empty tupperware.

i got sober on november 5, 2006. last november i celebrated five years and i posted then an email i had sent to a secret society of friends during that first week.

i continued emailing them every time i picked up a chip that first year in order to hold myself accountable, more for myself than for them.

so i’ve been posting those emails for you, in hopes that they might help someone or help you deal with someone you know who might struggle with addiction.

as i went looking for the 90-day chip email i sent to my friends, i found another one i sent privately to my therapist karen two days later (exactly five years ago tomorrow). i debated over which one to post for you, ultimately choosing this one because of how raw and real it is for me.

i’ll post the 90-day email i sent to my friends on another day. for now, i hope this helps someone.

february 8, 2007


today has been a good day.

all week i have been cranky and pissy.  mostly yesterday, but it was building up all week.  {my co-worker} and i didn’t need to talk to each other all day, really; the phone rang -maybe- twice while she was still here and after she left at 2, the phone rang 3 times.  all three times it was ___.  i left work early, pissy and cranky, having realized that i’ve had this list of things to work on all week and i haven’t gotten a single thing done.  same for at home, too.  i’m having company tonight and then a brunch on saturday, and my goal was to work on cleaning my house all week.  granted, it’s not that messy, but i haven’t done a single thing to it all week.  so, i left work cranky, but then extra-pissy because i’ve had these lists of things to do and haven’t done a single thing on either.

i left at 4:00, headed toward my tailor, and i was just pissy.  while i was trying to find a parking space, i saw a woman from the program.  this morning i told everyone else, “we had a mini-meeting right there in the parking lot.”  i went in to the tailor and when i was checking out, she said, “do you want the old hem or the new hem?” and showed me samples.  “i don’t understand.  i just want the same hem.”  we went back and forth on this for about 7 minutes.  i felt crazy in my head when i left, which sure didn’t help my funk.

on the way to the post office, i thought, “well, maybe i should do something nice for someone.”  so i stopped off at one of my artist’s homes to pick up the stuff she said was bringing me this week.  she’s having a rough pregnancy, so i thought i’d do her the service.  i felt better for a few minutes, but i was still kind of cranky when i left.  i called d when i left the post office and bitched to him about my pissiness.  he helped me laugh at myself and it was nice just to tell someone since i hadn’t spoken to almost anyone all day.  when i got home, i needed to make cookies for a meeting i was going to later.  i thought, “maybe i should do something nice for someone.  i’ll make extra cookies for the group tomorrow.”  by the time i got home from my junior league meeting last night, i was feeling a little bit better.  i realize today that it was nice to be around people.

this morning, d called to wake me up at 6:30.  zella had already gotten me out of bed at 5:00 and i hadn’t been able to fall back to sleep.  i guess at some point right before 6:30, though, i managed to fall back to sleep because i wasn’t awake when he called.  i told him i thought i’d try and go back to sleep and not go this morning.  my alarm went off a few minutes later and i hit snooze.  when the snooze went off, i turned it off all together.  then, i woke up right at 7:00 – which is what my clock said, but it’s actually a few minutes fast.  i laid there thinking, “ugh.  i don’t want to get out of bed…”  and then it hit me, “dammit if i didn’t make cookies for the group.  who will i give those damn cookies to if i don’t take them to the meeting?”  so i got up, brushed my teeth, put on a bra, and grabbed my cookies and went.

the parking lot was more crowded than usual and the couches were all taken.  i was cussing the people in the room when i was making my coffee and sat down next to jason* on sort of the outer circle.  i missed the topic, i only heard the leader re-share that “i just know it’s about me, not about anyone else.”

a couple of people said, “i appreciate what you shared, sarah*, i have been feeling that way, too.”  and when i spoke, i said, “i don’t know which sarah* shared what, but i’m going to pretend like these feelings that everyone else has said they’ve been having are the same ones i’ve been having so i don’t feel so alone…” and i went into my story about how pissy and cranky i have been, and told the story about yesterday.  and i said that i had been alone most of the day yesterday, but it’s one thing to choose that and it’s another thing when i don’t have a choice.  and while i was speaking, i tied it up with “i hope this is normal when you get your 90-days” and pointed out that part of my attitude is, now that i’m no longer being clapped for for a few months, now what?  and it was easy to do this when i knew i was getting chips, but now is when i actually have to do the work and it was putting me in a bad mood.  and i told them about my cookies and said, “thank you”.  they all laughed and a couple people said, “keep coming back!”

and then my sweet lady-friend martha* said, “i remember feeling that way when i got 90-days and someone told me it was the best chip and the worst chip for the same reason.”  and my friend kitty* next to her was nodding her head.  and then the man who’d i’d be in love with if he were my age and not gay and whose words i hang onto with all that i have, commented on st. francis and how he was a saint and that’s how he was able to write that prayer.  (that’s when i learned that -i guess- they were talking about the 11th-step prayer.)  and he said, “but i am not a saint.  and i am not perfect.  but i was more moved today by someone who is also not perfect but is trying than the prayer of any saint.”  sweet, sweet man.  i love him.

and then the neatest thing happened, karen.  well, after i spoke, james* -a man i love who was sitting near me- got up and came back and whispered, “i want the first one.”  but then, one by one -not on purpose, and not everyone did this- but, as the morning wore on, different ones got up to use the bathroom or refill their coffee and they all picked up at least one cookie that i had made from scratch.  and it moved me to tears.  and so, during the burning desire-time, i raised my hand, and was of course crying, and i said, “i realize that the reason i’ve been so cranky is because i’m meant for community.  and i went through almost the whole day yesterday before speaking to anyone.  and i don’t even know if my cookies are good because i haven’t tried them, but one by one i’ve watched everyone get up and have one and it means so much to me to be a part of this community.  and i don’t know if you just did it to make me feel better, but that’s the reason why i know i came today, so thanks.”

