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.

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

 

Do Meeting Makers Really Make It? Are AA Meetings Really Important?

What excuses do you have for not attending AA meetings?  I was speaking with a friend about this very topic and he said “I get stuck in my head and I forget to go to meetings.   I know a lot of people who still drink and still do all of the old “stuff”, but I need to be around people who are doing something different.”

We need to be around people who are staying sober.  A gentleman told me about a conversation he had with a fellow alcoholic before the start of a meeting a few weeks back.  He says, “A friend of mine bought himself a shiny, new motorcycle and now thinks he is going to be a big, bad, biker.  He asked me, ‘Wanna ride my bike?’.  No, I don’t wanna ride your bike!  I went through all of that.”  He doesn’t have anything personally against bikers, but he has already lived that phase and he wants to be someone different.  He said, “I have experienced a lot of things sober and I want to be something different today.”

“I want to feel good today without the wrong way of living.  That is what it is about for me right now.  I know where the solution is if I need or want to get better and if I don’t want to get better I know where else to go too.  Today, that is my choice and I am the only one who can change that.  There is no one to blame but me.  Meetings are my group therapy and the fellowship of AA has succeeded where the therapists and psychiatrists didn’t.”

“What is this power that AA possesses?  This curative power?” – Pg.308 BB

I have heard it said very plainly, “meetings help me get out of the selfie, self-centered way of thinking.”  I have also heard, “meeting makers make it.”  However, we can go to meetings and share with others and listen to others, but we must always listen with an open mind and act upon what we learn in these halls.  We need to work the steps, we need to work with other alcoholics.  We really need to do the simple things that we are taught from the very beginning.  This is a process that takes time, patience, surrendering, being honest with ourselves and taking our own inventory.  Those are things we must do on a day to day basis.

There are many people who want an easier, softer way, but “are you willing to go to any length” it asks in the Big Book.  If you feel that you have all the answers, you have not been paying attention and are not being honest with yourself.  Following the steps laid out in the Big Book is key and we must all keep going back to this literature over and over and over.  This literature, these points are something shared in every AA meeting I have attended.

I have heard several members of AA speak of relapses and the one thing all of them have in common is the fact that they stopped attending meetings.  Some might have had different events take place in their lives, but the common thread is the absence of Alcoholics Anonymous in their lives.  If I see or speak with someone who is struggling with their sobriety, I ask them a few questions.  First, How many meetings have you been going to?  Second, How much have you been reading?  I ask those questions to help a person really take a look at themselves and what their actions have been, not what is only on their mind.

We should always be seeking some growth in our recovery.  I do not believe 1 or 2 meetings per week promotes growth.  Simply ask yourself how many days a week did you drink?  Most of us drank 7 days a week, so we will need 7 meetings a week to find our growth.  Find an AA hall you enjoy that is helpful with your recovery, then find two, or more if you need to.  Get yourself to a meeting, and then another, and then a few more.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path” – Pg.58 BB  

Have you been failing?  Have you been failing miserably?  Do you only come to meetings when the “shit hits the fan”?  When it is getting really bad or something tragic just happened.  If we find ourselves in trouble at work, don’t we make a point to show up early, stay late.  Don’t we become the best employee and offer to do anything we can to “make up” for the misery and problems we caused?  Recovery and sobriety is the same for some.

I see people who are only at meetings to achieve something.  “I only want to get my kids back”, “I don’t want my husband to leave me”, “I have to get through with this legal stuff and make the judge happy”.  As soon as they accomplish their goal, you don’t see them anymore because they are only at AA to appease someone else.

There seems to be a pattern with relapse when it pertains to attending meetings.  We go to few meetings.  Then we stop showing up for meetings all together.  We stop talking to other alcoholics.  Finally, we drink again.  Is going to meetings all you have to do?  Hell no!  But, if we can’t do something simple like going to meetings, what makes us think that we would read the Big Book,talk with a sponsor, or work any of the steps.  If we can not come to meetings, be reminded to work the steps, and be around others in recovery we will resort to our old ways eventually.

Alcoholism and addiction is simply not something we can fix on our own.  I strongly believe the repair and relief from the pain of alcoholism starts with meetings.  I have heard many comment “Well, meetings didn’t work for me.” and they are obviously right because nothing is going to work for you if you don’t want it to.  You could go to a hundred treatment centers and they won’t work if you don’t want them to.  You could have both Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob as your sponsors from beyond the grave and if you do not want to stay sober, you are not going to stay sober.  I keep coming to meetings because in meetings I hear what I need to hear to keep me sober and it is as simple as that.  So I challenge you to attend a meeting every day this week.  Just for one week and if you feel what I feel when I go, you will keep coming back for more and more.

 

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 does an alcoholic look like??? – Christa L.

A huge thank you to Christa for being the first contributing writer to GetSoberBitch!  I am so thrilled you reached out to me and wanted to share your story of alcoholism.  I truly appreciate the honesty and openness you had in our conversations yesterday and look forward to having more updates as to your progress and your encouraging thoughts about sobriety and recovery.

I don’t know how to begin sharing my story…but let me start by introducing myself.  I am a “newly-turned” 31-year-old mother of a rambunctious 4 year old daughter and one adorable baby boy who is 11 months old.

Alcohol, in one form or another, has been a part of my life for the past 14 years.  At first, I didn’t realize I had a problem – and once I did, I felt like it was too late.  I have been arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct a few times and was able to pick up a few DWI charges as well.

