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 Are Character Defects And Where To Find Them??

 

How To Tell What Your Flaws Of Character Are and Why It Is Important To Remove Them To Stay Sober

 

 

“Because alcohol is encouraged by our culture, we get the idea that it isn’t dangerous. However, alcohol is the most potent and most toxic of the legal psychoactive drugs.” – Beverly A. Potter and Sebastian Orfali

 

We are as sick as our secrets. This is 100% true in all aspects of life for each and everyone of us – alcoholic or not. If allowed, ego will take control over our thoughts, our actions, our lives, of everything. When this does occur we become very sick; mentally sick. The ego driven mind overrides all other thought patterns and changes the main goal from helping others to hurting and causing pain and anguish to others.

The uncontrolled ego will always convince us our actions are on point. Ego lies to us and causes our mind to find justification for the hurtful and selfish actions.

Now, being in this secretive state of mind, we are living without spirituality in our lives and have instead allowed our character defects to nest again. I have always related my character defects with my fears. My stubbornness manifested as a result of my feelings and fear of new situations and change. My greed and envy were a result of a fear I had developed of not having enough. My arrogance from my fear of vulnerability, my impatience from my fears of missed opportunity and self-destructive and self-deprecating due to a fear of losing control.

It is good to become aware of your defects of character because without awareness there can be no acceptance and without accepting these truths of who I am and what my flaws are, I have no hope for any type of change or desire to improve myself and in turn my life.

Our defects of character don’t require our attention too awful long though. We must move to rid ourselves of them by Step 6 from the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, asking our Higher Power to remove all the defects of character. Then we may begin to move in freedom. You see, if the defects of character are like the bars of a cage, then we are not meant to stay imprisoned to study the bars, but to free ourselves from the cage by removing them one by one.

 

“We repeat what we don’t repair: – Christine Langley-Obaugh

 

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions tells us on page 63 “This is the step that separates the men from the boys.” And that is correct as long as a true willingness and honesty is there.

Choosing the attitude and approach of “No Reservations Whatsoever”, the obsession to drink along with a readiness to have character flaws stricken and removed has occurred and been testified to by many an alcoholic.

The character flaws can be tricky though. When I first set out to identify my character defects I was not sure where to begin. How did I know what they could be? How could I tell if I had any? I was more than confused. I have since been able to pose a single question to myself that has been very helpful in identifying my defects of character.

Is this thought, feeling, attitude something I would teach my children to think, feel, or believe? If the answer is NO – then I have discovered a character defect.

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions instructs me that I am “born with an abundance of natural desires” and “it isn’t strange that we often let these far exceed their intended purpose.” Pg.65. According to Alcoholics Anonymous, the fine line exists between the degree of perfection “God” wants and allowing those desires to “drive us blindly” to demanding more pleasure than we are due.

 

Once again, as with everything else I have discovered on my recovery journey thus far, Step 6 is a journey not an event. I may hope and strive to have all my defects of character removed but maintain a realistic expectation that this will take require the passing of time, patience on my end, willingness and faith, and above all – honesty.

I have always felt that I am supposed to be something more than what I have been up to this moment. There is a greater purpose for my existence beyond anything I could possibly imagine. The best I can do today is to “try” to have the readiness and willingness to go to any lengths to have the flaws removed.

For today I inquire of myself as to what flaws and defects I do have and to find those I can usually look back on my actions. If I focus on my actions and behaviors I know to be wrong, less than desirable, self-serving, those selfish or hurtful behaviors; I can then see the connection to my fears. My fears reveal my defects of character.

 

“Delay is dangerous, and rebellion may be fatal.” If I am truly ready to walk in the direction of reshaping my life, I must always maintain an open mind and the brutal honesty required to see my true self, good and bad.

 

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 Can I Change My Life ? How Do I Have The Psychic Change ?

Where is the Hope?  –  A Psychic Change is Truly Required in Order to Have a New Outlook and A New Hope for Life to be Different for an Addict or an Alcoholic.

