The call came one September morning, before I’d had my coffee. “Julie, he’s drinking again.”
Our family member had relapsed. Not for the first time. I got off the phone and felt myself slipping too. Not by drinking, but by “stinking thinking,” the distorted thought patterns that had made my life unmanageable. Overanalyzing. Obsessing. Trying to control things.
Clyde, our four-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, came into the kitchen as I poured my coffee, prancing as much as a 100-pound dog could prance. He knew it was time for a walk. “You’re always happy, aren’t you, buddy?”
I drank my coffee, imagining worstcase scenarios involving this family member who’d fallen off the wagon. One phone call, and my 20 years of AlAnon recovery work went out the window. I didn’t want to think about the 12 Steps right now. I’d rather worry.
“Come on, Clyde,” I said. “Let’s go on a walk.” He charged ahead of me to the back door.
Would I ever reach a point where letting go and letting God came naturally to me?
I got my iPod and decided to forgo Clyde’s leash. He never wandered off, not even to chase squirrels. And we live way back in the woods on several acres. You can’t see our log cabin from the road. Our gravel driveway is a third of a mile long, with plenty of space to walk. I stepped out into the stifling heat—that’s September in Georgia for you—slipped in my earbuds and cranked up my music, trying to drown out my thoughts.
I’d talked to B.J., my Al-Anon sponsor, a few months earlier about another situation I had to relinquish. “Julie,” she’d said, “you have no control over how the world turns. God does that all on his own. Your job is to let go and trust him.”
Besides being my sponsor, B.J. is an animal lover. She was thrilled when we got Clyde. The breeder let us have him at only six weeks. I thought maybe we’d gotten him too young. B.J. assured me he’d be fine. She was right.
Watching Clyde sniff the trees along the driveway, I remembered Cooper, our black Lab, who had died at 15. The two dogs were totally different in appearance and personality. Clyde didn’t have Cooper’s handsome show-dog body type. Barrel-chested with long skinny legs, he outweighed Cooper by 15 pounds. Clyde was top-heavy, a bit odd-looking, but what a personality! Laid-back and loyal. A dog who wanted nothing more than to be with his people.
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