Dee’s Story

“I’m sober. That was never my plan. My plan was to go to meetings and therapy in order to get everyone to like me again. Manipulation was my go-to response to life. When that didn’t work as well as I had hoped, I ignored what wasn’t working well for me.

My addiction was to alcohol, to which I regularly added weed and barbiturates, if I could get them. During the week, I used and drank heavily at least 3 nights and almost always Sat and Sunday, from late morning until the early hours of the next morning. I had regular blackouts and generally ended episodes of using by passing out. I considered marijuana not harmful for me, and used it pretty constantly when not working.

There had been more and more of those times when I’d angered and/or scared those close to me. My rage, that companion I’d carried with me from childhood as the daughter and sometime target of my two raging parents, was more evident during my hangovers. I was failing to be a reliable or safe mother to the person who has always mattered most to me, my own daughter. I was generally driving drunk or hungover many nights throughout the week, as well as needing others to fill in the parental role while I got drunk and high.

Not to mention an emergency room visit, from which I stumbled away, walking a couple of miles while heavily drugged. (First by me, as I used alcohol and pills throughout a long night out. Then, by the hospital, as they tried to keep me on the table while sewing up my chin and mouth, after I’d crashed into a utility pole.)

Later, I realized that my no-shows to work, where I counseled college students (!) were increasingly concerning others who worked with me. My boss sent me to an addictions counselor.

I liked her very much. And I lied to her because I wanted her to like me. I hoped I be her “best” client!

Even though my not-so-truthful response to assessment indicated that I wasn’t addicted…she urged me to go to AA, “just to see what may be ahead of you.” I do not mean to belittle her skills. Its just that she was not an addict and I was able to fool her to some extent. I wanted my job to continue and I wanted her approval, so I agreed to attend a meeting.

So I went to AA. (I had been on the verge of throwing up throughout the 24 hours, before I showed up in a room of 15 other people!)

It wasn’t too hard to sit through the meetings, which was a nice surprise. I planned to suggest that they edit out the God stuff…in a month or so, when I figured I’d probably be an running things if I kept coming to meetings! (Grandiosity, much?)

Amazingly and very slowly, I learned to use some of what I heard in the rooms with other alcoholics and addicts. Contrary to popular misconception, AA/NA people do not tell meeting attendees–or even those newcomers they sponsor–what to do. People in recovery share only about themselves and where they’ve been and how it is now. Today. And what works for them.

In meetings I learned to LISTEN and IDENTIFY with others attempting to recover–skills I’d often neglected.

Members work the program in a variety of different ways. And we fail and fail and succeed and succeed. No drugs prescribed. No appointments needed. (Although many in AA are using a helpful prescription and/or other therapeutic approaches.)

Addicts are arrogant. Our histories are scary, sad and very, very funny. In AA I wanted to tell some of the stuff I’d never share with those who aren’t addicts (therapists, physicians and family included.) And we see and hear something in another AA-attending person with whom we identify. And then my arrogance and my shame begins to crack… in the presence of those who identify with Dee C., another alcoholic among hundreds and hundreds world-wide.

I also continued therapy after coming clean about my addicted reality to my counselor. She was an additional support, with whom I practiced truth-telling. She was also very helpful to me dealing with issues from my childhood and other relationships. One important bonus arrived unasked for. I connected to an almost-forgotten childhood spirituality–assuring me of love when I am determined to be unlovable.

In my case, the combination of a 12-step program in which I followed directions/got a sponsor/worked the steps AND counseling sessions where I began healing old wounds was the perfect one-two punch to battle my addiction. I continue to use both approaches. And I remember to pray after I still try, at first, to manipulate and ignore.

After 32 years of continuous sobriety, I think I am getting the hang of this recovery thing.”

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