Sunday, August 16, 2009

731 Days

It is early morning on August 16, 2007, and my eyes open a crack. I hear a faint snoring coming from my right - my husband? - but somehow the room feels all wrong. I close my eyes for a moment, hoping to fall back asleep, and it hits me. It's over.

I open my eyes fully, and I know where I am. I stare at the pockmarked, stained ceiling tiles and my thoughts race. I think: why me? I think: how could I? I think: I'm so, so tired. But one phrase goes over and over in my head: it's over. It. Is. Over. Please God let it be over.

I move my head slowly to the right, and see a middle aged woman in the twin bed next to mine, sleeping deeply with her mouth hanging open. Her dishwater grey curls are a mass of tangles, her face ashen. If it weren't for the faint snoring, I would think she was dead.

I am at a detox facility. I had left this very place two days prior after a ten day stay. I thought I was ready for the real world - I took lots of notes. I paid attention to everything the counselors told me. I listened to all the stories of heartache and pain. I promised everyone that I was okay - that I was ready to leave.

I wasn't.

Home less than 48 hours, and the Disease got me by the throat again. I know how it happened - I still thought I was in control. I still didn't believe. I still thought I could have "just one" in safety. I have never been more wrong.

I'm too tired to cry. I'm too tired to fight anymore. I thought I was strong, I thought I could beat this thing. I can't. I roll carefully on my side, and slide off the bed on to the floor. I try the one thing I haven't tried.... I get down on my knees, lean my head against the side of the bed. And I pray. I don't know who or what I'm praying to, not yet, but I know what I'm praying for. I'm praying that I will get out of my own way. I don't know it yet, but I'm finally, finally giving up, I'm finally letting go.

After a 30 day stay at a treatment center, I am told I am ready to go. I do not feel ready to go. I am terrified. This, I am told, is a good sign. It means I have surrendered - that I understand that left to my own resources I am in trouble. I am told to go straight to a meeting, put my hand up, and ask for help, so this is what I do. And help comes.

I know now that my recovery is not my doing. Sure, I'm the one putting one foot in front of the other, putting the advice I'm given into action. But I have learned how to put Faith in front of Fear, and to let go. I do not walk alone. Today marks the two year anniversary of my sobriety. But it isn't about years - it is about putting together 24 hours at a time. It is 731 days, because 2008 was a leap year - an extra day in February. In recovery it is said that the person with the most sobriety is the person who got up earliest that day. I do not project too far into the future, I do not look too far into the past. I do my best to stay in the moment, because each sober day I have is a day I couldn't have dreamed of only 731 days ago.

This morning I open my eyes early - I want to see the sun rise. We are out at our beach camp, and the sun rises up over the lighthouse next door to our cottage. I hear the faint snoring of my husband sleeping beside me. I peek out the door to the next room - at Greta and Finn, their little limbs all tangled together in a heap, sound asleep and dreaming.

I slide off the bed and get down on my knees. "Thank you," I say softly. As the first beams of sunlight stream through my bedroom window, I say it over and over. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


  1. That prayer, "Thank you" never gets old. I cried as I read it here.

  2. I forgot to say, congratulations!

  3. That made me cry, El.

    Thank you thank you thank you for bringing El back to us.

  4. Thank you for sharing El and continued strength.

  5. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your beautiful morning with us!

  6. Thank you for sharing so much with all of us. You give me hope that a very dear family friend may someday get to the point that she surrenders and starts real recovery. 12 years of watching her on and off, not quite real, recovery had exhausted that hope. Thank you!

  7. Beautiful. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Wonderful to have you back!

  8. That made me cry! It was beautiful.

  9. oh man, you made me cry!
    im so proud of you and so blessed to have you in my life.
    you are such an inspiration, a friend, a motivator and a confidant. thank you.

  10. Ellie, thanks for the view from your shoes. Congratulations. Since you got up early to watch the sunrise, you have long sobriety today!

  11. congratulations on today and on the 730 todays before that

  12. Congratulations!

    So glad you're well and proud and sharing with us! Love your blog and am proud to "know" you!

  13. Good for you! One day at a time works!

  14. It's funny the circles you find online. I came over because of a prompt from Hope. Right away I recognized Greta and Finn from DaMomma's place. I was praying for you too, two years ago, when DaMomma shared a little of your story.

    You've done a fantastic job today, 731 times.
    Congratulations, Ellie :)

  15. Ellie,
    Thank you for this beautiful post.
    Thank you for reminding me to be be grateful.
    Thank you to Hope for the Link.
    And Thank You God for giving us another day.

  16. Hi, I came from Hope's..know that you are loved by your family, by God, and by total strangers!

  17. What a miracle! Hope sent me over too. I've been struggling with life on it's own terms, and I want you to know just how much I needed to read this today. 731 days of sobriety is such a precious gift. May God continue to grace us with His love and day at a time.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Big AA Birthday Hugs!

  18.'re on a courageous road and it's obvious to those of us looking in that you recognize it...

  19. I'm here from Hope's, too. What a great post and congratulations!! Gratitude, a wonderful word.


  20. Much gratitude and brilliantly written post..thank you! I cried as I read it and thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope!!!

    Congratulations with so much gratitude!

  21. I came over from Hope's place as well. Congratulations for 731, ODAT accomplishments!

  22. What a beautiful, and happy making, post. Congratulations to you on such a momentous accomplishment.