When I was ordered to go through my first treatment program I was resistant.  “I did not have a problem with drinking”, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But as the classes went by and I spent night after night wide awake in that empty room I realized a few things about myself.  I thought I might suffer from depression, but I had never gotten medical help for it.  I used alcohol as a coping mechanism and through the therapy sessions forced upon me during my stay, I desperately wanted to get rid of my problem.

The only time I have stayed sober for an extended time was over the 9 months I was pregnant with my daughter and even then it was very hard.  I thought about alcohol throughout the whole pregnancy and I couldn’t wait to start drinking again.  As excited as I was about having my baby, it was the thoughts about finally being able to drink again that really kept me going.  I celebrated in the maternity ward the evening after my daughter was born with a bottle of champagne, meant for us to take home, and a 6 pack of Bud Light.

It is true, I had my first drink in the hospital; my ex husband brought the beer for us to celebrate and the champagne had been a take home gift.  I waited until my ex fell asleep and couldn’t hold out any longer.  Opening the bottle was a struggle, but using the various medical tools available in the room, I was able to crack it open and quench my thirst.  I was breastfeeding at the time, so I wasn’t supposed to have much.  That night I didn’t even think about my new baby, only myself.  Truth be told, I only breastfed my daughter for 3 months because I wanted to drink more often. I felt ashamed everyday, but somehow I just couldn’t put the bottle down.

Alcohol addiction has kept me separated from my family.  My isolation began while on maternity leave the first time and just continued even when I returned to work.  I came home and began drinking before I even started dinner.  When I became pregnant withe my son I hid the pregnancy for months so I could keep drinking and then pretend I had no idea I saw the positive pregnancy tests months before and had already heard the heartbeat of my second baby.

I drank off and on throughout the rest of my pregnancy and this led to many fights with my now ex husband.  I just didn’t care enough to try and save my marriage or care for my daughter.  This eventually led to our divorce.  I felt like I had lost my

worth as a human being – and as a wife mother – due to alcohol.  Everyday was painful, knowing that my little ones would never grow up living with a mom and dad who were together but this still wasn’t enough hurt to stop my alcoholism.

I sometimes thought about ending my life, but the leaving my children motherless was too much.  Everyone outside of my marriage believed I was an amazing mother just doing the best I could after my ex left.  The “shit hit the fan” when I was arrested for a second DWI and I had to call my parents this time, not my husband, to pick me up from jail.  I remember the shame I felt when I saw them and the fact that children’s service was now involved was the tipping point for me.

I had a lot of people fooled.  My daughter was the happiest child you have ever come across and my son was a beautiful newborn.  I wanted to be able to lead a normal life, keep my children, and find relief from my isolating, crippling depression.  With the help of my parents, I went into a treatment program again and this time my attitude was different.  I had to do it to keep my children and my sanity.  I was really ready to deal with my depression and find help for my alcoholism.

To be honest, I wish I would have waited to have my children until after I overcame my problem.  The hard part was that I did not recognize I had a problem at all.  I wish my ex husband would have held a mirror up to my face when I could not and drug me to counseling, but he didn’t.  My family deserved my undivided attention and I just could not distract myself from the bottle long enough to see that I was the one who abandoned them first.

I’m a recovering alcoholic single mother of two children now. My hope for the future is to make it to 1 year of sobriety and keep going from there.  The other day, my social worker said I could have a career in being a social worker because I understand children’s needs. If she only knew everything that really happened.  Her thoughts do give me encouragement and hope for the future though.  If other women in my situation can learn from my mistakes and struggles, that is who I want to help.  I am 8 months sober today and taking classes part time in social work.  I never thought I would live with my parents again, but they are a strong support system for me and their patience is amazing.

I’m sharing my story to figure out how I can offer help to others.

I want to be free. I will not give up on myself.

Monday Music Therapy

How music and recovery go hand in hand

Music allows us to express feelings we can not otherwise express.  Music has a sense of anonymity because no two peole have to feel or think the same thing when listening to a piece of music.  Music is powerful.  It stirs up hidden emotions,  brings forth memories, and allows us to process and release aggression, grief, desperation, and joy.  Music has increased recovery from addiction and various mental illnesses as well as aiding those suffering from Alzheimers, Parkinsons, strokes, and other medical ailments.

Many treatment centers have turned toward incorporating music and art therapy into their standards with positive results.  The specific treatment center I attended in January and February of this year utilized music therapy.  Each one of us “clients” had different reactions to different music and we were all able to relate to each other in some way.  The lyrics always opened up new dialogue and allowed all of us to see new perspectives and learn and grow.

Music therapy works in addiction recovery through a therapist developed treatment plan. This includes music making practices along with counseling, psychotherapy, and other forms of evidence-based treatments, to ensure a well-rounded approach to the recovery of addiction.

Hearing the light

Music is a form of creative self-expression and often allows the user to communicate in a non-conventional manner. Many recovering addicts and alcoholics are often filled with shame and guilt and have years of built up blockages that prevent them from positively expressing themselves.

Music therapy helps users, especially through music that is nostalgic for them, identify and cope with any past emotional trauma, and process it with a therapist or group facilitator. It allows users to:

  • Examine emotions and self-esteem.
  • Enhance positivity.
  • Empower themselves through success.
  • Improve self-awareness.
  • Increase attention and concentration.
  • Build coping and problem-solving strategies.
  • Enhance mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
  • Improve interpersonal skills.

To the beat of a different drum

Here are a few selections to enjoy.  Please comment below with suggestions for the next Monday Music Therapy post and include any comments of what these songs mean for you.