Now with forty years sober, Iudita appreciates old-timers and their stories as a way to continue her sobriety. At twenty and thirty there are always teachers available, but now at forty there are not so many ahead of her. She looks for the wisdom of old timers with their stories.
Upon her arrival in AA she described herself as very sick, and incapable of bringing herself to a meeting. It was a co-worker who brought her, saying she would drive Iudita home afterwards. That would save her two bus rides home. It was an offer she couldn’t refuse.
She heard a speaker tell how she tried to kill herself. Iudita found herself crying for some unknown reason and couldn’t seem to stop. She went to the back of the room into the kitchen to hide her embarrassment and soon realized she couldn’t hide in an AA meeting. Everyone came back to the kitchen and sought her out. Getting home she remembered two beers in her refrigerator waiting for her. The only thing she remembered from the meeting was the statement, “Just don’t drink today.” She did something she had never done before and closed the refrigerator door and figured she had been “Struck sober.” Prior to that she had been drinking ever day. It was amazing.
The ticket to an easier life is to ask for help
To this day, she has connected her ability not to drink with the power not to drink, found in the “We” part of the first step; she is convinced of this. Somehow, she believed what she heard at the meeting. It was an amazing reprieve and she realized she’d probably never get it again. This was her chance. She wanted to hang onto it for she didn’t know if she’d ever get another chance. This was her new beginning.
Iudita was born and raised in Romania until age thirteen when her family migrated to Cleveland. Her mother had family there that sponsored her whole family. Her parents were both teenage holocaust survivors, so the move to Cleveland was a big one. There was the knowledge they might never again have the chance to escape, so the family took advantage of the offer. They were very poor and there was no such thing as birth control. Her one brother was born mentally challenged. He remains in Cleveland and is doing very well.
She didn’t know if she’d ever get another chance
She had a trait of extreme self-sufficiency and never would ask anyone for help or advice. She married at seventeen wanting to get away from her mother. She divorced her husband at age nineteen, now with a young son. As she says, “I drank my way through all my problems.” She remarried but got her second divorce after two years of sobriety. She was twenty-nine. That was when she really experienced the AA community around her and their support.
Fifteen years ago, she started a morning meeting in Cleveland. She realized the morning meeting made her day so much easier, and has gone to at least one meeting a day for the past fifteen years. She wants to hear real people talk about real things and how they stay sober along with the connection of friendship she gets in meetings. “I do not have a tolerance for not feeling okay. I cannot afford thoughts that I’m doing fine. I’ve never played with my sobriety. It’s the only thing I haven’t tested myself on.”
A few years ago, she connected with a fellow in San Francisco and now spends the greater part of her year in the Bay Area. She remained in San Francisco throughout the recent quarantine. Today she regularly attends the Bernal New Day, starting the day with an AA focus. It meets at 7:30 AM Monday through Friday and 8:00 AM on Saturday and Sunday. Her sponsor, in Cleveland, is an old friend and they call regularly. When asked what she’s learned over her forty-plus years, she says, “It’s really important to ask for help. That’s the ticket to an easier life.” Her sobriety date is February 17, 1981.