“If you descend into somebody else’s private hell and stand there with them, it ceases to be hell.”
– Father Mychal Judge

From the day of my very first recovery meeting, one of the things that has attracted me to people I have met in those circles was the fact that they have simply listened to me share my stories of living in the hell of active addiction. They have sat beside me and held my hand as I have cried my way through the pain of remembering. They have entered into the depths of my soul with me and helped me walk away from the shame and degradation that once ruled my life. They have guided me out of the darkness of simply existing and into the light of living a life I had never even imagined.

In order to pay back the generous spirit of all the people who have listened to me, encouraged me, accepted me, and loved me until I could love myself, I do what I can today to be for others what they were to me. When a newbie enters the room and glances my way, I put on my waders and climb into the muck with them. I stand with them in the crap of their hell, and share experiences from my own hell. I tell them they don’t have to stay there – that there is a way out – and that if they want my help, all they have to do is ask.

And, today, whenever I feel stuck in my own “hell,” it is actually a red flag of warning that alerts me to the fact that I am standing alone. For a recovering addict, alone isn’t such a great place to be when the fire is licking at my feet and the shit-storm is moving in my direction. So, that is when I pick up the phone to invite a friend to meet for coffee. I have spent enough time in my private hell. Today, I would rather be living in the land of hope with my friends.

Thank You, God, for friends, and for Father Mychal Judge, who was born on this day in 1933. His life, and especially the friendship he gave to so many, was one of Your greatest blessings to humanity!

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