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|08-03-2010, 10:17 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Pagekeeper My Story
My name is Jennifer and Iím a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Iím going to tell my story in a general way--what it was like, what happened, and what itís like now. Iíve had to leave out big chunks of it, otherwise it would be as long as a novel, but Iíve tried my best to make it a cohesive and honest reflection of my experience.
My earliest memory takes place in the summertime. I was around three years old. I was walking barefoot in the grass. I was filled with a sense of wonder and awe. The sun was shining and I felt connected to everything: the grass, trees, wind, birds, insects, and even the bed sheets my mother was hanging on the clothesline. I had no knowledge of worry, fear, or separateness. I was a child of God walking in the sunlight of the spirit, and I clearly remember thinking to myself: ďThis is the best time of my life.Ē
A few years later, I came to the conclusion that I was different from my family. My parents were practical. I was a dreamer. I had a different father from my older sisters. I was different from kids in school. Different from the books I read and the TV shows I watched. I felt shame for unexplainable reasons. I worried constantly. I devised plans to make things go my way. I was terrified of what would happen if they didnĎt.
I took my first drink at age 11. It was as if I had returned to that summer day in the backyard. I knew no worry, no fear, or sense of being separate. Once again, I belonged to the world.
The first time I recall having the phenomena of craving was at the age of 16. My friends were old enough to buy alcohol. I was usually the first to finish my bottle, and Iíd beg for drinks from their bottles. I felt so agitated and uncomfortable if I couldnít get another drink. I never told anyone about this feeling. I thought it only happened to me, and it only seemed to happen once in a while.
After I graduated high school, I started to get very jittery in the morning after a night of drinking. I went to my doctor and he prescribed me something to quiet my nerves. Over the next several years I was hospitalized over a dozen times as a direct result of my drinking. Sometimes Iíd go voluntarily, but more often Iíd wake up in a detox with tubes in my arms and no recollection of how Iíd gotten there. Eventually, I ended up in a psychiatric facility.
ďWell this is it,Ē I thought. ďIím going to get committed for good this time.Ē I walked into the Psych docís office and sat down. I waited for him to pronounce me insane and I was prepared to sign whatever he put in front of me.
He put discharge papers in front of me. My problem, he said, was alcohol.
It was traumatic to hear. You see, at that point I wouldíve rather been diagnosed with a severe mental illness then be faced with the proposition that alcohol was a problem. Alcohol was how I got through the day. It was how I made friends, went to work, met my boyfriends, broke up with them, got up in the morning, fell asleep at night, relaxed, passed the time, coped, celebrated, etc. I could not live without alcohol.
So, I continued to drink. I went into DTís for the first time when I was 29 years old. I no longer had hangovers. I had withdrawals: shakes, nightsweats, acute anxiety.
I was filled with shame, confusion, grief, turmoil, and sadness so deep it made me feel like I was made of glass and breaking all over the place. People stepped with caution around me.
I have been that person the big book talks about--the one pounding on the bar asking themselves how they got started again. I've also been that man who thought putting an ounce of whiskey in a glass of milk wouldn't harm him. I used Diet Coke instead of milk, but the insanity is the same. I had these strange mental blank spots. I would drink without thinking or I would think myself into a drink. I didnít know a good thought from a bad one. I didnít know a right from a wrong.
Then alcohol suddenly stopped working. It was terrifying. I could no longer get to that place of no worry, fear, or sense of separateness. I went from sober to blackout with no high, no buzz, no nothing in between. Just that awful craving and then the blackout.
So, this was my predicament: I had a mental obsession that I couldnít control with willpower and my mind had turned against me. Iíd pick up a drink and a craving would drive me to drink excessive amounts, even though I couldnít get high anymore.
I was in and out of AA for four years. I just couldnít get honest. I also had a problem with enlarging my spiritual life. I cringed at the idea of it. Today that is the most important thing in my life. I believe it has to be for one to get recovered.
