Will I Be An Alcoholic? What Leads To Alcoholism And Addiction? Can Trauma Lead To Becoming An Alcoholic?

 Does the past lead to addiction?  Will I become an alcoholic or addict?  How uncovering my past trauma helped me understand and recover from my alcoholism

 

These questions are so common and I do not believe there is anything wrong with asking them.  I can only speak for myself and my personal experience, but every story I have heard from countless alcoholics and addicts all have similarities to each other.  The substance is not important.  The length of time using is not important.  The amount used is not important.  Some people like to obsess over their “drunk-a-logs” and focus on the amounts, the situations, the arrests, the crazy happenings, and that is all well and good in the right context and with the right intention.

I know where I was.  I know what I have done.  I also know that I cannot go back and change the past, nor would I wish to.  Without my past choices, I would not be the person I am today and I love this person more and more as time passes.  I am amazing.  I am worthy of a great life.  I have so much to offer others.  I have talents to share.  I have support and care I show to the world on a daily basis.  I am worth it.  I focus instead on the future and how I am living life in a positive and productive way today.  What I have done is simply that, events.  They are not who I am nor do those choices define who I am.   I try to focus on the cause and the solution.  The cause tells me what led me to where I was and helps me to prevent going down that path again.  The solution allows me to continue to live in sobriety and grow in my recovery.

With that being said, will someone become an alcoholic??  Are there any signs or symptoms or checklists to warn us ahead of time??  Speaking for myself and looking back to my 3-year-old self, I had an alcoholic mind before I ever knew what liquor was.  “Self will run riot” is talked about in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous many times and I absolutely had “self-will run riot” from the time I was born.  As far back as I can remember I was a liar.  I do not know why, but I was.  I was a story-teller and part of my lying was creativity and the longing to use my imagination to entertain others, but as time went on my lying became more about how it could benefit me.  It became a game.  I was challenged to see if I could convince others of anything that I decided I wanted them to believe.  I was very good at this and it gave me much pleasure, but it did not make me an alcoholic.  My inability to deal with life on life’s terms, my “self-will run riot”, and my selfish, self-centered mindset qualified me as an alcoholic.  I was restless and discontent.  I could not differentiate true from false.  I lived in my own world of obsession and spiritual malady.

I was an alcoholic long before I ever took the first drink and honestly the substance could have been anything.  Fortunately for me, I was never interested in drugs and never dabbled with them.  Each person is different and similar and when dealing with alcoholism and recovery I always try to look at the similarities in stories and not the differences.

My alcoholism took 10 years to form and it was little by little, but the drinking was a tool I used to try to heal the pain and suffering that had developed from traumatic events I suffered when I was in my childhood.  It was not until January of this year, after requesting permission and furlough from the judge to attend a treatment program, did I discover/uncover this catalyst even existed.  I had made no correlation between the sexual and psychological assault I had endured as a teen and the severe and paralyzing depression and anxiety I was using alcohol to cover.

For myself, the severe trauma of this type of daily abuse is directly related to my psychological and emotional suffering which resulted in alcoholism rearing its head in my life.  How I wish I would have known how to deal with these feelings.  How I wish anyone else, my parents, teachers, counselors would have stepped in and realized the severity of abuse and the seriousness of healing and processing that needed to take place long ago.  That was not the case and as a result I have found myself and am so thankful to know who I am.

I do believe there are events we can experience that absolutely lead to problems within ourselves and the desire or need to self medicate to find relief from those feelings.  This is part of my story for sure.  Alcohol was a small piece of the pie.  The larger problem was why I had turned to alcohol.  I used alcohol to quiet the negative thoughts in my mind that had been planted when I was 11 and then again when I was 13 and 14 years old.  

The self medication worked for a while until I could no longer drink enough to stop the negative thoughts.  Intrusive thoughts are killers.  I was convinced I was worthless and if I was worthless I should spare my family my existence.  The horrible people who haunted me in my younger years and pushed me to the brink of suicide back then had now manifested as these internal thoughts I could not get rid of.

I absolutely believe that abuse can lead to addiction problems, but it doesn’t mean it always will.  I think it is so important to put a stop to abuse as soon as possible and if it does occur, treatment and therapy should be sought to process the pain and gather the constructive tools you need to continue on through the rest of your life.  I had never developed any tools to deal with these issues and although it took some years, the trauma began to surface until it had completely taken over my body and mind.  I have finally had the opportunity to address and confront these events from my past and process them.  I have finally been in a place of willingness and open-mindedness to adapt some tools and learn how to use them effectively when coping with situations in life.  I am so happy to be an alcoholic and to have been put in a position I could finally see the forest for the trees and grab ahold of the chance to get help.  In the end it was still my choice and is always the choice each person has.

I urge anyone who has suffered any type of abuse, traumatic experience, or anything so severe to seek help in learning how to effectively accept the events, process what has happened, and develop the tools needed to move through life despite the circumstances.  I will no longer let those very sick people from my past control my life.  I will no longer let anyone in my present or my future have that kind of power over me.  I have found my worth through recovery and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and I have learned acceptance, forgiveness, patience, healing, and how to help others.

I have chosen the gift of a new life and anyone who wants to be a part of it may join, but there is no room for sick, negative, evil people anymore.  Evil people try to control others using fear and I will no longer allow anyone to have that kind of power over me.  I have found my courage again and I do not fear anymore.  My faith has grown through working the 12 Steps of this program, talking with other alcoholics and addicts, living in gratitude daily, and finding a power greater than myself I can understand.

“When I am willing to do the right thing, I am rewarded with an inner peace no amount of liquor could ever provide.  When I am unwilling to do the right thing, I become restless, irritable, and discontent.  It is always my choice.  Through the Twelve Steps, I have been granted the gift of choice.  I am no longer at the mercy of a disease that tells me the only answer is to drink.  If willingness is the key to unlock the gates of hell, it is action that opens those doors so that we may walk freely among the living.”  Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Pg. 317

 

How To Deal With Friends And Family In Recovery?? Why Do People Pretend I Don’t Exist Because I Am An Alcoholic??

