The First Stop on My Way to Texas and ARAD
November 27th, 2017
When I accepted this position with ARAD to develop the new treatment program, I was excited and looking forward to the adventure of it all. It was hard to leave my 26-year-old son Luke and my grand-dog Chance behind. But Luke is and always has been the kind of kid who will look me in the eye and say: “Mom. I’ve got this. And so do you. You are gonna do great, and so am I.” And so it was.
I quit my job, packed up my stuff, sold my home, put my dogs in the car and headed out from Virginia toward the Panhandle of Texas. Cody is a mellow, senior and seasoned traveler, and Dill was a ten-week-old puppy and a brand new addition to the family. Both proved to be excellent travel companions. The road ahead was long, but I was looking forward to my first stop in Abingdon, Va., where we spent the night with some dear friends.
John is a weaver by trade, and Janet does beadwork and helps John manage the business end of things. Both make exquisite things with their imaginations and their hands. Their home is an art gallery, adorned from wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling with one lovely artifact after another. These objects are made mostly by friends and colleagues they have known from the festivals and shows where they have been selling their wares for many years, and some are family heirlooms.
Janet and John, like me, are from Michigan. Janet was my second sponsor in A.A., and has been clean and sober for about a year longer than me. My first sponsor relapsed when I was about three months clean, teaching me, painfully, that every person in recovery has choices to make, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour … I learned a lot from her in a very short time. I don’t know where she is now, or if she ever got clean again, but I hope so. She was a lovely person.
Janet and John welcomed me and my dogs, Cody and Dill. We visited for hours. Cody relaxed, and Dill made mischief with their cats. They fed me and let us sleep in the beautiful “blue room” that used to belong to John’s now-grown daughter, Caroline.
So often, early in my sobriety, it was Janet who I called late at night, feeling overwhelmed and afraid. It was Janet who heard, in non-judgment, my first A.A. “fifth step”, a litany of my wrongs and wrongs done against me. And it was Janet and her boyfriend Brian who took me to meetings and invited me to go for coffee or breakfast at a time when socializing sober seemed impossible. I felt so awkward, flawed and vulnerable, but they accepted me and loved me unconditionally.
When I think back now and realize that they, too, were new to sobriety, I am overwhelmed. They were giving me so much, even when they had so little to give. Years later, Brian and Janet broke up, and he eventually died in his addiction. It was heartbreaking.
We have both weathered a lot over the years; deaths, divorces, job changes, parenting challenges, financial hardships … but, by the grace of God, we are still “making it” in recovery one day at a time. Janet tells me now that over the years I have helped her as much as she helped me. Beautiful and simple, this is how recovery works.
The next day after breakfast, I packed up my stuff and put my dogs in the car. Janet hugged me, told me she loved me, that she was proud of me and that she was sure I was about to do great things. As I drove away, I told them I loved them and thanked them both, my heart full. The road was long and the sky was wide, but I was looking forward to the next stop in Memphis, Tennessee.
By Martha Burkett, LPC, CAADC, ACS, ADS / ARAD Director of Resident Treatment