People of the Sober Variety

I have spent hundreds of hours sitting in AA & NA meetings. During these sessions, I have heard a thousand stories that are different in nature, yet similar in content. We are all addicted to some mood-altering substance and we are all struggling to get well.

Making Friends in the Rooms

In my neck of the woods, I’ve gotten to know a variety of personalities on a fairly intimate basis. We have shared our angst, our heartbreak, our rage and eventually our joy. Amongst this group, there are a few noteworthy characters.

Sarah hasn’t lost her marbles

One dear lady is 87 years old and attends AA meetings five times per week. I shall call her Sarah. Sarah has 48 years of sobriety.

In her youth, Sarah was a fashion model who traveled the world to be photographed in myriad geographical locations. She drank obsessively and smoked bushels of hashish. Married 4 times, she is quite the character and not the least bit shy.

“At this point in my life,” she says, “I have nothing to hide and only knowledge to share. I am nearing the end of my life and want to be remembered as a sober woman who has helped a soul or two.”

Sarah carries 3 items with her to these meetings; Her teacup poodle, Sasha, an oxygen tank that is the culmination of 60 years of smoking cigarettes and hash, and a bag of marbles.

“Dear newcomers,” she sings out after being recognized by the volunteer chairperson, “I have a bag of marbles. I would like to give you each one for this purpose: when you decide that being an addict is really something you must do, I ask you to promise me that you will take your marble and put it in your mouth.”

Continuing, Sarah explains, “When that marble melts, you may freely drink or drug or gamble or overeat or shop compulsively or have sex eight times a day or whatever you do, but no sooner. Do I have your word?” she asks.

Walter is on a mission

Walter (not actually his name) is an immesenly large middle-aged man. He combs a long section of hair over his bald spot, though it’s still noticeable.

In his youth, Walter drank abusively, never married and had mediocre jobs. His life was tragic and frankly, tragically boring.

Walter has several decades of sobriety under his belt and interestingly attends young people meetings. At first study, one might think that’s odd, but he has proven to be an awesome mentor to young adults struggling in the disease.

Many of these ‘twenty-somethings’ wrestle with the incongruous reality that they cannot party like their peers. “People, places and things” (NA teaches us) must change for this group if sobriety is to be achieved.

So Walter teaches them that their sobriety should be embraced, not bemoaned and that “fun” and “sober” aren’t mutually exclusive.

He organizes sober dances, bar-b-ques and football matches for this younger generation of fellows. “We don’t get clean to be miserable,” he often shares he’s on a mission to prove it.

On his 58th birthday, the green ones surprised him with a party. Twenty-nine newly clean people were in attendance and they all chipped in to buy him a gift certificate…to a hair salon. Yes, you read that right!

Sarah is marvelous. Walter is marvelous. And most of all, sobriety is marvelous!

Author: Katie H. is a writer, recovering addict, and mother based in Connecticut.