For many years I felt and believed that trick that my head always told me.  “It was going to be different this time”.  “I’m going to be able to drink like a normal person”.  Once I put that crap in my body I always, always, went on some sort of spree coming out on the other side with nothing but disaster and more problems.  Not everyone’s stories are the same, some will be similar and I always look for the similarities when relating to other alcoholics.

Another alcoholic shared a bit of his story with me recently and although his experiences are different from my own, the mental obsession, the thoughts, ideas, the feelings, the turmoil is very much the same.  He too felt the trick his mind tried to play on him.  He came out on the other side usually with felonies when he drank and used drugs.

Over time, after 5 DUI’s, a few years in prison, then another trip was how it went for him.  He couldn’t hold a job, couldn’t support his family, lost everything worthwhile in his life over and over and over again, because he kept thinking he could drink and drug like a normal person.

“It was so incredibly elusive.  It would simply sneak up me every time”.  The program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Big Book tells us the only way we can recover is through experiencing a “psychic change” and the only way to get that is to work in the 12 steps.  When he finally chose to do that, his life changed more than he could describe.  Today he is successful, married, a father, but he had to fix the problem in his psyche, in his mind, in his heart.

The way he thought and felt about himself had plagued him for so many years and was truly his demise.  “I was full of resentment, anger, grief, shame, and guilt.  I had to get it out, so God could come in”.

I can truly relate to those feelings of worthlessness, of shame, of resentment.  My low self-esteem had bottomed out to the point it didn’t exist anymore.  I had no coping skills to speak of and my “toolbox” was full of the wrong tools I needed to

work on this “machine” that was my mind, body, and soul.  The struggle was so exhausting because while I had lost all care for myself and carried no self-worth, my ego and pride had grown to enormous proportions.  I could not ask for help, because that would be admitting I had failed and could not solve my problems – problems I still fully could not admit I had.  I was aware of these ideas and how ludicrous they were, but simply could not figure out how to remove the wet blanket from around me.

I believe all of us have these similarities to our stories and because of the other alcoholics who have shared with me around the rooms and tables of A.A., I no longer feel alone.  Someone once gave me an empty box of darkness and I have come to understand and treasure that gift.  I needed it to be empty so I could fill it with me, my truth, my good qualities, my contributions, the goodness of my heart.  It contains my sobriety and the pieces and tools I need for my lifelong recovery.

The chaos in my life and my unnerving domestic situation just did not allow for any type of growth or recovery or sobriety of any kind.  Changes, big changes, had to occur for my story to turn around and for me to experience all of the blessings I am truly grateful for everyday.  The chaos had been nothing more than a distraction for myself and others so the real, true problems could not be seen.  Finding yourself alone and in jail can have a great humbling effect if you choose it to.  It was only through removing, giving everything in my life away, and experiencing some truly horrific events, that I was able to experience a psychic change and choose life.

Now I am hope.  I feel hope in all those around me.  I choose hope very morning when I wake and carry it with me throughout the day.  If I feel the need to refuel, I know I can go to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, call my sponsor, speak with another alcoholic and find it in their words, their comfort, their compassion and understanding.  I fill my internal jar of hope by staying out of my selfish, self-centeredness ways and doing for others.  Gratitude reminds me to be humble and that I offer so much help just by sharing my story and putting others first instead of myself.

My sobriety has a price tag just like every other person living.  All lessons have a cost.  I am grateful my recovery did not cost my life, but it did require vast sacrifices and still might in the future.  The unknown will always be to “what lengths” I will have to be willing to go to in order to stay recovered from the grips of alcoholism.  I am forever grateful to be the person I am today and to stand on my feet so proud to know I am an alcoholic and committed to my recovery and helping others to recover.  I could have never imagined my life would be so full of joy and happiness.  I embrace everyday and have received nothing but wonder and serenity in return.