How Could They Turn Their Back On Me? – I Will Never Understand Why Most Of My Friends And Family Abandoned Me When I Needed Them Most

 

 

Something I have been thinking about lately is the idea of friends and family.  Old friends, family members, and how they have completely abandoned me during the last 7 months.  First off, not all of them have hung me out to dry or thrown me under the bus, but most.  I am so grateful to the ones who have looked at me for the person I am and not for the things I have done.  The truth is, we all have made choices that are embarrassing, we all have made decisions that were not good for ourself or others around us.  

I have come to realize, again, that forgiveness and acceptance are so very difficult for most people.  I am thankful to have lived through some extremely traumatic and difficult times because they have taught me empathy, compassion, acceptance, and true forgiveness among other lessons.

It is very difficult for me to know many in my life I loved deeply and cared about greatly have completely abandoned me during my time of recovery.  I am stronger because of my mother, my father, my stepmother, my few friends who love me the same and always will.  I am so thankful they are people of great character and treasure their honesty and the relationship I have with them even more so than I did before.

I have a true appreciation of those who do not let the struggle of someone provide a reason for them to completely turn their back on a person they have known for years.  I am not what I have done, those were just actions, most of which have been completely fabricated and blown out of proportion and embellished.  I have been a horrible wife and a shitty mother for the last few years and I know this to be true because I have spent most of my adult life being a wonderful wife to my husband and a loving and caring mother to my children.

I was lost, covered up, enveloped in a deep and paralyzing depression and anxiety I could not fight or get out from under.  I have been able to process some horrific and traumatic events I experienced 20 years ago and work through them to finally uncover the blanket of isolation and depression from over myself.  I have been struggling with this for so long and giving and giving and giving to everyone else until I awoke one day to realize I had nothing left to give.  I had nothing for myself.

I had no tools, no way to cope with life, no skills or knowledge of how to deal with my feelings and my hurt from my younger years.  No one is or was to blame, I was simply stuck, paralyzed and afraid to ask for help.  I was screaming for help at the top of my lungs each and every day but in the quietest, muffled voice imaginable.  I truly believe my husband, who loves me more than anything, was helpless.  He did not know what to do.  I was drowning in a foot of water and could not get my feet underneath me to stand up and save myself.

Oh how I wish someone would have done something.  Oh how I wish he would have jumped in and reached out his hand for me to grab hold of, but he did not.  I am in no way upset with him and truly thank him every day even though I cannot speak to him for a few more months.  When I can finally talk to him, legally, I will tell him over and over thank you for saving my life, because he did just that.  I was on the path to death and destruction for myself.  I was convinced the happy times in my life were over and nothing would be good or great ever again.  I was being punished and felt that I deserved this punishment for I was worthless and should only have suffering in my life.  I was so wrong and it took all of the pain I endured and all of the unknowns still today to bring me to an understanding and acceptance of myself.

I am amazing.  I am so worthy of happiness.  I am destined for greatness.  I cannot wait to share with him this new person I have uncovered.  I cannot wait to see the joy on his face when he sees the light shining from within me and all around me.  I look forward to the day when I can share with him because he is my best friend.

It is so difficult to be away from him now and not to know what his mindset is and for him not to know what mine is.  He is my treasure and I want to help him in his struggles now, but I can only control what I can.  I accept that I cannot offer any change or support to him yet.  The day is soon approaching and I patiently wait with a warm and open heart.  The gratitude I feel in life today is unquestionable.  I had to give everything away in my alcoholism to be in a position with just myself and my thoughts to really see that there was hope for me and I truly never had to feel like that ever again.

Alcoholism has given me a purpose.  I have spent so many years struggling to find a purpose and a passion to no avail.  I wanted to be passionate about my husband’s business and to help him continue to grow and expand.  I did enjoy working with him everyday and truly loved making him happy, but in the end even that was not enough to dig myself out of the hole I spent 10 years forming.  I love him with all of my heart and only hope he will enjoy meeting this new person I have uncovered and become.  She was a stranger to me and I am so thankful she is here now.

On one hand I am amazed at my life now and even though I am in a position with literally none of what I have spent the last 12 years building and achieving, I have never in my life been happier.  I am no longer isolated.  I am no longer depressed.  I am no longer suffering from uncontrollable anxiety and judgment.  I have found a new freedom and a new happiness.  Although there are still speed bumps along the way, they are only obstacles, not walls.  I have had a difficult time finding employment because all of my eggs were in one basket.  The work I did was for my husband’s company and because of the legal restraints I was unable to continue working in that profession and could not use that on my resume or as a reference either.  I have been left abandoned essentially.

I am not angry, nor have I felt any resentment or anger during this time.  I am eternally grateful to have the opportunity, with the court’s help (LOL), to have found my true self, my true passion, my hidden talents if you will.  I have been searching and searching and searching for my self esteem everywhere I could think to look and was unable to find it for many years.  I am so appreciative I have it now.

The promises the program of Alcoholics Anonymous speaks about are so very true and happening all around me everyday if I choose to open my eyes and see them.  I have always been so intelligent and so very good at math, but I have spent years unable to count my own blessings.  Everyone has a different path to recovery and each of us has our own life story.  It takes everything that it takes for each one of us and for me, it took giving everything away and spending some time in custody the beginning of this year to finally have a clear mind and a clear understanding of what I wanted from life, how to get it, and what I could contribute.

I feel sorry for those I have known so well for many years.  I do not understand, nor will I, why they have decided to pretend I do not exist.  I have been asking myself why hasn’t anyone reached out to see how I am or to ask what really happened.  Do they not want to know the truth?  Are they afraid I am angry?  Do they really not care?  I have decided, it doesn’t matter.  My life has been growing better and better each and every day in sobriety and I could not have ever imagined the opportunities I have now.

I am so blessed beyond words and could not have envisioned I would have been able to touch so many lives through sharing my experience, strength, and hope.  I feel sorry for those who have decided to ignore my existence.  I have compassion for them and hope they can uncover the positive mindset I have found.  I do not wish for them to have to undertake the same experience I had to go through to feel how I feel today.  But, I do think about them each and every day and truly believe if they are willing and if they choose to they can truly find happiness in their lives as well.

