Wonderful Way of Life
Tina, West Virginia
I appreciate very much this opportunity to share 'my story.' Much more important than what got me here is what has happened to me since I've been here so I will share mostly about the solution AA has offered me. I say that's most important because I have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body and if you are sitting there sick and tired of being sick and tired . . . I want you to know that if it happened for me it can happen for you too through this program.
I started drinking in the 8th grade, Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill . . . I wanted to be popular, to fit in, and I remember it made me so sick. But I was hooked! I loved it from that very first time! It 'relaxed' me, it made me 'funny', it gave me 'courage.'
I had no courage when I got to AA . . . I had been beaten down by King Alcohol almost to the grave. I would get up every day and swear I would not drink and by noon would be well on my way to oblivion. I tried every way in the world to stop drinking on my own to no avail. I didn't have the courage to stop drinking for even one day, because I was afraid if I did, it would be expected all the time of me. I came through these doors full of despair, afraid and alone. I had annihilated everything and everyone good in my life.
My mother was an alcoholic and I can remember in the evenings we would sit and watch television . . . and she would go to the bathroom like every 15 minutes, and I would think, 'how much can one person go!" Then one day I found the reason for her trips. In the pantry, in the bathroom, there was a tupperware container full of her whiskey. So I learned early on how to 'hide' my drinking to escape the shame of it.
By high school, I was drinking a half can of diet pepsi mixed with mom's whiskey for breakfast. She, being sick herself, did not object to my drinking when she found out that I was. It was almost as if she welcomed it. From that time on I was able to drink as much whiskey and beer as I wanted, and that was plenty. I cannot remember one day since I was 16 until Febuary 2004 (except while pregnant and treatment) that I did not drink.
I am not going to get into all the 'uglies' much -- we have all been There or we wouldn't be Here . . . I can just tell you that because of my alcoholism, I have seen abuse, broken homes, lost jobs, a DUI, all the way to using a Walmart's fitting room as a bathroom -- alcoholism is not pretty. We could sure get ourselves into some predicaments.
I thought I was the most easy-going person in the world when I came to AA . . . all I needed to be happy was my booze. I could not see how my need for alcohol was hurting those I love. I didn't realize that one of the reasons I drank is because I was eaten up with and consumed by victimhood. I mean, in the end, drinking was never a pleasant experience, but rather an act of anger, self pity, remorse, guilt, etc.
I was always drinking At something or Over someone. I had a Huge ego when I got here too. My son would want to go out for the evening and I would tell him only if his dad could pick him up, cause I'd be drinking by then. See . . . I thought I was doing such a good thing, giving so much of myself, not drunk driving . . . I was being Responsible.
My husband would tell me he was concerned for me and that I needed to stop drinking. In a rage I would say, "The one thing I enjoy in life and you want to take it away!" UGH -- talk about EGO!
My mother and father were both diagnosed within a week of each other with cancer in 1992, mom with lung cancer, daddy with leukemia. They both passed on October 8, 1993. I tell you this not for sympathy but to make a point: this gave me another 'EXCUSE' to stay stuck in the bottle for 10 more years.
"Well, if you went thru what I did you'd drink, too."
I always had a reason. It did not matter to me if my best friend had died or was getting married, if my husband cheated or bought me roses, if the sun came Up or went Down . . . what I learned in AA years later is that I drank because there had come a time in my disease that I had crossed a certain line and could not find my way back on my own . . . nor through any other human aid.
My last drunk it seems was like a few days . . . I mean, continuous unless I was passing out or coming to . . . what stands out in my mind as the beginning of the end for me was when I woke up to police cars, firetrucks, and ambulances surrounding my home.
My husband was deployed and my oldest son was visiting his father (I believe now God took them both from me so that I could hit my bottom). I had tucked the boys in . . . I decided to rest on the porch for a bit before going to bed. Well, my little one had lost his batman cape off his pajamas and could not wake me up. Almost sounds funny now . . . but not at all at the time. A neighbor had called 911 thinking I was dead.
If we hadn't lived in such a small town where my hubby knows everyone, there is no doubt in my mind I would have lost our children that night. The next morning I was bringing in my case of beer for the day, and sure enough one of the cops from the night before saw me and just shook his head. That weekend we went to visit my husband and he pleaded with the Gen to let him come home to get me in treatment . . . he did, they were very good to us.
Just out of treatment, I contemplated drinking and that's when I knew . . . something had to be done . . . I knew it was the end for me.
