It had been a week since Lydia had asked Tracy to sponsor her, and even though she had no idea what the role of a sponsor truly was, she relinquished as much as she could to the idea of vulnerability. Tracy had insisted that Lydia call her every day. At first, the conversations had been awkward and stilted. While she had many women friends in her life, Lydia had never been one to share intimate details about herself or Henry. It only took a few phone calls, though, for her to realize that Tracy was not intending on being her friend, but rather something more altogether. Their conversations were sometimes short and sometimes long, but they always focused on recovery, the steps, and emotional sobriety. Lydia tried her best to answer Tracy’s questions honestly, but sometimes Tracy’s observations cut Lydia to the quick. Never had she felt so shallow as when she reflected Tracy. It only took a matter of days for Tracy to earned her trust.
In one of their initial conversations, Tracy had given her a short list of things to do, and so far, most had been accomplished.
The first item on her list was to read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Lydia had already bought a Big Book a couple of weeks before. Normally a voracious reader, on a good day she could easily polish of an entire Danielle Steele or Barbara Cartland novel. But this book was different. If Lydia concentrated, thought really hard, she could make it a couple of pages before her mind wandered to what she might find on TV. Maybe it was the language. Maybe it was the subject matter. She didn’t know why, but most of what Bill Wilson wrote about was completely lost on her.
The second item on her list was to attend an AA meeting every day for ninety days. Although she had attended a meeting everyday for the last 22 days, sometimes two or three, the idea of ninety somehow seemed ridiculous. Lydia tried to argue this fine point with Tracy, but her sponsor seemed to have none of it.
Finally, Lydia was to begin her stepwork, the point that had brought her to her granite countertop on a Tuesday morning with a steaming coffee cup of green tea neatly positioned at a forty-five degree angle to a new journal, bought from Barnes and Nobles and bound in antiquated brown leather. Lydia had even bought a special fountain pen to record every piece of her step work. She wanted it just so. Even though she had only been sober a short while, Lydia looked forward to the day when she would have her own sponsee. When that time came, she wanted to be able to tell the girl that she worked her steps perfect.
On the first page, Lydia had neatly scrawled, “important phone numbers.” On the second page, she had neatly begun a list of goals. The list included running a marathon and writing a book. She even thought about returning to school, maybe getting a degree in psychology or addiction counseling.
But it was the top of the third page of the journal that had Lydia had become stuck. At the top, she slowly retraced the word powerless in the line, “1. Admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.” On some base level, Lydia knew she could not drink anymore, therefore the correct answer simply had to be alcohol. And yet, the word powerless seemed more perplexing than that. If, she though, the line had instead read, “Admitted we were alcoholic and that our lives were unmanageable,” the answer would be more direct, simpler. She could admit she drank too much. But powerless. What did that mean? She wasn’t powerless against alcohol. She had a house and a life and, at least for the time being, a husband and a family.
After a few minutes, Lydia moved her pen down from the word powerless and slowly wrote, “Alcohol.” With a sigh, she set down her pen and closed the book.