 

My step father always told me “the truth comes out in the end” and he was so very right.  I have no shame or guilt or embarrassment for myself like I had before during my drinking.  I have been relieved of the mental obsession of drinking and depression and resentment and anxiety and am at peace and excited for the future.  I love doing things and going places, as long as it does not interfere with my AA meetings and my sobriety.  Life is amazing now and the success and opportunities are astounding.  I would have never guessed I would have the opportunities to really help change other people’s lives for the better that I do now.

When the shit hits the fan you definitely find out who your true friends are, and I certainly have.  My hope is those people will see the light and know that I will always be here for them.  I hope my husband will truly think about what reality is and what reality he would like to have for himself, for our children, for us, for our future.

Although I cannot go back and change the past events I can and choose to make a new and brighter future for myself.  I pray that does include those people I care about.  I would like to continue imagining a future with my in-laws, with all of my friends, with my best friend-my husband.  I do not understand why some of my loved ones, I have spent many, many years with, have not reached out, and I probably never will know why.  I am curious, I am hurt, I do not understand.  I go back and forth each and every day as to whether or not I should reach out and make contact.

I truly do not know what to do, but it is a hurt I hope they never experience in their lifetime.  In reality, life is oh so short and the greatest illusion is the thought that we have more time.  My only fear today is that something will happen to someone I care about before I have the chance to see them or speak to them again, especially my husband.  I spend hours each day asking that nothing happen to him before I have the opportunity to speak to him again in January.

Honestly, my life has changed and the way I live my life has changed.  My recovery is paramount and first priority.  As much as I would love to continue those relationships so dear to me and those I have had for so many years, if my recovery cannot be supported and others find it more important to drink or live in a negative way, I will not be able to allow them in my life.

There is just too much at stake for me today.  I have gone through one hell of a time finding the person i have been meant to be all along and am not willing to give that up for anyone or anything.  I refuse to walk back toward the abyss and misery my life was.  I refuse to go back to a situation or relationship that is negative and toxic.  No one should ever have to live like that and I know I never have to live like that again.

So, in conclusion, I do not know why so many have left me sitting on the shelf as if I don’t exist at all, but you better believe the clock is ticking down to the time for me to be present again and I am not sure you have a ticket on my train any longer.

What Is Humility? 11 Ways Alcoholics Anonymous Has Taught Me To Be Humble And Live In Humility

 

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion. – Paolo Coelho  How can I practice and live in humility on a day to day basis?


 

Instead of asking why me, have I asked myself why not me?  Humility comes to mind.  The thing I have had to learn about humility is that I can’t just say “I’m going to be humble today” and leave it at that.  “I’m going to be humble because this program of AA says I need to be humble.”  Humility is a state of being that occurs as a result of living outside of myself.  Humility is a by product, not a product.  It is not something I can just choose to be.  It manifests itself as a result of how I choose to behave, the choices and decisions I have made and how I act on those in my day to day life.

One of the greatest places, nobody ever talks about, in reference to humility is in the Big Book.  Right there on page 63 in the third step it says “we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs.  More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life.”    This is one of the best definitions of manifesting humility I can think of.  I am so grateful for what Alcoholics Anonymous has given me, this way of life, and it all comes back to how I feel on the inside today.  Because I am okay today and okay is good enough.  It really is.

I will do what I need to do and I will be who I need to be.  Every morning when I wake up and have a morning meditation, one of the affirmations; the main affirmation i have been using is me reflecting on who am I willing to be today, what am I willing to do today in order to be the person I am committed to be today.  Because that is what this whole sobriety and program of AA is about for me.

If you want to know how to stay sober, you want to know how to get that life you love, you want to know how the promises will start manifesting in your life?  It is about learning how to show up in life and be that person.  It is living life from the inside out not from the outside in.  It is never about what is going on, it it always about who am I going to be in the face of what is going on.

 

Since coming into these rooms and turning a corner and going through the processes outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the thing I can tell you is there is nothing that has happened in my life that has overwhelmed me, nothing has occurred that has put me over the edge.  I know several people in this program who have lost children to suicide, to overdose, they have sat with their dying parents.  They have lost jobs, gone through divorce, lost their homes, they have experienced everything you can experience and they walked through it, they stayed sober, and went on living.

An older gentlemen working at a treatment center I was able to visit told me, “If I had to try not to drink today I would be out there with a big bag of cocaine and a big bottle of tequila or scotch or something.  This program, AA, is not about that.  This deal is not about trying not to drink.  This deal is about becoming a person through that process who is relieved of maladies of the spirit and is truly willing to embrace the amazing role set aside for them.

 

There is a catch we read about on page 72 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  It warns us that through that process, it is the one or two things that I hold onto, that I won’t give up, I won’t share with another human being, and there by refuse to bring God/Higher Power into the picture.  “If we skip this vital step we may not overcome drinking.  Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives.  Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to other methods.  Almost invariably they got drunk.”

You can write 18 pages of crap (during step 5) and it’s the half page you didn’t write that makes you a  bigger liar, a bigger cheat, and a bigger thief than you ever were.  The worst thing I believe someone can do is to complete a fourth step and a fifth step and omit something.  According to the way this program is laid out, when I take that third step I have just made an agreement with a higher power.

I have committed myself to this open and honest relationship and I cannot start out with dishonesty from the get go and throw it in the face of the entity.  I have seen it several times over this last half of a year and have heard others speak of the importance many times.  The results are not good, if you do not truly honor this agreement and lay everything out on the table to seek true redemption from and through that and working with and for others, humility.

Here are 11 different ways I have learned to practice and live in humility.

  1.  Avoid curiosity.
  2. Accept small irritations with good humor.
  3. Speak as little as possible about myself.
  4. Give in to the will of others.
  5. Accept insults and injuries.
  6. Keep busy with my own affairs and not those of others.
  7. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
  8. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
  9. Accept contempt, being forgotten, and disregarded.
  10. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
  11. Accept censures even if unmerited.

Does Alcoholics Anonymous Really Work For Long Term? Can I Recover After A Relapse With Alcoholism Or Addiction?

How one man was able to recommit to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous after a relapse and find a new recovery and life of sobriety again.

