Yesterday, while out and about, I met up with someone I haven't seen in perhaps ten years. We stood on the street and talked for a bit.
It was a peach of a day - sunny and warm, with a slight refreshing breeze. The rhododendrons are out in full glory this time of year; a 15'x10' bush completely covered in those incredible blossoms is a spectacular sight, and never fails to move me to awe.
Within a few minutes of this lady and I starting to talk, she was ranting angrily about the man she divorced ten years ago - him, his family, his children. I tried several times to change the subject to something positive, but she wasn't interested.
A wave of sadness washed through me, as I realised that she was stuck in the same place in which she'd been stuck when I first knew her all those years ago. She was still clutching her righteous anger, keeping it stoked to full burn as she remembered every slight, real or imagined. I recalled that she'd been unwilling to let any of it go back then, and she was still unwilling.
She said, at one point, that she wasn't getting much out of 12-Step anymore - I keep hearing this lately, from people who don't work the program, and wonder why it doesn't help them the way it helps others.
I interrupted to say that I needed to be going, and we said our goodbyes. When I began to walk again, I had one of those powerful "gratitude shudders," because I was just that way, when I was new to Al-Anon - full of rage and suspicion, unable to let go of anything that had ever happened to hurt me, desperate in my loneliness. Had I not embraced this program in its entirety, that is who I would still be.
I feel as though I had a narrow escape.
I cannot thank my family doctor enough for continuing to suggest Al-Anon until I finally heard him, and tried it. I feel a deep gratitude for the ladies in my first meeting, who were so warm, loving, and welcoming. I'm grateful to my first and succeeding sponsors, and all of those who have offered me their "experience, strength and hope." Bless you all, and I thank you wholeheartedly.