The Final Bottom

Spoiler alert:  this post may be a bit on the depressing side, apologies in advance.

There’s an expression in recovery meetings, “taking a meeting hostage,” where a person will talk longer than appropriate about personal issues.  Today, at my Monday morning meeting, I did a variation, in the sense that I tailored the meeting topic to a situation in my personal life.  Probably not the most selfless act of my day, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  For the record, 11 attendees, and, from my perspective, the meeting was exactly what I needed.

Last night I met my sponsee at a meeting so that she could get her 6 month coin, very celebratory in nature, and I am so thrilled to have been able to share in her accomplishment.  That’s the good news.  The bad:  while there I learned about the death of a friend and past Monday meeting attendee, whose name was George.  I still can’t believe I had to use the past tense in that last sentence.

I met George about 10 months ago, we were fellow members of a drug and alcohol therapy group.  George and I bonded from our very first day together, and anyone that has ever been through an outpatient rehab situation will understand what I’m about to say… George and I were the talkers of the group.  What this means, for anyone unfamiliar with group therapy, is that often the majority of people prefer to sit and listen (or not), and do their absolute best to limit their participation.  I can’t speak for George, but my philosophy is if I’m there, I might as well participate, plus I do have empathy for a group counselor that has to drag words out of every participant, so I am the one who will jump in and get things started.  George seemed to be of the same mind, so many sessions had us gabbing back and forth about our personal circumstances in the moment.  Through my time with him in group therapy, I found George to be open, honest, funny, and genuinely motivated to grab a hold of recovery.  But, like myself and everyone else in that group, the obsession that goes along with addiction is very strong, and George fell prey to his addiction a few times throughout my time in the group, and so he eventually had to advance his therapy to a more intensive rehabilitation.  I was able to let him know about my meeting, which had started right before we parted ways, and, once he got himself back on his feet recovery-wise, he started attending my Monday morning meetings.

And, just like in our group therapy, George was a tremendous benefit to the meeting.  His personality is so engaging, and he is so sincere in his desire to stop drinking, that he drew people in every time he spoke.  He thanked me profusely every single time he shared, for being an example to him and for having this meeting for him to attend.  No matter what was going on in his life, he was able to talk about it honestly, and turn it around so that we could all learn something from it.

In the months that he attended my Monday meeting, George relapsed twice, and twice he came back and spoke candidly about the experience… the thoughts that led up to the decision, the shame and remorse he felt, and the negative consequences he suffered as a result.  Always he was hopeful that this was the time he would get it together.

And then… nothing.  He simply stopped attending my meetings.

I spoke with several mutual friends who went to other meetings with George, the same thing, they just stopped seeing him and hearing from him.  Some of the male friends did reach out and try to call him, to no avail.  The unspoken rule in AA is that guys call guys, women call women, so I did not have any numbers with which to reach out to George myself, but every single week in the past 2 1/2 months that he has been missing I have asked the mutual friends, and they all shake their heads sadly and say they have not seen him.

The limited information I received was this:  his death was directly related to alcohol, and his wife is devastated.  She actually called one of our mutual friends to let us know the news.  She wanted to make sure his friends in AA knew of his death, because he spoke a lot about the group he had met and bonded with, and they meant the world to him.  She also said he had a special friend during his time in group therapy, and was hopeful that the friend would know how highly he spoke of her.  I’m guessing I’m the special friend, and if I’m not, it’s okay, because he was certainly my special friend, and my heart is broken.

This is my first experience of this nature:  losing someone close to me to this disease, and, I’ve got to tell you, it sucks.  It is going to sound trite, but it’s still the truth:  George had so much to offer this world, and his loss is felt by more than he will ever understand.  I want to say I am grateful to be sober, and I am, but it truthfully feels almost insensitive to say it in the wake of his death.  The best takeaway I got from all the beautiful feedback from this morning is this:  his death is a painful reminder that however low my bottom was, there is a much lower, and much more finite, bottom.  As for why I was blessed with the gift of recovery and George was not, another question I struggled with last night, I was told that’s God‘s business, not mine, so I should stick to my own, and let God worry about the rest.

So I’m grateful that I am sober, and, just for today, I will stay sober, in George’s memory.

Today’s Miracle:

Being able to talk about my feelings this morning, and write about them this afternoon, and know that people care, is a miracle that give me tears in my eyes as I write this.

Posted on July 22, 2013, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. And so we should all honor George with our sobriety. If he leaves this one hard lesson that we can all learn from, I bet he would be very proud. Prayers to all…


  2. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. I’m sure he knew how special he was to you. I’m thinking about you during this difficult time. Sending you some happy thoughts and prayers!


