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Don't Leave until the Miracle Happens.

Jan, Florida

My name is Jan, and I am an alcoholic.  I  believe I  was born an alcoholic, and I experienced many of the 'isms' before I ever even picked up my first drink of alcohol. Before I  found Alcoholics Anonymous I believed that was because I of my tumultuous upbringing,. We constantly  had  the police at my house for domestic violence issues, and I frequently  found myself in the middle between my parents. 

It is not my intent to sound as if I am blaming my parents, but there are certain facts of my childhood that cannot be denied, it was not a happy childhood, and I took the brunt of many problems in the family. I was shy, awkward, hid behind books, and was known to be very sarcastic as a child. I can remember my fourth grade report card had the word 'sarcastic' on it   four times. 

I didn't make friends very easily, but when I was 13 I was invited to a sleepover at another girls house. I had not had much to do with alcohol except my parents gave us a glass of wine at Thanksgiving every year and forced us to drink it.  At the sleepover my friend sneaked a bottle of  Bacardi 151 into her bedroom and offered some to me.  I found out the next day that I drank almost the entire bottle by myself, and her parents (who were paramedics and had probably seen a lot when I look back at the situation) agreed not to tell my parents if my friend and I went to the public library and wrote a report on alcoholism.  I saw myself in the words that I wrote, but I did not care because I loved the feeling that alcohol had given me the night before.

I  proceeded to drink at every opportunity and almost immediately started putting myself in dangerous situations.  I made many, many poor decisions and basically I became known as a girl who would do anything if you got her drunk.  In high school I started keeping a bottle in my locker and took sips from it  throughout the day. 

At 17, I chose the college that was furthest away from my home in the same state.  When I got up there, my drinking took on a whole new life of its own. I started drinking round-the-clock and made many trips to the infirmary for alcohol poisoning, after I had been found in the snow, in the dorm, in the bar, or in the hall, multiple times. 'Chronic Alcoholic' was stamped on my file.
 I can remember starting to think I was really crazy,  I spent most of my time daydreaming, now I think I was dissociating.  I can remember walking out of the infirmary one time shaking so bad- I was a skinny underweight kid -and I went right to the bar from the infirmary.  I flunked out by the end of my freshman year, and my parents response was to give me a geographical cure. My entire family moved down to Florida from New York.

I knew I was an alcoholic, and I knew I had to keep my act together if I was going to make anything of myself, so I white knuckled it for a whole year. I went to community college and got straight A's; I worked very, very hard. Then my parents got me a job at a neighbor's carwash nearby.  One night I agreed to go out to the bar with my new friends at the car wash, and I started drinking again.  Once again my drinking was alcoholic and  I was unable to control myself at all – no surprises there!  I remember hesitating before I picked up that drink, I knew what I was in for, but I wanted that drink, I wanted oblivion after a year of reality.

I transferred to a university, and while I was there became friends with a girl who did not drink and we worked on several projects together.  I can remember telling her and my classmates that the reason I was the way I was was because I had been in a coma  – I came to the point where I actually believed that myself!  She had been sober herself for a year and ended up twelve stepping me, and got me to go to my first meeting.  I was amazed because I had never been hugged before by anybody in my life, that was an experience I will never forget!  Unfortunately, I was not ready to stay sober, and I came in and out quite a bit. My friend got me into a treatment center, but when they tried to make me attend group I attempted suicide, so I was transferred to the psych ward. I did not stay there long, I was again diagnosed a chronic alcoholic and given a prescription known to have unpleasant side effects when taken with alcohol. I took this and started going to meetings.

I stayed sober for five years like this. Looking back now, I know I did not work a program at all.  I was very popular, I went to lots of meetings, and I dated a lot.  I met my husband in AA back then. We got married and drifted away from the program,  and when I became pregnant,  I stopped taking medication. Life was pretty good, I stayed home with my daughter for her first year of life, yet I started to find myself getting restless, irritable, and discontent.

