I remember as a little girl waking up on the morning after my parents had a party the night before. I was usually in the company my elder brother and two boys of close family friends. The four of us (while parents still slept) would smoke the stumped-out cigarettes, drink the dregs left in the glasses and enjoy leftover pudding for breakfast. We hung out a lot together in those early years and it was like growing up with three elder brothers, not one.
When I came into Alcoholic Anonymous for the first time, at the age of twenty-five, I remember a statistic that one in four people were born alcoholics or would become alcoholic at some point in their life through consistent drinking. Looking back that the four little people having seemingly innocent childhood fun I was realised I was the one in four.
By the age of seven, I had identified alcohol as something special. I loved the ‘high’ feeling it gave me. My neurotransmitters fired off like most children on a fun fair ride, jumping in delight chanting, “let’s do it again!”. Which of course I did. Later as the years rolled on and the ‘fun’ increased those same brain synapses were beginning to get tired of the carnival.
For most addicts in adulthood, fun usually means trouble. That trouble can mean anyone of the following;
Fun = Police cell
Fun = Mental Health Institution
Fun = Hospital
Fun = Disgrace
Where ever the fun ended, it was never what we intended even if it was just a blackout and a hangover; the death of previously happy neurotransmitters. And that is where it all ends – the death of fun, enjoyment, vitality, progress and a passion for life. Desperation for the original glorious high keeps us soldering on with no knowledge that we are only just surviving.
Rock bottom will inevitably give us the reality check we need to identify the cause of all our ills. Usually with the help of someone who can explain it to us in the simplest of terms. Basic information together with a story that sounds much like our own coming from a seemingly happy and altogether person will usually be enough to get us to our first recovery meeting. What happens after that will be largely up to us.
Recovery came easily for me at first because I was so desperate. I knew (without knowing why) that what I was doing was going to end in death. My rock bottom clearly pointed to the culprit being alcohol but only in that if I drank again I could and probably would take my own life. Through others support and a program to follow, I got what I needed to get through each day one day at a time.
A year later there came a day I could not get through and had my famous three beer slip. That was fine it began and ended there. I took the crippling feeling of failure and put it to good use. I had failed because I needed to do more work on my anger issues and so that work began.
Four years later I drank again this time it did not stop straight away. There was a far larger problem looming than angry outbursts. I was going through a divorce and the rebound relationship I was in was not good. I had never been single and sober so learning how to do control the fear of being alone was my next challenge.
My third recovery relapse lasted ten years. There were many sober years during that time but my downfall was that I stopped going to meetings. I in effect stopped my recovery. All I had learned I had not lost but I was still in denial. I was not as patient or tenacious as I needed to be in my dealings with life on life’s terms whilst drinking even moderately. In hindsight, a low-level depression lay just below the surface for many years causing problems that could have been avoided had I gave my all to my personal growth and that of others.
I stopped dating and learned how to live alone but there was no one to share anything with and no one to help me grow as an individual. I single mildly perused religious activities in a desire to live Step Eleven to my best ability. Not seeing that God gave a Twelve Step program for a reason. One step no matter how honorable is not enough to live your life by.
Eventually, those years of denial caught up with me slowly and insidiously. The depression crept its way to the surface and I had to face the fact that my sadness and alcohol were once again connected. Disconnect from one and the other will become less of a crippling problem.
It’s been three years today, 29 December 2016. I am sober, and no longer allow depression to control me. Even though I still have to deal with it from time to time I am looking forward to the new year. I am sure 2017 it will contain all the challenges that this last year afforded me but I am confident that I will tackle each one in turn and succeed by getting through the year one day at a time, with meetings, with friends, with sobriety and by sharing my experience strength and hope with others. This year I will stick with the winners in recovery listen and learn from those fighting for a full life regardless wether they are one day sober or fifity years sober. I am in recovery.