When I was invited to write something for Recovery Bytes, I thought for a while…what is there left to say about recovery that hasn’t already been said? What could I offer that is truly fresh, inspiring, and provocative?
Following a spate of prayer and meditation, I realized my contribution does not have to be any of those things in order to qualify…it just has to be true, and given from my heart.
My recovery has been a long, strange trip…one that I believe was meant to happen just as it did, with all the drama and suspense of a good mystery novel. At the same time, it is the story of what is available to any addict seeking recovery…ordinary, miraculous, terrifying, mundane…and absolutely fabulous recovery.
Born in Greenwich Village, I was a musician before I had language~my mother told me I was singing, on pitch, from my crib. I pursued a singing career, and had some notable successes, including singing opera at Carnegie Hall at 12 years old. I was also born with multiple skeletal birth defects that required numerous surgeries and assistive devices (such as leg braces and walkers) until I was 14. Singing on one of the most famous stages in the world while teetering on crutches was quite a surreal experience, and one that fed my belief I was simply a freak of nature, and would never be “normal.”
I come from a long line of addicts and alcoholics, and I earned my place in my family album. My substance use began at 11 months old, when I had my first of dozens of orthopedic surgeries and was given morphine…and continued, almost without respite, until I was 36 years old. On the way, I lost everything that ever meant anything to me~my career, my husband, my dignity, myself~and was left believing I would simply die a using addict.
After a series of unfortunate events (thank you, Limony Snicket), 22 years ago I surrendered to the reality that I was powerless over the disease that had brought me to my knees…and, in Narcotics Anonymous, I found the solution to what had become a wretched, unrelenting, madness-driven existence.
In recovery, I have experienced many difficulties, some so painful and raw as to threaten my belief in my loving Great Spirit’s care for me…among them three bouts with cancer, almost going blind, and losing both my parents. Ten years ago, when my mother passed away, I thought my heart would just cease to beat, the grief was so deep. But I was never left alone, in any of those times of fear and anguish…I was always surrounded by members of my NA family, holding me up and guiding me through the terrible darkness back into the light.
I have also had some of the most amazing joys~watching a sponsee’s baby being born, speaking at a World Convention of NA, caring for my elderly and fragile father until his passing, forging friendships so strong and enduring as to be mistaken for blood kin~none of which would have come to pass without the freedom from active addiction that is the result of working the program of recovery.
In tragedy or celebration, and every moment of my recovery, I am increasingly aware of the presence of a power greater than myself (that I do not understand in the least), to which I pray, every day, the three prayers I learned from a favorite author, Anne Lamott~”Help,” “Thanks,” and “Wow.”
Life is as colorful and textured as one of my beloved mother’s intricately-woven tapestries, and I am, truthfully, the richest woman I know.
In loving service~