I finally got my five-year chip this morning.

After a hairy start to the day, my logic, the part of me that said I had a sink full of dishes, a calendar full of deadlines, a small window of time to clean and cook before the boys returned from summer school, took a backseat to my heart.

Which said I needed a meeting.


And once I made the decision to put myself first for a change, I immediately felt a sliver of that much-hyped-about serenity.

I arrived a few minutes early, and was met with the familiar scent of strong coffee and cigarette smoke, smells that may be offensive to some, but that to me symbolize strength, surrender, sobriety.

I found a seat and took a mental inventory of my fellow alcoholics.

I spotted the newcomers immediately; the mixture of self-hatred and humiliation betrayed them.They would be surprised if they knew just how much their presence means to the rest of us. They are a reminder of how far we have come in our struggle to survive as sober women, living life on life’s terms.

I hope they will make it, these newcomers.

But I do the math.

And I know that most won’t.

I can’t help it.

The statistics are against us.

They are a reminder of that too.

It occurs to me, as the meeting gets underway, that I haven’t taken my five year chip yet.

My AA birthday was on June 10th, and still I had not walked up, gotten my hug and round token of accomplishment and hope.

It’s a sign of where my priorities have been.

It’s a sign I am not going to ignore today.

There are women taking chips for showing up and for 30 days and 60 days.

And then my turn.

A round of applause as I walk up to accept my hug from a stranger that isn’t really a stranger at all.

She hands me my chip, a beautiful bronze coin, and I hold it in my hand, feel the weight of the metal against my palm.

Feel the weight of what it represents inside my heart.

Feel the gratitude cleanse me from the inside out and I stand there for a second as I breathe in,

deep, hopeful, well-deserved breaths.

I stand there, in all of my imperfection, forgetting about deadlines and dishes and DRAMA and I announce my name, loudly, proudly, clearly.

I lock eyes with a newcomer.

She is me and I am her and we are the same.

You can do this, my eyes tell her.

If I can do this, so can you.

I walk back to my seat and settle in for an hour of healing

content to sit back and listen

as I adjust my oxygen mask

Knowing I’ll be better prepared to help everyone else with theirs

just for having come here today

for honoring who I am today.

A woman in recovery.

An imperfect sober woman.


And I take another deep breath.


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