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.

 

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.

 

 

How Can I Accept The Things I Cannot Change? – Serenity Prayer at Work

 

Acceptance is Difficult and Painstaking but Provides a Freedom I Must Have to Live Today.

 

 

The topic of acceptance is definitely a popular one.  I have struggled with acceptance and realizing that I can not control the outcome of situations long before I ever took my first drink.  Control was always a big deal for me from a very young age.  I did not like being told what to do and if you really wanted me to do something, you simply had to tell me I couldn’t or I shouldn’t.  It am so thankful for the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous and truly grateful the chairs around the tables of the AA halls are there because through this program I have learned acceptance.  I have been able to solve problems that had nothing to do with my alcoholism by simply learning how to accept the things and situations in my life.

In a conversation a few weeks ago an AA friend of mine was sharing some thoughts on acceptance and peace with me and he said, “I can be an asshole, even with 5 years of sobriety, but it makes my day miserable.  When I’m at not at peace, don’t have peace of mind, I feel miserable.  After all the years in Catholic school and all the years in Catholic church, the Serenity Prayer has been the most helpful to me and it was something I never heard in either of those places.  The Serenity Prayer made the most sense to me and it was something shared with my mother in Alanon and she shared with us when my father was dealing with his alcoholism.”

I use the Serenity Prayer quite often when I find something in my life unacceptable and at times there are several things I find unacceptable, and it is perfectly okay for me to find some things unacceptable.  I can change my reaction to the thing.  I can change my response to the thing.  I can change my connection to the thing, but I can not change the thing.

However, there are actions I can take.  I can choose to go sit in the corner and do nothing or take steps to see that I do not place myself in that uncomfortable and unwanted situation again.  I can take steps to make sure the pattern does not continue where I am finding myself dealing with unnerving things.

 

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.  When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, or situation – some fact of my life  – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.”  –  Pg. 417 BB Alcoholics Anonymous

 

 

When I drank I didn’t have any set of standards or boundaries and I found myself in places that were unwanted.  It still amazes me to this day, I survived certain experiences.  I do not live like that today and have no desire to ever go back to anything remotely close.  I have standards and boundaries because of the things I have learned living in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and I know I have choices.

Other people, if they wish, can do that as long as they don’t have their hand on my leg dragging me down.  These are gifts, of knowledge, I have received from the AA halls and other alcoholics like me.  I share my experiences and the lessons I have learned with the hope they will not fall on deaf ears and truly be the tipping point for someone else who might be in the same horrible place I once was.

 

“Before A.A. I judged myself by my intentions, while the world was judging me by my actions.”  –  Pg. 418 BB Alcoholics Anonymous

 

 

On my own, I could fuck things up so bad, there wasn’t anything left do but drink.  I wasn’t practicing any program.  My loved ones are packing their “bags” and getting ready to leave.  My kids don’t want to be around me.  The story went on and on because I created my own problems until I finally put my foot down and gained some acceptance.  It was helpful for me to then realize that sometimes by not doing anything, things come out a lot better.  Keeping my mouth shut was a difficult task for me to learn how to do.  I put it in to practice daily now, and it amazes me how calming, peaceful, and better I feel when unwanted or uncomfortable situations are hard for me to accept at first.

 

I had to chill my attitude out a little bit at a time until my head was cleared of all the shady characters that used to live there.  It was a bad neighborhood I didn’t even want to walk around in.  Acceptance has been the key for me in clearing out those nasty characters and sweeping out the clutter and trash.  AA meetings and hanging out with other alcoholics has been a key to unlocking these lessons for me.  I have been really reading and studying the Big Book and the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions material over the last several months and they too are a necessary part of my recovery from alcoholism and maintaining my sobriety.

 

“It helped me a great deal to become convinced that alcoholism was a disease, not a moral issue; that I had been drinking as a result of a compulsion, even though I had not been aware of the compulsion at the time.” . . . “At last, acceptance proved to be the key the my drinking problem.”  –  Pg. 416 BB Alcoholics Anonymous

 

 

Are You Living In The Solution Or The Problem? Does Relapse Have To Be Part Of Recovery?