  3. The ones who don’t make it. I still struggle with understanding this notion. It wasn’t easy the first time it happened and it’s still not easy. I love what you wrote, “that’s God’s business.” I know I have always been quick-to-presume-I-know-what-is-best-for-everyone-in-almost-every-situation. (One of the many glaring gems in my character defect arsenal.) All that being said, your post is beautiful. much love, me


    • It is a hard lesson, and one I am in the process of learning. I find myself asking “why” and “what could I have done” about a million times since Sunday night, but, when that happens, I remember what I am in control over, and what I am not, and I say a quick prayer, remember all his amazing qualities, and I keep on going. I guess it’s all we can do! Thanks, Lisa!


  4. I’m truly sorry for the loss of your friend Josie. I’ll be praying for his family and friends, especially those who struggle everyday with addiction. So proud of you for staying strong. Love you and will be thinking of you often.


  5. runningonsober

    Ugh. I’m so sorry. I hate this disease, I really do. Did you see MishedUp’s post that I reblogged on Friday? She wrote it after Cory’s death, and it may bring you some comfort.

    So sorry about your friend.


    • I was away this weekend, so I’m hoping, between well-checks, orthodontists, and dentists to get some time in today and catch up on reading! I also need to do an exercise email check-in with you, it’s coming! I am really looking forward to reading that post, and I appreciate your condolences so much!


  6. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m thinking about you and sending you light and love.


  7. I’m very sorry for your loss. I had a similar experience when one of my rehab buddies relapsed and died about 3 months after we left treatment. It’s so sad. My prayers are with you.


    • I would imagine that is exactly the same, and I am sorry for your loss. You just can’t help but think (or at least I can’t help but think) how come I got it and they didn’t? It’s sad, and frustrating, and pointless to have these thoughts, but try telling my brain that! It means the world to me to have you, Jami, and all my other blogging friends praying for George and wishing me well, I really am so grateful!


  8. I’m so sorry. Big hugs to you!


  9. Lovely and poignant tribute to George. Lots of Georges out there, aren’t there? I haven’t had the experience you have (yet,unfortunately) so I can’t speak from that. But like Christy, I hate this illness. Takes us all too young and too horribly and leaves a wake of destruction behind us. As you know, there isn’t anything we can do when someone is in the grips of the grape. Nothing. All we can do is be grateful for our own recovery and help the still struggling alcoholic / addict out there. That is how I honour the George’s of the world. One drunk at a time, we do this, Josie. And you’re a shining example of service, empathy, compassion and joy.

    No wonder George treasured you so much. As we all do 🙂



  10. Thanks, Paul, that is really kind of you to say. And, really, all we can do is honor the George’s the best way we can, by doing the work he wishes he could have done. I can’t express how much your compliments mean to me!


  11. I’m so sorry! Such a difficult thing to go through and wrap your mind around. We always want an answer to our “Why’s?” but there isn’t any. Sending positive thoughts and prayers to you and his family. Hugs!


  12. Oh, I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. I thought lately I’d come to a certain understanding that some of us are more naturally, if mysteriously, troubled by our own drinking (and that is why we stop/stay stopped) but then stories like this remind me it’s so much more complicated. And no, not ours to understand. I’m glad you got the message about his “special friend” because I bet that was you.


    • Hi K, thanks for reaching out. The services are this morning, so it is so nice to get up and read your support before I head out. I really hope that I get a chance to speak to his wilfe and let her know how loved he was in the AA community.


  13. i’m reminded of my alcoholic friend who passed last month, so i have a good idea of what you’re feeling. My condolences on your loss, but thank you for being one of the survivors and for being here.

    Alcoholism is terminal. There is no cure, but there is a treatment.


  14. Thanks Al, it can be easy for me to forget that I have a progressive, incurable, terminal disease, but I do thank God for the treatment, and for having people like you in my life to inspire me to continue the treatment! I really appreciate the condolences, and I send them right back to you.


  15. I am so sorry to hear. Thank you for this beautiful post. What a beautiful friendship. It is so hard to deal with a loss of a friend and also one trying to recover from this hideous disease. I have experienced few myself; it is such a strange feeling. I get mad, and scarde and overwhelmed. It doesn’t question just your own existence but your own recovery. And it just appears to be a mastery as to why, it’s so sad… Sending many hugs to you! -Maggie

    I recenlty saw this article being shared around the blogs, it’s about dealing with death form action(s), it’s really powerful:


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