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Relationships & Family

Karen

"I am a caretaker for my spouse, married 30 years in August 2023, who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury in 2006.  The stress of having to take care of him on a daily basis and make sure everything he needs/wants is met, dealing with his anxiety, paranoia, physical and mental issues and other effects of the TBI would initially cause me such stress that I would resort to drinking in the evenings just to cope with everything I was dealing with after his TBI.  I became a single parent, caregiver, breadwinner, and 100% responsible for every aspect of our families' lives.  One drink every other night turned into one drink every night, to two drinks every night, and eventually became finishing off a bottle of alcohol every other day.  This is what I would do every evening after I got my family settled for the night.  This went on for years, no one knowing that I was drinking heavily after everyone was asleep, to the point I would pass out.  I had gotten so good at hiding it, no one had a clue.  Eventually, I could not hide the effects the alcohol had after an evening of drinking and my family got suspicious.  I denied it at first, for several years.  But one day, shortly after our granddaughter was born, I woke one morning and looked in the mirror and did not recognize the person staring back at me.  It was at that point that I realized that alcohol was running my life.  I had begun to crave it every night and found I could not sleep without it, that was when I realized that for my entire family, I had to get sober.  That was Nov. 8, 2023, and I have not had a drop of alcohol since that day.  It is hard, I struggle with craving alcohol every day, but I want to live for my family, my children and my grandchildren and I know that alcohol is not going to help me accomplish that goal."

Brooklyn

“I want to start my story with a quote from a song I heard awhile back….

“I ain’t no angel, I still gotta few more dances, with the devil, I’m cleaning up my act little by little, I’m getting there, I can finally stand the man in the mirror I see…I ain’t as good as I’m gonna get, but I’m better than I used to be…”

I’m going to try to make this as short and painless as possible and just give you the facts as I know them to be.  No drunk-a-log, I’m just gonna get to the point.  I didn’t come into the rooms of AA until I was 40, looking back, I’d spent more than half my life seeking the answers to life in the bottom of one bottle or another, yet I didn’t see it as a problem.  I justified my actions for everything I did. The last few years of my drinking, I became a “monster” or so I was told.  I was a black out drunk, and I thrived on the “If I don’t remember it, it didn’t happen” attitude. I was on the verge of loosing my wife, my business, my friends and family, so I decided I’d go to AA to make them happy. I figured once they weren’t mad at me any more, I’d go back to business as usual.   I stayed sober for a grand total of 44 days.

My relapse was not intentional. I know most people say that, but mine truly wasn’t.  I’d drank a glass of what I thought was soda which belonged to my underage son so I had no reason to think otherwise. I drank about 3/4 of it before I realized it wasn’t soda. Suddenly everything I’d heard in the rooms started to ring in my ear. Knowing I needed to leave, I proceeded to get my things with the intentions of doing just that.  I’d gotten into a conversation with this man who was there and after a few moments, he handed me a shot. I knew with every bit of my being that I had to put that shot down right then and there.  Then reality hit me. The last thing I remember from that night was not being able to put that shot down. Not physically, not mentally. I literally couldn’t do. I woke up the next morning not hungover because I was still drunk and a friend of mine grabbed me by the arm after questioning me, sat me on the couch, turned on the TV and there before me was the most horrifying, disturbing, sickening thing I had ever seen. t was “me” in my truest monster form.My face swollen from all the alcohol consumption, eyes glazed over, not making any sense. It was like watching Cybil meets Jekyll and Hyde.  I was so sick I wanted to vomit and it wasn’t because of the alcohol still in my system.  I was sickened by what I was watching. I got to SEE the monster I become, the monster people had been telling me about for years.  Suddenly there was no more denial. At that moment, I gave in to the 1st step.

I walked back into AA and picked up what I hope will be my second and last white chip. I told myself I wasn’t leaving there without getting a sponsor and I didn’t.  I dove into the program like a duck to water and have been working the steps ever since.  I have a genuine relationship with my Higher Power today. God, or even the thought of God didn’t exist for me before I came to AA.  By working the steps, following the suggestions, having a Higher Power in my life and working with other Alcoholics, my life has done a complete 360.  I like who I am today and wouldn’t want to change a thing.  On July 18, 2012 I will be sober 2 years. It really is the longest time in my entire life that I have gone without a drink or a drug in my system and I feel amazing.  I’m 42 years old, and although I’ve been on this earth for over two decades, I didn’t know what it was like to “live” until I walked into the rooms of AA.  The program of AA didn’t give me my life back, it gave me a life.  Keep coming back, it really does work if you work it.”

Kristina

Life after heroin- My thoughts 2 years down the road I last used heroin, fentanyl, and meth January 18, 2020. That makes it 939 days, or 2 years, and 7 months. What do I remember? For years I had no “real” friends, the only social interactions I really had were with dealers or people I used with (aside from the handful of people who I actually developed close friendships with).

My family distanced themselves from me and I missed out on holidays, weddings, births, and deaths. I lost my kids, lost my apartment, car, job, and spent hundreds of thousands on drugs (any savings I had, credit cards, loans, etc.), and all of that just to make surviving each day slightly bearable.

I damaged my arms, legs, and face, causing nasty scars from poor injections and having MRSA twice. I overdosed many times, three of those times on purpose, and if Narcan didn’t exist I would not be alive today. I got arrested several times, which was always a horrible experience. Basically, my perception on the addict life is that you gradually succumb to losing sight of everything that makes life good just for the sake of getting the next hit and avoiding withdrawals. I gave up on friends, family, ambitions, and enjoying my hobbies because I spent all of my time on dope and it really wasn't fun. I did horrible, awful things that I look back on now and still can’t believe that was me. I went through a lot of traumatic things that I am now having to deal with and unpack and learn how to cope with.

So, what now? 2 years later: I am learning to love myself again. I am learning new ways to cope with life rather than getting high to numb my feelings. I moved away to a new state and that helped me a lot, I think. I got involved in the NA program, and even though I do not agree with everything in it, I take what I need and leave the rest. Gradually I developed a sense of enjoyment in my hobbies. Not to sound discouraging but this took me literally months after getting off dope to really start to enjoy things again. I was numb for a long time. But it did happen. I am living life rather than just existing and wishing I would die. It really messed me up when I realized how much time I wasted on drugs instead of doing actual fun enjoyable stuff. I have been struggling pretty badly with depression for several months, but instead of relapsing I asked for help. I admitted to people around me that I was having a hard time and have received nothing but love and support. I was just put on medication the other day to hopefully tackle my depression and also got a referral for therapy. But even with the depression, my life is unfathomably better than it was when I was on drugs. I can't claim that I will never use again, because I don't know what the future holds. But I can claim that I will not use today, and I’ll make that choice every day. I have everything that I missed when I was strung out- family who cares about me and are proud of me, healthy friendships, and personal fulfillment through hobbies. Getting off heroin won't immediately make your life better in every way - the change is gradual. A few days ago, I realized that I hadn't thought about heroin in weeks. That made me feel really good. I looked down at my arms and legs and saw the scars were slowly but surely fading away. In a few years you probably won't be able to see them at all. I am finally becoming the best version of myself. I wrote all of this simply because the amount of people that I know who have died from heroin/fentanyl overdoses recently is insane. And that’s just the people I know. I’m tired of seeing people die from that. It truly breaks my heart. Please get help. People love you, even if it doesn’t feel like it. And I can promise you, recovery is so much better than any high.

