One of the first real resentments I had inside the rooms of A.A. was when a young girl I had sponsored for some time went out and used and then disappeared permanently. I would later remark to my sponsor that Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the few places that asks you to love people who might not be around tomorrow. Being that I had severe abandonment and attachment issues, you can imagine that this was hard for me.
JM put a quote on my desk last night that sort of reminded me of that time in my sobriety. That quote said this:
“Some fights will never be won, and I am prepared for defeat. This helps me appreciate the victories even that much more.”
I’m pretty sure (but I can’t source it directly) that this quote came from a book written by an American doctor who has given his life, his money, his time and his work to bring free medical care to the poor in one of the poorest parts of the world. That’s heavy stuff he’s saying. I know I’m going to lose some of these people. I accept that. I am prepared for defeat.
In sobriety, we are the victory, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the support systems that got us sober. Sponsorship (and carrying the message in all ways) is where many of us start paying that back. It’s easy to get attached to the outcomes of the women and men in our lives, but we should remember that not every fight will be won. Maybe it sounds negative to say that I am prepared for defeat, but the reality is that not every person will stay sober. Having watched so many women suffer and relapse again and again has made me appreciate those few who I have known who have stayed around for this thing. Every time a newcomer walks in the room I try to tell them, just stay!
As the days turn into weeks and weeks into months and months into years, those of us who are new, who are old (timers) and who are somewhere in the middle play an important role in each other’s lives. We are links between the past and the future. I was quite literally raised by women in A.A. who have taught me everything from the importance of making my bed in the morning and picking out clean clothes to wear and how to grocery shop (for something besides alcohol!) to returning phone calls, keeping commitments, and showing up for my life. When my child was put in the NICU after she was born, sober women showed me how to drag my stitched up body back and forth to the hospital to take care of my infant every day. They brought food. They gave rides. They sat with me. They left me alone but stayed nearby. When I was arrested in sobriety, sober women showed me how to take care of my business, clean up my life, fix the mess I had made. When I wanted to go back to school, they walked me through registration, going to class, learning to study. When my father died, they were here with me. They have respected my right to process my life in my way, but it has been clear since the day I got here that I’ve never had to do anything alone. There is always someone who has walked ahead of me to hold onto, and always someone coming up behind to pull along. If I stay in the middle, I probably won’t get lost. So I accept the defeats, none of them small, and I appreciate the victories even more.