Last night I met with a circle of close women friends, my “Diva Dinner Group”, in a park with social distancing and all our own supplies, for the first time in several months. We have been meeting as a group for almost 11 years, at restaurants originally and then at each other’s homes, celebrating birthdays and other special occasions together. The group is about half original members, the other half having replaced attendees who moved on throughout the years. We number 7 women, lucky number 7. It was pure delight to be together again, sharing stories of how we each had been holding up during the Shelter In Place orders of COVID 19. There were stories of how varying parts of our day-to-day activities and businesses are going, opinions about how this pandemic has been handled by authority figures, the pain and anger and anguish of the current status’ of the world, and our take on the effect of our past experiences on our lives, perspectives, and outlooks.
I am currently listening to an Audible book on tape written by a women who has been sober for 5 years, with a past that shocks me, even as someone who has had her own run-ins with drinking. The woman describes how she left her 4 year old daughter alone overnight in a hotel room because she had imbibed so much booze as to render her in a drunken stupor climaxing with passing out. She woke up next to a man, a total stranger, with the remnants of a wild night all around her. The details of her life before sobriety are painful to listen to, but what she does emphasize and herald as the linch pin to her success, is a supportive community. She is not an advocate of Alcoholics Anonymous, but gives an honest synapsis of AA that covers the positive aspects of her involvement with the group. She speaks of how community, specifically having a Sponsor and others living sober post-addiction, others who had been where she was and knew what she was experiencing, was vital to help her believe she had what she needed to be able to quit. They gave her hope to believe she could give up booze. She was thankful to the people who were always there for her without shaming or blaming or inducing guilt, no matter how disgraceful she had acted, no matter what she had done or how brutally she relapsed. She credits the people who were always there for her as responsible for her success as they gently helped lead her to her sober life.
It got me thinking about how vital community is for us humans. We are pack animals who need each other. I am incredibly fortunate to have a large circle of friends from many different walks of life, and I have wonderful times with them. I don’t need alcohol to enjoy brisk conversation. I don’t need to agree with them on every subject to love and accept them. I don’t need to look my best, or be in a good mood to be loved by them. We have shared tears and laughter, pain and grief, and we know each other truly and deeply. I thank my friends for supporting me in whatever project I take on, friends who cheer me on through divorces and death, births and rebirths. My life without my friends wouldn’t be much of a life at all.
My two sons are adults now, my youngest a father with a little boy so precious, and outgoing, and funny, and full of surprises, he truly is the apple of my eye at age (almost) 7. The relationship I have with my adult sons brings me more joy than I ever imagined. I feel more pride and love for them than anyone ever told me to expect. I have a family I adore, including the father and stepfather of my boys. We are one big, complex, interesting, sometimes obnoxious, always loving, overwhelmingly well-meaning, generous group of authentic humans. I am blessed and I know it. I count my blessings and give thanks every morning as part of my sacred morning practice, along with sipping warm lemon water. It feeds my soul.
As I began my sober journey a year ago, as I got my feet wet with exploring the possibility of a sober life, I consulted sobriety experts via the Internet to learn important facts and lessons about this new beginning. I watched lots of YouTube videos, absorbed loads of new and enlightening information, and slowly let go of the old stories in my head about being a drinker forever. I found all sorts of support for my decision to become sober with evidence-based science and numerous facts about the addictive nature of alcohol. I then found myself on a private FaceBook group where I could read all about others struggling to become sober, share my own journey and beliefs, my upbringing, and share ideas. I became part of a brand new tribe. I love being involved in this new community, and I look forward to the interactions we have each day. I feel encouraged, supported, buoyed forward, uplifted, held accountable, and overjoyed by the successes of others. Sober folks are the most authentic, vulnerable, honest people I have ever met, I think because we have lived with so much guilt and shame throughout our drinking years, and we are just done with secrets, hiding, and false facades. I appreciate my new tribe, I adore my long time friends, I cherish my family, and I enthusiastically look forward to the encounters and meetings with my work and business colleagues. As humans, we need other humans. We need to feel like we belong. When we set a goal for ourselves, being held accountable helps us meet our desired destinies. Sheltering at home for almost 3 months for COVID 19 was especially hard for me as a single (currently not in a relationship) social animal. I am overflowing with happiness that I have so many wonderful peeps in my life. You know who you are! Thank you for being here. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you to all the Makers; the poets, writers, artists, musicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, and just everyone, for all you contribute to my world. Thank you Creator for this great big, beautiful life full of twists and turns and ups and downs and diversity and opinions and smiles and frowns and laughter and joy. Now lets go forth and be our most impeccable selves today!