N.B.

“I remember the first time that I had actually gotten drunk off of liquor and it almost felt like this “switch” went off inside of me. I couldn’t believe how AMAZING I felt. It felt like the missing puzzle piece had finally been placed in my life. After this first encounter in college, I began drinking about three times a week. “Drinking” meant taking as many shots as I could before blacking out. I absolutely loved feeling so free and limitless when I was drunk. Without social inhibitions, I felt like I could actually be the person that I should be. I simply felt like an improved version of myself.

At first, my “friends” encouraged me with my drinking and each black out seemed to be the next adventure. I started to both anticipate and dread the morning after drinking because I never knew what I would do while drunk. With so much encouragement, I hardly realized there was a problem with having black outs. I also didn’t recognize the cravings that I started having. I wanted to drink with almost every activity because drinking made everything so much more exciting.
After only a few months, a few of my closer friends and even complete strangers had started telling me that I was having problems with alcohol, but this seemed absolutely ridiculous to me. How on earth could an 18 year old girl have a problem with alcohol?? I thought that was only for middle aged men who drank all day long. In any case, this pattern of drinking continues for about three more years. The black outs and hangovers get worse, and I started putting myself into extremely dangerous situations. It got to the point that I actually passed out in the middle of a busy street. Luckily for me, complete strangers picked me up and took me home (although I don’t actually remember this). I realized that I could hardly ever resist alcohol when it was around and that no matter what I tried, I couldn’t stop drinking once I started. But even then, I still couldn’t believe that I was an alcoholic… there were simply too many reasons why I shouldn’t be.

I finally reached a turning point in my drinking when I realized that it was absolutely destroying my relationship with someone I loved. To be truthful, I didn’t actually realize this until they forced me to. I always had too many excuses for how my drinking wasn’t really a problem, but this person constantly told me how much my drinking bothered him. He wouldn’t be around me when I drank and he asked me to call any time when I felt like drinking. Even so, I continued to drink but with much more manipulative strategies (aka lying). It finally reached the point when I knew our relationship was about to end and that I was entirely responsible. I couldn’t stand this horrible guilt I felt every time I drank. I felt like I would completely lose myself if I continued to drink. I had become someone I couldn’t even recognize. I started making actual attempts to stay sober and I slowly started staying sober for longer periods of time until I finally stopped completely. The absolute keys to my success were changing my environment and my old social circle. I completely stopped going to bars and hanging out with friends who I used to drink with. I still have my struggles with temptations, but after 2.5 years of sobriety, I finally feel happy with myself.

I really wanted to share my story because I feel like alcoholism is completely misunderstood in college aged kids. I saw others going through similar situations as me, but alcoholism was never mentioned because that could only happen to older adults. I also think alcoholism presents itself in many different ways, but most people are only aware of the stereotypical 40 year old male who drinks all day, every day. I never once drank in the morning or every day, but that didn’t stop alcohol from almost ruining my life.”

Beth

“My name is Beth and I’m in recovery. December 2, 2008 I used meth the last time and pray daily it was my last time. I’ve been asked several times, why at 31, self employed very profitable business, two beautiful daughters 7 and 12, three bedroom home, new sports car and stable relationships with my family and some great friend I would ever try meth? Why? Because it was offered to me. Because I had recently gone through a divorce. Because I was dating a drug user and tried to keep up with his life style for almost six months. Because my self esteem had always suffered.

Why my self esteem had never been good is still a question I ask myself daily. If I ever figure that one out I will be rich. All addicts suffer with low self esteem. That’s why most of us ever use. The drugs gave us a self esteem even if it was a false sense.  We finally fit in and have a whole new set of friends, or so we think they are our friends.

October 30, 2003  I went to a party in my apartment complex and was handed a small wad of toilet paper. I asked what it was and was told meth.

I asked if it would make me throw up and was told no. Then I ask how it would make me feel. I was told “good. You will have energy and be really happy” So, just like that I swallowed the wafer, or wad of toilet paper with crystal meth inside. I went upstairs to my sleeping boyfriend and said “Tina said take this and get to the party”  He immediately jumped up, snorted the meth and began to get ready. A few minutes later I began to feel the effects of meth. My boyfriend looked at me and said “You took some didn’t you?” I replied “Yes” The words he spoke to me I will never forget. He said “You just f****d your life up. In a year you won’t have anything. You will loose your house, your car, your business and will never want to see your daughters”  I replied “I can handle it” He laughed and said “No you can’t!! It’s meth.”

They say if you try meth once you might be able to walk away from it. Try it twice and you’re addicted. From that night on until December 2, 2008 I used daily. Unless I was sleeping which wasn’t often, or in jail, I used and I used a lot. Less than a year later I had lost my 3 bedroom home and was living with my mom. My car had been wrecked due to driving drunk and then repossessed. I lost all my clientele and I made up excuse after excuse why I couldn’t be with my daughters. I remember one night my youngest clinging to my leg begging me not to leave. It was 10:00 at night and my girls were in tears, screaming for me to please stay home and sleep with them. But I couldn’t. I had to go chase the sack. I physically pushed my daughter off my leg she was clinging to. The hell I put family through is heart breaking to think about. I remember bragging saying “I do drugs, they don’t do me” I was never so wrong!! Meth did me in.

I just used for 9 months. Soon I had to find a way to pay for my increasing habit. So, like most addicts I began to sell. The next five years were a blur. Using, selling, sex with anyone I wanted and anyone that would make my boyfriend jealous. Insanity. Morals and dignity slipping away. I soon just didn’t care, and when you don’t care you’re a very dangerous person.

So many times I fell asleep driving, had guns pulled on me, I walked in to dope house and hotel rooms alone with bags full of dope and wads of cash, a target to be robbed, raped and killed. I went from bad boys to extremely dangerous men. I thought I ruled the world. I had the dope, the money, the men, and people jumped when I said jump, if they wanted their dope.

I lost cars, time, memories, clothes, jewelry and my clean record. I was arrested time and time again. I was given chance after chance to change. After each arrest I thought I could be slicker than the Feds and city cops.

I found myself facing life in prison with Federal charges. I had sold to an under cover ATF agent. They had busted me with an accumulative amount of 24 pounds of meth. And my “friends” had ratted me out. The state was pressing charges of trafficking and on top of all that I was pregnant.
I had gotten pregnant and had a miscarriage in November of 2005, that was the best thing for my unborn child. I was using and selling big time and had yet to be caught. That baby would have been born addicted and the state taken it away at birth. I was hoping I would miscarry with this pregnancy as well. Two and half months into the pregnancy I sat in a hotel room with who I thought was my baby’s daddy best friend. Truth is I had no clue who the dad was. It was between two men I had been in a relationship with, one for four years and the other just over a year.

