February 29, 2020 is a night I will never forget (thank God the anniversary will only happen every 4 years). March 1, 2020 is my sobriety date. I was confused, ashamed, and defeated. And I was scared. Scared that I might lose my law license. My first priority, of course, was my family. I knew it would take time, but at least I felt like I had some control over that path. But my career? I had no idea what would happen to that and it scared me to death.
I had heard of Lawyers Helping Lawyers (now, Virginia Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program; hereinafter “VJLAP”) somewhere; probably at a CLE. I don’t actually know for sure. But my immediate thought was that I needed to reach out to them for help. Not just for my career, but for real help. Recovery help. I will admit that I was worried about my anonymity. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to tell anyone. But I made the call, and I’m glad I did. What I found on the other end of the phone was someone like me – a lawyer. A lawyer in recovery who knew exactly what I was going through because she had gone through it too.
The following day we met in person, and I walked away from that meeting with some much needed peace of mind. For the first time in a week, I felt like everything was going to be ok. A few days later I went to my first VJLAP meeting and met some wonderful people. Again, people just like me. Lawyers. That is the great thing about VJLAP. The professional connection makes the overall level of connection higher than what I’ve experienced at AA meetings because the VJLAP attendees are colleagues. And, it really makes a difference.
But, after only my second meeting, the entire state went into lockdown due to COVID-19. It was not ideal for me because I was just starting my recovery and now I would be isolated from my support group. Or so I thought. As it’s turned out, I’m not isolated at all! I regularly text with my VJLAP mentor, and I hop on a Zoom meeting every Thursday evening. In fact, it’s even better in one respect – I don’t have to drive anywhere! And since we are all lawyers, we are all going through this together. Not just recovery, but the practice of law.
Recovery during COVID-19 can be just as beautiful as recovery during normal times. But it depends on you, just as all recovery does, and always has.