I realized recently that this is, for me, a thirteenth year. And I have given it credit for the miseries–minor for the most part–that I have suffered since turning fifty-two. I’m not superstitious or afraid of the number thirteen. In fact, I rather enjoy Friday the Thirteenth when it rolls around each year. I consider it more of a consistent anomaly than anything else. It seems every thirteen years though I have a bad year.
When I was thirteen, I was caught stealing at the grocery store where my mother did her shopping. They didn’t call the police, they called my parents. But that didn’t save me from a well deserved punishment. I was grounded for a month but that wasn’t the worst part of my punishment. My parents told me they didn’t know if they would ever be able to trust me again. Losing the trust of my parents was a crushing blow, and it took a long time, but I did regain their trust.
When I was twenty-six, I was arrested on a drug charge, and while I won’t bore you with details, suffice it to say that it turned that year into a bag of trouble. It was bad enough that it trickled into the next year, and even the one after that by the time I had finished my probation, paid my fines, and done my community service.
When I was thirty-nine, I got divorced for the second time. I didn’t drink during that marriage, but when it ended I went back to the bottle. It was the worst of my drinking and this thirteenth year dragged on for nearly three years as I drank my way to my bottom. By the time I found sobriety, I was forty-three.
I am now fifty-two, have been for several months, and while I figured out the thirteenth year anomaly after my arrest and had it confirmed by my second divorce, I had completely forgotten it. I recently experienced one of my more depressing winters. I haven’t been as happy as I usually am; I haven’t been writing like I have over the past several years and life just seems a bit less enjoyable. On top of that, I lost a dear friend recently. Someone who helped me grow in sobriety. She was ninety-nine and I tell myself that she wanted to go because it is the truth. But that doesn’t make the fact that I lost a dear friend any easier to deal with–she was the last of my ties to my first sponsor. She was his widow, a wonderful, caring woman, and a dear friend.
Good has come from all the bad things that have happened in my thirteenth years; I have to give credit where credit is due. However, it usually takes time to find the good in things we think are bad. I haven’t stolen anything since I got caught stealing. It took a while, but I don’t do drugs anymore, I quit drinking, and I am very happy being single now. I feel no need to have someone in my life to validate me as a person.
On top of that, this has been the mildest thirteenth year to date. Mild depression doesn’t stack up to the craziness of my past. But that doesn’t make it any fun. And losing a loved one is a big deal even if they were ready to go and had been for five years.
But this is the first time I have been sober for a year thirteen. Of course, the first one I wasn’t drinking or doing drugs, but I wasn’t living a sober, clean life either. I was a troublemaker as a kid. This time I haven’t caused any of the issues I am dealing with–not yet–although the year isn’t over. And I know this will pass. Nothing lasts forever.
So I have decided that until I have another birthday I’ll just be cautious–and I’ll let things come as they may. I’ll write when the urge strikes me, but I’m not going to push anything. Since something good has come from my past thirteenth years, I will hope that pattern continues and look for good. Maybe I just need some time to reflect and God is using this as a way to provide it. I’m going to do my best to take time to relax and think. And, gradually, I will ease my way back into my normal activities and life.

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This blog post was written by Mark Edick, author of the book, Becoming Normal – An Ever-Changing Perspective.

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