Anyway, I had decided it would be best if I tried to have a drug induced miscarriage. We loaded two syringes with over a gram of dope. We each found a vein on each arm and shot it up knowing it would kill the baby inside me and might even kill me. I was okay with both of those happening.

What happened was I threw up and was higher than I had ever been for about three days. No spotting, no cramping, nothing. One night in November my long term boyfriend and I got into a fight. He was angry I was using dope while pregnant. He was scared because the Feds were breathing down his back. I had been arrested again and had my brand new Charger impounded and $7,000 taken away when I was arrested. I was on his couch with nothing and I was putting a damper on his sex life. He told me I had to go. He was sick of me and no longer loved me. I was sick and he hated who I had become. A junkie was sick and embarrassed of another junkie?
I knew what laid ahead of me-prison for life.  I knew what I had become to my family already-dead. I was never around and avoided their phone calls. They went weeks and weeks not knowing if I was dead or alive. I thought my girls would be better off without me. They needed a step mom who would love them and actually be a part of their lives. This baby didn’t deserve to be born in prison and be another child of the system. I had lost all hope. So I wrote a good bye letter to my boyfriend asking him to tell my family goodbye. And I texted him and said I had taken all the pain pills I could find and apologized if when I died I left a mess in the bed. I took the pills, called my dog up on the bed beside me and fell asleep. I woke up in the back of an ambulance sitting in front of my house with charcoal being poured down my throat. IV’s in and oxygen on. I looked out the window and saw a car pull in my driveway. A girl got out, my boyfriend went to get her and they went inside our house. That feeling…he already had a chick in our bed and he didn’t know if I was going to live or die.

After they got me stable they admitted me to the behavioral medicine unit across the street the “nut house” I found out the next day the baby had survived and it was a healthy perfect little girl. I looked up at the ceiling and asked God “Why?” A week later I got to leave. My boyfriend picked me up and took me to my moms. She insisted I go to treatment. I sit in her bathtub with a syringe full of the last little bit of meth I had. My arms were so bruised and had knots all over them from times I had missed my vein. My veins were shot. But by God I was going to find one somewhere. The water became cold and full of blood. The syringe had more blood than dope and I knew when I finally found a vein the dope would be so diluted I wouldn’t be able to get high off it but because of my insanity I kept trying. I remember looking down at my pregnant belly, sitting in cold bloody water and every so often a rippled would flow through the water when the baby would kick. Tears falling and hitting stomach. I was sick and tired and hated myself still. I was too sick to live and too weak to stop getting high.

I slept the next two days solid. I woke up and had convinced my mom to let me take her car to go get a new drivers license but in reality I was going to my boyfriends and getting high. Before I could get off the couch the doorbell rang. It was the Feds. They were looking for me. I yelled across the living room for them to come back with a warrant. I smoked a cigarette and jumped in the shower and waited.

My 17 year old did something that day she never did, she came home for lunch to see her mom. For once she knew where I was. When she turned on to her Nana’s street, there were over 30 police, ATF, US Marshall, Drug Task Force, FBI and Sheriff cars lined up on the street. She thought I had finally succeeded in killing myself. She walked in to witness her mom with 5 guns pointed at her head. I stayed in jail till only by the grace of God I was allowed to go to rehab. On April 6, 2009. Three and a half months clean my third daughter was born. Healthy, perfect and her two big sisters in the room. I graduated rehab October 7, 2009. On December 15 I was sentenced. My attorney, the Federal DA and the judge had meet the day before and all signed for me to do three years. I was to leave the courtroom and go to prison.

Let me back up to August 17, 2009 God spoke to me. I had been praying every chance I got since coming to rehab that God please please let me stay out of prison. I begged Him to let me raise my girls. I lived each moment in fear of loosing my girls when I went to prison. I was not enjoying life. I was imprisoned in my own thoughts. So August 17 I was on pass at church. I took my baby to the nursing room and began to pray while she nursed. The same prayer begging God not to send me to prison. And after I finished praying I felt Him walk in the room, walk across the room and sit in the rocking chair beside me. He said these things to me “Beth relax. You’re not going to prison. I’ve kept you in rehab this long so you can get recovery. Be patient with me it’s almost over."

At that moment my entire world changed. I began to really live. I told everyone I wasn’t going to prison because God had spoken to me. I loved each moment  with my kids and didn’t fear not having them. My prison walls had crumbled. So when my attorney called me the day before I was to be sentenced and said they had signed for me to do three years my world crumbled. I had to go home and tell me girls I was going to prison the next day. I had to look them in the eye and apologize for screwing their lives up. I told them I wished I was dead because that would be less embarrassing than having to tell their friends their mom was in prison for drugs. My oldest daughter who was now 18 was going to take over guardianship of my baby. My middle daughter asked me if I was a liar. I said I try hard not to be these days. She then said “well you said God told you you weren’t going to prison”. She was right!!

I got the elders and ministers together from my church and we prayed for hours. One elder said for the judge to have a sleepless night. One prayed that this be the hardest case he had ever had to render and another for him to be in turmoil about what to do with me. There had been over 70 letters written to the judge on my behalf and the courtroom was packed. There were over 50 people inside and people in hall way including my 13 year old and my 9 month old daughter. My oldest was on the front row, waiting for her mother to be sentenced. They is something NO child should ever have to do. The judge walked out of his chambers and called me to the bench. The first words out of his mouth were these “I didn’t sleep last night. I was in turmoil about what to do with you Ms Pearson. In my 25 years of being a Judge I’ve never had a case this hard to render” I turned around and everyone who had been in the prayer session the night before all had their jaws dropped. Exactly what was prayed for was spoken.

I walked out of the courtroom with five years probation and six months of house arrest. God is good!!

My little girl is six and perfect. She told me right after her fourth birthday something that to this day still gives me chills. She said out of the blue one morning while waiting for her Mother’s Day Out program to open “mom I saw God” I imagine she has seen lots of pictures of Him since we never miss church and Bible class and so I asked if she saw His picture at church? She said “No I saw Him when I was in your tummy, He came inside your tummy twice. He has really big arms. He held me and said He loved me and that everything was going to be ok. I asked Him who He was and He said God”

That story blew me away  and still does!! If ever God was to intervene in her life it was twice. Once when I tried to have a drug induced miscarriage and once when I attempted suicide. God is alive and very active in an addicts life! I put the same energy and effort into my recovery as I did my using. I learned to truly love myself. That same mirror I once did lines of dope off of, I today look in and love the woman staring back. I’m happily married to the answer to my prayers. We said I do on December 7, 2012 in front of over 400 friend & family. I received a letter from the United States Probation Offices congratulating me on successfully completing my probation. I wrote a thank you letter to my Judge thanking him for his mercy and told him all I had done to better myself and all I was blessed to witness the past 5 years. College, marriage, my daughters High School graduation & her college, proms. I told him I had the honor of being the keynote speaker at the 4th annual meth awareness rally in Bakersfield, California in 2014. I also got to travel to Del Ray Beach, Florida and speak at a huge recovery gala and be filmed. I’ve been interviewed twice by local news stations on meth stories. I have a published poem I wrote about meth, I also have traveled all over Oklahoma speaking at various Celebrate Recovery meetings and NA and AA meetings. I’m writing a book and have had part of my story published in a book called Breaking chains.

