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The Best Thing About Me (12 days shy of 28 years clean and sober)

Twenty-eight years ago the worst thing about me was that I couldn’t stop using drugs—and stay stopped. My DOC was cocaine, but I was a garbage head; I would partake in whatever was going around, especially if it was free. As a reasonably attractive, thirty-something woman whose motto was I work hard so I deserve to party hardy, drugs were easy to come by. And alcohol, being legal, was the socially acceptable, standby attitude adjuster.

I had known for many years that I was addicted to drugs, but I wasn’t ready to do anything about it until my family was forced apart, police and social services were meddling in my affairs, and I was worried about losing my two children. At first, even this was insufficient to cause a change in my behavior. However, within a short time I found myself alone, locked in my master bathroom, free-basing, and not enjoying it at all. In fact, all I could do was cry! This was the beginning of the end for me.

My previous attempts at staying clean, usually prompted by severe sickness or humiliation of some sort, always ended with me convincing myself that because I stopped for a period of time and because I had a good job, a nice home and car, I was now in control. Or I’d get drunk, think about using, and go get high. Even though I wasn’t ready to admit I was an alcoholic, I had the desire to stop drinking in order to stay away from my DOC. This was good news when I walked into my first AA meeting; it meant I belonged even though I was uncertain if I was an alcoholic.

After staying clean and sober for several months, going to meetings daily, the fog in my head that I didn’t know existed began to lift. I realized that I put Kahlua in my coffee every day, yet in my mind this was not drinking in the morning. It was just coffee! (I drank so much Kahlua I made it myself from grain alcohol to cut down on the expense.) Another realization was that I had frequent blackouts. Didn’t everyone loose time once in a while?

I met people in the meetings who were clean and sober, lived the steps of recovery, and seemed happy. I was told if I wanted what they had, I should do what they did. I desperately wanted to be happy so I asked a woman with four years of sobriety to be my sponsor and embarked on the steps under her direction. She never told me what to do when I relayed the wreckage of the future dancing around in my head, but she told me what to read, what step to work, to pray, to share in a meeting, or all of the above. She reminded me that if I stayed clean and sober today, that was something for which I could be grateful. Of course, it was my choice. I could focus on the problem or the solution! Meanwhile, I got a service position as the coffee maker for my home group.

At about five years sober I was divorced, that nice home went into foreclosure, my car was repossessed, and I declared personal bankruptcy. My new sober friends were not fair weather. They helped me maintain my sobriety through all the tears, along with my Higher Power.

Every character defect I uncover, discover, and discard with help in sobriety can take the same route as my alcoholism and addiction when I use the experience to assist someone else who is going through something similar. Twelve-step recovery is a formula for living that really works if you live it. My addiction experience, once undoubtedly the worst thing about me, is what makes me credible to the new person. And when a newcomer asks what’s in it for me and I tell them I have to give sobriety away to keep it myself, that they’re helping me just as much, if not more than I’m helping them, it’s a win-win scenario.

My childhood religious upbringing never resulted in a meaningful personal relationship with Spirit like I’ve found through doing my best to live by spiritual principles. And, believe me, I don’t do it perfectly! As I write this I’m twelve days shy of celebrating twenty-eight years clean and sober. As difficult as situations can be at times, because of recovery my life today is rewarding, fulfilling, and full of mystery. I’m learning to trust God and embrace the mystery instead of fearing it. Since suffering from addiction brought me to recovery and the spiritual life I love, I can truly say the best thing about me is that I’m an alcoholic and addict—one who does not drink or drug no matter what, one day at a time.

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