“Thoughts on sobriety – It’s no big anniversary, no major milestone but tonight I found myself wallowing in old memories of early sobriety. It doesn’t take much to send me back to that time of newness, hope and excitement. New sobriety was like the moment that The Wizard of Oz turns from black and white to color. It was such a magical time. Everything had new meaning and the possibilities were endless. The future was wide open.
And now, while I’m hardly at the end of my journey, I still find myself resting gently in self-reflection. Looking around at where I am today. And I am happy to report that the magic is still around. It’s different now but it’s still around. It’s no longer adolescent or flashy but now the magic is deep and rich and rooted in years of proof of its existence. I don’t worry about it being fleeting nor do I wait for the other shoe to drop. It’s now a tangible fact that I can rely on. And oh, the memories I have created along the way. The people, the moments, the laughter. This is the essence of my life.
And I wouldn’t trade this life for anything. Not the tragedies, the heart breaks, or the discomfort of growing up without armor. Because the sweet is never as sweet without the sour. And am grateful for everything in between.”
– Meredith Swedo
I saw this on Facebook the other morning. It was posted on my BFFs wall. I agreed with all of it. I met Meredith when I was a little more than a year sober, and she annoyed the crap outta me! I saw her speaking at a meeting, and she was going on and on about her recent vacation to Italy, with her fiancé. She had the amazing pink cloud life you get in early sobriety and I was jealous. I was annoyed she went to Italy and she had a sober fiancé at 18 months sober! Like really? Aren’t you special? You know the adage when you are pointing your finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you? Yup – that’s what was happening with me! I have many character defects and jealousy/envy is a big one. I wanted to go to Italy, and I wanted a fiancé! Both happened, albeit a few years later.
Meredith and I became friends quickly, regardless of her fabulous life she was living. My life was semi-fabulous also as I was semi-floating on my pink cloud of early recovery. Our friendship started out of an 11th step meeting we were both attending. Unbeknownst to me she had her eyes on my good friend Terri to be her new bestie. Terri apparently didn’t give her too much attention, but I sure did as I wanted that infectious love of life she was having! We laugh about this today as she’ll say, “Yeah I wanted Terri to be my gal pal, but I got stuck with this one instead!”
When our friendship started her fiancé had recently been diagnosed with brain cancer. Brain Cancer. WTF? You wouldn’t have known this though by being around Meredith. She was high on life being engaged to the love of her life. We were wedding cake shopping, she had already purchased her wedding gown, and we were toddling around town going to meetings, hiking Torrey Pines, and talking about her upcoming wedding. I too had just started dating HIM, my first boyfriend in sobriety and life seemed as bright as our daily dose of Encinitas sunshine!
The reality was that her fiancé was undergoing daily treatments and knife laser surgeries on his brain and my super sober boyfriend was suicidal every other day due to his depression he was suffering from. We forged on and shared and talked – and we were sober during all of it. Needless to say, my relationship was off and on for a couple years until it finally fizzled out. Her reality however wasn’t rainbows and sunshine like sobriety promised. Her fiancé succumbed to his disease and he passed away and it was tragic and sad and yet, she was stoic and showed up for everyone during this time. Except herself.
The day Ian died I kept calling Meredith, probably 4 or 5 times, and she wouldn’t answer. I needed to see her and hug her and just tell her how much I loved her, so I just showed up at her Apartment. Her Mom and sister were there, whom I hadn’t met yet, and there was Mere looking so heartbroken and sitting on her couch. No one was talking and it felt awkward. Since I’m not good during serious and stressful situations, I picked up her People magazine and started flipping through and came across a picture of Bradley Cooper, “Wow, look at him – he’s so hot, right?” Laughter ensued, and that was the icebreaker that was needed.
Through the years, over 16 now, we’ve gone through a lot together as friends. We have a friend group that we got sober with and we call ourselves the “No Matter What” club. It’s a saying in AA that no matter what, you just don’t pick up. You stay in AA, you don’t leave. This group of ladies has done that for me since I got sober.
I moved away at 5 years sober to be closer to my Mom, back East, who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of dementia. The NMWC got together for my final night and we all just cried – I didn’t want to leave sunny San Diego, but East Cost winter and my Mom were calling me. During my time away, we both got married and were doing well in our careers and I visited as much as I could, and our lives were humming along. My Mom eventually passed away, and almost six years later I moved back to San Diego. When I came back, it was different with us – but it was the same. My husband and I were in a tough marriage and I felt awkward sharing about our marriage woes. It was a really hard time for me, and I told her how I needed her to show up for me and how to support me. And she did. No questions asked. When the marriage fell apart and I had to endure a long and painful divorce, she showed up. Every step of the way. She always shows up for me. My Ride or Die. I’m so grateful and blessed for those early sobriety friendships, but most importantly for the ones that show up for me, no matter what.