In April of this year my husband, my oldest 2 daughters & my 2 step daughters got to witness my 4th perfect daughter into this world.

I’ve been clean almost 2 years longer than I used, I attend meeting regularly and have a sponsor. I sponsor other girls and have a strong relationship with God and my family. I’ve been forgiven and am trusted. My oldest daughter told me I was her hero while still in rehab. I’m my middle daughters best friend and all my girls are my rock. I put them through hell but they have seen the power of prayer and that recovery does work.

I now have the answer to my “Why?” I asked God after finding out my baby was perfect. My “Why” is a life free of meth. Days spent with my family and something to be grateful for each day. And as I write this it’s been  6 years, 10 months, but who’s counting??”

Lisa

My mother was a suicidal alcoholic. She spent much of my childhood in and out of hospitals and psychiatric facilities. I grew up during the sixties and seventies, when “sex, drugs and rock and roll” became our battle cry. I tuned out the chaos by creating my own and numbed my existence with every substance I could find. My parents died in a fire labeled suspicious when I was 14. From then on, I lived under a shadow of distrust from people, including my own family members, who thought I either set the fire or had something to do with it. Because of this I was physically separated from the people I grew up knowing. At 16, I moved in with a guy because he had the drugs. We bought and sold drugs, harmed ourselves, harmed others. I was miserable and suicidal myself, ending up in several state-run facilities. At 18, as an orphan, I discovered that I would be paid for attending college. Even with a drug habit, I attended school and received a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. But because of my reputation no one would hire me. My addiction brought me deeper into the seedy side of life, getting and using and finding ways and means to get more, sinking quietly into pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. I had no self-respect at all. I ended up in jail on a possession charge. By then I had been to my first rehab, where I learned enough to know that my continuing to use was a choice I was making. It was the first one that set me on the path of insanity. I had a serious awakening when I received a visitor there. A woman inmate next to me, in an orange jumpsuit which denoted seriousness, was saying to her visitor, “They’re trying to get it down to 25 to life.” I knew at that moment that we were no different, she was just in another place on the destructive path I was on. God was showing me where I could end up. It took another devastating incident and more God-shots, but I found my way back to the rooms and the fellowships. It took even longer for me to surrender to the principles of the program and give up not only the substances but also the behavior and thinking to which I was clinging. I’ve been to four rehabs and thousands of meetings. I began to change from a self-centered, self-seeking, selfish individual into a woman whom I could respect. I learned in order to have self-esteem, I had to perform esteem-able acts. I had two children, and I realized that I am their role model, and the way I treated them was the way the world would treat them. I was told “as you were parented, so shall you parent, unless you learn otherwise.” I was determined to learn otherwise. I received counseling, I attended workshops. Parenting classes helped greatly. Child-rearing books became my handbooks. Attending women’s meetings with babysitting saved my life and those of my children. I learned to watch the other women. They told me “If you want what we have, you do what we do.” Other women and their children taught me, by example, what not to do. I would say I grew up alongside my children. In some ways, my children are way more mature than I am! I was told “Recovery is like a bed. If you get in the middle, you can’t fall off.” 12 Step meetings became my life. I worked with a sponsor and completed the steps and continue in step studies two decades later. I have a sponsor and I sponsor other women. I attend meetings in several fellowships and in different formats weekly. Everyone who knows me knows I am a woman in long-term recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. The most important thing in my life is that I am clean and sober, because if I weren’t, I wouldn’t have this life. Most importantly, I have a God of my understanding, one who is Love and nothing else. Love only loves, unconditionally. When I follow Love, I have no fear. What I have today is a daily reprieve from my disease which is based on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. I work diligently to remain close to Love and follow Love’s will for me. When I do, the gifts are infinite.

Dee

“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.”

Rick

"On March 20th, 2013, something happened that changed my entire life and way of living. I can only hope and pray that this change is forever.

I started drinking around the age of 14. I was introduced to alcohol much earlier though. When I was about 4 or 5 years old, I would sneak up along side my dad as he watched Friday Night Wrestling on television and sneak a sip or two from his beer. Dad was not an alcoholic, but he did drink occasionally. A six pack of beer would last him six weeks. He only drank one beer and that was on Friday nights. If alcoholism is hereditary, then it skipped a generation, because my brother, several cousins from Dad’s side of the family and myself are alcoholics, as was our granddad.

My drinking didn’t become a daily routine until after I left home and had been in the military for a couple of years. I enlisted in the Army a month after graduating from high school and my first duty assignment was in South Korea. Initially, this was a twelve month tour. However, I had so much fun during the first six months that I extended that tour for two additional years. During this tour, I also met and married my first wife and our oldest son was born.

Soon after arriving in Korea in 1973, I began drinking on a daily basis. Prior to this time, I was a binge drinker, maybe once or twice a month on weekends. But, that changed because everyone that I worked with went to “Happy Hour” at the NCO Club from 5:15 PM until 7:30 PM every night. Usually after Happy Hour, if we didn’t close the club, some of us would go to the village and party until curfew which was midnight. Getting drunk was extremely cheap back then so money was not an issue.

After spending my first three years in the Army, in Korea, I was reassigned to Ft Campbell, Kentucky, where I would spend the next five years with my family. This assignment was nothing like my overseas tour. Here, I was required to spend a lot of time away from home and my family on field training exercises. The length of time for these excursions varied; they lasted anywhere from 15 days to 45 days. My drinking habits also changed from daily to weekly or monthly binge drinking again. There were times when we’d get back home with just enough time to clean up, repack and go for another 30 or 45 days.

These absences were extremely difficult for my ex and took their toll on our marriage. While I was away, she was forced to provide for herself and our son even though she didn’t drive or speak our language very well. Even when I was home, I wasn’t much help because I spent most of my time with my friends drinking and working. Back then we didn’t need much in the way of reasons to drink. When I was working or drinking, or both, I was absent from home.

While stationed in Kentucky our second son was born. Having two sons was a dream come true for me. This dream was shattered approximately 33 months later. That’s when she decided that she had had enough of my drinking and not being home when she needed me. It was then that she asked for a divorce. She stated that she never really loved me and only used me to be able to come to the United States. To make the pain even worse, she stated that she had fallen in love with my best friend and co-worker. I was devastated.

