Marylin’s Story: A Recovery of Gratitude and Paying it Forward

By: Marilyn Kennedy, Renascent donor and supporter

January 2, 2001.  That’s the day that marked the end of my drinking. I attribute it to a combination of being sick and tired of being sick and tired, the gentle confrontation of a family member and the grace of my Higher Power.

The truth is that I wasn’t ready until I had reached my “bottom”; and the “bottom” is different for everyone. For me, it was the look on my daughter’s face – one I had never hoped to see – as I started to drink on New Year’s Day 2001. I knew then, it was time to do something about my drinking. I also knew from my own experience of having a father and brother who suffered from alcoholism that it was a family disease and that meant it affected everyone in the family, in one way or another.

My drinking ‘career’ was a relatively brief one – for which I am grateful.  I experienced a loss and did not cope well with it, which seems to be a commonality for many of us. The self-medication with alcohol began with a bottle of wine on a Friday evening and that got extended, then every weekend became a three-day one.  

The Big Book of AA says that alcohol is ‘cunning, baffling and powerful’ and that was my experience for sure.  It worked initially; helping me to get to sleep, to cope with anxiety and fear about the future, even if just momentarily. Then it stopped working and I was hooked. I could stop for a few weeks at a time, but couldn’t stay stopped.

The road to sobriety wasn’t without its ups and downs, but having the support of family, friends and my AA family made it possible to navigate the journey – and it does to this day!  I try to never take for granted this incredible life I have been given in sobriety. I was taught in the program that ‘gratitude’ is an action word and that if I want to keep my sobriety I must give it away – which means helping others in some way.

I got involved with Renascent about five years ago when a friend invited me to attend a Guardian Angel Recognition Luncheon. I’ve been a supporter of Renascent ever since. I have found that the people who work for and volunteer at Renascent are dedicated to making connections with those living with addiction, whether it’s the addict or their family member. I want to be a part of that! 

Aside from being a Guardian Angel, I am involved in community fundraising and help out by contacting alumni and chatting about how they are doing. Part of that conversation is to thank them for their continued financial support, without which this work could not be accomplished. It goes back to everything I learned in AA. ‘Gratitude’ is an action word. You must give something back.

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About the Authors

Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email