My first year in AA I constantly heard 'don't drink and go to meetings' and '90 meetings in 90 days.' Now I am not saying those are bad suggestions, they are good suggestions . . . the problem for me was that neither suggestion could keep me sober. I stopped at the liquor store on my way home from every meeting and would start early enough the next day to sleep it off before going back, or so I thought. What a mess.
I struggled badly my first year here, only managing to put together 112 days without alcohol. I came here to Online AA and heard people share and laugh. I went to face-to-face meetings and people were hugging and smiling. All without alcohol, and I wanted that freedom. So, I did what was suggested . . . I read the Big Book every day, I went to meetings every day, I had sponsors.
Unfortunately, I could not stay sober. (I didn't know then what I know now . . . I was missing the Steps of the AA program.) Looking back now I can see that much of my failure in A.A. was due to the lack of The message being carried here in my area. But, also, it was due to my own selfishness. I felt like I showed up . . . now A.A. should be doing something for me and it wasn't working. I didn't realize that A.A. only works if you work it.
When I finally hit my bottom and decided to ask for help with my problem, the first lesson I learned was the severity of my disease. I went to this man in sheer desperation and asked him to show me what he was doing that I was not . . . why the steps were working in his life, and not mine. I am forever grateful that he was willing to share with me what was shared with him.
In order to fully concede that I was an alcoholic, I needed to know just what that meant. My sponsor explained that alcholism is a three-fold disease. It centers in the mind and that is why even after long periods of time without alcohol, the obsession to drink is still there. Then, after we give into the drink, as we often do, the physical allergy sets in and our bodies tell us we have to have MORE.
Alcoholism, I learned, is also a spiritual malady and when the malady is overcome, the mind and body straighten out as well. This has been just the case for me. I do believe that God transforms us through AA. My life did not immediately change to suit me when I came to AA . . . God suited me to fit my life through the Program. I learned here how to deal with any situation that may come up in my life through the working of the 12 steps.
My sponsor led me through the steps as they are outlined in the Big Book and showed me how to Apply them to my life . . . not just to read them, but to live them. In step one, I admitted from my gut that I am an alcoholic, committing to the fact that I can never drink again safely. In step two, I came to believe that my God could restore me to sanity. In step three I turned my life and my will over to God . . . meaning I would seek His will rather than my own.
In step four I made a list of my resentments and took my responsibility for my part in them . . . . I shared those resentments with my sponsor in the eyes of God and agreed to right any wrongs as best I could. I became willing to let God remove my shortcomings in step six and humbly asked Him to in step 7.
This is how I straightened out spiritually . . . it happened naturally through the steps and as our Big Book promises, my obsession to drink was removed. I don't suspect I will ever want to drink again so long as I maintain my spiritual fitness on a daily basis.
Today, I work to do that by living in steps 10-12 every day. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking for the Fellowship of A.A. The A.A. program, however, suggests certain things I must do if I expect to live happily in this world without alcohol.
Step 10 tells me that I must continue to take personal inventory and promptly admit any new wrongs along the way. Broken down, that means when selfishness, dishonesty, fear, resentment crop up, I must 1. pray immediately for God to remove them, 2. talk about it with another person immediately, 3. make amends quickly if I have harmed anyone, and 4. resolutely help another alcoholic. With step 10, I continue to grow in effectiveness and understanding of my relationship with God.
Step 11 is one of prayer and meditation. The BB tells us that if we want to stay sober, we must carry the vision of God's will in every part of our lives. My nightly inventory is a review of my day . . . I ask God's forgiveness for my shortcomings and his guidance to correct any wrongs for the day. In my morning inventory, I ask God to direct my thinking throughout the day, that it be free from self will -- Thy will not mine be done.
Step 12 tells me that I must carry This message to other alcoholics. Sharing the message plays a vital role in my own recovery . . . AND . . . the BB says that I can help where no one else can. I think it is truly amazing that I might even help to save a life today when there was a time I could not even help myself.
I love this program and I am grateful for the life it has given me today. If I could tell you the most important thing out of this share I am trying to convey it would be that if you are a suffering alcoholic, there IS a solution for you to be found here in AA. The solution is IN the steps and you truly do NOT have to drink anymore.
Get to many meetings, make good use of the Fellowship . . . they have been where you are . . . find yourself a sponsor . . . and work the steps . . . continue to apply the steps to ALL your life and you can obtain and maintain sobriety! AA is a wonderful way of life and I am grateful to be living it.