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Voices for Recovery

Virginia and Michael N (09/10/2009)

Lack of funds kept our growing alcoholism in check until our late twenties when we rented a house on a lake. That summer, my husband's book was accepted for publication, and in a spirit of celebration, our house was to become party central for an ever widening group of variously talented people. All were welcome as long as they brought a bottle or a "side dish".

For the next twelve years, as a group, we spiraled down the levels of addiction. Although some spiraled faster than others, in our elitist attitude, we just laughed it off and believed we were too intelligent for it to happen to us. Finally, several people got divorced; others got psychiatrists, tried holistic medicine, died of suicide or alcohol related illnesses, or just stopped coming. Then the day came when our best friend came to tell us that he and his wife were having problems and they were going to join Alcoholics Anonymous. I was filled with dread at being the last holdout drinking with my husband, whose bizarre behavior had already led me to Al-Anon.

I decided to give AA a try, too. That was the beginning of a journey that helped me find the self I had lost in a haze of alcohol. For the next five years I corresponded nearly daily with that friend. Letter writing became an important piece of our recovery in AA.  We both had trust issues that, at first, made it hard to confide in AA members. Letters were a safe place to discuss sensitive issues that were holding  us back from doing our 4th and 5th Steps. Re-reading them helped us to measure progress at times when we weren't sure we were making any. At a point when we became mired in a conflict between the deception required by our relationship and the "rigorous honesty" required for lasting sobriety, a pair of adolescent alter-egos spontaneously emerged in our writing. They modeled new behaviors, put light on secrets that were keeping us sick, and gave us a way to lighten up and not take ourselves so seriously.

We found letter writing so helpful to our recovery the letters became the basis of a book written about our first five years of sobriety. Check it out at Also we and some sober friends write a blog about how AA continues to be pertinent in our lives long term. Join us at

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