By Betsy McKinney
“We are entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.”
My favorite dress is a galaxy:
It’s cotton and short, and flicked with pinky constellations.
And today, my pride was a galaxy:
It allowed a hesitant perch on the couch of a routine Al-Anon meeting, a brew of chronic affirmations of support and community and this time–the alcoholics. They gathered in the nearby room for their meeting.
They seemed sulking and dangerous, my uneasiness predetermining their capability to heal.
But today, recovery was a symphony:
A low melody of sad male voices thumped to The Lord’s Prayer in the adjoining room; a shy, subtle descant of a pinched female voice clucked about Letting Go and Letting God. The tempered businessman plucked at the rubber band holding together his weathered copy of Courage to Change.
the tiny, pitiful room lilted with hope, and my galaxy seemed so minute, it could seep into a keyhole.
This is the feat of recovery today: overcoming predispositions of shame and stigma through their voices, unveiling hope, identifying bursts of light to create a galaxy of constellations.
And our attitude of recovery could be the reason someone decides to reclaim their life free of alcohol and drugs.
Connor Smith attributes stigma as why he did not begin his journey to recovery when he was initially searching for solutions–being told his inability to change was a “willpower” problem, fearing the label of “junkie” as he entered the professional world. He has been clean and sober three years and nine months and today is the Assistant Director of Recovery and Bystander Intervention at UT Tyler.
Recovery does not have a face, only a message: Connor wants others to know it has allowed him to be hopeful after years of feeling hopeless; Maddie Sheffer, a freshman at St. Edward’s University, says that through recovery, her unmanageable life could become serene. For them, and everyone I encountered the night I became aware of my galaxy, their journey to recovery looked different: but their progress from pain to hopefulness is representative of the possibility of positive change in everyone’s lives.
A group of unconventional, maybe even intimidating people taught me recovery is a song–exposing my own defects of character, sung by people broken from disease and asking for understanding.