After my daughter turned one, I got hired at a professional job that would involve multiple lengthy out-of-town trainings for a year. My first thought was that I'll be able to drink, and no one will know. I could not wait for that first trip out of town. As soon as I dropped my bags in my room I walked right into happy hour, and immediately began to destroy my professional reputation before it had even really begun. I humiliated myself but I kept right on going, I think all the blackouts spared me from knowing just how bad I really was.  When I would return home from my trips, it was incredibly difficult not to drink. I started taking medication again when I was home, and this proved to be very tricky, and I mistimed things and wound up in the emergency room three times from drinking with medication. 


I did this for 20 years, taking medication and then going on binges, back-and-forth, back-and-forth. About once a year I would go to an AA meeting and hope for something magical to happen, but it didn't. I didn't know anybody in the meetings anymore, and I resented that. I often would leave the meeting and go drink, or I would bring my vodka in a water bottle and sit way in the back and drink.

As time went on, my marriage was deteriorating, and I started to blame my husband for all of my/our problems. One day I found myself having made the decision to kill either him or myself, and I was weighing which was better for our daughter. I had a plan for both and I was prepared to carry one of them out when I believe God put his finger on me and turned me towards AA one last time.

I  found myself looking up AA online, and I joined this women's group.  I have never felt such support in my life.  I found my sponsor online and she is still my sponsor today over 2 1/2 years later.  I have never missed a day contacting her since we started this journey together.
 I did not stay sober immediately, but the reality was, I was willing to go to any length for I was desperate, so I kept coming back and following directions.

I was in such turmoil when I first got sober,  I had no idea how to manage my feelings let alone my marriage!  My sponsor taught me that this is a selfish program and that I needed to focus on taking care of myself first and foremost before I could even begin to think about taking care of anyone else. However, I had no idea what that meant… I soon learned that if  I am taking care of my HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired), then I have a chance at being able to take positive and appropriate actions in the rest of my life.

I didn't know it until it was pointed out to me, but I didn't even know enough to eat when I was hungry.  I didn't have appropriate ways to cope with my anger, my friends were drinking buddies and not really supportive, and I didn't know to sleep when I was tired.  I couldn't sleep much anyway.

I learned to immerse myself in the program (going to meetings, talking to other alcoholics, working on The Steps with my sponsor) in between eating and creating a schedule for myself that allowed for as much sleep as possible.  Talking to people in the program, including my sponsor,  helped to alleviate my feelings of isolation and loneliness.

I learned healthier ways to cope with my anger.

Something else that helped me tremendously was my sponsor's suggestion to take my 'To Do List' and fold it in half, fold it in half again, and then fold it in half again, and what I was left with on my list was going to work, and going to a meeting along with eating & sleeping - believe me, that was more than enough!!  She promised me everything else would take care of itself and you know what?  It did!  For me, it was such a relief  to stop pushing myself so hard and take care of myself.  I have often thought  that  for me if  I could sum this program up in one word it would be 'relief.'

Today,  I live a stable, sober life where things don't  throw me like they used to.  I still find that I have to consciously focus on my HALT,   especially the T, as Tired is my Achilles' heel, but it gets easier little by slowly.  And many days going to work,  going to a meeting, eating and sleeping is still a full day  and I am perfectly happy with that!

I did whatever my sponsor told me to do no matter what I thought about it, because I wanted what she had – she had sobriety long-term, and she was walking through her own troubles with dignity and grace.  I have put more effort into working The Steps than I have ever put into anything else in my life. In sobriety, my entire life has changed, nothing is the same, yet I am still me, just a much better version of me now.  

I am truly a miracle and enjoying living what I used to think were the impossible promises.   My focus is not on myself today- it is on my Higher Power and on helping others.  Thank you for my sobriety.

I would say 'keep coming back,' but since you're already here, why don't you just stay ?

Jan

Florida


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