A Hero in Recovery

Yesterday was a tough day in the workshop. Our Lisa got the devastating news that her long-time sponsor, Angie B. (not her real name or initial), had passed away. Lisa’s reaction was akin to what you would expect on hearing this news about a spouse, parent or child. It was gut-wrenching. Clearly, the relationship they shared was deep and had carried Lisa through dark days of struggle with her addiction to alcohol. I didn’t know Angie B. but I had heard her mentioned for years. I think her dedication to AA, the Big Book and those fortunate enough to have had her as a sponsor was legendary. I have no knowledge of her own struggle but imagine that it too, could have been legendary. How else could she have helped so many? You see, people don’t ask people like me to be their sponsor. I grew up in a home where the use of alcohol was strictly forbidden. This gave me a healthy respect for the grip it could have on a life and I’ve been fortunate that its’ allure doesn’t entice me to overindulge. Sadly, this isn’t true for everyone in my family. And probably isn’t true for yours.

People ask people like Angie B. to be their sponsor. A sponsor is someone you call at any hour when you feel an overwhelming desire to use. They remind you of what happens when you do and how far you’ve already come and try their best to keep you from going there again. This can’t be easy. Especially when their own recovery is a daily endeavor. Of course, one of the tenets of AA is anonymity so Angie’s last name was never revealed to me and I would not have known her had we met on the street.

Most efforts like OUTsideIN have FAQ’s or frequently asked questions. People ask things like “where do you get your ideas?” (God and Pinterest),” how do you find women to work with?” (they find us) “and what is a social enterprise?” (a business that exists for a purpose other than to make a profit). One question that is not frequently asked, in fact, has never been asked at all is, “are you in recovery?” And the answer is yes, I am. I’m not in recovery from the effects that substance abuse can have but am in recovery from the effects that apathy and indifference can have. Every day is a struggle to see the needs around me and run towards them rather than away. Maybe you’re like me. Sometimes it’s easier to just look away than to see the problem and lean into it.

Let me encourage you to make today the day that you empathize with those in recovery. One thing I’ve learned is that no one sets out to become an addict. Another thing I’ve learned is that recovery doesn’t happen alone. Lots and lots of Angie B.’s are needed because the number of people is recovery is not getting smaller, it’s getting larger. And they need us. They need us to see them and pray for them and celebrate their recovery. And even though it’s hard, today, we’re going to celebrate a “Hero in Recovery,” Angie B.

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