 

 

One day I was sitting on the patio and man I was really, really feeling bad. I remembered that I was just starting to feel good in my recovery before I let the outside world get the better of me and went back out. I stayed out for a few weeks and just realized I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole again and I came back through the doors of AA. That was the most productive thing I ever did in my life.

It was the first day of a new life for me. It is never too late. This program really teaches you that you are somebody. This program is a we program and that is why everyone shows up at these tables, at these halls, at these churches or shacks, or wherever you can hold a meeting.

Some of us have short periods of time and some of us have long periods of time, but if we keep coming back and helping the new people it helps us with some sober time too. After we find that we are somebody, it is a feeling, a self-confidence that can carry us through from one day to another, to the next day, to the next week. Before you know it has been years and you’re still going.

I remember when I came back in. I had been coming around since before 2006 and it was good for a while, but after some time I realized there was not a connection in my recovery somewhere. I wish I could have figured myself out then and figured out what it was that was missing, but I just couldn’t. I had so much resentment I was still carrying from years before and now I was piling on new resentment everyday.

 

I am grateful today that I understand those defects of character, those faults that kept me out. I forgot how to listen. I spent all my time talking and talking and talking about something I didn’t really have. I have heard many other people say “you can’t give away what you don’t have” and they are so right on the money with that phrase. I had some sober time and it really wasn’t quality. I had quit drinking, but I had not really looked at myself in the mirror honestly and done any changing whatsoever.

All of the reasons I started drinking n the first place, the resentments, the anger, the self-pity, were still there and now they had grown into something monstrous inside me I couldn’t ignore or control anymore. I had been so quick to rush through the first few steps and really just skipped right on down to the last few without doing the work I needed to do in the middle.

I found out, after having a relapse, that the middle part was where I missed the entire point of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. I had not really looked at what part I had played in all of my misery and misfortunes. I had really just blamed everyone else for my sorrows and my failures. Where was I in all of it? What part did I play? What joy and time had I stolen from my wife, my children, my family and friends?

I am so grateful I did make it back through the doors of AA. So many others I have known over the years have not. I do not take my sobriety or this program of recovery lightly in any way. I might laugh and joke from time to time about alcoholism and being a drunk and the silly, stupid, insane things I did and still do, but it is a matter of life and death for me when you get right down to it.

 

This program saved my life and I am beyond blessed to be a member of this worldwide organization where I have a friend no matter how far from Chicago I travel. I would never be this far and my sobriety date, my renewed sobriety date is coming up on June 30th, 2014. I make sure to connect with my sponsor almost every day and I come to a meeting almost every day too. I realize now that when I stopped coming to meetings often and stopped calling and talking with my sponsor, I eventually stopped worrying about not drinking and then as soon as something in my life went haywire – there I was completely drunk again.

 

I had stayed sober for 8 years and then let my own cockiness and an argument with a few other people in an AA hall about outside issues get me riled up so much that I used it as an excuse to stop coming to meetings. I was sober, I had been sober, I forgot that I really needed

the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous and talking things through and hearing from other alcoholics and addicts how to stay sober.

I never lost anything that I had learned in and out of the halls and I always had my Big Book and some other materials like As Bill Sees It to read at home, but I didn’t. I was so angry with other people over something so unrelated and then I was angry at myself and too embarrassed to show my face around those people and admit that I had lost my temper.

I was a fool. I could have gone to any number of halls in the area, but I chose to sit and stew, alone, until I finally did go right back to my selfish, self-centered ways and once I picked up that first drink it was off to the races again for this old drunk.

My advice to anyone who is just starting out in recovery and alcoholism and those that have a lot of sober time is this, don’t get too confident in the years you have under your belt because that date can change in an instant if you don’t stay vigilant and remember how close we all are to falling off of the sober mountain. I slid right back down further than I had been before. It is true. It does not get better; it only gets tougher and harder to climb back up.

 

I was fortunate that I hadn’t run anyone off and when I came back into my home group, I was embarrassed and nervous, but welcomed with open arms and have been ever since.

 

 

How Do I Help Other Alcoholics Without Enabling Them? – Having Compassion In My Recovery From Alcoholism?

 

Are You Carrying the Message or Carrying the Drunk??? – Helping others by allowing them to find their rock bottom.

 

“When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.”  –  Pg. 64 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous  

 

“It was very difficult for me to come to terms with my spiritual illness because of my great pride, disguised by my material success and my intellectual power.  Intelligence is not incompatible with humility, provided I always place humility first.  To seek prestige and wealth is the ultimate goal for many in the modern world.  To be fashionable and to seem better than I really am is a spiritual sickness.  To recognize and to admit my weakness is the beginning of a good spiritual health.  It is a sign of spiritual health to be able to ask God everyday to enlighten me, to recognize his will for me, and to have the strength to execute it.  My spiritual health is excellent when I realize that the better I get the more I discover how much help I need from others.”  –  Daily Reflections, May 23rd

I used to live always telling others I was fine, no problems here, and keep on going with my life.  All the while I was full of suffering and the spiritual malady it talks about in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Every person has to have something to believe in and if it is not something spiritual, it will be something else.  For a long time mine was alcohol.  Alcohol stopped the rapid negative thoughts, numbed the feelings of depression, and quieted the anxiety I was suffering from.

I have experienced some truly horrific and life changing events at the beginning of this year and those events ignited the flames of psychic change inside my heart and my mind.  The alcohol was a small piece of the pie in my life.  What needed to be fixed, to be worked on, was the horrible way I felt about myself in my head and in my heart.

So today I use the serenity prayer quite frequently.  I can only control myself and I have learned to accept that I have no control over others and their decisions.  I choose to do the next right thing every day, continue to attend AA meetings daily, spend time with my thoughts, and work with my sponsor through the Twelve Steps the Big Book lays out.  These help me keep on the right track of sobriety.

If I want to get out of myself, I need to help others.  But, there is a fine line between helping and enabling.  It tells me in Step Twelve of Alcoholics Anonymous to try to carry the message to other alcoholics.  There is a difference between carrying the message and carrying the drunk.  Let that one soak in for a moment.  What I have come to realize about those who are not alcoholic, is that they do not understand enabling someone, like me, is the quickest way to get me drunk.

