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.

Can An Alcoholic Learn New Tricks? – She Has Learned To Love Life Again.

 

What Does An Alcoholic Look Like???  –  

Sarah Lynn H.

 

I am truly blessed to have spoken with a woman who has received a new life thanks to the sobriety and recovery she found at the hands of Alcoholics Anonymous and her devotion to prayer.  I am inspired by every word and I am happy she wanted to share a piece of what she has been through and learned so far on her journey of recovery.  Even an alcoholic can learn new tricks and Sarah has learned so many.  She challenges herself daily, sets goals and ways to track her achievements.  She has found new ways to celebrate her wins, big and small and to always help others through selfless acts of kindness.  Unfortunately, Sarah had to experience a great deal of pain and loss before becoming the wonderful recovering alcoholic she is today.

 

 

All my life and especially when i was drinking my emotions were all around me and all over the place.  They were bouncing off the walls of the room I isolated myself in.  I was married for 26 years and a great deal of my dependence rested on the shoulders of my husband and my children.  Always everything that was going on around me, but never me.  After I lost my husband and the children had all grown up and were out of the home, I was lost.

I had always measured my life, measured my worth on whether I had a husband who was happy, if I had happy and content children, if everyone else was doing well.  I never stopped to consider myself and that I was slowly giving away pieces of me a little at a time until I woke up and had no idea where my self worth had gone.  I had become so damaged that I could not recognize when someone was trying to help me and would lash out at them, push them away, isolate and drink.

I put everything I thought I should be, my value, in the opinions of other people.  I convinced myself I was going to be “punished” for not “doing enough” so I simply came to a point where I stopped trying all together.  I had literally no idea where to even begin to answer the questions of “What did I want for my life?”, “What makes me happy?” and I was so hopeless as to how to figure that out.  When you place all of your self-esteem and will to live in everyone else’s hands they will eventually drop it like a used up tissue.  When my children no longer needed me to move through life, they unknowingly threw away my self love.

I never set out to become a drinker.  I started socially, with friends, then alcohol took over completely within a few years.  I knew the more I drank, the more depressed I felt, but somewhere the line was crossed.  I no longer had a choice in drinking, I physically couldn’t stop.  My relationship with myself, which was destructive and hurtful, began to bleed out onto everyone who would dare come around me.  Soon my children didn’t want to see me or talk to me, not to mention didn’t want me anywhere near their own children.  I had become a monster and I couldn’t even see it because of the thick fog I had allowed to set in.

 

In talking with other alcoholics and through working with a sponsor I was able to relearn how to accept compliments, allow myself to be treated to something nice, feel positive about taking time for me to just sit in peace and reflection, and be around people again in a positive and uplifting way.  I learned how to forgive myself and to quit beating myself up.  There was an older woman who gave me my first gift in AA.  

It was not something I would have ever purchased and I didn’t have the heart to tell her I thought it was the gaudiest thing I had ever seen.  She handed me a small bag and neatly coiled inside was a long, fluffy, feathery pink boa.

Then she told me to stop beating myself up with the 2 x 4 and use a feather boa instead.  I completely understood what she was getting at and was surprised anyone saw that I was still continuing to struggle with forgiveness for myself, shame, and guilt.

I am making progress today by praying first, turning to my book of Alcoholics Anonymous or the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, instead of immediately picking the phone up and calling someone for help.  I realize now that God really does have the power and is in control of my life.  I have gladly and willingly given that over to him and reaffirm that decision every morning.  I have been able to rebuild the relationships with my children a little at a time and it has been 5 years since I have taken a drink.

 

I will always be working on my sobriety and spiritual self as much as I can to keep my emotional self balanced.  I feel so wonderful now after all of the work leading up to Step 12 and wholeheartedly practice the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous in al my affairs.

I had to relearn self worth, self-esteem, and self love if I was ever going to be able to give a healthy love to anyone else ever again.  Rebuilding took a whole lot of time, but I started with little steps.  I worked on my physical needs first which was to stop drinking.  In order to have a chance at sobriety I started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and then became involved in the program, not just around it.

