INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY JAN OSBORN.
Alcohol addiction doesn’t just affect the drinker—it affects the entire family and friends. This became very clear to me over fifteen years ago when I met my best friend, Robin Bagwell. Over the course of my life I had been around friends who drank too much on occasion, but Robin was different. Robin was proud of the fact that she was newly sober and soon would receive her one year chip from Alcoholics Anonymous. At the time I really didn’t understand why staying sober was so important to her but I knew that I wanted to support her decision. It was after I went with Robin to receive her one year sober chip that I understood what an important step this was for Robin, her family and friends. Robin invited me to attend an Al Anon meeting with her and it was there I learned about the 3 C’s of Addiction: I didn’t cause it; I can’t cure it; I can’t control it. Now, Robin has asked me to join her in hosting a book club through Recovery Resource Council, and I am honored to do so. I asked Robin to share a bit about her recovery journey and how community through nonprofit organizations have helped her to stay sober.
What was the catalyst for starting a recovery-focused book club?
Over the years I have had the opportunity to read and listen to numerous recovery stories. I’ve discovered that while they are told by people with totally different backgrounds and personalities, there are similarities in all. I thought it would be interesting to get a group together and discuss the uniquenesses and the likenesses as they relate to our own recovery.
I first met Jan Osborn on the tennis courts when I was four months sober. People were telling me how good I looked and I blurted out, ”I joined AA.” Jan told me about some of her own struggles and we were instant best friends. We all know someone who is affected by addiction. I introduced Jan to the board of CARE Dallas. She did more for CARE than anyone I know. We make a great team because I work an AA program and she can relate to the Al Anon side of it. We have laughed more together than I ever laughed when I was drinking.
Tell us about your journey and how you stay focused on recovery today?
I joined a 12 Step program over 18 years ago. I’ve found that I have to stay in touch and attend meetings with others in recovery in order to stay sober. I also find that I have to give it away to keep it. I do that by working with groups like Recovery Resource Council, Nexus, the 24-Hour Club, CARE Dallas, and Magdalen House.
You give a lot of credit to alcoholics anonymous for your sobriety. How has AA and Al-Anon impacted your relationships?
AA saved my father’s life. He had less than 40% of his liver left and was killing himself with alcohol. After his first AA meeting he never found it necessary to drink again. He was sober 25 years when he passed away. He had 15 grandchildren who never saw him take a drink.
My children were seven and nine years old when I quit drinking. A few years into my sobriety I asked them if they noticed a difference. They said I didn’t fall asleep telling them bedtime stories anymore. I was given the gift of being present for my kids as they grew up. My husband was not sure I had a drinking problem. He thought it was a bad habit I could break. I’ve found it easy not to drink at all but impossible to drink in moderation. He is my biggest supporter and never misses seeing me get my annual sobriety chip.
I have been in a regular ladies AA/AlAnon step study for years. I call the women my step sisters. We are all so different but share the same feelings. We have helped each other through deaths, divorce, illnesses, estrangement and other problems we all encounter. You have to stay long enough for the miracles. My sponsor likes to say there are many mini miracles. We just have to be present to witness them.
How did you get involved with Recovery Resource Council and how do you suggest we can help?
My father loved the work Recovery Resource does. He was involved in helping them raise money to help other alcoholics. Their annual fundraiser is named after him, the Jim Bradshaw Stars in Recovery luncheon. You can help support Recovery Resource with your donations by attending their events and purchasing raffle tickets and auction items.
How has the pandemic and not being able to attend AA sessions affected you and others in the program?
Throughout the pandemic, I have been doing meetings via Zoom. I’ve noticed more meetings have been focused on gratitude. We are thankful for more time spent outdoors and eating meals as a family. In one meeting I mentioned I was down and the next day a girl in the meeting brought lunch over and visited in the backyard. We all struggle at different times. It’s important to share both the highs and the lows with others in recovery.
You are often contacted by folks in the community when they are in need of support for their own recovery or a loved one. What words of encouragement can you give when people are feeling depressed over their situation?
It gets better. When you are struggling, get out of yourself and go help someone else. Hit your knees first thing in the morning and thank God you woke up. Make a gratitude list. Someone is in the hospital praying they will be able to shower and go to the bathroom without help. Stay in the now. It’s easy to have fear about the future. If you realize you are ok at this very moment, you will get through the day. They say, “One day at a time,” but sometimes it’s one minute at a time.
Reading in Recovery with Robin and Jan is a virtual event on September 9th at 4 p.m. To join the discussion, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/RRCBookClub/?source_id=101358386593434. The book being discussed is “Out of the Rough: An Intimate Portrait of Laura Baugh and Her Sobering Journey” by Laura Baugh. Recovery Resource Council will welcome Laura Baugh as the featured speaker at The Power of Prevention event on September 16th at the Hyatt Regency Dallas with virtual tickets available. For more information regarding addiction or The Power of Prevention event, visit recoverycouncil.org.