When I came into recovery I was 19 years old. Well, let me clarify this, I was 19 but turned 20 a mere 15 days later. For some reason 19 sounds much more dramatic and awe-inspiring, like I am the Doogie Howser of recovery or something. But I digress.
When I came into the rooms, I frequently had well-intentioned old-timers say something to the effect of, “You are so lucky to get this thing so young, kid!” After this statement their eyes would typically roam towards the ceiling, gazing steadfast into the past, shifting through the wreckage of their early 20’s, the “what ifs” and “if onlys.” Me being the newcomer that I was, would look these well-intentioned old-timers square in the shoes, mumble something unintelligible and shuffle away. The whole thing was painfully awkward. Then again, my early recovery was painfully awkward in general.
After dodging a handful of these conversations, I was left with a disheartening question to ask myself, “Am I really that lucky to get sober young?” Here is the thing, when active addiction has meticulously and menacingly unraveled that last strand of hope that held it all together, I can promise you age is not a factor. The day in my active addiction that I finally couldn’t fool myself any longer with trite thoughts that things will get better, I came to a gut-wrenching truth about myself. I am a junkie; I will die a junkie because I cannot live without this stuff. Again I promise, age was not a factor.
Today I do consider myself lucky, and by lucky what I am really getting at is that I am completely surrounded by grace. Not so much for the fact that I now have been blessed to experience four years of recovery at the young age of 23 (I’ll be 24 in 10 days; I still like the dramatics) but lucky that just for today I get to be a junkie in recovery, just like the rest of you. Just like the 60-year-old fumbling into a meeting for the first time, just like the 42-year-old soccer mom who didn’t expect to have a trip to rehab scheduled into her agenda, and just like the 19-year-old asking himself the same questions that I once did. We are all surrounded by grace together.
I was carried through this program by the experience of others, carried through when a conversation equated to a panic attack, when hope was this foreign, unattainable thing and when “being lucky” was a long-lost concept. Today I get to carry this thing. I get to tell you that regardless of absolutely anything, you deserve grace, just let us carry you.