When you give someone a dollar or two every time they are asking for it, because you feel sorry for them, that is the worst thing you could really do for an alcoholic.  Those sufferers are the people who desperately need the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and desperately need help with their selfish, self-centered, self-pity and manipulative ways.  You have to allow someone to get to their bottom.  An alcoholic must be allowed to reach the point of such desperation, such agony, a state of hopeless discomfort in order for us to have a psychic change.

As long as someone is comfortable with their situation, they will allow it to continue.  Addicts and alcoholics can withstand and endure an unimaginable amount of pain and hardship to avoid change.  In every story I have heard from both addicts and alcoholics, there was always the word yet.  “I hadn’t been arrested yet”, “My wife hadn’t left me, yet.”, “I had not been fired, yet”.

This was so true of my own life.  As much as I would love to say my rock bottom was 6 months ago, or 6 years ago, it was not.  I had to “give away” absolutely everything I had to be at a point where I could honestly ask myself if I wanted to choose to live or continue to choose to find a way to die.

I do consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate that my rock bottom did happen when it did and it was not 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years from now.  I would have never made it that long.  I was on a mission that did not include living life in any way.  I am so grateful for the time I spent in custody and the furlough I was granted to attend a treatment program.  I am also grateful for the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the other alcoholics that I share the table with.  I am most thankful and grateful for my husband.  I hope to repair the relationship with him and continue to live in a successful partnership and marriage, but no matter what his choices about that are, I will make certain he knows how grateful I am for his decision to let me reach my bottom.

I cannot change or fix anyone but me.  I admit I am powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable every morning.  If I hadn’t been allowed to get to my bottom, I would have stayed sick and on the short road to death.  I truly believe this to be true of all alcoholics and those suffering any kinds of addiction.  It was so true for me.

My life was too comfortable and even though I was entirely miserable and didn’t know how to change that, I was allowed to continue doing what I wanted to do.  You cannot water a dead plant and expect it to flourish.

With this being said, I do believe in compassion.  Compassion is a noun, and defined as a deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.  The wish to relieve it.  I wish to see others free from their suffering, but I am not required to take any action further than that.  I have struggled with boundaries in my life before alcohol and in my addiction.

Now, living in my recovery, I have made a few changes to better my life as a whole.  I have to set and keep boundaries.  Boundaries with family, friends, strangers, and especially in Alcoholics Anonymous and with other people recovering from addiction.

My sobriety is at the top of the list in my life today.  As long as I keep my sobriety and recovery first, I will always be in a position to make good choices and do great things for myself and others.  I am very compassionate to the plight of others, but I will not cross or tear down those boundaries.  When dealing with alcoholism and addiction specifically, I must be careful not to enable the addict or alcoholic in any way.  I am not helping them if I do.  I am not allowing them to reach their bottom, however deep it may be.  If I truly care about them and wish for them to have full recovery and quality sobriety, I have to always remember this and sometimes be willing to walk away and separate myself from the situation and the person.

 

Do I Tell People Why I Stopped Drinking? – Progress Not Perfection

 

How do I handle social situations where alcohol will be there and I might be judged? – What do I say to non-alcoholics?

I will go to social gatherings where people are drinking and I am at a point where the alcohol doesn’t bother me, but what bothers me is how others treat me because I am not drinking.  I am not bothered to the point I want to drink over it, but it is annoying, really annoying.

I understand that this is everywhere across the board.  I have a niece who is a vegetarian and my in laws would always make a huge deal about it to her and put a negative cloud around the fact she did not want to eat meat.  They made a point of making ridiculous comments and asking her idiotic questions.  I felt so much sorrow for her in those situations.  Especially because this started when she was still a teenager.

“Oh, you’re a vegetarian?”, “That is just so weird.  Oh my goodness is it okay if I eat my sandwich in front of you now?”, “Do you think we are murders now?” type of comments.  It was very apparent they did not understand or approve of her choice and made it known without literally telling her they thought she was making a horrible choice.  People fear what they do not understand or that which makes them uncomfortable.

When you are not doing what is expected or is the social norm at the time, the reaction is usually unpleasant.  I have experienced this in my sobriety.  It is good to have ways to cope with that now and go into a situation expecting some of those

reactions from people who are not alcoholics and still drink socially.  I am optimistic and do not assume anyone is going to treat me differently, but I am now prepared for it if and when the situations and comments present themselves.

I now have the expectation that, yes not drinking isn’t the social norm, yes I might get some stare, yes I might be asked questions a few times.  I am not ashamed of saying I do not drink because I am an alcoholic.  If anything I feel quite the opposite.  I feel empowered and a sense of freedom when I respond to those questions with honesty about my sobriety and recovery.  

I have even had wonderful opportunities for some amazing conversations with fellow alcoholics, addicts, or those who have loved ones and friends suffering from the disease of alcoholism.

I am proud of where I have been and where I am now.  During my alcoholism I struggled with shame all of the time.  I was ashamed of the fact I couldn’t drink and even felt, in the beginning, that it was this weakness.  Now I don’t see it like that at all.  Again, I am very proud of where I am today and I can answer those questions with no hesitations.

I can look at them,the non-alcoholics, and realize they are being the asshole.  I have walked out of the shame corner.  I now have a different mindset thanks to sobriety and working my 12 Step program.  My reaction now is somewhere along the lines of this:  “Clearly you have a problem if you feel compelled to carry this conversation with me any further than what I told you.”

Prepare yourself before to receive blessings.  Look further into life for richness.  I cannot expect great things to happen in my life if I am not preparing to accept great things to happen in my life.  For me, it starts within myself.  You have probably heard “it’s an inside job” thrown out around the halls of AA a time or two or even in various addiction and alcoholism recovery programs.

It might be a cliche, but the truth is the truth and it really is an inside job.  If I just expected things to happen in my life without being open and ready to accept them, then it won’t happen.  Even if it does happen, I won’t be in a place where I would even recognize the blessing for what it is because I haven’t prepared myself and accepted that good things can and will occur in my life now.

