It is used in reference to sobriety and how we each support each other. In my early days of quitting, when I went to a few AA meetings, I felt quite needy and that I fed off those members with many sober years under their belts. I wondered, what was in it for them? They clearly had the thing licked, it was working for them, why stick around to help others like me so much?
Other than human nature, which makes us want to help and share what we have found, I realised a far more important reason to stick around.
I will quietly celebrate being 20 months sober on Thursday, along with those of you in North America celebrating thanksgiving. During this time I have been contacted by various people who read this blog (thank you) and others who have found my book SITNB useful (thank you again). They often ask me for advice (me?!), ask how I got to where I am and whether it is easy to stay sober after such a time. It seems I portray a sense of true unwavering commitment to the cause!
Well, no. It is not easy. And each email I receive from someone nearer the beginning of their journey helps me immensely. Contact from a stranger joined by a common theme is cathartic: both can talk honestly and freely behind the anonymity of an email address and I always reply personally to each one.
Last weekend I received one such email when I was at a point of despair. Saturday afternoon, the girls coming round for dinner, wine and fizz chilling for them. I looked in our drinks cupboard and all of a sudden felt sad and mournful for a time now past and an element of the forthcoming evening in which I would have no part. This was brought on by a general feeling of being over-whelmed. We have some serious family issues going on right now: my parents are upset and leaning on me for support (without once asking me how I am), the kids are just being kids, and to top it all I am coming down with a cold.
The email came at just the right time. When it seemed as if no one was listening to me or caring for me (ok I was feeling sorry for myself), I battered out my reply on the keyboard. I wrote about all the slights and injustice I felt, the frustration I had that I wanted to drink yet would not allow myself to do so and the sadness from knowing that drinking wouldn't help the way I felt anyway.
Alcohol would, however, blot it out for a few hours and take my mind somewhere less fraught.
What I needed was another way to blot it out. E-mailing and blogging are two good ways, listening to the chat of my friends when they arrived (as opposed to talking) and, as I'd done the night before, watching a movie and falling asleep during it, exhausted from tears and emotional drama.
Sobriety and recovery is a two way street. Each of us have something that is valuable to us but which also helps another. I want to send a big Thank You to all my contacts and readers who keep sobriety fresh in my mind and re-confirm my belief that life really is much better this way despite all the stark ups and downs.
On a happier note, tonight I am meeting a friend from the blogosphere, in London, in real life and I am so excited about meeting and spending time with someone who understands it all.