“Are you free Easter weekend?” My sponsor asked me after a meeting.
“I am.” This was in 2009. I was living on the outskirts of Orlando, barely out of my first year of sobriety. I had attempted recovery before but looking back I know that prior to this bout in the program, I was merely abstinent and not sober. I had sponsors that I never called. I went to meetings late and left early and barely paid attention when I was there. I could rattle off the steps but I had never actually worked a single one. But at this moment in the parking lot of a church in Central Florida, I was in a very different place.
I had been working with Carmen* for about six months and it was going incredibly well. She “got” me. Not only did we have similar stories and more than a couple of sobriety dates, but her thick Bronx accent reminded me of home. Unlike any other sponsor I had ever worked with, I trusted Carmen completely.
“Great!” her eyes lit behind her readers. “You and another sponsee are going to sleep over on Saturday night, but we are waking up EARLY! Bring a nice outfit!”
“What are we doing?”
“I can’t tell you,” she replied as though it was crazy of me to ask “but it’s gonna be great!”
When the Saturday came, Carmen ushered me and my sponsee sister, Leigh* off to bed at 8PM.
“You can stay up later, but you’re gonna regret it.” She responded to our protests.
“What the hell do you think we’re in for?” Leigh whispered.
“I have absolutely no idea.” We speculated until we drifted off to sleep.
At 3am, Carmen burst into the guest room and flung on the lights.
“Wake up, girls! You both need to shower. We leave at 4!” Bleary eyed we got ready in near silence, save for a few grunts.
Carmen’s excitement was electric and proportionate to our curiosity. Leigh shifted nervously in the backseat. We were headed downtown but to what? Nothing was open, there were very few cars on the road.
“So...are you guys excited?”
“I guess I would be if I had any clue what we’re doing.” Carmen waived dismissively.
“You have to have faith. Have I ever steered you wrong?”
“Not yet,” I replied.
“Exactly. Just have faith that you’re in for something amazing and you will be.” Leigh scoffed. Carmen looked at her in the rearview mirror and said: “Really! Can you think of one instance where that doesn’t apply?”
“The dentist,” Leigh retorted.
“Of course the dentist is amazing! You are taking care of yourself! You have the ability to be at the dentist!”