little stone

August 17, 2011

It was a red scooter sort of thing. A motorized two-wheeled zippy little thing. They were called Sprees and they were all the rage. Especially if they were red.

We were standing in front of the high school and for some reason he told me I could drive it. I think I’d driven one before, but by myself. This time, my friend Angie hopped on the back and all I remember is that it was harder to steer. But the high school had a circular drive and the first thing I had to do was round a sharp corner.

It didn’t take but seconds and we were down, turned sideways and under the scooter in the drive’s edge, little pebbles bouncing away.

She said, Why didn’t you stop?

She was in so much pain and she was angry and shocked. I had no idea how to answer her. For some reason, when I started to lose control, when the butterfly wings started frantically flapping in the core of me, I sped up, a desperate attempt to right our course, to get back on track.

The spill wouldn’t have been so traumatic if I had just slowed; laid that thing down.


I always knew I shouldn’t drink at all, that it was somehow different for me. I never gave into peer pressure in high school. I mean, the most rebellious thing I ever did then was ride another person’s red mo-ped. I had no problem saying no, didn’t care about peer pressure, and when I did start to drink, it wasn’t a moral issue that sent butterfly wings flapping in my heart-gut.

I just knew.

But I got on, so to speak. I turned the key and felt the weight of instability. I just kept going, not knowing why. There was no room for thought, just a panicked sort of pressing on the gas and heading toward the gravel.

Tires spin out so easily in the gravel.


Why didn’t you stop?

We stood up, pulling small stones from wounds in our arms and legs, both of us biting back tears. We went inside and tried to wash them out but the impact kept them stuck. Going home to show my parents was painful and so was trying to sleep at night, one side of my body raw and open, bandaged.

I still have scars from that day. For the longest time, I could feel the lump of a tiny pebble under my skin, next to my knee. A reminder for years.

Now, after all my years of drinking, memories rise up from underneath in the same way. Little reminders of what it was like to lose control and spin out. Pebbles under my skin. They remind me but no longer hurt me. I am feeling more and more healed but never unguarded. Because the truth is, no matter how many days go by without a drink, I’m always capable of getting right back on.

Some of us just shouldn’t be handed the keys. We don’t know how to handle the shifts and changes, the balancing and the normal of a social or night cap kind of drink. At times, in a moment, I forget that. I wonder if I really had a problem at all. I think that maybe, just maybe, one day I can drink normally. What I need right then is a reminder, a little lump next to my knee. I’m so grateful to have my friends in recovery, to share their stories that reflect my own, keeping me aware and certain, sober and free.

Please congratulate one of them with me–Ellie celebrated FOUR YEARS of sobriety yesterday. It is a true honor to call her my friend. Before I quit drinking, her story reached through my screen and changed my life. There aren’t enough words of gratitude for that. And now, she’s my sister-friend, one I cannot imagine my life without. She brings laughter and wisdom to my everyday. She is proof that redemption and freedom are for the taking, if only we surrender.

It is largely because of Ellie that my husband and children will not have to say, Why didn’t you stop?

Congratulations, Ellie. You are so loved.




Kim August 17, 2011 at 8:41 am

So proud of you Ellie!
Kim recently posted..Sweet Relief

Ellie August 17, 2011 at 8:45 am

Oh, my friend. I’m wiping tears away.

You are my soul sister, my brain twin and my touch-stone. You are one of the greatest gifts recovery has given me. How lucky am I to have you in my life?

I treasure you with all my heart.

SO grateful to be on this journey with you. And just like the speeding-out-of-control into alcoholism, recovery has its own momentum, its own heart-stopping thrills. Hop on the back, and let’s RIDE.



P.S. – That picture makes my arms ache – they want to wrap you in a hug and squeeze little Elsie. SO BADLY.
Ellie recently posted..1,459 Days – Who I See

schmutzie August 17, 2011 at 8:53 am

Yes! Absolutely. I am just coming up to my first year anniversary of sobriety in three days, and, being so fresh into this journey, I am distinctly aware of the work it takes to continue. Congratulations on staying the course, Ellie!
schmutzie recently posted..My No Good, Very Bad, Crazy, Sore-Boobed, Stressed, Disappointed, And Sick Day

molly August 17, 2011 at 9:00 am

And you are helping me. You really are.

When you wrote that you think you might be able to drink like a normal person someday. That’s my issue. It’s letting go of the thought that alcohol will ever be good for me. I just haven’t done that yet. I don’t know how.
molly recently posted..The BlogHer Breakdown

Heather August 17, 2011 at 9:35 am

It’s so tricky, Molly–the letting go. Because you can KNOW something and still not allow yourself to truly accept it and then decide, surrender to the belief, that you are DONE with it. That it is off-limits for you. That it’s over. As tricky as it is, I promise you that it is freeing. A RELIEF, to not have to battle the thoughts anymore, to just know that you are done. I didn’t know how to do that at first. I didn’t REALLY accept it even while I was sober, for quite some time. Like Ellie said, recovery has its own momentum. Things you are doing become what you believe about who you are, with time.

