As I reflect on the significance of this coin, I can’t help but revisit some incredibly emotional memories: the day I got the phone call from Mental Health and Addictions informing me of my first appointment with the psychiatrist; the surge of anxiety I felt after hanging up the phone; the drive to my appointment which was so incredibly hard…thinking about my family – my kids, trying to fight off assertions by my disorder that I was a failure and weak for having to resort to this; standing in the waiting room at the hospital because I was too nervous to sit, reading and re-reading posters on the wall about addiction and mental illness; and surrendering to the realization that I was now ‘labelled’ – nothing more than a poster…a fucking poster.
Shortly after this, a very special friend of mine handed me this coin. She explained that it belonged to her father who successfully beat his alcohol addiction from years ago. It displays the Serenity Prayer which was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous back in the 1940’s. It reads:
God, grant me the serenity to accept (the) things I cannot change,
Courage to change (the) things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference. -Reinhold Niebuhr
My friend explained that her father derived tremendous strength and courage from this coin – from its message – during the most difficult times in his recovery and throughout his prevailing sobriety. And upon learning about my struggle with depression, he selflessly let go and passed it on to me.
It has been with me for six long years. I’ve held this coin tightly in my hands during the most painful times in my disorder. I’ve recited that prayer over and over and over; and I’ve shed many tears on it. And most meaningful, it has accompanied me since the beginning of my writing. I told myself that whenever I finish my book, I would make sure to return this coin to its rightful place: to the man I am forever grateful to; the man who to me exemplifies strength, courage and perseverance; and the man whose hand I hope to one day have the privilege to shake.
Today, it’s my turn to let go.