You Are Not Alone

It was the most difficult time of my life. I had been diagnosed as a person abusing alcohol. I was also diagnosed as suffering from depression. To make matters worse, I had been suspended by the Bar for two years for failure to pay income taxes. Where could I turn?

The director of the LAP program reached out to me and invited me to join a support group of other lawyers in Charlotte who likewise had addiction problems and significant mental health issues. I came to the first meeting scared and not knowing what to expect. They all greeted me and welcomed me. I told them my story. They understood and showed genuine concern. They had all traveled this road before. They knew there was hope, but they also knew it was important for me to work an amazing program of recovery.

I was assigned a mentor. He had been down my road of alcohol addiction. He quickly called me. He let me know that he would always be there for me on my road of recovery.

A judge in our support group introduced himself to me. He had been where I was for many years. I could instantly see that he knew the journey well, and he believed in the power of recovery and the power of coming together with those like me to share our stories. He invited me to my first AA meeting. It was amazing how people stood up, candidly told their stories, and gave thanks for their sobriety and their return to meaningful living. I asked my judge friend if he would be my sponsor in AA and he extended a hand of friendship. He would be with me on my journey. He helped me to believe in myself once again. 

I continued with the support group for 14 years every Monday night. We talked about problems in our practices, difficulties with our spouses, challenges with our children, and, most important, we talked about ourselves. Men and women with all kinds of issues: some addicted, others suffering from depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, or suicidal ideations. They helped me to begin to mold myself into an individual with self-confidence, with love for those who stood with me in my journey, and a hope for the future full of the knowledge that I would never be alone. 

I worked the Twelve Steps. I came home to myself. I discovered my selfishness. I realized that there was a Higher Power in my life who unconditionally loved me and would walk with me always on my journey. 

I started attending Twelve Step weekend retreats and came into the fellowship of other lawyers who were on a similar journey. We joined each other on our journeys. We began to know ourselves even deeper and we promised each other that we would always be there for each other. 

After several years, I could see the power of brotherhood and sisterhood in reaching out to those beginning their journey. I became a mentor with the Lawyer Assistance Program. I promised my mentees that they too could overcome the power of their addictions as we would walk their journeys together. 

My journey has been the most incredible and powerful journey of my life. My journey would never have been possible without my mentor, my sponsor, the director of the LAP program who believed in my promise, the endless stream of brothers and sisters in the Bar who shared their journey with me, and my Higher Power who lifted my lonely existence with grace and unconditional love. 

It has been a journey that enabled me to hear a call to ministry. I retired from the practice of law. Today I am in the second year of intense seminary study. In my remaining years, I hope to reach out to those who live in the dark spaces of loneliness, depression, anxiety, fear, sickness, and impending death and share with them how light can enter their lives and how they too will never be alone in their journeys.

If you are interested in contributing your own story to the Sidebar, click here. The Sidebar is supported by the stories of our readers, and we appreciate your contributions.