Our divorce was final in March 1981, and I was reassigned to Germany the following month, where I would spend the next six years working, traveling and drinking; not necessarily in that order. I drank and got drunk almost everyday that I spent in Germany. When I first got there, I fell in love with their beer and food. I never drank American beer during that time, except when I came home on leave. On my second day in Germany, I got so drunk that the hangover lasted for 3 days and I had never been so sick in my entire life. I thought it would never end and of course, I swore off drinking. I can only remember an 18 day period that I did not drink while in Germany and that was because I was in the hospital with a broken neck. That hiatus ended shortly after I got back to my unit.

During this tour, I met, married and divorced my second wife. As it turned out, I didn’t like being alone and she didn’t like living with a drunk. I also thought I could fill the void left by the separation from my two sons, but I was wrong. After three years of fighting, we divorced, but not before she went to my commander and claimed that I was having an affair with a co-worker and that I was abusive to her and her two sons. Because of these allegations it was mandatory that I be evaluated by a Drug/Alcohol Therapist/Psychologist. Had these accusations been founded, my career would have ended immediately, if not sooner. One week after I met with the therapist for the first time, my ex and her two sons left Germany for good, and our divorce was final 3 months later. I was alone yet again, but happier this time.

Soon after the second divorce, my tour in Germany came to a close, which was a blessing in disguise because the work relationship with my commander was totally destroyed by the accusations from my ex. There was virtually no trust or respect left between my commander and I and to work side by side was strenuous to say the least. As a result, I requested a transfer from Germany back to Korea. Another reason for this transfer was so that I could be reassigned from Korea to Ft Lewis, Washington at the end of the tour in Korea. This is what we sometimes called “Military Intelligence”.

April 1987, I arrived back in Korea for another 12 month tour. Shortly after arrival, I was informed that my reassignment to Ft Lewis wouldn’t happen until 1989. So, rather than to accept reassignment to Kentucky, which is where my two sons were, I opted to stay in Korea for an additional two years, making it a 3 year tour. History repeated itself once again. I was alone, pissed off at the world and drinking heavily on a daily basis. To fill yet another void, I met and married my third wife. I didn’t put much thought into this marriage either.

In April 1989, I finally received orders reassigning me to Ft Lewis, Washington, which I had been trying to get for over 8 years. While stationed at Ft Lewis, my ex-wife #3 attended and graduated from beauty school, purchased a beauty salon with my money, got her driver’s license, had a 4 or 5 year affair with someone besides myself, and she got greedy. Our marriage lasted just over 9 yrs.

From 1982 until 1986, I had absolutely no contact with my sons. This was not by my choice. I thought about them everyday, and with every thought of them, I drank just a little more. No matter how much I drank, the pain of not being with my boys just would not go away. Their mother asked me in 1982 to remarry her and when I refused, she promised to make my life a “Living Hell”. And she did. In November 1996, I had a proverbial bombshell dropped on me. I was sitting at home one morning having my usual breakfast of scrambled eggs and beer, and I got a phone call. It was from my youngest son telling me that he and his brother were moving out to Portland, Oregon and wanted to come and visit me up in Olympia. After getting over the tidal wave of emotions, I said sure. They arrived a week later in an over loaded Hyundai, with two of their friends. Through the process of elimination, I was able to pick out my sons, but I didn’t put the names with the right one. During the next 2 years, we managed to see each other maybe 4 times and only for a few hours each time. We lived only 125 miles apart, but it may as well have been 3000 miles.

After the third divorce was final, I moved to California in hopes of obtaining employment and regaining some sanity, if I had any left. My 3rd ex was very high maintenance and had us so far in debt that I had no choice but to file bankruptcy. In Washington State, employers run credit checks and if you have bad credit, they tend not to hire you, so I went to California looking for work.

Soon after relocating, I was hired on as a “Landscape Consultant” at a major hardware store. Actually, I stocked and watered plants. I worked in the outdoor garden department. This was only a temporary job for me though, because I had also submitted applications to work at the county juvenile boot camp. That application process was in 3 stages and took five months to complete.
While working at the hardware store, my employment was only part time, so I figured I could play golf and drink full time and work part time. At first this worked out fine because I’d work 4 hrs, 4 days a week and played the rest of the time and did this without any problems until I started forgetting to check the work schedules each week. In a 5 month period, I was counseled by my supervisor twice about my not showing up or showing up late and having alcohol on my breath. The third strike never materialized because I got hired by the county probation department. This job was great but only lasted 8 months due to a career ending injury. In that 8 months, I was again counseled twice about my coming to work either hung over or with alcohol on my breath.
My wife Karol and I met in June of 1998, shortly after I moved to California, and we married September 2000. We enjoyed some really good times and some extremely trying times and my drinking did not help one iota!

March 14th, 2000, is a date that will be with me for the rest of my life. My youngest son always got my birthday confused with my mother’s. Hers was March 14th and mine the 16th. So, on March 14th, My youngest son, Joseph, called to wish me Happy Birthday. I thanked him and told him again, that mine wasn’t until the 16th. “Today is your grandma’s birthday”. He had that covered because he’d already called her.

What I heard next tore me apart, both inside and out. Laughing and joking with me, Joseph said, “Hey Dad, guess what I have?” I didn’t have a clue and coming from him, what little I knew about him, it was going to be something totally out of this world. It was indeed! I stood at our dining room table with the phone to my ear, stunned and paralyzed by his continuing words, “Dad, I have an inoperable brain tumor. It’s rare and only 1 in 750,000 people get this. But don’t worry Dad, I’m going to be okay. There’s a doctor here in Portland who has pioneered an 80% successful treatment for it.” I don’t remember much after that.

From May 2000 until February 2001, we said our final goodbyes to Joseph 4 times. During this time, my drinking more than doubled. Instead of drinking less than a half case of beer on a regular basis, I was drinking between 18 and 24 everyday, usually starting around 10:00 each morning. Each time I went to Portland to be with my sons, I drank and stayed drunk:. Each time that I left Portland, thinking that was the last time being with Joseph alive, something would happen where he would be just fine and go out to Burger King or to a rock concert or something spectacular. I was given the opportunity to be with my sons on Joseph’s 23rd birthday. He was bedridden and semi comatose, but we had a birthday party for him anyway. He passed away February 26, 2001.

After my son’s funeral, I lost total control of everything. I had no feelings other than extreme anger. I really didn’t care for or about anything except my self and the pity that I felt for myself. I drank no matter what. I hated even the mention of God. He didn’t exist, and if He did exist, He sure wasn’t a Loving God. From the time of Joseph’s passing, until February 2007, Karol and I lost my dad in November 2006, an uncle, December 2006, and two aunts, January and February 2007. I was there through all of this, but I was also very drunk.

Now, at the beginning of my story, I mentioned a life changing event that happened to me. On March 20th, 2013, Karol and I went to Kalispel to see our new grand daughter. Hana was born around 2:30 or 3:00 that morning. On the drive there, which is 90 or so miles, we had to stop twice because I was sick. I blamed it on car sickness.

