A Story of Recovery:

Security Checkpoint

I reached my 90 days of abstinence on November 29, 2012. I did travel a bit in my first 90 days. This was probably not the best idea in those super fragile, early days, but my husband and I were traveling back to Boston from London, where we visited our daughter and her fiancé. By this point in Program, I’d successfully flown several times with my weighed and measured meals and I thought I’d had this thing nailed down. I was mostly concerned about the five extra hours I was adding to my day.  How does that work? With my sponsor’s guidance and quite a bit of prayer, it worked. The last thing I was thinking about was the small, unopened containers of protein I brought for breakfast and lunch. I’d traveled with this food item several times before.

Alas, Heathrow security had other plans for me. I had no idea why I was being pulled aside and “super checked.” We waited around for quite a while.  Supervisors were consulted. Apparently they concluded that the unopened containers posed a security threat. (I rather wonder if someone might have been hungry!) My husband pulled at my arm as I protested that I needed this food for medical reasons, as he didn’t want any trouble. I finally surrendered my small, unopened containers.

My sponsor had advised I pack a dinner just in case I didn’t make it home on time. So I did have one protein from that dinner. What to do? I had that little “I’m quite annoyed” cloud over my head. I heard a tiny growl under my breath. I wasn’t thinking very clearly, but I was thinking that if I couldn’t find a protein to buy, I was in a pickle!

It was impossibly early to call someone. My wonderful temporary sponsor, from Bath, England had only had time earlier that morning for me, so I knew she was busy.  I’d spoken with a fellow in Scotland the day before and was pretty sure she was at work, and I’d tried a few times to reach a fellow from London. I felt I might be becoming a bit of a pest.

My wonderful supportive husband of 32 years desperately looked over the Heathrow terminal facilities map to make suggestions about where we might score acceptable protein alternatives. Eventually I grew to appreciate my husband’s efforts, and I focused. “There is a seafood place,” I grumbled. I knew I’d find four ounces of some acceptable protein.  On the way, we passed by little convenience stores—no acceptable protein replacement that my foggy brain could find. Grumble grumble. So at the seafood place I purchased, at an outrageous price, a bit of protein. Then I stewed and stewed. I knew the seafood I bought was acceptable food, but without being able to run it by a fellow, it wasn’t sitting well with me.  I finally stopped trying to figure out what to do and started to pray. “Hi there G-d. The thing is… I’m trying real hard here. I’ve done what I can. I feel badly that I won’t be able to run this by anyone. How important is it anyway?”

Seriously, just then our temporary cell phone rang. It was the fellow from London. Did she ever call at exactly the right moment! I practically burst into tears. She began to suggest what to do and then stopped short and said, “Have you done anything yet?” There seemed to be a twinge of fear in her voice.  Perhaps she was concerned that I’d tossed in the towel.

I told her I bought four ounces of seafood that I would eat for breakfast shortly and that all my other food had gotten through okay.  She assured me that the seafood would work, and she suggested that for the next time, there is a protein that is easy to find in airports. My sponsor later suggested a cup of dairy could work in a pinch for protein.

I realized the value of trying to reach someone before making substitutions.  When crunched into having to figure it out on the fly, my head isn’t nearly so clear as that of a fellow who is not in thrashing, decision-making mode.

The biggest learning from this experience concerns my higher power. It isn’t so common for me to find G-d’s thumbprint so crystal clear, but tears well up in my eyes when I think about that instant when the FA fellow from London called. I am not alone. I realize that I must do some legwork, but letting go and letting G-d is a most powerful solution.


This story was originally published in the connection Magazine. Subscribe to the connection Magazine for more stories of recovery. Or submit your own story of recovery.