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Piercing the Armor

Tracy H, Nashua, NH

I wasn't engaging fully in program, there was something invisible separating me. I was trying to absorb, attend and be helpful, and I did appreciate the generosity I witnessed, but I was self-conscious, self-critical and unable to find my voice.

The high of new sobriety was spiraling into long set patterns of anxiety. While I was grateful for some changes, I was questioning others. Underlying it all lay the question - "why couldn't I drink again?"

While on a road-trip, I heard a loud bang. It was 15 miles before I could stop to inspect damage. Similar to what I had come to recognize in the past year as layers of denial, my brain could not process what I knew to be true. The hole in my car door had been made by a bullet.  

In meeting with officials, I began to understand how fortunate I was. While a new instinct, I did think to thank HP. But I was in a shaky state and to my chagrin I was thinking of how nothing but a drink could calm me down after such a trip. But I had prayed! I was 9 months sober! Still I thought, I would be justified, HP would understand.  

I had 4 hours of driving to go, alone with my thoughts. I came to realize that not only was I relieved to be alive, I had hopes for the future. It hadn't been too long ago when I had felt otherwise, that not only had I been acting in reckless disregard for my life but for those around me as well. The guilt of this realization hit hard, and I understood this as the real essence of my prayer. That yes, while a thank you had been in order, what was really necessary was that I honor HP's will and not disrespect it by entertaining thoughts of selfish justifications.

I realized that not only had that bullet torn through the metal of my car door, but it had pierced through the invisible membrane of ambivalence that had been smothering me. I was grateful.

I've since had a few months to reflect and grow within the program, and the whole experience has been woven into the general blur of the first year of sobriety.

I carry the bullet in my pocket, alongside a newly received medallion, the faint clink of metal on metal oddly comforting.

As was encouraged by my sponsor, and set as an example by those in my home group, I continued to work on my personal relationship with HP, which has both become more comfortable and comforting. My group encourages "slow-briety",  which the very mention of, used to make speedy-me cringe. But I'm beginning to see the wisdom of just being. With new tools, I'm learning to sit with myself.

Daily communication with others in program has become essential: an unexpected gift of connection for this loner.

I work on acceptance.

Having the physical reminder of the bullet I dodged as a metaphor for all the "yets" I won't have to experience now that I have become an involved and contributing member of AA, next to the proof of ability to overcome my history, should I choose to stay close to my program as embodied by that circular coin over which I rub my thumb daily, reminds me of the priorities of unity-service-recovery to help fortify this new awareness.

That I would turn to this barely audible clink of bullet-on-coin as a talisman to help navigate a still-complicated world with new sober eyes comes as a surprise, but increasingly feels more "me", the reality of which makes me eternally grateful.  

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