 “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”  –   Henry Ford

 

This quote is amazing and for the person I am now, very eye opening.  It reminds me, in the past where I have failed to recognize or take advantage of opportunities that have presented themselves, I do not have to do that anymore.  I can choose to believe nothing good will happen to me and live my life unable to see opportunity or hear it knocking at my door.  Instead I choose to be open minded, believe, and accept the possibility and the reality of better situations, opportunities for success, and take action.

I believe in “progress not perfection” and continually improving my outlook and it is so worth it and my choice to believe and take action to live this way just like everyone else.

 

How Do I Forgive And Let Go?? – Acceptance, Patience, Forgiveness, and Tolerance in Recovery

 

I decided to forgive, because it was slowly killing me and I realized I was the one holding the knife.

 

When I got to a point in my sobriety and recovery where I was more concerned about the homeless man walking down the street and what I could do for that person, it made me feel so good.  I felt, wow, because I know that is not something that I felt on my own, that is something that came directly from a higher power.  Something greater than me was working through me.  Even years before I was heavy in my drinking and alcoholism, if you wronged me or even looked at me in a wrong way, that was it for you.  I was conniving.  I was going to seek my vengeance.  I came up with some pretty elaborate ways to get back at people and even followed through with some of them.

Some of them got me in trouble.  “Well, who did that?”  “We know who did that, Elizabeth did that.”  People began to know who I was and steered clear of pissing me off.  But, when I really took a look at myself in the mirror, I did not want to be that person.  So, I decided not to be.  Some people are always going to say and do things to hurt my feelings, make me angry or try to make life difficult for me, but to have that spirit of forgiveness and acceptance is paramount for me.  It is essential to my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual sobriety and recovery from alcoholism.  When I can forgive someone for wronging me and not respond to that with anger, this is a blessing.  When I can respond with love it makes the situation easier and makes me feel spiritually whole.

 

I hope that others can do that for me too.  Life is hard and I would like others to have a spirit of forgiveness too.  Give me a hug every once in a while or a kind word.  We are all still human beings and love and forgiveness is something that makes all of our lives happier.  I have heard a lot of people ask for help with forgiveness and patience.  I have been fortunate enough to have lived through situations, before and during my alcoholism, that have allowed me to develop patience, tolerance, and forgiveness.

Forgiveness and acceptance go hand in hand for me.  I do not believe you can have one without the other.  When you won’t forgive, you are only inflicting pain upon yourself and I had to ask myself how much pain I was willing to tolerate.  I tend to look at most situations very logically and remove the emotions from them when I am making a decision.

Forgiveness, in my opinion, is just that.  It is literally a decision, no justification or cause needs to happen.  Forgiving has nothing to do with accepting the other person’s behavior, approving of it, justifying, rationalizing, or understanding it.  It is a simple decision I make whether or not to accept what is, forgive, and move on with freedom.

 

“Life will mean something at last.  The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead.”  –  Pg. 152 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous

 

Today I have a lot of patience and tolerance but it took living through some very upsetting and difficult situations to gain these qualities.  I wish I knew how to give these qualities or gifts away to others, but I can’t.  There is no book or manual or simple phrase I can share with anyone that will all of a sudden, allow them to be forgiving, patient, accepting, or tolerant.  For me, it had to come with experience.  One situation that was very difficult for me was many years ago when my two oldest children were very little.  I filed for divorce when my youngest, at the time, was less than a year old.  During the 3 years or so the divorce proceedings took, their father decided to keep them hidden from me for weeks and sometimes months at a time.

This occurred on several different occasions and every time I got them back I always let them go to their visitation time with their father, knowing full well I didn’t know when I would see them again.  During these years, there was nothing legally I could do because we both had equal rights and permanent custody and visitation was not decided until we finally went to trial.  After trial was over and I was awarded custody I still held on to that for a long time.  I felt that I was owed and could do whatever I wanted because he had practiced parental alienation and had played all of these games refusing to let me see my children or know where they were.

All this did was eat away at me, little by little.  It took a long time to realize that, but forgiveness is for me not for the other person.  I had to forgive to move on because I didn’t want this stranglehold any longer.  Holding on to what he did, to my resentment, was trapping me in t

he past and I had to decide if I was going to continue to let him have that power over me.  I needed to let go and accept what happened and forgive to move on and have peace and happiness.

Sometimes forgiveness is accepting an apology you are never going to receive.  In that situation I have never apologized to him directly, but I paid my attorney a whole lot of money not to have to talk to him anymore.  He is a great dad and he is a great person but we would never be friends, would have never been friends.  I’ve forgiven him for doing those things and supporting him now with decisions with the children and things like that is my way of practicing that forgiveness.  I realized, by holding on to my anger and hurt, I was robbing my kids of time they could have had, experiences they could have had because I was still resentful of him taking the children and taking that time away from me.

Again, forgiveness was a decision I had to make.  By the grace of God, there go I.  Do you want to be stuck here or do you want to forgive this person?  And, whether they know it or not doesn’t matter, because the acceptance and forgiveness is for me, so I can move on without all of this baggage I’m trying to drag with me.  I realized what I was doing.  I realized I was hurting myself and my children and in a greater sense all of the other people around me.  Kids are like dogs . . . they can smell fear and can feel tension in uncomfortable situations.  I began to see that my children were always uncomfortable if an event required their father and I to be in close proximity.  They knew that I had such dislike for their father even though I was careful never to say anything negative around them.

My step father told me a long time ago that when it comes to children of dissolved relationships, you should never say anything bad about the other parent in front of the children because the children are always an equal part of the mother and the father.  So, if you are bad mouthing the other parent, at some point in time the child is going to feel if they are half of dad and dad is an “asshole”, maybe I am half an “asshole” too.  Or if my grandma thinks my mom is a “bitch” then she must think that I am a “bitch” too, or half a “bad person”, a “drunk”, “worthless, etc . . .  I have 5 children now and I know with my experience raising my own children, they hear things you don’t think they hear.  They feel things, you don’t think they could ever pick up on.

