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This morning I did a blog piece about our gusdi, Doves Native Designs.  Little did I know at the time that today is a very special day for her.  Today is the 22nd anniversary of her sobriety.    After several people had contacted her to ask questions about her name, she wrote up a powerful story of her life, her past problems with addiction and asked that it be shared with you.    It is very courageous of her to share such an intimate story of her journey on the Red Road with us.      Here is Rising Dove’s convo to me and her story: I was about 6 months sober/dry when I had a moment of clarity spiritual experience. I was a bottom level drunk and was not able to function on many levels. I had to relearn how to perform basic life tasks like: wash dishes, drive safely, wash and fold laundry, vacuum the carpet, (I am still scared of vacuum cleaners, different story) care for my children and myself.   I was intimidated or scared of everything and everyone. I had gone into what is often called the “fog.” I had been actively drinking since I was 13 and was 33 when I came in to AA. I had overdosed on speed and alcohol at age 20 and spent two months going through DT’s without any contact with another human being. Because of that, when I was discovered and returned home to my parents I was hospitalized. I underwent a series of 26-electro shock treatments, in 13 separate treatment sessions. After leaving the hospital, in a short period, I returned to drinking. I continued to drink for an additional 20 years. Therefore, when I reached the rooms of AA my life skills were almost non-existent.

I had attended AA meetings twice a day. One of my favorite meetings was a noon meeting. I had been asked not to bring my girls to the noon AA meeting I attended because they were so young and could not sit still. The last day they were there they, all three, folded themselves up in the folding chairs we were sitting in. I understood the distraction that caused, so after that day, I found a baby sitter and went to the meetings by myself. As I am writing this, tears of laughter are flowing as I remember the horror I felt in that moment. I had no idea how to get the girls unfolded, some of the women helped get the girls and chairs in order and soon the room was once again focused on its primary purpose.

I explained this to give you a better idea of my mental state at the time of this experience. It is said in AA that people who stick with the program will get walking around sense after 5 years; my walking around sense did not come to me until my 7th year…

Although I had a driver’s license and could drive, I chose to walk to the meeting at noon. It was about a 15 min. walk from the house and gave me time to sort through whatever had me upset in the moment. Something always had me upset in the moment. On this particular day, I was more emotionally upset than normal. I do not recall what the reason, but know that I did not need a reason to ride the emotional roller coaster. For whatever reason I was upset and angry at the world. I was an emotional basket case and suffering. My sponsor approached me as I walked up the sidewalk to the church. She started to suggest that I work on my second step more sincerely. “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”. She wanted me to find God. She was concerned that if I did not find this power that I would drink again and then surely die. I told her I was looking but he was obviously hiding because I could not find him anywhere! I was so upset… I fired her.

 

I told her I did not need her help with my sobriety, and then I turned around and walked away. I went into the meeting with my eyes full of tears and wept through the entire meeting. The topic of the meeting was… “Finding a power greater than yourself.” It seemed everyone was out to get me, even this God they kept talking about. I was so lost.

I left the meeting and began to walk home.

My knowledge of Religion was limited and my knowledge of Spirit was muddled at best. I had encountered what I understood to be Spirits during my time spent in Delirium tremens, but was told they were figments of my imagination, however real they might have seemed at the time. The memory of those “imaginations” was removed from my mind through the shock treatments, the Dr. said no one could possible live with those types of memories.
I had not been raised going to church. On Sunday mornings, we would get a dozen dounuts and a half a gallon of milk and my Dad use to take us to JC’s pond. We would run and play and eat donuts and drink milk right out of the container, it was great. I asked my Dad “Who is God?” He told me “The sky above us and the ground, and the trees, and leaves on the trees are God.” He picked up a crawfish that was in the water beside us and held it up for me to see and then said, “This crawfish and you and I are all God.” Although much of my childhood memories are vague or gone, I have not forgotten exactly what he said.

I had attended various Church’s throughout my adult life seeking to have a relationship with God. I wanted to have the kind of relationship I saw others have. So many of my beliefs have been made clear to me now and I know that the type of relationship I sought could not be had while I was still in the active stages and depths of my Alcoholism.

After I left the meeting I remember that as I walked down McDonald Street toward my house, and I became calm. I looked down at the sidewalk and from in-between; my legs walked a Mourning Dove. I stopped walking, it went about three feet in front of me and turned to face me then stopped. I was shocked and stood very still. I remember that the only fear I had was that it was not real and it was a hallucination. I had not had a drink and had not taken any hallucinogenic drugs for many many years.

 

Then I remember thinking that if it is not a figment of my imagination it must be a real Dove. I recalled that as a child I was told that a wild animal would not walk up to a human if there is fear, hate, or any badness in him/her. Therefore, I knew that the Dove in front of me must be Love. In addition, that I must be Love or else we would not be standing in front of each other so closely. I thought Love is God and God is Love.

 

I began to speak and asked the Dove if it was God, that people had told me I needed to find God. I told the Dove that I wanted to reach out and touch it to see if it was real but that if I reached out and it flew away that I would once again be left with nothing and I desperately needed to have something of hope and godlikeness to hold onto. I did not reach out. We stood there for what seemed like forever. With tears rolling down my face, I told the Dove that I was an alcoholic and that I was not drinking anymore. I asked if he would hold me for just a little while and help me to be ok. I told him I understood that he was just a little bird and could not get his arms all the way around me, and that I understood and that it was ok if he didn’t really hold me. Even now as I write the after 22 years of sobriety my deepest prayer is the same I asked him. Please don’t leave me here by myself, help me to get home. I could not get home alone.

I noticed that cars were passing by on the road and know now that I said many other things to the Dove that I no longer remember. After some time the Dove moved out of the middle of the sidewalk and stood by the end of a garage, to let me pass. I said, “thank you” to ‘the God of my understanding’ and went home. I did not look back.

For the next several years, I followed the Dove. While driving if I did not know how to get where I was going there would always be a Morning Dove sitting on a phone line in front of me. If the Dove turned its head, right I would turn right if left then I would turn left. If the Dove bowed its head, I would stop the car and pray. I talked freely in meetings about the Dove that was leading me home. Of course, I talked about the image of a portable submarine I thought of myself sitting in when I was afraid.

This experience and several other experiences are the reason that Run in the Rain and Tom 4 Winds named me Rising Dove.

We are all born with limitations. Through the Great Mystery of Life we overcome, the obstacles that prevent us from getting where are purposed to go. The Dove has many meaning, which differ from person to person. All that I can share is my experience, strength, and hope. The Dove to me is a giver of life, a carrier of Gods message and my hope that someday I will be freed from the bondage of myself and be able to go home.

 

Congratulations Rising Dove for a story well told, a life recovered, and your 22 years of sobriety! 

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