8935200 sober breaths


8935200 sober breaths.
16 years ago today I was shaking and sweating in bed 25 of the County Detox with 4 other women ages 33 to 44. Each of those women with me that night were dead within 18 months. I know their names. I loved them.
I remember lying there on that hose-offable vinyl mattress hearing the sound of phantom babies crying out of the walls. Telling God, “I don’t have any more ideas, I’m dying, so you do what you need to do, and I’ll do what you want me to do”.
Tomorrow will begin my 17th year of sobriety. It’s been an incredible journey of trial and error, victories and failures, depression and elation, starting things, quitting things, learning, growing, or sometimes circling the same old mountains before the long overdue aha moment. It’s life as I know it today.
There is always hope. You don’t need to take my word for it, ask any of the other millions of previously hopeless people traveling this broad highway. You are not alone.
Please hear me. You are not alone.
If you struggle today, or are wondering how you will make it through another holiday sober, I’m proof there is hope, and it’s listed in front of the yellow pages. For me the link between the dark pit of despair and a glimpse into freedom took place in a moment of clarity between blackouts. Just enough time to click “new message”, and type the words, “help me, please”.
I couldn’t do it by myself. I’d tried for so long.
That one SOS brought a sober woman to a dying woman. The dying says, “I can’t stop”, and the living says, “I know… me too. I’ll show you what worked for me, and maybe we can stay stopped together.” 
So far, it’s proved to be the case. One day at a time.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, with an extra serving of love and gratitude to the one who showed up that day, and those who continue to show up whether I do or not.  As long as there is breath, there is hope. 
Love, Val

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