Ephesians 5:33b: And the wife should respect her husband.
Respect is his primary need, his deepest desire.

I Put My Followers First

Thursday, July 29, 2010

12 Steps and 15 Years

I am listening to my husband make some phone calls in the other room. He's calling a few of the men who befriended him through the years in Alcoholics Anonymous.  He's taking the time to thank them for all they've given him and to reconnect. It is always interesting to listen to men connect.  They talk as if they cannot stand one another.
"Hey Schmuck."  I can hear the joy in his voice when his friend responds on the other end of the line.  He's talking to Roy.
Tonight we will attend Birthday Night at the local AA meeting where I will be honored to present my husband with his 15 year chip.  I have the opportunity at that time to share.

I hope to impress on the group the kind of miracle my husband is and the enormous role his AA friends played in his recovery.

Long ago, before I met him, my husband was addicted to crank, coke, alcohol and cigarettes.  He says that he was "doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, no matter what anybody else wanted me to do."

Then Bruce suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke that left him in a coma with tubes supporting his survival.  When he woke he was unable to speak, read or write; unable to walk or use his right hand; unable to dress, feed, or bathe himself.

Early in his rehabilitation he happened upon an AA meeting being held in one of the hospital conference rooms. He was waiting in the lobby for his ride and a "lady behind the desk" suggested he step in and join the meeting.    She was an observant hospital employee who saw right through him.

Bruce had returned to his addictive habits as soon as he was able after waking and was heading down that slippery slope yet again.  He sat in the back and listened.

When I met him six years later he had a very limited vocabulary, maybe 100 words. I don't imagine he spoke very much in those early years at the AA meetings. But it is apparent that he was listening.  He kept returning because he craved the learning he discovered there.  Not only was he learning the steps to recovery from addiction, he was learning new life skills he'd lost due to the stroke.

As time went on some of the men and women of AA took Bruce under their wings. I cannot name every one that helped him.  He can't remember them by name.  But they each helped him to more fully  comprehend the full scope of the 12 Step program. Bruce cannot read and comprehending verbal language is extremely difficult. I can only imagine the painstaking care that it took to get those steps into his head and heart.

I honestly don't think that I ever took the effort at anything in my life that it must have taken for his success. Really. I don't have the fortitude or stamina. But here we are, 15 years into recovery and it is me who reaps the great reward. I owe those recovering addicts a huge debt of gratitude.

Because of their efforts I have a husband who prays to his Father in Heaven, expects an answer and knows to obey.  I have a husband who knows that fear is an enemy and today is all that matters.  Because of the teachings of AA I have a husband who realizes that there will always be "lefts and rights and ups and downs" in life but it is all worth it.  He knows how to search his soul and "clean house".  He knows the value of repentance and forgiveness.  The list is endless.

If you don't know the benefits of the 12 step program, I invite you to come to a meeting.  Bruce and I now facilitate a 12 step meeting in our church every Wednesday.  There are 12 step meetings for everyone and every addiction somewhere in the world every day.

Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
To all the participants in 12 Step programs everywhere - I want you to know that what you do for one another causes ripple effects throughout the future that cannot be measured from where we stand today.  You are making miracles happen.

To the individuals who affected the recovery of my husband, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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5 daughters said...

Wow, you and your husband are awesome examples to all of us. How true that fear is an enemy, prayer is good, appreciating the present, repentance, forgiveness, etc.
You also leave such wonderful comments.
I just think you're great!

Saimi said...

What an amazing woman you are! And what a lucky husband to have been blessed with a wonderful wife and friend.

Congratulations to you both!

Lisa @ Pulsipher Page said...

Amazing story. You both are so inspirational. Congratulations!

Can I get an Amen?