It started with a hug.
After completing an interview for residency at the Grace House, Alice asked me for a hug. She didn’t ask if she was accepted. She just wanted a hug. I have always been a bit awkward doling out hugs. To me. . . I have to know you. I have to like you. You have to earn my hug. I stood for a frozen moment, after which I leaned in and provided a stiff, uncomfortable hug. Well, at least I thought so. Apparently Alice did not. Think so. She thanked me for the interview. She thanked me for listening. She thanked me for acceptance into the Grace House.
I’ve come to realize that many, if not most people in recovery freely give out hugs and “I love you’s”. At meetings there are hugs and loves flying all over the place. I am not a real active participant in this hug fest. Although, I am getting better. I have come to realize that sometimes all someone needs is a hug and maybe I’m the person to give it.
Alice needed more than a hug when she came to the Grace House. In fact, she needed a reason to stay just one more day. One day at a time. And after that one day at a time went stronger, she began to smile more, share more, see more. She felt more. Inside of which, she felt her reason to stay. She became the pillar of the Grace House. For sobriety. Inside of which, she knew what she had to do, and then? She just kept doing it.
After a very successful stay, Alice gave her notice. She was moving out. The sober house had met its purpose and now she was ready to move on. I helped her pack up her things. All set . All ready to go. Except for one thing…the hug. This time it was me asking for the hug.
Because it was earned. And because now? I needed it every bit as much as she did.