“Good morning Hope Manor.” I answered the phone as always and waited for a response. The woman’s voice that came over the phone was thick, slurred and incomprehensible, but I did understand one word—“help.”
It took quite a while and a lot patience but I was finally able to get an address, I headed over to the apartment complex where she was crashing with a “friend.” Walking into the building I was appalled at the conditions; flickering lights gave the dim hallways an eerie feel; holes in the walls and sections of the ceiling left on the floor where they had fallen. Arriving on the 3rd floor I had to step around feces laying on the stained, dirty carpet and I had a false optimism that dogs were allowed in the building. Finding the correct door I knocked and was let into a room, which was only large enough to hold a bed, a chair and a TV. On the bed I found the women, barely coherent but still able to take long pulls off the vodka bottle beside her. Her gulps clearly showing the desperation of an alcoholic who could no longer find that bliss or obliviation that was once possible. Since she was asking for help and willing to leave, my friend and I bundled her up and got out of there without delay. That was the start of a three day adventure which began with taking her to the ER, where after giving her some medications they then sent her to jail in order to free up the ER bed. Unfortunately the jail will only keep a person for a maximum of 8 hours regardless of their condition, weather or time of day so I was then back picking her up at 1 a.m. when the jail released her back on the streets and I took her to my sober living home. For the next few days we got her through the dreadfulness of detoxing, delirium tremens, hallucinations, more trips to the ER and cleaning up after her as she threw up. The date of the phone call was November 3rd—she was dying, unemployable and her existence was one of incomprehensible demoralization.
Although I took her into my sober living home I had very little hope that she would stay much longer then to get a few nights sleep and a few square meals—I thought this because I had previous dealings with this lady. She had been to treatment 15 times prior, she refused to work the 12 Steps, refused to get a sponsor, never smiled, was never happy, had a demanding and entitled attitude and she definitely did not like me. Honestly I was not super fond of her either. After about 5 days it appeared I may be right because as she got better physically the ticking time bomb of the obsession of the mind began. The rest of the women in the house pushed back like little warriors, presenting the program of recovery and surrounding her with love.
One never knows exactly what will be another person’s “moment of clarity” or by what means the message will be carried. For this particular lady it was around day six and involved someone we call Jack from Wing (Wing, ND). Jack heard we had a new lady in the house kwho had nothing and so it took it upon himself to bring bags of food for her. As she stood in the kitchen surrounded by all the food, something cracked in her soul and she began to weep. I don’t get it, I don’t understand it and I can’t explain it, but a light/truth flooded into her soul and from that moment on things were very different. Rarely have I seen someone embrace everything, do everything, read everything and listen to everything dealing with recovery but she did—with gusto! Daily we saw transformation in this lady and often I would find myself asking, “who the heck is this?”
Fast forward to Christmas morning, December 25th. Two short months ago she was unemployable, one week ago she was named employee of the month at work. Two months ago she couldn’t even smile; today her laughter is contagious as it fills the house. Two months ago there was bitterness, self-pity and entitlement; today she throws herself aggressively into service of others. Two months ago she was defiant, angry and miserable; today she works the Steps, listens to her sponsor and is active in the recovery program. Two months ago her sister had refused to speak to her for 6 years; two days ago her sister stopped by with a Christmas gift and forgiveness. Two months ago I would not have trusted her to walk a dog; today I am training her as an assistant manager.
I don’t know what her journey of recovery will look like, but I do know that this program works 100% IF the person works it and I do know that if she continues to do what she is doing on a daily basis she never has to return to the hell from where we found her. I also know that my faith, my program and my life has been made so much richer having being blessed to witness her spiritual awakening.