and so, today has been a good day.  much better than yesterday or any other day this week.  and i went home with an empty tupperware and i have been in community today.

a little sidestory: on the way to my meeting this morning and what i shared later with my friend shannon* after thinking about it briefly one more time during the meeting, is that i realize that much of my life, i have been coasting along on the wings of the men in my family, and other ones who have been in my life.  and they have all had broken wings.  and i don’t know if that’s what you were thinking of when you said, “i know, but i want you to come to it on your own.”  but that’s what i came to on my own today.  it was unfair to think they could carry me when their wings weren’t strong enough; and, also, to realize that i have my own wings and don’t need to “coast along” on anyone else’s…

woh.  and now i’m remembering this and it’s suddenly all coming together…oh man, i don’t know why i didn’t put it all together at the time…

when i came home, i took zella out to the field and stopped when i saw this huge bird gliding through the sky.  it was just so beautiful.  and i turned around and watched it fly to the top of a bare tree where his friends and family were waiting.  and then another bird fell, fell, fell out of the tree, before it swooped back up and carried itself across to the top of another tree.  and i knew i didn’t have time to get my camera to take a picture and it was just going to have to be one of those moments i would have to just capture in my head and remember how wonderful it was.

and as i was walking back, the thought came into my heart,

mary kathryn, you’re like that bird gliding through the sky.  you have wings like that.  and your sky is just as big.

i’m so glad i journaled this.  i didn’t want to forget this day before i could share it with you next week.  and now i am seeing why it was important for me just to write it and process it.  that would have never come together for me if i hadn’t remembered it again.  i’m so glad i did.

love you.


*names are changed to protect anonymity.

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jana
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 01:34:07

    Oh, Mary Kathryn, this is exquisite. I’m so touched by this glimpse into your recovery and your beautiful soul. Spread those lovely wings and soar, sister. Bless you.

  2. HopefulLeigh
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 09:18:26

    Something about this moved me to tears, MK. We really do need community, don’t we? I love hearing about the ways you were loved during this time in your life.

    • mary kathryn tyson
      Feb 07, 2012 @ 19:13:20

      it did me too, leigh, to read it again. it means a lot to me to share it with y’all. i was really cared for by my 7 a.m. home group that first year. they definitely kept me sober. xo

  3. Melissa
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 13:11:43

    I love the dialogue that you give to Jesus and me by sharing your story. As i read this 2 Cor 4:7 comes to mind: But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. And 2 Cor 3:17-18: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

    You look more and more like your Lord everyday.

    i keep thinking how nice it would be to get the work done and then show everyone. Then the thought occurs to me how amazing it is to have people around every step of the way, knowing how much work it really takes, and that sharing burdens and brokenness is the way i know that I’m not the only one fighting. There is a difference between being selective as to whose voices I listen to and retreating into isolation.

    • mary kathryn tyson
      Feb 07, 2012 @ 19:29:10

      you are so right. there is such a big difference.

      i know it’s only because i’m free and have done the hard work that i can share now, but i wouldn’t have been able to do any work at all without the support of my 7 a.m. group and most definitely not without karen’s help.

      and…i’m sorry…i do? because…thank you. thank you so much.

      i adore your verses.

      love you.


  4. Carmen
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 15:54:26

    Dear MK,
    This is beautiful and I love you and it makes me love God more. And PS, do you know how often i wish I could write e-mails like this to someone? Fabulous. Oh, wait, on occasion, I do. ;)

    Much love,


  5. dan mcm
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 20:04:19

    Good stuff, young lady! As were those cookies, I’m sure…..

    It is so nice having someone that you can talk to and vent when you’re feeling bottled up like that. And it’s also so nice when God gives you one of those ‘mini-revelations’ — it reassures you that a) yes, he loves you and knows where you’re at, and b) he’s being patient with you, which gives you the freedom to be a little more patient with yourself.

    I’ve mentioned before that I quit drinking a lot of years ago myself, right? What didn’t click until reading this was that I think we quit drinking at the same age: I was 29 when I decided to stop for “a season” that has turned into 22+ years now.

    Good stuff…. reminds me a bit of that “better than an Alleluia” song from Amy Grant: God really does care more about the heartfelt cries of his kids as they struggle than about the easy praise that flows when times are good.

    • mary kathryn tyson
      Feb 08, 2012 @ 06:21:42

      aw, dan, i love this! every part. yes, i was 29 when i got sober! congratulations on not drinking for 22 years!

      thanks for this, dan. i appreciate your thoughtfulness. god is far more patient with me than i realize, and much more than i am with myself.

      think i’ll go listen to a little amy grant now. :) i love that song.

      thank you, dan!


  6. Sarah Iverson Guild
    Mar 03, 2012 @ 14:20:19

    Mary Katherine…
    Found your blog via some randomness on facebook. The photo is the smile I remember from so long ago (CFO camp in Nebraska), so I started reading. It really is beauty for ashes… what God does, isn’t it? That God would love us that much, that he would find such delight in us as his beloved children. The truth of God’s grace messes with me… and that is a blessed thing.
    Sarah Iverson Guild


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