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What's In YOUR Handbag?

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

I read a story some years ago that a woman wrote about having a Down Syndrome baby. The story was so moving it stuck with me, and now I use it when I think of my own story in recovery. I'm switching her words to mine and here's the rewrite:

For years I planned to move to Italy one day. I read brochures and books, researched on the internet, took several years of Italian lessons and even learned to make pasta from scratch. I was all ready and one day finally packed for the move. I got on the plane and was telling everyone on board how excited I was. Then the pilot announced our plane was being redirected to another country in the far cold North near Iceland. I thought, "Oh no! I don't want to go there. I want to go to Italy."

The plane landed and then took off, leaving me in a place where I didn't speak the language, didn't have the right clothes and wasn't familiar with any of the towns or topography. I was miserable because it wasn't where I wanted to be. It wasn't what I'd planned. I couldn't accept my fate.

Eventually I got to know people in the town and started learning the language. I bought warmer clothes and learned to cook the local cuisine. As time went by I thought less and less of Italy and what I'd planned and began to love all the new things and people of this foreign place.

I learned to accept and adapt and even to appreciate what I now had.

That's almost exactly my life of recovery. I never thought I'd become an alcoholic or that I'd end up in rehab for several months. My life was supposed to be filled with PTA meetings, summers at the club (or at the Jersey Shore) and some sort of interesting career followed by retirement and lots of travel.

Instead I went through a trauma that exacerbated an already established drinking problem and lost almost everything I had. I ended up in the icy North, far from sunny and utopic Italy.

But I've adapted -- I got into a recovery 12-Step program, got a sponsor, I volunteer in the recovery world, I write about my recovery and will be practicing as a Transformation Life Coach in 2023. I have my dear loyal husband by my side and three furry friends we've rescued along the way. We live in a nice townhome and while it's not perfect nor the life I intended ... I'm basically happy now. Every day in sobriety is a blessing.

I said to my husband the other day, "My life really has been two worlds. One where people ask, 'What's Narcan?' and one with people who know how to use it.

Welcome to my world!

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