How Sharing My Story of Recovery Helps Others and Reminds Me Where I Will Never Be Again

 

Where Does My Experience, Strength, and Hope Come From? – Sharing My Story Helps Me Live in Gratitude and Keep My Serenity and Peace in Recovery From Alcoholism.

 

We don’t know whom we are going to help. Planting a seed is planting a seed. I take any and every opportunity to share parts of my story with people outside of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have often thought about and wished someone would have shared with me. “If only, if only, if only – someone had said something, then I would have . . .” but I know that it took every single drink it took to get me to want to change. Someone could have shared their experience, strength and hope with me years ago, months ago even, but I was not in the right mindset.   I was not where I needed to be in order to see I could change. I truly believed my life was never going to be any better and I was now receiving the punishment for all of the horrible decisions and acts I had been a part of.

 

There was no such thing as low self-esteem, I was far beyond that. I had absolutely no will for life, no desire, no want for living at all. My self-esteem was not only gone, but was so far in the negative and covered up by miles and miles of self doubt, failure, regret and shame. I had convinced myself, quite well I might add, that I was worthless and deserved nothing short of death.

My drinking was kept to myself for the most part. I kept it hidden, as best I could, at home, by myself. There were those I lived with who knew some of it, but never all. No one ever really knew why because the alcohol was really just a small piece of the pie for me. The problem was the way I felt about myself in my mind and in my heart and those problems were ones I had been dealing with and trying to correct for over 20 years. What I did not realize was that I wasn’t beyond help. My life was too comfortable and still allowed me to drink and wallow, but I was so miserable.

My environment at home was not conducive to recovery and sobriety at all. I have my responsibility and accountability for my actions and choices, but it was a very unsupportive environment for anyone wishing or attempting to change and especially to try and stop drinking. The stress was unimaginable. The loneliness and isolation were so extreme. I had to have things happen in a certain way. I had to give everything away and be left with nothing but my thoughts and the question “Do I want to live or not?”.

 

I am eternally grateful I did survive. I am grateful the one I care about the most is still standing, even if it without me. I do wish he had reached out to someone for help, for advice, for ideas, for something to try and help me without involving the courts and making it into a very serious legal situation.

Unfortunately, that is not what happened for me. It is not part of my recovery story and as much as I will try to repair that relationship, I also have to accept the reality that I have had my last moments with my best fried in the entire world, with the other half of my everything.

The choices we make are eternal. We can pretend and try to convince ourselves of any reality we want to imagine. We can ignore the results and the way life is all we want to. But we cannot ignore the consequences of the choices we have made. Some of our choices in life will not only have immediate consequences, but it may be months or even years into the future we begin to feel the effects.

My life has been forever changed and I honestly believe it has been changed for the better. I know this to be true because I truly remember the state of mind I was in and the utter despair and abyss of the depression I was engulfed by. It was as if I had fallen through a frozen lake. I am drowning, dying, freezing to death and I can see the vague shadows of people standing on the ice above me, but I cannot find the way out. The more I search for the hole to he surface, the harder I struggle, the worse the pain becomes. I am not sure of any better analogy to use when explaining how I felt.

 

I still struggle with the memories. The good memories are so very painful when I realize to keep my sobriety might mean I can no longer be with or around those people I love. My recovery must come first for my survival. I truly and honestly and whole heartedly believe this to be true for me. This is not the case for everyone, but for me it is an absolute. I spent years slowly slipping away and if I do not make recovery my first priority I will fall right back into the suicidal mindset and quickly and effectively be removed from this earth.

I struggle with the devastation that the ones who loved and cared for me, did not love and care enough to help before some situations escalated to the lengths they did. I would be lying if I said otherwise. I do not blame anyone for my struggle or my choices, but it is an everyday hardship and pain to know I was so easily; or so it seems; thrown away and left.

There will come a time for me to make amends to the most important person in my life and I will never give up trying to repair that relationship no matter the time, the space, the struggle, the pain, the difficulty. I also know that my line in the sand on what I can and cannot be subject to has forever changed. I have never been this person before and the cost of my sobriety and life long recovery is still unknown today. I have hope and honestly believe I will be able to face the choice of sobriety everyday and choose recovery. Strength is no easy feat, but having been to the darkest depths is the only way I know it to be worth any price I am asked to pay, no matter how painful.

 

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.