Death of a loved one, divorce, moving, major illness or injury, and Job loss are at the top of the list of most stressful life events. In addition, a current list might include a global shutdown caused by a worldwide pandemic. These events, and the related stress, can affect one’s digestive health, cause inflammation, affect the immune system, alter bone density, impact sexual health and sleep, and trigger anxiety.
In this post, we wanted to revisit our conversation on a sober.coffee podcast with our sister-in-sobriety, RuthAnne, which aired on 6/20/2021. You can hear the powerful episode here.
Ruthanne’s story is rich not so much in how she overcame addiction but in how she overcame life's greatest stresses during sobriety. This blog attempts to capture and build on some of that exchange: When we relistened, it became clear to us that we need to prepare for the inevitabilities of life, and Ruthanne certainly provided a framework.
Ruthanne’s path to recovery is similar to the many stories we have heard in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA); she drank to cope, which became a habit that led her to drink to live, and then she decided to live; she needed to “not drink” and abstinence became a habit. Then the miracle of living became her peace.
She began her journey toward sobriety in the spring of 2017 and admitted that it took about six months for the program’s power to bake into her personal life. She had done everything that was suggested to her; she got a sponsor, worked the steps, and plugged into a community of like-minded individuals.
A few hundred days into her recovery journey, tragedy struck as her husband fell ill and passed. Four months later, she found herself unemployed. Four months after that, COVID reared its ugly head, and four months after that, she was forced to move out of her home. That's four major stresses in one year.
As her life anchors disintegrated, she held tightly to the one structure that existed; her sobriety.
We confess right here and now that our hands might have reached for the bottle. Seriously, alcohol had been our one life source of strength through tough times, and these indeed can be described as tough times.
So busting down her reaction in practical terms, Ruthanne described where her hands went:
She went to the bank. The bank-of-sobriety that she could stand firm on. She knew the deposits she had made would now be spendable.
She decided to do the next right thing and do it rightly.
She held on to, and lived, the S A Jefferson-Wright quote: “Serenity is not freedom from the storm; but peace amid the storm.”
You see, it wasn't the pain she was trying to avoid but the pleasures she was trying to capture that drove her to take life one day at a time - one breath at a time.
Also important to note is that she took solace and found strength in regular meeting attendance. There she found a sympathetic ear and a perspective of the blessings surrounding her. These group sessions provided an understanding that everybody has struggles, but with the right outlook, one finds the strength to persevere.
We know this about RuthAnne; She plays this game to win. She honors this exclusive club of recovering alcoholics, and he has the experience to understand that the drink is mere inches away and that the progression of this disease will have us picking up right where we left off.
Most of all, she is cognizant of the fact that there is danger in the quiet moments. Those moments alone. Those Tuesday afternoons. So she follows a stringent regiment of disciplines that include but are not limited to:
taking life one day at a time
appreciating each breath
staying connected to the sober community
and, most importantly, having a banana when the urge arises.
We agreed that just because we have a job and we're driving a car, looking good on the outside does not mean we're not heading towards a bottom on the inside.
We post these stories of inspiration and share them on our podcast because we believe in the hope that the program AA delivers. It may sound selfish, but we give to get. Though that is not our motive, it's just how things work out; we help others through our story of perseverance and faith, and therefore, it helps us understand that our pain has produced a promise to someone in need. It's a beautiful existence - the perfect circle of life. But like everything else, one needs to have the want.
The promise is that one day we will live the life we never knew we could have.
So our takeaway from our time with Ruthann is to keep coming back into the rooms of an until the miracle happens for you.
See you at the table.
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a bonus drop sober.coffee podcast titled #B7 Bonus - RuthAnne's Story - Sober Throughout! The podcast dropped on 06/20/2021. Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.