 

“When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away.  From that moment on, I have not had a single compulsion to drink.” – BB Pg. 417

 

If I lose my focus on why I am here, in recovery, and what I am about, the insanity returns and then I will drink.  I have to do everything in my power to change this before the insanity returns and I destroy myself.

Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of your recovery and I work hard everyday to do my best so as to prevent that.  Others are not so fortunate.  Some have the experience of being in and out of the program for years until they realized they could not have “just one” and decided to do whatever it took.  I have seen alcoholics take the very courageous step of walking back through the doors of the AA hall and honestly admit they allowed their mind to Others become overconfident with their decades of sobriety and develop  ideas that “they are cured, don’t ya know”.

I have listened to many of these tales and the one thing in common is they stopped attending AA meetings, stopped talking to other alcoholics, and put down the Big Book.  In that case, you can not afford to beat yourself up.  You never lose what you learned, the knowledge you gained during the length of sobriety you had.  You simply lose the time, the date, your pride, and also your arrogance.

They still know what they have to do to stay sober and the most important thing they remembered was they had to walk back through the door.  They might have tried to stay sober at home and found out that they eventually spread themselves too thin doing for everyone else and forgetting to put their recovery first.  They forgot how much they needed the program to stay sober.

 

How do I find the solution?  There are a lot of alcoholics who need the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, but you really have to want the program.  It must be more important than anything else in your life.  If I am not sober, I have nothing to offer anyone else.  If I am sober, I can go to work.  If I am sober, I can be a mother.  If I am sober, I can be a wife.

If I am sober I can do a lot of things the right way, but it takes whatever it takes.  It took every single drink I took to get me into sobriety and if I would have stopped one short, I wouldn’t have walked through those doors of AA and would not be sober today.  I had to run out of good ideas.  Sharing the pain with other alcoholics helps us to find a solution to our problems.  Attending meetings allows us to learn things about ourselves and can help us to work an honest program.

If you give an alcoholic a fork in the road, he will always take the wrong choice.

 

 

I depend upon other alcoholics to show me what they did to stay sober 24 hours at a time.  I pay attention to the people who have had success and try and follow in their footsteps, but I also pay attention to the alcoholics who walk in an out and around the program and try not to do what they do.  I have to use everything the program offers to my benefit.  I must use m

y successes and my failures if I am to stay on the path of recovery for the rest of my life.  This is a process, a journey, not an event.  Liv

ing as a recovering alcoholic and maintaining my sobriety through Alcoholics Anonymous and following the guide laid out before me in the Big Book is what I must do if I am to survive and today I want more than anything to be alive.

I feel extremely fortunate to have joined AA at 34 years old because I have many years left and those aremore summers I can spend sober.  There will be many more Christmas’s and Birthday’s I can celebrate and remember.  I look forward to the days, months, and years ahead of me, but I must always attend meetings and surround myself with other alcoholics to keep from slipping back into the paralyzing depression I suffered for so many years.  I don’t want that pain again.  I don’t ever want to have those regrets from my addiction.  I refuse to go back to the lie I once had and strive everyday for something greater, something more than I could ever imagine.  Let go of the show, stop being the boss, quit trying to manage everything and keep coming back.

 

What If This? What If That? What If, What If, What If? – Worry Is A Cancer

How do I stop the constant worries from clouding my mind?  Is there anything I can do?

Worry – Do you have a problem?

  • No.  Then, don’t worry.
  • Yes.  Can you do something about it?
  • No.  Then don’t worry.
  • No.  Then don’t worry.

Worry grows like a cancer inside our heart and mind and will slowly consume you bit by bit.  These worrisome thoughts that grow inside us will never ever change the outcome of a situation, make something happen, or change some else’s mind.  Worry will not solve any problems, but will only take a peaceful mind and twist and twist until it is broken.  Anxiety can become the result of too much time spent in worry and anxiety occurred for me when I thought I had to figure out everything all at once.  My anxiety had a tight grip and control over my actions and my being that I was paralyzed.  I could not leave my home to go to the grocery store most days.  I was solely focused on what could go wrong, what others were thinking about me in their mind, what questions I might be asked by others, etc . . .

