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Sobriety

Joshua

"Hi. I just wanted to share that I've finally become sober. It was a very long and hard process because I would do so well and then something stressful or hurtful would happen in my life and I would relapse  But now I'm totally clean and sober and I've never felt better"

Carmac

“Forty one years ago, this weekend, after three months of quart and a half a day, at just under 120 pounds, which followed the six-month stay in a Maryland State Mental hospital for the same, and no food for well over a week, in hallucinosis for most of that last week, in the same clothes for over three weeks, the same period of time with no bath, and looking like a refugee from Bergin-Belsen with leprosy, I finally got scared enough to jump in a taxi and ask the driver if there was any place in that town for drunks.

The driver spun around to see what the hell had happened to his cab, stared for several seconds, and told me ‘I know where to take you’, and I was dropped at the back door of a non-descript house in a middle-class neighborhood that I was much later to learn was one of Ralph Fox’s “Houses of Hope” in Lincoln, Nebraska. The driver told me to go in, that I’d be taken care of.

He didn’t even ask for fare – I found out the ‘why’ of that much later. I really have to wonder, now, while re-writing this, what would have happened had any other cab driver been there? I hadn’t thought of that until just now.

I really do not remember most of that next week, but a few things remain. I was horribly sick, shaking like a bass in a jazz band, terrified that I really was going to die at any minute, and didn’t know where I was.

There were a few others there, others I came to know later, Bud H., Truman, Jim, Hoyt, some others. They knew I was in deep trouble, but there was a problem – it was Labor Day weekend. Everyone with a car was doing holiday things with their families, so there was no one to take me to the State Hospital 100 miles away. I had no insurance so they couldn’t take me to the local civilian hospital, and when they tried to get me admitted to the Veteran’s Hospital the MOD who just glanced at me from about 30 feet way said ‘that son-of-a-bitch isn’t sick, he’s a God damn drunk, take him to jail where he belongs!”

They had no choice; they had to try to detox me at Hope. I remember them pushing fluids, including some God-awful mix of honey and bicarb, but mostly I remember shaking and walking, around in circles in the living room of Hope. I’d sit for a while, but then have to get up and walk around in circles. There was a TV in the room; those staying with me were ostensibly watching it while keeping an active eye on me.

After several hours I would occasionally try to pay attention to the show on TV, it was the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.

Over the hours of sitting, shaking, walking, shaking, talking, shaking, some of the stories on the Telethon began to percolate through. A thought started to take shape. Most of those on the Telethon were kids, most if not all were going to die, through no fault of their own, and nothing could be done for them to prevent that.

I was going to die too, and possibly kill others as well. These kids were going to die no matter what anyone did – I was going to die because I was killing myself.

Those kids couldn’t change anything about their lives.

Maybe I could.

I have made it a ritual every year since then to spend at least some time watching the MDA Telethon – in memory, and in gratitude.

A lot happened that first year, one part of which leaves me still with one small, trivial but annoying resentment. You guys & girls who can say ‘on this date at that time in this city at that location I had my last (drugs of choice here)’ – I sorta hate you.

I can’t do that.

After that Friday night I was still pretty messed up, it wasn’t until Sunday of that weekend that I remember any substantial part of any of the AA Meetings they were taking me to, and over a week before I regained any functional control at all. It was apparently very obvious to those around me that even though drying out I was still crazier than a bedbug. They went with it though, anyway, and continued to ferry me to meetings & such.

On Monday they thought I was stable enough to get cleaned up, so they made me go down to the basement of Hope to take a shower, shave & clean up while someone washed my clothes – they were sick of smelling me. When I came back upstairs the guys in the kitchen reacted almost in shock on seeing me. Bud asked with some amazement “How old ARE you?!” I answered “26, why?”, and he broke out laughing, the others just more or less shook their heads wryly. Bud said “We all thought you were at least 60!”

Anyhow, they encouraged me to go to meetings and read the books, which I did; I had nothing else to do. I did, however, start getting into it, some of the stuff from the meetings was sort of making sense, and some of the reading was too.

But I was still me. I asked questions that were a little more off the wall than others had, and said things, my opinions on various, that made them shake their heads even more.

After maybe a month or so, and this is the beginning of the resentment, my unemployment checks from DC came in, I got three at once. I was relatively ‘rich’, for the moment. I paid my rent due so far ($25.00/week), bought some clothes, and decided I needed to take a bus 50 miles up to Omaha to ‘look for a job’. I told the guys, somewhat truly, that I’d tried in Lincoln, without success. I did. I put in a few applications with some employment agencies, but then stopped by a place I knew of from earlier years that wasn’t very rigorous with I.D. requirements (didn’t have any, all lost on preceding adventures) and asked for a coke. Waitress said they didn’t have any and I said “bring me a Schlitz then.”

I had to test this ‘loss of control’ thing I’d been hearing about, and I, thank whatever higher powers there be, failed again. Fortunately I had bought a round-trip ticket.

I slunk back into Hope that weekend’s Sunday, broke and hung-over, and somehow got away with it. I should have been thrown out, but they all pretended not to know. To this day I don’t know why they let that slide.

Now the explanation of the resentment – nobody really expected me to last, including me, we all knew I was just too nuts, so no one really kept track of the dates.

About a year later it started coming up, I was still sober, I should have an anniversary due. We all knew it was about a year – but on what day? Hell, none of us, and especially me, knew within a three week period when my last drunk was.

That’s why I always wait until well into October before picking up a chip, and why I have the resentment for you who know.

Anyhow, this is the weekend it all started, Labor Day Weekend, forty years ago, I began the climb back to some facsimile of humanity – but not on my own.

Thank you who saved my life – and gave me a new one.

