As we continue to recognize Recovery Month, for the next few weeks we’re shining a light on some special Women of Avalon who are sharing their stories of recovery with us. First up is Kate, a long-time member of Avalon’s programs and a valued member of our community.
Kate describes herself as having an adventurous spirit, but one that got her into serious trouble and led her down a rabbit hole where there was no tea party but lots of mad hatters. She’s an immigrant to Canada who has been in recovery from alcohol since July 13, 1997, so going on 24 years!
Experience with Avalon
Kate was introduced to Avalon’s former West Vancouver Centre in August 1997, when Carol behind the desk gave her a small computer job. She suspects the job wasn’t really needed, but that she was being given a purpose for being at the Centre other than to attend a meeting. Carol later took her to White Spot where they both enjoyed a Pirate Pac – a memory that will stick with Kate forever. The kindness she portrayed, the way she listened, and that she knew how much Kate wanted and needed sobriety. Kate came to Avalon daily until she was able to find work, at which point she visited as often as she could on weekends or throughout the week and still attended recovery meetings.
When asked what the most difficult aspect of her recovery has been, Kate said it was that when she did not have Canadian citizenship, she had no rights in this country. Without family for support or much money, she had to trust the unknown and accept help from strangers who came to her aide. Kate’s son went into foster care for a few months. She loved him so much, yet couldn’t understand why she couldn’t stop drinking. Though she knew it was wrong to be drinking, Kate was so full of loneliness and fear that she continued.
The most rewarding aspect of Kate’s recovery is when her son calls her a “legend” and feels proud of her, Kate also acknowledges that she too is proud of herself! She recognizes that she works and is a productive member of society, respected and valued in her workplace, and is surrounded by quality friendships – both from Avalon and from those outside the program. Kate says her rewards are boundless and she’s grateful daily.
She attributes her success in recovery to herself and her child that she was responsible for. Kate knew he needed a sober, loving, caring mother. She had separated from his dad, who lived nearby but was also a drinker. After a 24-hour lapse from drinking, Kate realized that it was her right arm and her mindset that were causing her to drink the alcohol. She decided she needed to learn from those before her. Kate listened and didn’t question, watching other women and especially those with children or in healthy long-term relationships. She got involved in a home group, then a step group, attending 90 meetings in 90 days. Kate had no car and had to walk to meetings, but she didn’t care – she wanted to not drink alcohol ever again in her life. It was scary, but she knew she didn’t want that in her body anymore.
Recovery during COVID
We recognize that COVID has radically changed the recovery journey for many and has posed new challenges – testing people’s recovery more than ever before. Kate said that at first she felt okay as she started joining recovery meetings via Zoom, Avalon Saturday meetings and she travelled virtually around the globe to participate in meetings hosted in other international cities. However, she lives on her own and needed to see people, so Kate was grateful when Avalon began to offer hybrid meetings with an in-person option. Due to her continued sobriety, Kate has been able to continue working even throughout COVID which kept her connected to people. Kate says that she understands that the Universe has a plan and
“As in AA, we are all in this together – as with COVID, we are all in this together.”
While some days are harder than others, Kate says, “The only thing we have control over is our attitude – positive versus negative.” Kate chooses positive. When things are going sideways, as they often tend to do, she asks herself, “What can I do? Is it my business?” She prays for guidance and has been able to pass this on to her son and his friends. She is able to keep a positive mindset through healthy outlets: going for walks, coffee meetings with friends, and going on road trips. Kate feels her adventurous spirit is alive and well, and she is now capable of avoiding the mad hatters and enjoying meeting other characters from the Wizard of Oz who are all on a journey going somewhere.
Advice to other women
We asked what Kate would say to a woman who is considering seeking help for addiction. She acknowledges that getting sober is hard and that there will be horrendous times and tearful angry moments. There will be people that they may not like. But life is full of choices and Avalon is a solution. The Big Book has a chapter titled, How It Works, that is read at every meeting and there is also a chapter titled, There is a Solution. “Avalon is a safe solution and [being a woman’s only service] safe for women who are fearful of men.”
In closing, Kate adds:
“Although my journey in AA and Avalon is 24 plus years, I always remind myself that each new day when I wake up — I am at Step One. I never know what curve balls might get thrown at me during the day and I need to take heed that it’s how I respond that determines whether it’ll be a good day or a bad day. I choose good day!”
Avalon would like to thank Kate for sharing her story with such honesty, openness, and vulnerability. We hope that by sharing the experiences of Women of Avalon, others will be inspired and motivated to follow a path to recovery. Avalon is here to support you with your journey. For our full recovery meeting schedule, click here. Thank you for reading!