Over thinking, anxiety, and worry ruined life for me.  It twisted reality around so much that it ruined the way I saw life and made it impossible to see and think clearly.  Did I enjoy those feelings?  No.  Did I want and need some change?  Absolutely.  Living in the present and doing things for others helps me keep the anxiety and worry at bay.  Exercise has been very helpful as a way to distract my mind from worrisome thoughts and now I attend many AA meetings that pull everything back into a great perspective and remind me to meditate and read if I find my mind wandering down that particular road.

Do something for somebody else without being found out.  Don’t even let them know that you did it.  I remember a story a friend shared with me a while back about doing things for strangers.  Her grandmother grew up with nothing in her childhood and was also

a very giving woman.  She could never pass up a hitchhiker.  My friend never understood why she would do those things and was afraid her grandmother was going to be hurt or robbed by one of these strangers.  Eventually she became concerned enough and asked “why do you keep picking these people up Grandma?”.  Her grandmother couldn’t have put it better and simply replied, “Because someday darlin’, it might be me.” and left it at that.

I couldn’t stand myself when I drank.  I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without feelings of hatred, shame, grief, and others.  Giving to people, and I mean giving without any expectations at all, fuels me with peace.  You can give material possessions, time, money, several other options exist.  Remember, once you let it out of your hands and give it to somebody else, it is theirs.  It is not yours anymore.  I had to learn that I had no control over the gifts I gave also.  I would have expectations for the gifts I gave.    The recipient might waste it, throw it away, leave it on the floor.

“I have had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” – Mark Twain.  Worry jars can be helpful tools as well.  You simply write down any situations you are worried about as they come and then fold up the paper and place it into an empty coffee container, mason jar, or any other type of vessel you have to hold them.  Then, at a predetermined time in the future, maybe a few months, maybe a year, you open the jar and read back through what you wrote down.I have used a “worry jar” in the past and I will tell you honestly, most of the worries I wrote down never came to pass or fixed themselves.  I had even forgotten some of them.  If you are struggling with worry you might even give this a try also.  Write down what you believe your life will be like a year from now.  After one year, pull out what you have written and see how it measures up.  If you have been current with your sobriety and working your program of recovery, I would be willing to bet you will cut yourself short.  Try it again for another year and I am positive you will sell yourself short again.  We live a life better than we ever could imagine.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you start your Monday?

You have a choice everyday.

 

Getting Monday started off right with an 830 am meeting is a great way to start the day. Now for some work, refueling with an afternoon meeting, and more work. Love having a choice and choosing to be productive and positive! How did you start your day?

 

 

Meetings are very important for my recovery and I am writing this post as I await my transportation to a meeting at noon.  I am excited to hear what others have to share and hope I can contribute my thoughts and help another if they are struggling today.

 

AA exists for a reason and the primary objective is to help ourselves and other alcoholics stay sober.  I believe somewhere in the world there is a person I have never met who will here my story of hope and choose not to give up on themselves and sobriety because I chose not to.  I will never need to know if I helped another with my actions or words and that is not why I share.  

 

I attend meetings to learn from those who have stood where I stand now, those who have experience and suggestions as to what worked for them and what did not work for them.  I share to help myself maintain honesty within my program and I share because listening to others always help me learn more about myself and my addiction.

 

AA is a program of hope for me and hope is a choice we make everyday.  If hope is the one thing greater than Fear and Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real, then I choose for hope.  Hope to me is a simple as this:  Having Optimistic Perspectives Everyday.  Hope is not something another person can give to me, it is not a treasure to find under a rock, nor is it a mythical and magical thing.  I choose to have hope today and take steps with optimism or I choose not to.  How do you define hope for yourself?  Do you live in your recovery with optimism or do you struggle with choosing hope?

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.

When You Love An Addict

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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