How Do You Stay Sober For Over 30 Years? – An Inspiring Story of Hope From a Recovering Alcoholic

What Does An Alcoholic Look Like???   –   Danny M. 

 

Danny M. is now the second fellow alcoholic who will be sharing part of his experience, strength, and hope on getsoberbitch.com and I am truly grateful for his honesty and enthusiasm.  It has been a pleasure getting to know him and he is truly an inspiration to me and reminds me that some bridges can be rebuilt stronger and better than they were before, through living life in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Danny has decades of sobriety under his belt and he still comes to at least one meeting everyday.  He reminds me that is a process not an event and my journey of recovery will have hills and valleys, but one thing remains and that is the open door of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I worked at a large company and was paid very well.  After working there for 10 years, I realized I had nothing to show for it.  I had nothing because I was always out shooting pool, drinking, and hanging around bars.  It got so bad that my wife had to go out and get a job and I went to work for my dad at his shop.  Even then, we still couldn’t make it and I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t make it.  When I sobered up I found out why we were struggling.

All my checks were going to bars.  $20 here, $50 there, all of the “high-class” places I was spending my time.  I found out real soon that the company I worked for didn’t appreciate my drinking.  I was laid off many times because of my drinking and they fired me twice because of my disease of alcoholism.

 

When I walked in the company I thought this is the job for me.  The other guys all had bottles in their back pockets and I thought I was in the right place.  The problem was that I didn’t know how to quit.  When I started drinking I would always drink to the extent, to the extreme.  I was mean and shit.  When I sobered up they told me I was real lucky.  I got to my bottom pretty young.  I was living with a woman who was much older than me.  She owned a bar and I was selling all sorts of hot stuff out of there.  The boosters around town would all come to me with anything and I would sell it off.

After coming into the program I learned what to do with all that money I had been carrying around in my pocket.  I bought my first house, my first car, and that was great.  This was very different than the life I had been living before when I was in my addiction to alcohol.  I hung out at bars and lied so much to all the other guys in there that I didn’t know what was what anymore.

We would be sitting around talking about going to Vegas and I’d lie my ass off.  I would chime in, “Oh Yeah, I’ve been to Vegas.”  “Which one d’ya go to?” they would ask.  “Oh, I went to the downtown strip and went here and did this and that.”  Hell, I had never been to Vegas in my life.  But I lied so much I got to believing all of the lies.  Today is different.  I’ve been coast to coast and to Vegas.  My house is paid for, all of my cars, and other toys are all paid for, but I wouldn’t have any of it if I hadn’t quit drinking.

I was married to this gal and after she let me hit bottom, she divorced me because of this disease called alcoholism.  I didn’t know I had it when I showed up at my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting near me 3 years later.  I remarried this woman 12 years later and we have now been married for 24 years and she says “I’m the nicest woman and always have been, he’s the one that’s changed.”

 

I am very grateful for the program and it has given me so much more than I ever thought could have been possible.  I’m not bragging about what I have or trying to boast, the point is that if I can do it, then you can too.  One day at a time for me and it will always be that way.

If all of these things would have happened overnight and it would have come easy I probably would have gone out in 6 months and said screw it.  Gone out and got drunk because it would have been too easy.  But I had to get to my bottom and I had to realize that I was a drunk and could not handle alcohol on my own.

So I showed up at AA without knowing anything about the 12 steps or the program.  I had never even heard of Alcoholics Anonymous or any type of addiction recovery program or alcoholism treatment.  I realize I never went as low as a lot of people and I have heard many stories about living on the street, losing houses, getting arrested, serving time in jail and prison but I just got as low as I wanted to go.

I feel very fortunate that I cried out to God and got on my knees and he showed up.  Three guys showed up over 30 years ago now and I realized I was an alcoholic after having some long conversations with them and I haven’t had a drink since.  I’m not bragging on that again, the idea of it is, if I can do it you can do it too.  I don’t care how far your gone or how much trouble you feel you’ve put yourself in it’s about where your headed.

