A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
My mom is going to the hospital. She’s diabetic with high blood pressure, and now she has a tumor. I know she’s concerned about the diagnosis and the surgery. So am I.
This is the time for me to be the strong one. The supportive one. And brave, too. But I sure don’t feel it. I’m shaking down to my toes. I feel alone and frightened. What can I say to comfort myself or my mom?
My mom was always there for me, no matter what. She moved here to be nearby when I got so sick. And later, when I was dealing with alcoholism, recovery and relapse, she moved from the convenience of her home near her work, to share an apartment with me – and a two-hour daily commute. It was all to make it affordable for me and to be nearby my AA home group. Looking back, she’s always been there during troubled times, telling me, “It’s only a problem if you make it a problem” and, “We’ll get through this.”
Well, now it’s my turn to be the hero. The real truth is, now I can be! There was a time when I couldn’t have been there for her. There was a time when I couldn’t have been the supportive one. I wouldn’t have shown up or wouldn’t have been able to deal with it all. But, panicked or not, thanking God for my sobriety, I felt that I could be strong for my mom. It’s my turn to help now and I felt humbled and proud that I was able to.
I let my mom know that I’m here for her. We went through this challenging time together. She was so calm, and though I was not, I didn’t make a big drama out of it either. I remember the days when this would NOT have been possible. I think my mom was a little afraid for me, too. Afraid that facing a challenge like this would make me run for the nearest drink.
The honest-to-God’s truth, I really didn’t want to drink or use an emotional crisis as an excuse to escape with alcohol again.
As frightened as I was, I was also inspired to be the new, sober and totally reliable, Carly. And that part of it felt so good!
I stayed in my mom’s hospital room with her every day and still made it to my meetings. When my mom came home, she did need help for a while. I made her homemade chicken soup, just like she always did for me. I did a little grocery shopping and laundry. These were all such simple things but to me they were exceptional. Exceptional because I was able to maintain my sobriety and accomplish what I needed to do.
Life in sobriety is not only possible under stress, but deeply rewarding.
My mom is going to be okay and I know what I can achieve while remaining sober. It’s been a good lesson for me. I do sort of feel like a hero, but it didn’t come all at once. I earned it one step at a time, one day at a time. Then all of a sudden, when I needed it most, I discovered I had the strength to face the worst of my fears head-on and not run the other way.
A hero is a man who is afraid to run away.”
– English Proverb