Last night we attended a celebration at the local John Howard Society's treatment and recovery house for men. One of my husband's sponsees is going through the program there, and he'd invited us to join him as his "family" because his birth family lives far away. This man has been in and out of treatment many times, and as the saying goes, "around AA" for a lot of years, but this time, something has changed. We had a few moments quiet conversation amidst the noise of happy chatter and laughter, when my husband went to speak to another friend. I could sense the difference in this man; his restlessness has gone, and so has the sarcastic and critical facade - he's found serenity.
Later, we all gathered in the main room and sat in peaceful communion, while the men in the house stood up one by one, and spoke of what it meant for them to be in recovery, to be clean and sober at this time of year, to have their family there to celebrate with them. Many had to stop and swallow several times to regain their ability to speak, because their gratitude brought such a powerful wave of emotion. (I'm hopelessly emotional in these gatherings, and used to try to be circumspect about wiping the tears from my eyes - I gave that up years ago. I know I'm going to weep throughout, and I accept that as just the way it is.)
When my husband's sponsee stood up to speak, I glanced at my husband beside me - his eyes, too, were full of tears. He loves this man the way he loves them all, wholeheartedly, with no judgement or reservation, through their disbelief, their anger, their frustration and despair - no matter what is going on for them. He's a rock of calm to which they can cling, he makes them laugh, and because he is an alcoholic himself, he heads them off at every attempt to justify or rationalise.
One sponsee came up to me last night and said laughingly that he finally had to start working the program because my husband was the first guy in AA he'd ever met who was just that tiny bit more stubborn than he was himself. He said to me, "He wore me down!" I hugged him and replied, "Oh bullshit, _____, you wore yourself down, he just kept you company while you had at it."
He grinned at me, and said, "I forgot - you've been in Al-Anon since I was 10."
I love these 12-Step celebrations; for days afterwards, I find myself remembering, and smiling.