 

For me, it was about finally seeing where I was headed and I was afraid of going to the penitentiary and I was doing all the wrong things.  The cops were starting to show up and ask people if they knew who I was and where I was.  I was still involved in selling drugs and everything else and I got to the point where I wanted to change my life and I did.

I made a commitment to God and to myself and I came into AA and paid attention, wrote things down, took it seriously.  But it took time and you have to be careful not to rush it.  I think it is important for newcomers to ask questions and to work the steps in order, because I went from Step 1 admitting I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable to Step 9 trying to make amends to everyone.  It doesn’t work that way.  I was just trying to feel better about myself, but you have to do the steps in the order listed and there is reason behind it.

This program of Alcoholics Anonymous has worked really well for me over the years and I still go to several meetings throughout the week and share my story of experience, strength, and hope.  I have gained a wonderful life and so much I can never repay back because of this program.

 

 

When You Love An Addict

(This wonderful poem was shared with me when I was in a treatment program.  I believe the poetry originated from one of the inmates in a Women’s Prison in Missouri.  I along with my fellow “clients” in treatment really enjoyed the words and I hope this is something I can share to give a perspective that might not have been considered before.)

I am not an alcoholic or addict, but try and love one, and then see if you can look me square in the eyes and tell me that you didn’t get addicted to trying to fix them.

If you’re lucky, they recover.  If you’re lucky, you recover too.

Loving an alcoholic can and will make you the most tired insomniac alive.  You will stand in the doorway of their bedroom and pled with them that you “just want them back”.  If you watch the person you love disappear right in front of your eyes long enough, you will start to dissolve too.  Those not directly affected won’t be able to understand why you are so focused on your loved one’s well-being, especially since, during the times of your family member’s active addiction, they won’t seem so concerned with their own.

Don’t become angry with these people.  They do not understand.  They are lucky to not understand.  You’ll catch yourself wishing that you didn’t understand either.

What if you had to wake up every day and wonder “if today was the day your family member was going to die?” will become a popular, not so rhetorical question.  Drug and alcohol addiction has the largest ripple effect that I have ever witnessed firsthand.

It causes parents to outlive their children.  It causes jail time and homelessness.  It causes sisters to mourn their siblings and nieces to never meet their aunts.  It causes an absence before the exit.  You will see your loved one walking and talking, but the truth is, you will lose them far before they actually succumb to their demons; which if they don’t find recovery, is inevitable.

Addiction causes families to come to fear a ringing phone or a knock on the door.  It causes vague obituaries.  I read the papers and I follow the news; and it is scary.  “Died suddenly” has officially become obituary speak for “another young person found dead from a drug overdose or an alcohol related death”.

Drug and alcohol addiction causes bedrooms and social media pages to become memorials.  It causes things to break, like the law, trust, and the “tomorrows”.  It causes statistics to rise and knees to fall.  Now, praying seems like the only thing left to do sometimes.

People have a way of pigeonholing those who suffer from addiction.  They call them “trash”, “junkies”, or “criminals”, which is hardly ever the truth.  Addiction is an illness.  Addicts have families and aspirations.

You will learn that addiction doesn’t discriminate.  It doesn’t care if the addict came from a loving home or a broken family.  Addiction doesn’t care if you are religious.  Addiction doesn’t care if you are a straight A student or a drop out.  Addiction doesn’t care what ethnicity you are.

Addiction will show you that one bad decision and one lapse in judgement can alter the course of an entire life.  Addiction doesn’t care.  Period.  But you care.

You will learn to hate the drug but love the addict, hate the drink but love the alcoholic.  You will begin to accept that you need to separate who the person once was with who they are now.

It is not the person who drinks, but the alcoholic.  It is not the person who steals to support their habit, but the addict.  It is not the person who spews obscenities at their family, but the addict.  It is not the person who lies, but the alcoholic.

And yet, sadly, it is not the addict who dies, but the person.