I took my last drink on July 3, 2008. The next day, July 4th, I spent pacing around my house for hours on end, my head and heart racing, terrifying words repeating over and over in my mind. I was so afraid of myself. The 4th of July had been my favorite holiday for as long as I could remember, but that night I could only lie in bed and listen to the fireworks. I felt too ugly and sick inside to watch something beautiful.
I went to an AA meeting the next day, July 5th. I knew Iíd lost the power of choice. So if I had lost the power to choose, how did I get sober? All I can tell you is Godís Grace because I have no more willpower when it comes to alcohol than those who die of alcoholism before they ever find a solution.
And I wasnít one of those people who put down the bottle and life suddenly got great. Early sobriety was beyond my wildest nightmares. I felt even more crazy and out of control. I did not know how to live without alcohol.
I was prone to panic attacks.
I had a severe eating disorder.
I was moody, unpredictable, and paranoid.
I sought escape through lust and infidelity.
I was full of self-pity, guilt, and resentment.
I often felt severely depressed.
I felt degraded and used up and exposed.
The pain of all of these things forced me to become willing to go to any lengths, to do things I would have never agreed to do otherwise. Today I believe that pain was Godís Grace. It absolutely saved me. It also taught me that alcohol wasnít the real issue. Something deeper was going on--the spiritual malady.
So I picked up a copy of our main text, Alcoholics Anonymous, and started reading it. The Drís Opinion described me to a T. I remember reading it for the first time. I sat on the floor in my closet and read it. When I finished, the last line gave me chills. That was the beginning of the end of separation for me. I had always thought the drink effected only me and here was a book that described others who had the same reaction. Suddenly I wasnít alone. I felt a little hope for the first time in years.
My spiritual awakening is described in Appendix II as the "educational variety." It happened gradually as I practiced the steps and tapped into an inner resource which I presently identify as God. However, I had a few sudden rearrangements in my thinking along the way that changed my entire outlook on life very quickly.
I've heard people talk about feeling the presence of God after taking step 5, and I did open up, but God became a fact to me in step 9. I could literally feel a slight transformation every time I made an amends. It was so powerful. That's when I truly came to believe.
I donít try to make mistakes, but Iím human and so I do, but being wrong is not the worst thing in the world anymore. In fact, becoming aware of my self-delusion is a gift. Every time Iím wrong, my perception clears a little bit as the self-delusion is exposed. Itís a gift when God reveals my delusions and I have the chance to make amends.
The obsession to drink was removed around step 10. I realized it was gone when I ceased to notice alcohol anymore. Itís just been removed from my conscious thought process. I literally donít notice it, and it takes no effort on my part. It's not a struggle. It's not a fight. It's just gone and there's no longer a choice to make.
Step 11 gives me clear cut instructions on how to behave each day. ďWe alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined.Ē Through step 11, I have learned how to see, at certain times, how Godís will is revealed to me. I love step 11. I look forward to daily prayer and meditation. I just read pages 85-88 and follow the directions. I'm not perfect. I mess up, but I'm willing to grow along spiritual lines.
Taking others through the steps has deepened my relationship with my higher power. Today I know a new kind of happiness--seeing others achieve sobriety and transform their lives.
There are hidden realities in this life. There are mysteries deep and beautiful, filled with light and hope. There are miracles in ordinary faces. There is meaning inside meaning and love inside love. I see God everywhere, as long as my eyes and heart are open.
I know when Iím doing Godís will today because I feel like that child again, full of wonder and awe, walking in the sunlight of the spirit, and thereís no worry, fear, or sense of separateness. I belong to the world. Sometimes I even say to myself, ďThis is the best time of my life.Ē
All Big Book quotes taken from Alcoholics Anonymous 1st Ed.
Last edited by CarolD; 08-03-2010 at 05:43 PM. Reason: Title Corrected-per Story guideline
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