
This past Monday, I saw my rehab counselor Katie receive her two-year chip at a speaker/birthday meeting. I hadn’t seen her since I left the program, and it was wonderful to connect without after the meeting, however briefly. She hugged me and, looking at me with a big smile, said, “I’m so glad you’re sober.”
Before I left rehab, Katie confessed that she and the team were initially quite concerned for me and weren’t sure if I would make it. “You went through a shit storm,” she said, “and it was one of the worst we’ve ever seen.”
Good lord, I remember thinking, was I that bad? I didn’t come in with an enlarged liver, or with the DTs, or raving like a lunatic. Whatever signs I exhibited, though, were enough to put her on high-alert. To be able to stand before her a few days ago, nearly sober for six months, must have been as good a feeling for her as it was for me.
Katie was instrumental in my recovery, and I’ve told her as much. I highly doubt she reads this blog (I didn’t tell her about it, and Katie isn’t her real name), but if she ever happens across it, I want her to know how strong she is and how much hope she gave me during my time in rehab. When I think of relapsing, hers is one the faces I imagine filling with pain and disappointment, but also with empathy. She’s had a relapse of her own, as she told all of us. A relapse wouldn’t be the end of me, I know, but it would be a huge step back. Keeping her, my friends in AA, and my family in mind helps me stay sober.
With that, I’ll continue with my day and make another cup of coffee. It’s good to be present, to be sober, and to anticipate my six month anniversary. Granted, I’ll be on the road when that occurs, but better to be traveling sober than celebrating drunk.