I now practice positive self talk, find joy in helping others by sharing stories of my struggles, and enjoy dancing, laughing, and relaxing with my wonderful ladies of the program.  These women have always been there for me and have loved me when I could not even remember how to love myself.  I have gained a new perspective on life and am so blessed beyond anything I deserve.  God’s grace is truly doing for me, what I could not do for myself.

 

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.

 

 

What can I read about AA and addiction? Where to start if you feel lost in recovery.

 

Big Book – A new freedom and a new happiness

Here you will find several titles including the “Big Book” and the “12 & 12”.  While these two titles are the most popular, there exist several other great guides, historical books, biographies, and supplemental guides to help you understand the program of AA better and to assist you in your own sobriety and recovery or the recovery of another.

I will also be adding some great links to audio material if you are not a reader or have difficulty visually.  I encourage you to at least pick up some recovery and sobriety material.  My mother was able to email me the first 164 pages of the “Big Book” while I was in jail so I could begin to read and it brought me a hope that was otherwise unavailable in the county jail I vacationed at.

I am amazed at the number of titles that do exist and I applaud all of the authors who take the time to contribute, organize, interview, assess, and wrap everything up for us in great informational sobriety booster shots.  I have not read through every title listed here, but am working my way through one day at a time.

What is your favorite book to read about recovery?  Is there a specific author or title that provides you with hope and inspiration in your recovery?  Please comment below or email me at getsoberbiatch@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is a grief letter and why should I write one?

“Yet why not say what happened?”  –  Robert Lowell

Grief has many forms we do may have not considered yet.  We can grieve a death, a relationship, a lost job, lost time, even objects like a car or a home.  Grief has no limits and is personal to each one of us.  Grief is defined as “deep sorrow especially that caused by someone’s death.  It is a noun which means grief itself is at the root a person, place, or thing.  When I think about grief as a noun I am reminded of the many forms and applications this word has.

AA17.4.24.2018

In my addiction, I went through much grief.  I did not realize it at the time, but I was grieving the loss of control, loss of myself, loss of friends and family I was pushing away and hurting.  I was grieving the life I had lived, the life I wanted so badly to live, and the joy I once had.  My grief was not limited to those people and objects around me, it was bigger than those things.

In a brilliant article “Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later,” John James and Russell Friedman compare the heart to an auto engine. It’s an imperfect world, despite the fantasies of perfectionists, so loss and hurt often start at an early age.  “You might recognize the title from an advertising slogan for an automotive product several years ago,” they write. The idea was that if you spend a little money on maintenance now, you might save a tremendous amount replacing an entire engine later.”

“In the auto commercial it was failure to change the oil filter which led to a build up of crud, which clogged and eventually destroyed the motor. Thus, buy an inexpensive filter now or buy a whole new engine later.”

As we go through life, they say, stuffing when we’re hurt instead of grieving, this “crud” builds up around our hearts and thickens year on year. “Grief is negative, and cumulatively negative,” they say, in a key insight.

Then a serious tragedy hits, like a death or divorce, and we don’t realize it, but it triggers all those past hurts we never grieved. Our hearts are breaking inside – but our heart is so hard outside, due to the thick crud, that we can’t see out, so we go into a tailspin.

Now we’re in big trouble and with decades of crud around our hearts.  I have heard, seen, and felt the pain of others while they were sharing their own grief letters and 100% of the time, afterwards, they all felt a sense of relief and healing.

AA2.4.24.2018While writing my first grief letter during treatment I joked that I would be writing a “grief book”.  This is so true for me and I am sure it is true for many of us in recovery.  As we move forward and continuously revisit some of the 12 steps, we can also find it helpful to continuously put pen to paper and add to our “grief book”.  Some write a letter to their addiction, to alcohol, or to their parents and other loved ones.  While some write an autobiographical story about their past traumas or hardships and what led them into the entangling web of alcoholism and addiction.

Each one of us have a different experience with life and the triumphs and challenges.  I believe grief letters are extremely important to flush out these emotions and finally find freedom from the weight we carry.  We must admit, with brutal honesty, those decisions and choices we have made and the painful outcomes resulting from them in order to grieve, accept, and release.

I have included my first grief letter, on a separate page, written in treatment earlier this year.  I hope you find some inspiration for your own.  Please share any thoughts with me in the comments section.  I look forward to hearing from all of you.