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“Now, I feel more real, more comfortable in my own skin. I feel quiet and serene. Calm in my soul. I have hope.”

I’ve seen lots of butterflies recently, images, designs, even a tattoo. They somehow jumped out at me, but I didn’t understand their significance until now and I’m still working through it.

In the Big Book, there is talk of a ‘psychic change’ in ‘The Doctor’s Opinion’. To me, this means an entire change in my psyche. I understand this goes along with a ‘spiritual awakening’. This is a similar, related journey, equally as important, but for another day.

When I came to AA, I was broken. I was well on the way down the road of the long, slow suicide we all recognise. Others saw this in me, but I did not, I could not and I resented them saying so. I was just a wee woman having a wee drink at home, doing no harm. You know the story.

AA saved me. You lovely people told me I did not lack willpower, that I was not a bad person. You told me I was Ill – but I could be well. This is where the analogy of the butterfly hits home for me.

It shows me the transition from a confused and vulnerable caterpillar, head down, grubbing around trying to satisfy an unquenchable hunger. I was getting so bent out of shape that the odd became normal, so tied up in knots that I couldn’t move. Eventually, I was so trapped the only way out was change or die.

I thought myself an emotionally intelligent person. But I learned to ‘read’ people out of fear.

Fear – of not being good enough – I took my value from what you thought of me. This made me eager to please and harder on myself than others. Fear – of failing – because that left me vulnerable. Fear – of being vulnerable – because this meant I got hurt.

My psychic change meant that everything inside had to be dissolved. All my preconceived ideas, my values, my view of myself and of my world, all of it. Now, change can be messy, it can be sore, but, at this point, it was change or die. I had to give up and accept the vulnerability of my cocoon and transform.

AA gave me a place of safety when I was most vulnerable. You simply loved me, messed up and messy as I was. You showed me compassion because you knew how I felt. You told me what had happened to you on your journey. You told me about the tools you had used to stay well. Even then, some of my old behaviours carried on in early sobriety. You gently loved all those out of me.

I’ve also learned I can take the risk of offering to help others. I can still be hurt, but it
doesn’t hurt as much. Not because you matter any less, but because I matter more. I’ve learned it’s also okay to make mistakes. We’re none of us perfect, thank goodness. There’s even a chance to learn, so no experience is wasted.

Now, I feel more real, more comfortable in my own skin. I feel quiet and serene. Calm in my soul. I have hope. Without wishing to sound arrogant, my worth now comes from within me. And I’ve learned that it’s alright to care – about myself, about others. In fact, caring about others is essential to my wellness.

All I have to do to stay well are the simple things AA taught me: do not drink; remain grateful; stay in my safe place, my meetings; do my fearless moral inventory daily; if I’m unsettled, look at why; reach out and talk when I need to.

Butterflies are beautiful, wondrous creatures. They make miracles out of carnage and bring colour to the world. Six years sober is a long time in some respects, but I feel my wings are still drying. But that’s okay, I have the rest of my life to learn.

Grangemouth Saturday Morning Three Pillars Online Meeting