It took some time and for me to become aware of what was beyond the tip of my own nose to see that I was being selfish and I was acting like an asshole and ultimately penalizing my children because I wouldn’t forgive.  One day, I just woke up and I saw the reality and as soon as I did let those resentments go and find acceptance and forgiveness I began to feel better.  The weight was lifted.  Some people will be blessings and some people will be lessons and unfortunately you don’t know until later.  My experience was both a blessing and a lesson.  I feel it is much easier for me to live now that I understand patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance.  I hope anyone who is struggling with any of these today finds some sort of comfort from my story.

 

What Else Does Alcoholics Anonymous Offer? – There Is So Much More Than Meetings in A.A.

 

I get drunk, WE stay sober.  Alcoholics Anonymous offers so much more beyond the meetings inside the halls.

 

 

“The meetings gave me what my sponsor likes to call one of the most important words in the Big Book:  A.A. put a “we” in my life.  “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol. . . .”  I no longer had to be alone.  Fellowship and activity kept me coming back long enough to work the Twelve Steps.  The more I did, the better I felt.  I started hanging out with my sponsor and some active people at the meetings.  They showed me how gratitude is something that is demonstrated, not talked about-gratitude is action.”  –  Pg. 510 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous

I was one of those drunks that isolated.  Most of the last year I spent drinking, I was pretty much at home by myself, and so sad and miserable.  I was baffled at why I could not leave the alcohol alone.  When I came into the halls I was told this was a “we” program.  “I get drunk, and We stay sober”.  Everyone reached out their hands and offered me phone numbers, told me to keep coming back, and that meant a lot to me.  It really meant the world, because I had isolated for so long and didn’t feel I was worthy of having anyone care about me at all.


By staying in the program and becoming involved I was able to begin to see value in myself.  Happy faces were greeting me at the door, they knew what car my mom drove and were welcoming to her.  I have always felt so much care and encouragement from my fellow alcoholics.  I have a very difficult time asking people for help and am still working through that.  But, I was never turned down if I asked someone for a ride up to the hall or home.  In fact, the little 5 minute conversations from the hall to my house allowed me to get to know more about others and for them to know a little more about me.

I am definitely a proponent of the meetings before the meetings and the meetings after the meetings.  The “extra” activities are there waiting for people to take advantage of them.  Picnics, seminars, business meetings, breakfasts, pot lucks, and even dances.

I remember going to my first Alcoholics Anonymous dance.  My mother drove me there, and as we passed by the front of the building I was overwhelmed with the large crowd I saw standing outside.  Crowds have made me nervous for the last several years and I could feel the anxiety begin to bubble up within me.

 

I am so glad my mother was there.  I smoked a cigarette, took a few minutes and walked in.  One of the tables was filled with familiar faces from my home group of A.A. and everyone was so happy to see both of us and so very inviting.  My mind was set at ease and I felt the anxiety melt away.  I didn’t do any dancing that night, but I sure felt accomplished for attending such an event and knew that I would jump at the next opportunity.

The fellowship is very important to me and I was advised to “hang around with the winners”, to hang around with the people who are really “in” Alcoholics Anonymous and not just “around” it.  I stay around the people who are actually staying sober and working a program.  I was so willing, as desperate as the dying could be, and I did not want to go back to that hell I had been living in.  By working the steps, attending meetings, going to different fellowship events, I have begun to see the wonders of this program in my life.  I am so very grateful to be an alcoholic and to finally have a real sense of purpose in my life and so many others who absolutely support me 100%.

I have been fortunate enough to find a wonderful hall early on in my sobriety.  Others might have to try a few different ones before they find the “family” that they fit into and feel at home with.  A good friend was a dry drunk for the better part of 7 years and went to several different meetings at various A.A. halls around our area.  He had stopped drinking, but nothing else had changed.

 

He still had anger, resentment, was unsociable.  He did what he had to do to stay sober for awhile and then got out of the program.  He went out for quite a few years but when he came back in Alcoholics Anonymous he found the hall I belong to.  He says “there was something here that made a hell of a lot more sense to me than he had felt in the other halls.”

He has nothing bad to say about any of the other halls, but by the time he walked through the door of our hall he had realized he needed somebody else to help him stay sober and get through this.  He watched and waited and finally asked the man who is now his sponsor for help and was able to be honest with himself and with everyone else.

He worked his program the way he needed to work it, he was able to socialize, and genuinely tried to help others where he could.  He is more grateful today than anything because he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t take any other substances, he tries to do the right things if possible and if he doesn’t – he knows we will hold him to his word and have the mirror ready for him to see his truth.

 

The halls have taught me to be more teachable and open-minded.  I always pick up something from at least one speaker.  Even if there is a meeting that I don’t feel I associated with anything shared, I always know that I am surrounded with those who share the same struggle and sickness that I do.

The other members of A.A. remind me “never say never”.  The meetings remind me of that on a daily basis and I need to open my ears and really listen with the hope that I hear enough of what I need to so I can avoid falling back into that isolation, depression, and self-pity which will cause me to drink.

 

“So today, I’m much more comfortable with life, as Alcoholics Anonymous has promised, and I know they’re right when they say it keeps getting better.  My circumstances have steadily improved as my spiritual life grows and matures.  Words cannot begin to describe the feelings in my heart as I sometimes ponder how much my life has changed, how far I’ve come, and how much there is yet to discover.  And though I’m not sure where my journey may take me next, I know I’ll owe it to the grace of God and to three words of the Twelve Steps:  continue, improve, and practice.  Oh, and one more thing they told me:  Humility is the key.”  –  Pg. 511 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous

How Can I Accept The Things I Cannot Change? – Serenity Prayer at Work

 

Acceptance is Difficult and Painstaking but Provides a Freedom I Must Have to Live Today.

 

 

The topic of acceptance is definitely a popular one.  I have struggled with acceptance and realizing that I can not control the outcome of situations long before I ever took my first drink.  Control was always a big deal for me from a very young age.  I did not like being told what to do and if you really wanted me to do something, you simply had to tell me I couldn’t or I shouldn’t.  It am so thankful for the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous and truly grateful the chairs around the tables of the AA halls are there because through this program I have learned acceptance.  I have been able to solve problems that had nothing to do with my alcoholism by simply learning how to accept the things and situations in my life.