Others may have done it themselves, I couldn’t, and I didn’t, I didn’t know how to.”

Alissa

“It seems like everyone has a story to tell. My social media news feeds are littered with links to blogs describing stories of wedding planners gone mad, and crayons melted into car seats. Well, I guess you can say I’m hopping on that wagon, in more ways than one. The only difference is, I’m sharing a less glamorous portrayal of life. I don’t have kids, I’m not a cook, and I don’t have the end all cure for cellulite. I’m writing for those of us who struggle with something a little needier and much less cute than a crying two-year old. I’m writing about my story of a relationship that is high maintenance, kicks you when you’re down, but you can’t seem to leave it. A relationship that goes by many names, and manifests itself in people of all shapes and sizes. I’m writing this with the hopes of helping anyone out there, who stops and says, “That sounds just like me. I’m not alone!” I hope that you can learn, find comfort, or just sheer entertainment from my stories. In return, I hope to find comfort in knowing that there are others out there like me. Now here I am, ready to show the world, me in progress…

I’d officially hit MY rock bottom. For years I’d struggled with a drinking problem. The thought of alcohol slowly trickled into my daily thoughts. Thoughts like “when will I get my next drink, do I need to stop on my way home and restock, when will this movie end so I can get a drink, should I take my car or will I be able to ‘drive’ home”. Eventually, these thoughts expanded to include the overwhelming guilt about the amount I drank, “how many calories did I just consume, what permanent damage had I caused my body, I needed to cut back, did I have enough money in my bank account to pay the bar tab, and I’m so embarrassed for acting like that last night”. These thoughts took up so much real estate in my mind that I didn’t have much room for much else.
Throughout my adult years, I engaged in the typical twenty-something activities: attending college, spending time with friends, hanging out at local bars and restaurants. I always viewed my behavior as the typical behavior for someone my age which usually consisted of consuming alcohol at nearly every event. It seemed like every activity included drinking alcohol in some form, whether at a sporting event, backyard BBQ, holiday party, and the list goes on. This behavior continued until I realized that it was not normal. And then I swept those thoughts under the rug and continued down the dark path. I realized that alcohol was beginning to become a priority in life and was my crutch to processing emotions, handling responsibilities, and addressing the stresses of everyday life. The numbing effects became my go-to answer for dealing with anything difficult or anxiety inducing. That was my solution until I found that the more I drank, the more unmanageable my life became.

At the end of last year, I started making some major lifestyle changes. I’m not just talking about a healthier life with my physical body, but a healthier life for my mind and soul. I started eating cleaner, making my own bath and body products, and trying to eliminate many of the toxins in my life. After years of smoking, I kicked the habit to the curb…we all know that’s not easy. Finally, I made a huge step to reduce how much I drink. I realized that my healthy efforts were flushed down the toilet with my 12 pack of Miller Lite. I began with switching the type of drink I consumed, avoiding aluminum cans, and purchasing trustworthy brands. This change lasted only so long, and before I knew it, I was back to my Miller Lite, and catching up for lost time. As my path became darker and darker, I began to draw a clear line between my relationship with alcohol and the stress in my life.

This understanding flipped the switch, so to say, that the only way I will achieve my full potential in life is through the complete abstinence from alcohol. I knew that in order to be successful in sobriety, I needed to reach out to those in recovery who have gone before me and who are going through the same changes as me. So, after many hours of Googling, I joined various online communities where the experience of sharing my story, as well as learning from others has provided more comfort and a feeling of belonging than I can ever describe.
So, here I am, days shy of my one year soberversary, to tell you that it is possible. And life is so much better on the other side. Sure, you’ll have your ups and downs, but nothing worth having is easy. So, for those of you who have read this and said, “that sounds like me!”, ask yourself: Why am I here? Who do I want to be? I’m a work in progress, but I’m finally figuring out the answers to those questions. And that’s why I won’t drink today!”

Charity

"One of the hardest parts about my recovery is that it's never over. The 'want' to get high sometimes disappears but really it's always in view. When I want to get high, it's mostly helpful to remember how drugs have affected my body; there are a lot of sad stories I could tell to explain why I needed to quit but I think it's important to also be real that recovery is still a fight. For me, recovery still includes aspects of a cycle, a fight. Still, I'm encouraged that my recovery fight can similarly be a cycle of wins with some losses every now and then."

Marcia

“What Do I Do When

·    My Stomach turns….I sit with it. What did I use to do?  Drink

·    The rush of tears well up in my throat and pour out of my eyes…I turn to God and talk to ease the pain What did I use to do?  Turn to alcohol to be my friend.

·    I lose a relationship with someone I’m in love with… I get busy and get involved with helping others or I volunteer for charities.

·    I feel like a total loser in life….I begin the process of ego checking, and attachment of false desires, I go into the 12 and read step 6. What did I use to do?  Drink alone and cry

·    I don’t get what I want…I write about what is really underlying in the want, and the importance of meaning behind the want. What did I use to do?…Drink, Drink, Drink and feel sorry for myself.

·    The unexpected happens…I pause, I pray, I breathe and then I act with calm control. What did I use to do?  React, freak out and lose control and drink.

·    I want a hug and no one is here to give me one….I pick up the phone and call a friend, I get in my car and go to a meeting, I call someone to come over and visit, I go see someone in the hospital, I make dinner for someone, I call my brothers or go and see them and give them a hug. What did I use to do?  Have affairs.

·    I’m afraid of losing what I have…I step into the steps and inventory my fears. What did I use to do?  Feel sorry for myself and become a victim.

I have learned so much more than any therapy session could have ever given me. Sitting in that chair for all these years have given me friends that are priceless.  I am very grateful to be among the greatest group ever established in the world.”

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