A Refresher Course in Humility
When I was about 2 months sober, I was asked to go on a 12-step call for someone who was in the hospital recovering from an overdose of some drug cocktail consisting mainly of opiates. The woman who asked me to accompany her was a few years clean and sober, but her thing had been uppers instead of downers, so she thought I could probably relate to the girl better than she could. I really doubted that I could offer much to this girl and questioned my friend’s choice to invite me along. While I may have been the only heroin addict she knew that was committed to recovery, I was very, very new to the program. I got the green light from my sponsor, though, so I drove over to the hospital and prepared myself to be a fly on the wall, witnessing a miracle in action.
I met my sober friend, let’s call her Stacey, outside of the hospital where the girl (I have absolutely no memory of what this girl’s name was, so I’m going to call her Kim and hope that wasn’t it) was still being weaned off methadone. I looked at Stacey and said, “Alright, I’m here. How does this work? What do you want me to do?” Stacey looked back at me and said, “I have no clue. This is my first time ever doing this!” ::blink::blink:: Okay, let’s pause here for a little “don’t try this at home” disclaimer. NEVER, EVER try 12-stepping someone alone and ALWAYS go along with someone who knows what they’re doing. These calls can be dangerous in a myriad of ways and you should never go in blind. Like I said, though, I was still a brand new newbie, I had my sponsor’s okay, we were in a controlled environment, and I simply didn’t know any better, so I went ahead and proceeded, trusting that somehow we wouldn’t screw up this poor girl any more than she already was.
Stacey and I walked into the hospital and headed toward the nurse’s desk in the proper wing. As we walked past the little chapel, I turned to her and said, “You think we should stop in here and pray first?” “Oh yeah, that’s a good idea!” So she followed me inside and knelt down beside me. I looked over at her, expecting her to say something when she gave me the whole, “Well, this was your idea. I’ve got nothing.” I have never been the best at praying and REALLY hate doing it aloud. However, I was really doing this recovery thing, so I had been practicing at it and I saw how it was working in my life. I recited a variant of a prayer that had been working for me in my communications with others, “God, get me the hell out of your way so you can do your thing. If I need to speak, give me the words to say and if I need to be quiet, keep my damned mouth shut.” We signed off and headed out to find Kim’s room.
When we got there, Kim was in the throes of a full-on methadone kick, looking all like the girl from The Exorcist (pea soup and all), rocking back and forth in pure agony. I pulled up a chair at the foot of the bed and sat down to see what my friend was going to say to this poor girl. It was obvious that Stacey was nervous, but I figured she would rally once she got started. She didn’t. She completely froze. Her mouth moved and a couple of words tumbled out, but she couldn’t even express a coherent thought. I held up what I had in my hands, “We’re from Alcoholics Anonymous & we brought you a Big Book and a list of sober women who you can call for help. I’ll just.. uhm.. set this over here for you. Well, actually, I’m not really an alcoholic so much as a drug addict, but… yeah….” I tried to bounce it back to Stacey, hoping that she’d been able to break her momentary paralysis, when Kim spoke up.
She looked up at me, still rocking back and forth in misery, and said, “You’re a drug addict?” By this point, I had gained back a little muscle mass so I didn’t look like a walking skeleton anymore. My track marks had faded considerably and when I put on some nice clothes and a little make-up, I pretty easily passed for a respectable, contributing member of society. When I confirmed that yes, I recently had been accurately described as a junkie, she asked, “Did you do heroin?” “Yes.” “Did you shoot it?” “Yes,” and I showed her my fading scars. “How long have you been clean?” “I just celebrated two months.” And she stopped. The rocking, the moaning, the whole Linda Blair thing just stopped and she stared at me. I don’t know what went through her mind in that instant, but she had a real moment of clarity. After a couple of seconds of calm silence, she went back to her misery.
We talked for about an hour. I told her my story and encouraged her that once she got through this temporary pain, as horrible as it is right now, she would never have to do it again. I even held her and rubbed her back as she puked. I am not a hospital kind of person. And I definitely don’t do puke! I have the utmost respect for medical professionals because I simply can’t handle sick people. But one day in the summer of 2008, my arms held a girl and comforted her as she went through the unspeakable agony of withdrawal. And my mouth spoke words which gave her a much needed moment of peace, fleeting as it was. I take no credit for what happened in that room. Five and a half years later, I still can’t manage that sort of goodness and love of my own volition. No, I fully recognize the miracle for what it was, God answered my prayer and pushed me out of His way so He could work through me.
I have no idea what happened to Kim. That’s her story, not mine. To my knowledge, this one hour was the only time our paths have ever crossed, but for all I know she may be a member of my home group and we just don’t recognize each other. The point is that I was changed that day. I showed up with no clue of what I was going to be asked to do or how I was going to do it and God used me for His purpose. It was proven to me that day that God does not call the qualified, but rather qualifies the called.
This weekend, I answered another call. I spent 3 days and 3 nights with about 70 women associated with recovery in one way or another. I had very little idea of what to expect and far less preparation than I would normally be comfortable with, but I showed up and I got out of God’s way to the best of my ability. And God worked through me and my fellow team members in a BIG way! Once the spiritual high wears off, who knows where everyone will be? Some of these girls will be on team next year; some of them will incorporate whatever they learned this weekend into their spiritual walk in other ways; others will slowly start to deny that they saw anything extraordinary and will fade back into their old lives.
But for this one moment in time, God proved to us all that just like Moses, David and Paul, He could work through even the most broken, flawed and doubtful humans. So often I refuse to try for fear of failure. I sit quietly in the corner, wishing I had the courage to take the steps necessary to fulfill my dreams, and watching life pass me by. I needed to see this. I needed to be reminded that all I have to do is show up. So long as I am living my life in line with God’s Will, He will always give me the strength, the wisdom and the serenity to accomplish even the impossible. It was truly the most loving and gentle reprimand ever. Yes God, I get it – less me, more you.