When I was seventeen, I had a view of my life. I saw myself as well-educated with a good job, a home, and friends. I did not see myself in any kind of relationship. “I don’t think I’ll ever get married,” I said to my mother.
“Of course you will,” she said. “Everybody does. It’s what you’re supposed to do.”
My father was the youngest of six children. A significant gap separated him from his five older siblings. I had first cousins my parents’ age. The boys, described as hellions, made a dramatic change once married. “You wouldn’t believe the change in Teddy,” my grandmother said. “It just goes to show the right woman makes all the difference.”
At 24, in college, I met a woman. We became good friends and married, as I was expected to do. We put each other through college and graduate school, built careers, bought a home, and raised two daughters.
After 19 years of marriage we divorced.
At the same time, the community college where I was library director faced financial uncertainty. The board of trustees and administration decided the college’s fiscal difficulties could be solved by reducing the number of senior faculty. As union members, the affected faculty challenged the RIF. I opted not to join the action. If they don’t want me here, I thought, I don’t want to be here. I found a new job and moved to Pasadena to begin a new life.
A professor in my doctoral program at USC found me through my business. We became friends. He invited me to attend All Saints Church in Pasadena. The first Sunday I attended All Saints the sound of the pipe organ and the procession of the choir and clergy into the church brought me to tears. I felt at home.
I joined the Covenant group to become a member of the church and subsequently became a Covenant small group leader.
The Gay and Lesbian All Saints(GALAS) ministry provided a positive, supportive, safe, caring, and loving environment in which to come out.
I was asked to serve on the parish council. The first meeting of the council was a retreat at a park in Altadena. Typical of All Saints’ small group focus, each member of the council introduced him or herself and shared an aspect of their spiritual journey. Dick, talked about his struggle with alcohol, Alcoholics Anonymous, and finding his way to All Saints.
A day or two later, I wrote in my journal about whether it was possible I might be alcoholic. “I am an alcoholic,” I wrote. I challenged myself to read the words aloud. “I am an alcoholic,” I said. What followed was a miracle. I felt a powerful force, the hand of God, reach into the darkness of my life to take away the obsession to drink. Thirty-one years ago, God removed from my life the need or desire to drink alcohol.
I called Dick to tell him of my experience. He invited me to attend an AA meeting where he introduced me to supportive, accepting, and loving people who helped me find my way into the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the beginning of a new life in sobriety.
In AA when we share our journeys we talk about our experience, strength, and hope. We describe what life was like when we drank, what happened, and what life is like now.
Today, I live the life I envisioned at age seventeen.