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.

 

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.