When I heard about St. Louis county’s stay-at-home orders to contain COVID-19, my kneejerk reaction was trepidation. Obvious reasons aside, as a creature of habit, I’m fearful of change of any kind. It takes a while for my brain to assimilate a new idea, much less a new way of being.
Work had always taken up a fairly significant portion of my time. When I wasn’t working, I was taking care of three children ages 11-17, which meant running to the store for tampons, proofing lit assignments, answering “Would you rather…?” questions, and the much-dreaded dinner planning. On top of all this, my husband was finishing his last treatment for ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), as a result of his leukemia and I was finishing my doctorate in clinical audiology. This quarantine almost makes these demands tangible, as all five of us are in one another’s space—in the same space!
I have over 6 years of sobriety, and I am a grateful alcoholic. I’ve read recently how persons in recovery, despite the obvious stressors, are well-suited for this imposed quarantine. We are taught in meetings how to take it “one day at a time,” “easy does it,” and we are given a “toolbox” (healthy options) from which to draw in times of conflict. Despite this, my first thought with anything new is: What is this going to mean for me? Family disputes, resentments, poor choices, self-centeredness are facets of the alcoholic personality that drive one to drink. The Covid-19 quarantine seems God’s way of saying, “In your face! Here is the real test.” My therapist, who is in recovery for decades from heroin addiction, sees this as a spiritual awakening, showing us what is truly important in life.
As in-person meetings have ceased, Zoom has definitely provided an “almost as good” platform to share with our fellows. The setting may have changed, but the principles are still there. In the zoom, I was able to connect with my fellow AAs, and share my experience, strength, and hope. After the telling of tales, we talked about our very real frustrations, and how we dealt with them. A big part of maintaining sobriety is sharing our feelings in a safe space, so we are not driven to drink, or other unhealthy behaviors.
It is possible to not only survive, but to thrive. That is emotional sobriety. This unique, unprecedented time in history has afforded me the opportunity to closely bond with my family, at a time when we would normally be individually wrapped up in our own lives. My 17-year-old daughter will leave for college next fall. Ever the extrovert, if not doing homework, or at swim practice, she would be out socializing with her friends. This spring she is hanging out with me! She even humored me with a mother/daughter picture outside with the spring flowers as a backdrop (if only her sister agreed to it as well). At the risk of sounding cliched, the blessings are abundant. They are always there no matter the circumstance… and we can choose to see them as such.
Stephanie Palatt is a Shatterproof Ambassador who lives in Missouri. This piece was previously published on the Sober Journey blog; republished with permission. Stephanie independently maintains a recovery support website: www.aathursdays.com