SHE IS ME, TOGETHER ARE WE: A SHORT STORY ABOUT SISTERHOOD AND SOBRIETY
The seasons had shifted in the 28 days between my first trembling step through the doors of treatment and my steadier ones that carried me out. Just like that, Seattle seemed to embrace winter as I tried to find my footing with a trash bag of my belongings checked over my shoulder, on my way to the rest of my life. I breathed deep and heard the voices of my counselors with the familiar drill gun of hope firing away despite my doubtful fear in the face of being alone for the first time in weeks.
“Your sisters will love you until you can love yourself.”
I looked behind me and sighed a sad farewell to the place and the women I now called home and turning forward, I wondered how I would ever find them again. Tenderly, a little voice said to me, “Fret not. They will find you.” One week later, I boarded a plane and left Seattle’s familiar chaos. Willingness to face my fear of change was the payoff for planting my roots in sunny Southern California where I could begin to recover.
I did not believe the women’s whispers when I left rehab. But I had come to understand that I must believe in something in order to stay sober so I made a decision to suspend all of what I previously thought I knew about relationships with women and trust them because I didn’t quite yet trust myself. So when I met her from across a dark parking lot on my first evening in California, I let a little of her light guide me through the doors to a roomful of unfamiliar women’s faces who reminded me of myself; I was sure I recognized them but I did not know them. Not yet.
The wispy pinks and purples of the sunset were just like their hugs, soothing and free. And in that very moment, my edges softened. I found myself letting go of my tightly guarded heart for the single moment it took to sit down in that room next to her and her sisters who were soon enough to become mine. I listened to their stories and allowed myself to be seen as just what I was in that moment, fainthearted and raw but wide open. I sat still and grabbed on to her praying that she would not let me go because I needed her to lead me out of that room just as she leads me in.
And so she did, simply because I needed her to. Before moving away three weeks later, she gently nudged me toward all of the places I was afraid to go only to find women she was sure I needed to meet waiting for me, patiently. Those women then beckoned me toward the arms of others who ushered me to another who landed me on the doorstep of always just one more. I steadily began to trust that I would never, ever be alone again. So, on the evening she said farewell to begin her new journey across the country, I did not feel left. Instead, I again heard the whispers of my sisters in Seattle, “Just look, you’ve been found.”