At about 9:00 AM we arrived at the hospital and went into the room where my son and his wife and new baby were. Soon after we got to the room, my son asked me if I wanted to hold the baby and I said sure. He placed her in my arms and I sat down immediately. After about 30 seconds, though, I gave her back to my son. He asked me if everything was alright and I said “Yes.” My wife and I then went outside for a walk and to smoke a cigarette. When we went back to the room, we said good bye to them and headed for home.

On the drive back to Plains, we never spoke more than about a dozen words to each other but Karol knew something was wrong. She asked me why I didn’t hold the baby for very long and I told her that I was shaking so damn bad that I thought I was going to drop her and if that had happened, I don’t think I’d been able to live with myself. The rest of that two hour drive was in silence.

For the next three days, Karol and I spoke very little. She knew something was wrong with me and bothering me, but she didn’t know what. She just left me alone and figured that when the time was right, I would talk. On that 3rd day, I called my primary care doctor and asked for help by leaving him a voice message. The next day he called me back and Karol saw who had called, but said nothing at that time.

My doctor thanked me for calling and asked why it took so long for me to ask him for help and I asked him what he meant. He said that he had known for over four years that I had been lying to him about my drinking and that I had a serious problem. After this phone call, Karol asked me what was going on and I told her, “I need your help.” She then asked, “With what?” I answered “With my drinking. I need to quit.”.

I was then scheduled to see an addiction therapist and the process of getting me into detox and rehab treatment began on or about April 15, 2013. I continued to drink and get drunk until July 10, 2013. That was my last drink to date. I spent five days in detox and then transferred into the alcohol treatment facility where I spent the next 19 days.

July 11, 2013 was my first day of not drinking or smoking voluntarily, in over 40 years. I attended my very first AA meeting on July 16th, 2013. I thank God everyday for my new found sobriety and the life changes that I have been experiencing. Each day is a new learning experience and life just keeps getting better and better. I was never told that it would be easy, but I have been told many times that there is a solution and it is a simple solution.

“God grant me the serenity to except the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” God bless and know that there is life without alcohol.”

Zacherie

"My name is Zacherie and I am a grateful recovering addict.

I was 15 years old when I first picked up methamphetamine. After all the years of partying, smoking pot, popping pills, and snorting lines of coke and molly behind everyone’s back (including my parents), my addiction had taken me to the lowest depths that I will ever be in my life. I was broken, full of hate and despair, and blind to the mistakes I was making that were destroying my life and the relationships around me. I was 16 when I put a needle into my arm loaded with heroin and began stacking meth with downers. I had lost everything to my addiction. My family was desperate to save my life, but I just kept rolling downhill farther and farther into the darkness that surrounded me. I no longer had the strength of heart to call out for any help or support to pick me back up and put my pieces back together. My life had turned into the darker version of Humpty Dumpty except I was the only one that could pick up the pieces, but I lacked the willingness. I was lost and I no longer knew what joy or warmth was and I couldn’t get a grip on reality. I knew I was dying and there were times I was certain I wouldn’t wake up and times I wished that I didn’t. It was like God kept holding on for me. Finally, I was arrested at the high school I enrolled myself in when I was finally trying to put an end to my use and put on probation. I was on the run from probation and my rehabilitation center when I was put into a residential program where I am now. I am 17 years old and am fighting for my life back and am proud to be in recovery. I am allowed only one NA meeting a week on Sundays and am waiting for graduation day in 3 months so that I can really expel my efforts into my recovery and into meetings. I want to spread my message and help heal others’ pain by sharing my own. I owe my life to my loved ones, the rooms of NA, and the people in them. I am grateful to have a loving higher power that allowed me to hold on just a little bit longer when I was staring death in the face and to my parents who never gave up on me even when I continued to hurt them. I love the life I GET to live today and the people in it. I will make a difference and I am proud to be a part of recovery.”

Amissa

"My name is Amissa and I AM an addict. My sobriety date is June 30, 2014. I spent most of my life trying to fit in.  Looking for love and falling short every time. Blaming and shaming. Moving from city to city they are the problem. I mean don’t you know who I am?  Overdosing in a coma for 3 days still that wasn’t enough. Wanting to claim my independence, prostituting and still not paying my bills. The meth was far more important than anything. At my bottom I got a warning.  A ticket for soliciting and working with out a business license. That still wasn’t enough and I still wasn’t the problem. Thank God my family no longer would enable me I was living from hotel to motel some days better than ever. And I just needed one more and I got that call with an opportunity to make enough money to hold me over for the next couple days. Saved my life!  I went to jail for possession, and conducting prostitution. After I was released with no charges filed going into a program was the only way I knew I wouldn’t have to continue not doing drugs because still at that point drugs weren’t the problem. What I was doing to get the drugs was the problem. I checked myself into a year long residential program I thought I was special enough to only stay there 90 days.  When in fact on my 90th day I couldn’t deal with life and got loaded in the program. Thank God they believed in me and were committed to loving me until I could love myself. Working the steps with my sponsor,  getting to know me again,  forgiving myself and working through the hurt and accepting who I am. Today I am 15 months sober reuniting with my kids in just about a week. I truly believe God has carried me through and taking direction knowing I need and it’s OK to ask for help. I can remain clean and sober. I love my life today and without going through what I went through I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m truly blessed and extremely grateful!"

C.W.

“I got into drugs, tobacco, you name it, when I was 13. I started off sniffing gasoline out of a lawnmower, then moved on to beer, wine, and marijuana. At age 15 I dropped out of high school. I learned to be a mechanic and I got a GED but I was still getting high. I went to work in a factory, but it was minimum wage, so I joined the military. By then I had started snorting cocaine and doing speed.

Then the military came out with a drug-testing program, so I decided to get an honorable discharge rather than give up drugs. I worked in a textile factory for 14 years until they started doing drug testing. That’s when snorting cocaine turned to smoking cocaine. And that’s when my addiction became so powerful it destroyed everything. I didn’t want to work, I didn’t care about my wife or kids—I just wanted to smoke that drug. I destroyed my family and I wanted to commit suicide.

I went into a rehab program and it helped for a while. My wife and I relocated and we were doing great because I was practicing the things they had taught me about how to stay clean. But then friends from back home came to visit, and they were drug dealers. Just seeing those people made me want to do drugs again. I actually left my wife and went home just to do drugs. I’m very ashamed about that. My wife hated me because she had given me a chance and I’d failed her.

I was still a great mechanic so the drug dealers hired me. I got money and I got free drugs. But then the federal government broke up the drug ring and locked up all the dealers. So there I was again, no job, no money to get high, no wife, no nothing. The suicidal thoughts came again. Then Hurricane Katrina came, and I was basically homeless.