Some people have a more magical spiritual experience in which the desire for alcohol just POOF! is gone, with surrender. I didn’t have that, largely because surrender was a slow process for me. Not a wrong process, but just slow. And that’s what I love about the saying in recovery, “it’s about progress, not perfection.” That’s me. I progress slowly, and that’s okay.

Thank you. I heart you.

Lee August 17, 2011 at 9:07 am

Love it. Now Instead of little stones in your knee. You can have one in your pocket, and it’s pain free.

robin August 17, 2011 at 9:09 am

You both help me with my recovery, and for that, I will be forever grateful. Heather, what a perfect comparison you shared.

Ellie, I love your comment about recovery having its own momentum. So true.

I sincerely wish that picture was clickable to become bigger so I could see the squishiness of Elsie better. :)

Heather August 17, 2011 at 9:23 am

Ha! Yes, it’s an iphone photo that someone else took. I have no idea how to enlarge such things :) But she is VERY squishy now!

Becky (Princess Mikkimoto) August 17, 2011 at 9:23 am

Congrats to you both!!
Becky (Princess Mikkimoto) recently posted..A Lull

JC August 17, 2011 at 9:55 am

Congratulations to both of you!
Love that you are both sharing your stories and talents with us.
JC recently posted..Links delish

Katherine @ Postpartum Progress August 17, 2011 at 9:57 am

So stunningly beautiful and heartfelt. God bless both of you, Ellie and Heather.
Katherine @ Postpartum Progress recently posted..Comment on Mirror, Mirror On the Wall: Who Do You See When You Look At Yourself? (BlogHer’11) by Danielle Smith

Julie August 17, 2011 at 10:48 am

What a beautiful post, and a beautiful friendship. Wishing you both all the best in your recovery.
Julie recently posted..Madonna, the Mall, & One Bad Hair Day

Frelle August 17, 2011 at 12:06 pm

congratulations, Ellie, and what an incredible piece this is, Heather. So much insight and so much love at the same time. You are a gift to so many, both of you. <3
Frelle recently posted..familiar blackness

nic @mybottlesup August 17, 2011 at 12:13 pm

beautiful, heather. such a beautiful testament to the strength of your friendship and the strength of you both as women. congratulations ellie.
nic @mybottlesup recently honest, how much tv has your kid watched this summer?

Tracie August 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Congratulations to Ellie. Four years is huge!

You are both strong survivors. Beautiful examples of grace and honesty in the midst of growth and sobriety.
Tracie recently posted..A Dirty Secret – Why Old Catalogues Scare Me

Sarah August 17, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Eight years sobriety for me, by the Grace of God…Prayers and Blessings to you both.

Adventures In Babywearing August 18, 2011 at 7:07 am


And I love seeing Elsie’s sweet face im your sidebar with the boys!

Adventures In Babywearing recently posted..I love the way you wear your baby: beautiful babywearing photos

Ann August 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Amazing metaphor. My heart is so full for you guys.
Ann recently posted..Rant’s little instruction book (part deux)

Cheairs Redefining Typical August 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Beautiful words. Congratulations to Ellie and to you! You both have so much to be proud of on this day! Please know how many people you have helped with your writing. Through your words filled with beauty, honest, and courage you have helped people like me. You reached out your hand with your words and people have been able to take hold. An amazing gift that you have given to so many. We may only know you by your writing on our screen-but from reading your words…Grace fills our soul. So thank to both you and Ellie!

jennyp August 20, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Congratulations and thank you. It’s been 3 1/2 years sober for me, and those thoughts niggle in to me, too. Not often anymore, but sometimes. Well, the voice says, you know, you never drank in high school, and rarely in college. You could probably handle it! But I know I can’t, and I make myself remember, and I read some blogs, and I look at my kids (even the obnoxious teenager!) and I don’t do it.

Lynda M O August 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm

If I had needed reassurance that drinking is a deep dark hole, it was given to me by Grace. Just the smell of the wine in the goblet set my alcoholic brain zooming at a million miles an hour trying to find a way to drink that and then find more. At home with my husband of a quarter century I was safe but that one incident jerked me back to the reality of not being able to drink at all. I am grateful for that experience and have put the “maybes” to rest.

Just found this blog today and have subscribed; am catching up with your archives and clicking on your commenters’ blogs too.

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