Saturday, I was at a potluck birthday party for an old friend when I found myself deep in conversation with one of the other guests, a lovely, fit, bright woman about 20 years older than I. We got to chatting about the people smoking outside and I told her that I quit a few years ago and she said “me too!” 15 years for her. Then, one sentence led to another and I told her that I also quit drinking 4 years ago and, much to my surprise, she replied with another “me too!” About 23 years in her case.
If that wasn’t enough, I come to find out that, like me, she is not a member of a 12-step program. She indicated that two of her family members are in AA and it works beautifully for them, but after going for a few months, she determined that it wasn’t for her. I told her that my dad went for 33 years, my mom in Alanon too, that I grew up with AA being a fundamental part of our lives, but yeah, it wasn’t for me, either.
This might be the first time I have ever met anyone the same in this specific aspect, at least in person, and I was thoroughly pleased.
As we continued to talk, we touched on many of the typical commonalities of former addicts: the alcohol addiction itself, the years-long casual drug use that accompanied it, all the white lies we told, the daily cycle of promises made and promises broken day after day for years on end, how physically and mentally sick and exhausted we were, and, of course, how different our lives are now – with money, health, hobbies, work, marriage, friends – because we stopped drinking. Nothing else would be possible for us without the sobriety. We both expressed an abiding gratitude for that, and for never forgetting how far we’ve come.
I cannot tell you how uncommon this is, to find a kindred spirit in this regard, at random. It made my night. It made my month. We immediately connected on Facebook after the party, so hopefully that won’t be the last time I see her. I will do my best, for once, to overcome the hurdle of my social fears and stay in touch. Selfishly speaking, it would be nice to have a face-to-face friend who understands this part of my history from a first-person perspective. Such a rarity.