I went down to New Orleans to help clean up. Suddenly I was making good money as a mechanic. The city was under martial law, so I couldn’t get drugs or anything. I was back up again! But then the lights came back on, the people started returning, the drug dealers started coming back. Now I was making this great money and the drugs were back. It was very dangerous for me. The cocaine made me paranoid. The high wasn’t a high anymore—it was a nightmare. But I was addicted. I had to do it. I was getting so thin it was like suicide. I started owing drug dealers money, and they were threatening to kill me. I had to beg my family for a bus ticket home.

Back home, I got a job running heavy equipment, and I was back on my feet again. On my very first payday, though, I got to drinking and doing drugs. I borrowed a friend’s car, went off the road, slammed headfirst into a tree, and woke up in a hospital with a broken neck. And that was the beginning of my new life.

I was in a lot of pain, but I could walk again. I was feeling happy that disability money was coming in soon. Then it struck me: the money would be the end of me because I’d be able to do drugs again. I told my mother to take me to the VA hospital. I didn’t tell her why. I just admitted myself to the psych ward for two weeks, then went to a drug rehab center. I knew I was about to die, and that’s what finally got me off drugs—the thought of death.

On July 5, 2010, I left the rehab center, and I haven’t touched anything since, not drugs, not alcohol, not cigarettes. I’m very proud of my recovery. I was a hopeless case, but I made it. I’ve stayed clean, and I feel free.”

Terri

“Hi, My Name is Terri and I am an Addict and Alcoholic.

I am a Survivor of Child Abuse. I was physically, emotionally, and sexually abused until I was 18. I started drinking at 13. It helped me to numb out when I was being abused. And helped me to cope afterwards. At 15 I cut my wrist and that is when I told my mom what was happening to me. Her response to me was – I knew something was happening to you and I thought it was your dad. OMG, not my dad….My dad was an alcoholic too but my dad never hurt me. I just felt neglected by him, because if he wasn’t working he was at the bar drinking. He died of cancer and had 9 years of sobriety. Anyway, my abuse was never talked about again. I never got any help and the abuse continued. And my drinking got worse. I quit school in the 10th grade and just stayed high. I was raised in Denver and through my teenage years several of my friends died from car crashes, accidental gun shots wounds, over doses. ( All alcohol and drug related ) But alcohol wasn’t the problem….it was the solution….to stay numb from all the pain, all the loss, all the abuse. At 18 a married a marine who lived in Kansas City. (That was going to be the answer) I will move and get away from everything and everyone. So I did the geographical change thing. But the way I felt inside didn’t change and I drank and drugged everyday still. By the time I was 23 I had 3 children. I was able to quit drinking and drugging during my pregnancies. (Thank God) But once the children were born I picked up where I left off. At 26 years old I started having flashbacks. I had 3 small children to take care of and I couldn’t even take care of myself. I couldn’t stop crying, I couldn’t leave my house. I was very suicidal. I ended up in treatment where they talked about things like Flashbacks, PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic and Anxiety Attacks, Depression, Substance Abuse. Finally I knew what was wrong with me and I was getting help. I also realized I wasn’t alone. Other people felt the same way that I did, and some of the other women in treatment had been abused. I started taking medications and going to therapy. But I still struggled. I don’t know what was worse, remembering the abuse or not remembering the abuse. I felt like I was reliving my abuse, and drinking was still my solution. It still had the ability to keep me numb. I got to the point that I couldn’t function. I couldn’t keep a job or a boyfriend. We kept having to move because I couldn’t pay the rent. My poor children had no stability. I don’t know how I was able to keep them. I went to treatment 3 more times, always on the psychiatric side. Never looking at my alcoholism or my abuse of drugs. Finally they sent me to treatment again. This time the mental ward was closed, so they put me on the drug and alcohol side. They stated that they didn’t know what they were going to do with me. They introduced me to the 12 steps and said to apply them to my abuse. I had to go to the groups and listen to people’s stories. I always look at the differences. I hadn’t been to jail, or got a DUI or anything like that….YET….. They say that God puts people in our lives for a reason…..I had started going to school and me and this gal named Carol had a lot of the same classes and she started picking me up every day. She attended Alcoholic Anonymous. She actually took my dad to his first meeting. She was beautiful and vibrant and I was so jealous of her. She was the type of friend that would put her finger in my face and tell me that I needed to quit drinking. Because by this point the alcohol had quit working. It wasn’t numbing the pain anymore. As a matter of fact, it seems like it was intensifying all those feelings. So I started going to meetings but I would not admit to being an alcoholic. Where I live there are 2 meetings every day and for those 2 hours I felt safe. But the other 22 hours I was terrified. I started to pretty much live at the club. It took about 2 months of listening to other people’s stories before I started to see the similarities. OMG I am an ALCOHOLIC. Finally admitting that I was an alcoholic and starting to work the steps saved my life. It is the best thing I ever did for myself and my children. I still struggle. I have relapsed a couple of times because I thought it was going to be my solution again. My dad dying of cancer was the worst thing I have ever gone through. I felt so blessed to have the relationship with my dad. We had become so close because of Alcoholics Anonymous. I couldn’t bear watching my dad suffer and I started drinking. We have had a lot of loss. My dad, my grandma, 2 uncles, 1 aunt, my best friend, and so many members of the program have died. Mostly overdoses and suicide. I have heart disease. I have had a couple heart attacks, and mini strokes. I had cervical cancer. Having to learn to live LIFE ON LIFES TERMS.

The most important thing that I want to share is my story of FORGIVENESS. My uncle had sexually abused me starting at 3 years old. And my oldest brother use to beat me up constantly and emotionally tearing me down. Even when I was an infant he would pull my hair and pinch me, anything to make me cry. Anyway, my grandmother was in the hospital and she was 83 and she was dying. When I got the call that she had passed away I raced to the hospital. When I got there the uncle that abused me was on his kneeling and rubbing his hands through his deceased mother’s hair. I knelt down beside him and started to rub his back. It wasn’t until later that night that I realized OMG I was comforting the man that had abused me. The man that had caused so much pain in my life. All that pain and hate was gone. GOD had done for me what I couldn’t do myself.

One thing that isn’t brought up much in AA is Abuse. I want women to know that there is HOPE and FORGIVENESS. I had to start reaching outside the rooms of AA to help with my abuse issues. There is RECOVERY. I have found other ways to share My Experience, My Strength, and My Hope with other SURVIVORS. I have written a book of poems about Abuse, Recovery, and Spirituality. A couple of my poems have won national awards. I am a crime victim’s advocate. I am a speaker for RAINN – Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Alcoholics Anonymous and my Higher Power has given me that strength and courage. God again, has done for me what I couldn’t do for myself. I no longer swallow the poison (that was killing me) and expecting others to die. I have Peace and Joy and Love in my Heart today. I know what it is like to feel Happy, Joyous and Free.

If you are hurting and need help…..There is Help……There is Hope…..God Bless You on your journey. Remember Alcohol is just a symptom of our disease. If you are suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts or actions. If you have an anxiety, panic, eating, cutting, disorder. Please reach out and get help.”