In a conversation a few weeks ago an AA friend of mine was sharing some thoughts on acceptance and peace with me and he said, “I can be an asshole, even with 5 years of sobriety, but it makes my day miserable.  When I’m at not at peace, don’t have peace of mind, I feel miserable.  After all the years in Catholic school and all the years in Catholic church, the Serenity Prayer has been the most helpful to me and it was something I never heard in either of those places.  The Serenity Prayer made the most sense to me and it was something shared with my mother in Alanon and she shared with us when my father was dealing with his alcoholism.”

I use the Serenity Prayer quite often when I find something in my life unacceptable and at times there are several things I find unacceptable, and it is perfectly okay for me to find some things unacceptable.  I can change my reaction to the thing.  I can change my response to the thing.  I can change my connection to the thing, but I can not change the thing.

However, there are actions I can take.  I can choose to go sit in the corner and do nothing or take steps to see that I do not place myself in that uncomfortable and unwanted situation again.  I can take steps to make sure the pattern does not continue where I am finding myself dealing with unnerving things.

 

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.  When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, or situation – some fact of my life  – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.”  –  Pg. 417 BB Alcoholics Anonymous

 

 

When I drank I didn’t have any set of standards or boundaries and I found myself in places that were unwanted.  It still amazes me to this day, I survived certain experiences.  I do not live like that today and have no desire to ever go back to anything remotely close.  I have standards and boundaries because of the things I have learned living in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and I know I have choices.

Other people, if they wish, can do that as long as they don’t have their hand on my leg dragging me down.  These are gifts, of knowledge, I have received from the AA halls and other alcoholics like me.  I share my experiences and the lessons I have learned with the hope they will not fall on deaf ears and truly be the tipping point for someone else who might be in the same horrible place I once was.

 

“Before A.A. I judged myself by my intentions, while the world was judging me by my actions.”  –  Pg. 418 BB Alcoholics Anonymous

 

 

On my own, I could fuck things up so bad, there wasn’t anything left do but drink.  I wasn’t practicing any program.  My loved ones are packing their “bags” and getting ready to leave.  My kids don’t want to be around me.  The story went on and on because I created my own problems until I finally put my foot down and gained some acceptance.  It was helpful for me to then realize that sometimes by not doing anything, things come out a lot better.  Keeping my mouth shut was a difficult task for me to learn how to do.  I put it in to practice daily now, and it amazes me how calming, peaceful, and better I feel when unwanted or uncomfortable situations are hard for me to accept at first.

 

I had to chill my attitude out a little bit at a time until my head was cleared of all the shady characters that used to live there.  It was a bad neighborhood I didn’t even want to walk around in.  Acceptance has been the key for me in clearing out those nasty characters and sweeping out the clutter and trash.  AA meetings and hanging out with other alcoholics has been a key to unlocking these lessons for me.  I have been really reading and studying the Big Book and the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions material over the last several months and they too are a necessary part of my recovery from alcoholism and maintaining my sobriety.

 

“It helped me a great deal to become convinced that alcoholism was a disease, not a moral issue; that I had been drinking as a result of a compulsion, even though I had not been aware of the compulsion at the time.” . . . “At last, acceptance proved to be the key the my drinking problem.”  –  Pg. 416 BB Alcoholics Anonymous

 

 

You can lead a horse to water . . . How do I help my children or friends with addiction?

How do we help others we love who are struggling with addiction or sobriety without harming our own recovery?

Do you have a family member or friend you love that refuses to get help with their addiction?  “Change your playground, change your playmates” is often said in Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery programs, but sometimes it is easier said than done.  What if you are a recovering addict and you have a teenage child or adult child that is struggling with their own demons of addiction?  How do you separate when they are a close family member who might even be living with you?

There is an entire chapter in the Big Book about working with others, a chapter to wives, a chapter about the family afterwards.  One thing I have learned is that sometimes changing playgrounds and changing playmates only works for a while.  You can always move, but guess what, if they want to find the wrong playground and playmates they will seek them out no matter what you do.  You can try, try, try and it is so easy for a loved one, especially a parent, to become an enabler.  I have heard prayer talked about often.  Prayer for another person is truly one of the greatest gifts you can give because it takes you away from selfish thinking and putting yourself first and genuinely caring for another and their strife.

Alanon is a great place to start.  There is also Alateen.  These programs are geared specifically to the family members and friends of those who are suffering from an addiction or in their recovery.  Surrounding yourself with those in similar situations can be helpful and also offer you a support system where one might not exist.  When you are so close to someone it is very hard to see and think clearly without allowing emotions to become involved.

Unfortunately for most, sobriety and the desire for recovery takes a traumatic event.  I do not wish that upon anyone, but the reality I have seen in my own life proves it to be true.  Be careful when involving yourself in the life of someone who just doesn’t want to have a change in their lives.  Offer numbers and point them in the right direction, but be aware of how much you expose of yourself and your own fragility.  Sometimes we must stay away from certain people during certain times.  Do not allow yourself to let another drag you down after you have already sacrificed so much to gain sobriety.

It took a burning desire for recovery and every drink I took to get me inside the walls of the AA meetings that now are the foundation of my sober life.  We simply can not force that change upon anyone.  I can relate to other families with alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, etc . . .  But, I can not get anybody drunk and I can not get anybody sober.  When someone is ready, they are ready, regardless of how much we want it for them.  I have known several people in the program and they will all admit they never made anybody sober.  Each person chooses addiction or chooses freedom from addiction on their own and in their own time and in their own way.

Sometimes I have to love someone from way over here in order to keep my sobriety and recovery possible in my own life.  I know there are some people I love dearly that I just can not involve myself with and be around right now in my recovery.  In my addiction, my triggers were my most loved.  They were my children, my stress inside the house, my family home, and my husband.  I will be in a place one day when my favorite loved ones will not be triggers any longer and I will have enough of a psychic change and a firmly built foundation that I will be able to return to those relationships, but for now, my recovery must come first if I am ever to have any hope.

In closing, I have learned I have to be the best me, the best citizen I can be, giving and caring for others, working the steps and so on, in hope that they will see the change in me and follow along.  Do not stress, just stay the course and you will be fine, and they will be fine if it is meant to be.