Take a walk across the country and you’ll find your share of the beaten, the weathered, the splintered souls left tattered, staggered and tattooed by addiction. See, addiction’s become the new apple pie, the new baseball, the new Coca-Cola. These ravaged, misguided figures haunt the alleys and streets of America. They moan in the houses where the middle-class once lived. Take a look and you’ll see them, you’ll find them, you’ll step over them.

You may have stepped over her. You may have walked right by. You may have laughed at her one night in a bar. You may have crossed to the other side of the street and avoided eye contact. You may have bought weed from her. You may have bought beer from her.

Why not? She’s pretty, right? No, she’s not pretty. Saying she’s pretty is like saying Shakespeare was a writer or Keith Moon was a drummer. She looks like heaven walking towards you with legs that go all the way up. She smiles the way you wish they all smiled. She doesn’t walk, she floats. Maybe you could find a better looking woman. Maybe you could also find a better writer, a better drummer. The only problem? They haven’t made one yet. See, the good news has always been that she’s beautiful on the outside.

But what if the Mona Lisa was made of shit? What if a sunset signaled the end of the world? If she, or he, or it, or anything looks beautiful but brings only destruction and chaos, well, that beauty isn’t anything at all. That beauty’s a mask.

You were probably fooled by the mask. She wasn’t. She knew the fire was rising. She knew the fire would consume her. She welcomed it. The needles in her arm, the nights in ICU, the crying parents, the angry friends, the beatings, the abuse, the screams. The nights sleeping in the rain. The nights that sleeping in the rain can’t and won’t wash away. The psych-wards, the rehabs, the boyfriends, the husbands, you, me, anyone. We can’t do s**t.

What Sobriety Looks Like

We can’t do s**t. So, what can we besides walk over this zombie of self-destruction? We wait. We wait for good news. Good news rarely comes. The good news isn’t breaking news, it isn’t splattered across the front page, it isn’t tweeted, it isn’t googled, it isn’t Facebooked. The good news is slow. The good news is humble. The good news is quiet. It’s real, raw, rare. The good news is here and it’s her.

She walked from a cave of needles, of alcohol, of men, of pain. She walked into a world that’s frightening and unknown. She held her head high. She pushed past temptation. She fought though all the s**t, fixing, polishing, remembering every mistake. Never blaming, always owning up and always moving on. This is the good news you’ll never hear. This is the good news that’s not published.

You just have to see it. It can’t be explained. It’s too real for that. It’s too different. It’s too new.

To explain what she looks like, what she feels like, what she is when she’s hunched over, in an alley, talking to a woman she used to be – well, to explain that wouldn’t do her justice. She was emotionally beaten, knocked to the floor, destroyed.

This time she rose with class, with dignity, with love. I could tell you what that looks like but you wouldn’t believe me. You wouldn’t believe that what used to send her to the needle, the bottle, the powder, well, that now makes her to rise even higher. The people she talks to today don’t buy drugs or booze or sex. The people she talks to today give her hope, spirit, and strength. What does she give them? Everything. She gives them everything.

What Sobriety Looks Like

She helps more women stay sober each day than most rehabs do in a year. How? She tells the truth. She talks without shame, without guilt, without hesitation. She talks with love, with the knowledge that she’s been there and gotten better.

What does this woman, this insane woman, this confused woman, this disaster of a woman, this heart-aching woman, this pained woman, this anguished woman, this light woman, this redeemed woman, this loving woman, this miracle woman, what does she look like? Well, I can’t tell you. You’ll have to see for yourself.

I can tell you this, she’s beautiful. She’s beautiful through her scars, through her track-marks, through her pain, through her struggle, through her everything. How? How can she be this beautiful? Because finally, for the first time, she’s beautiful on the inside.

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