Peggy

Well, it has been 21 years on June 22, 2001, since I've been clean.
I was lucky enough not to relapse, it's not part of my story.

I had enough of the way my life was headed. I was 9 yrs. old when I started drinking, as my dad was in the Forces, we traveled a lot. So was always picking up and moving. Drinking was easy, it helped the loss of best friends, then I let that go till I was15, when I was drinking more, but need something more numbing and exciting, I started doing speed, I like the way it may me feel, I could try to make friends easier as I was doing it with that crowd.

Again, we moved, had to start over, was scared and fearful of what would happen. I started drinking again heavy, I was able to hold on to Graduating High School, but no desire to cont. my education. I wanted to party!

I always felt I had control of my life, but I did not. I got into a relationship, started using a whole new drug, cocaine, that was the start of a whole new level of getting high, now I could drink more stay up more..
I got married had 2 kids, that went nowhere, had another child, so now I'm a single Mom with 3 kids, I did manage to keep my job always,, but was always high most of the time,, even doing it in the bathroom during working hours and lunch,,

Got myself together for a short time to get remarried,, another 2 kids, I married an alcoholic and we were on, but I was feeling bad because I wasn't seeing my family wasn't taking care of my kids as well as I should have, they got to do whatever they wanted,,
and I started feeling like I was losing myself, got real depressed and manic off and on.
Went to therapy and physiatrist, got on meds to help my depression that didn't really help!! Still drinking, got another divorce. 2 more kids, Now I have 5 kids and single!!
I knew I couldn't live this way and needed to do something. I realized it was my using.... and I needed help!!!
Went thru a lot of problems and therapy wasn't working I thought, but after 18 months of going 1 to 2 times a week, I started to see where my problems began, drinking. I thought I was pulling the wool over my therapist eyes and was not telling him about my street drugs and kept insisting it was the drinking and company I hung with, but one day I heard him clearly.... I was an alcoholic!!!!, so we had a little extra time spent that day, and I realized I needed help!!! I wasn't going to be able to do it myself!!!
He suggested an inpatient recovery for 30 days, after him asking if I thought I was an alcoholic,, he said he was pretty sure my work was willing to send me there for no cost,, I went on July 4th 2001, My last drink was June 22, 2001..
I was so relieved I got their help I needed. Don't know if I could have done it on my own. I was 48 years old before that day...
I've stayed clean and worked A 12 Step Program got a sponsor worked all the steps, took on Sponsee’s, and to this day have 3 constant sponsees..
I still go to meeting when I can, the covid thing got me the first year it was out, sick for 24/7 for 6 weeks and fog brain for still a few months after that, that kept me from in person meeting, but did Zoom.
I'm thankful I had a therapist who stuck by my side and helped to realize that I was an Addict!!!
I'm grateful My Kids are very happy they got their Mama back, My family is proud of me for finally taking care of the whole problem, not just the using , but the understanding of the vicious​ cycle that I was going thru all those years. That it was a disease....
I'm still learning about where my problems were, and that I need to be HONEST with myself and quit telling the lies!!
I'm glad to be clean today...
Thank you so much for Narcotics Anonymous

Janice

“The reflection in the mirror belied the memory of an enthusiastic young girl who was going to take on the world. The tears that ran down my face could not wash away the unbearable guilt and shame I had felt deep within me for what seemed like forever. The glowing eyes and flawless skin had been replaced by bloodshot eyes, a red nose, ruddy complexion, and a bloated face that even the heaviest makeup could no longer hide.

This was the result of years and years of alcohol abuse. Today was a repetition of so many days before. I was drunk again. Blind, blotto drunk once more, after promising myself that very morning that I would never drink again. But as usual, that promise only lasted until about lunchtime when I would take my first drink.

“Only one and no more,” I promised myself. This “one” drink, or “the hair of the dog that bit me,” was just to take the edge off of the awful hangover I was nursing. Looking back on it now, it was quite comical in a sad sort of way, how I was able to convince myself that today was going to be different from all the rest.

Then I needed a second drink to stop my hands from shaking, followed by a third which supposedly would settle the nauseousness in my stomach. By the time I reached for the bottle once more, I was starting to feel mellow so instead of putting the bottle back in the cupboard, I poured myself another drink, and then another.

Then my booze-soaked brain took over and told me that since I had screwed up my promise not to drink today I may as well make a good job of it. “Drink as much as you like,” it told me, “Because tomorrow you will definitely stop drinking.” And so the daily downward spiral to alcohol-induced oblivion was well on its way.

I usually avoided mirrors, as I hated myself and the way I looked, but this night on my way back from the toilet, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror in the passage and for some reason I stopped. I grabbed hold of a nearby door to steady my drunken sway and took a long hard look at my reflection through squinted, blurry eyes. I had often been “dronkvedriet” (an Afrikaans word that literally means drunk and remorseful and feeling sorry for oneself), but what I felt at that moment went far beyond that.

My mother had died two weeks ago, the man I loved left me because he could not handle my drinking, and my children had had enough of my disgraceful behaviour that they were ready to lock me up and throw away the key. A feeling of emotional pain so heavy and so great suddenly came upon me. It was like nothing I had felt before and the intensity was so overwhelming that I felt like I would explode. It churned up in my stomach, rose through my heart, constricted my throat and then like a river bursting its banks, streamed from my eyes in a torrent of tears.

I staggered to my room and dropped to my knees at the edge of my bed. As I sat there with my head and arms resting on my bed, the tears continued to flow until I could cry no more. I thought of my mother, who I loved so much, but seldom told her so. Instead, I treated her badly and even blamed her and my father for my drunken behaviour.

I thought about my beautiful children and the pain I caused them as a result of my drinking. Having grown up in an alcoholic home and having suffered much as a result, I should have known better. How could I have done this to them? Their faces flashed in front of me and their all-too-familiar look of love, mixed with desperation and disgust was just too much to bear.

I thought about my shattered life and how much time and money I had wasted on booze and how I had alienated myself from my family because of my addiction.

My tears eventually subsided and I felt totally spent. Even in my drunken befuddled mind, I knew that this was the end of the road, the point of no return—and I was so scared. No, I was terrified. There was no happy ending to the terrible mess my life was in. I could end up in jail for driving under the influence or end up in the gutter, homeless, or I could die as my alcohol-soaked body couldn’t take any more abuse.

I had to change and take control of my life. But alcohol had been part of my life for so long—how was I going to cope without it? My life was so out of control, was there even a chance of rebuilding it? As overwhelming panic arose within me, thoughts of suicide once again flashed through my mind.

Then I did something I had not done for many years. As I knelt at the side of my bed I began to pray. I asked God to please help me sober up as I could not stop drinking on my own. Actually I didn’t ask; I begged. Then I dragged myself into bed and passed out, totally unaware of what lay ahead of me.”

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