Labor Day Eve, 24 years ago, I was stoned out of my skull. A then friend and I decided to let my brother get us pasted. It was a neighborhood event, with my brother announcing that I was finally gonna smoke weed, and all his friends chipping in on the stash that would get the job done. We had spectators, though I'm sure they were there for a share of the offerings as much as to see what I'd be like. I was a vocal assailant of anyone smoking my brother's product, and all of them were itching to see me 'blend' with the crowd I'd snubbed for years. My brother is 2 years younger than me, and back then had a thriving business from his homegrown. His customers, the local rif-raf, and anyone who'd heard the news was either in the room, on the porch, or somewhere nearby.
My mother was sitting in our living room, knitting. There's no way she couldn't have known what was going on, but she spectated, too. My friend spirited me out of the house, when I nearly fell over the couch into my mother's lap. We decided that a mutual boyfriend's house was the place to be, so we walked that way. He wasn't home. We sat there for hours, in his porch swing, hallucinating and sharing what we saw. At one point, we noticed his rubix cube and decided to fix it for him. My friend began peeling the stickers off and sticking them to my fingers. So, there I am, swinging, with colored squares on my hands, observing that it's wild how the world is completely still, but I'm moving back and forth. Yeah, my brother did a really good job...
I didn't have words for my psychological structure back then. I didn't know what shamanism was, or that I was a 'we' and that these two factors, more than any others, were how I'd stayed alive, and would continue to do so. I just knew that at that moment, I heard a very familiar voice ask me "Is this what you expected?" "Well, I didn't really know what to expect." I answered. "Are you safe?" I focused past the red and green squares on my fingers and spied my surroundings, "That's why we're here. It's safe, here." I went back to my squares, but Voice wasn't done, yet. "Would you be safe is he got to you?" I froze. "Or anyone else for that matter? Would you be able to defend yourself?" The 'he' in question was someone my mother was dating, who was obsessed with sexually assaulting me, to the point that I slept with knives, behind locked door and windows. He was as determined in his intentions toward me, as he was an angel in my mother's eyes. An image of the policeman standing in front of me, the only time I called for help, flashed. My mother's ensuing rage... I was straight and sober then, and it was a bad situation, but if it was now? I'd be just another hood whore arguing about something I forgot he paid for. Forget the police, I was too whacked to know how to dial the phone. I'd be completely on my own, and I definitely wasn't able to function. I'd be toast. I shook my head, forgetting my friend was there, "No," I answered, "I would not be safe." "How do we resolve this?" I didn't have to think about that, "Don't do this anymore. No drinking, no drugs. Nothing."
And so, with this clarity, I turned to my friend and said, "Ya know, this isn't so great, after all. We should swear never to do anything like this ever again."
She thought it over and nodded, "You're right. Let's swear."
So we did. We shook hands and everything. I cleared up a little after that, but I wasn't completely straight until the sun came up. We decided our friend wasn't coming home sometime after 0500, and migrated to McDonald's, two more stoner munchkins putting our coins together for a McMuffin. After that we went home, telling our parents we'd been at each other's house.
I spent Labor Day sorting which alcohol bottles were mine, from which were those of people I 'kept' liquor for. Since my room was usually locked up -and of no interest when I wasn't in it, anything anyone wanted to keep 'safe' was stashed in there. My drinking was with friends, or in secret, so few people even knew I drank, never mind how much.
I was 15. I was adamantly unwelcome at meetings, and my mother was so vocally hateful toward AA, that I'd be killed if she'd caught me. I never got a white chip, or sponsor, or help, aside from my Spirits, and Us, that is, which seems to be enough. I didn't celebrate birthdays, or even know the actual date of my sobriety until my husband asked me to look it up. There were many years when I forgot I had a birthday, and others when I couldn't do the math and know how many had passed. A Labor Day birthday was fine for me, and -somewhat- easy to remember, yes? My sobriety is marked by a national holiday. Cool, right?
So, this year makes 24. It was September 1, 1986 that I swore sobriety, and I keep my promises.
This year, my husband surprised me with my first chip. It's got 24 in Roman numerals on it, and comes with it's own case. My precious husband. He knows how I feel about the Program, and has witnessed how some in the rooms feel about me. His gesture of inclusion, acknowledgement and kindness has touched me in ways I haven't found words for, yet. I put my gold and silver XXIV chip on my altar, with O'Batala and my Spirits, since it is They who brought me to the point of earning it. "Are you safe?"
Safe, sober, loved, and loving.