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My experience...

Old 02-04-2012, 03:16 PM
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My experience...

I'm a recovering alcoholic with 20.5 years of AA meetings, steps and therapy. I'm also co-dependent and had the worst relationship of my life in sobriety with another recovering alcoholic. I've been helped by so many people on this forum and if it's possible I'd like to give back. So perhaps my experience will help someone else

I read so many desperately sad postings by people whose lives have been wrecked by alcoholism. In some cases what contributes to the pain is the poster's lack of understanding about what alcoholism is. First of all, it is a disease categorized by the American Medical Association as a mental illness. In AA's Big Book Bill Wlison said "alcohol is but a symptom" and describes the alcoholic as selfish, grandiose, irresponsible, self willed, self centered, "terminally unique", have enormous egos combined with low self esteem. "His Majesty the child." Alcoholism is also progressive. I started out only drinking in social situations (although sometimes uncontrollably) and winded up a blackout drinker consuming almost a magnum of wine every day.

Active alcoholics are obsessed with alcohol despite catastrophic consequences. Booze and drugs are the alcoholic's higher power, great love of his/her life, best friend, mother, father, the most important thing in their lives. One key component of the disease is denial: the belief I won't drink again, that I can handle it, this is the last time .......... whatever. He or she may believe they won't drink again or to control it but it's wishful thinking.

During the last six years of my heavy drinking a wonderful non-alcoholic man was my enabler. I spent my money on booze and needed money for rent, he took care of it. I was too drunk to take care of a chore, he did it. If he hadn't been in my life I'd either have died, or, I would have gotten sober much sooner. We are irresponsible, dishonest and operate with the emotional maturity of a five year old. We desperately need our enabler to keep a roof over our heads, the electricity and heat on. When we do morally reprehensible things to people we love there's a ready solution: get drunk to escape the guilt. Another common thing is to blame others for our problems.

I was in terrible shape and terrified when I saw first hand that if I didn't stop drinking I would die. On my hands and knees I went to AA and basically said "I give up! Tell me what to do". In hindsight I wish I'd gone to a rehab because I felt worse when I stopped drinking. Early sobriety (which lasts roughly six months) was like 24 hour/day PMS in a full moon! I cried constantly. But what I had was the "gift of desperation" and kept going to daily meetings, sitting in the front row, got a sponsor and called people. What worked: it's only TODAY I don't drink. Just today. In decades I've never thought I'll never drink again because how do I know that? I also went to therapy and learned I suffer from depression (many of us drink to self medicate). A wonderful psychiatrist got me on the right medication, which I've been taking for two decades. I wouldn't be sober without AA and a shrink. What I also learned that alcoholism is very commonly accompanied by depression, bipolar disorder.

Again, alcoholism is a mental illness. In early sobriety someone said "if you take the alcohol away from a drunken horse thief you still have a horse thief". In other words, even though we put down alcohol we're still mentally ill.

So many of us expect to see a quick improvement when someone puts down alcohol. And indeed, this happens in some instances: the recovering alcoholic gets a job, pays more attention to the kids. But this is still a very damaged person who must change or drink again. Some of us are basically decent human beings and others are total assholes.

Yes, change is possible but it is an enormous amount of hard work and takes a long time. Some things never change. But suffice to say I'm a completely different person today. Doesn't mean I'm always cheerful or lovable. During the past 20 years I've know two recovering alcoholics still married to the same person they came in with. What commonly happens is when one person gets sober it completely changes the dynamics of the relationship. For it to continue both people must grow into responsible adults. But keep this in mind --- alcoholics aren't good at relationships and this is true of many who have been sober longer than I have. Still, each person is unique. For an alcoholic to stay sober his/her complete focus must be on recovery, which of course can cause problems in relationships.

In my tenth year I got romantically involved with a recovering alcoholic with a bit more time than I had. He didn't go to meetings or therapy. It was such a disaster I know I don't want anything to do with any alcoholic, no matter their length of sobriety. It went on too long but at least this time, I recognized my denial and addiction to someone completely wrong for me. Al-anon helped a great deal. Later I saw that I put the focus on this creep to avoid dealing with my own issues.

We must be gentle with ourselves and give ourselves credit for the hard work we do. It's possible to have a fantastic life beyond your wildest dreams where peace of mind is our default mode. The biggest tool is sharing with someone who has walked in our shoes, who understands us. It's a huge step to start reading the postings here. When we ask for help it always arrives.

Take what you want, leave the rest behind. God bless....
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Old 02-04-2012, 05:02 PM
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(((NYCDogLvr))) - awesome post from a "double winner"!

Hugs and prayers,

Amy
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Old 02-04-2012, 05:08 PM
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Thank you so much for your share. You are an inspiration!
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Old 02-04-2012, 08:04 PM
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I almost missed this, NYC Doglover.

Thank you. You are as clear as day and we need that.

I think I could write a mirror piece to yours, detailing how crazy I have been in codependency.

Can you change the title of this thread to "My experience as an alcoholic?" I'd love to see as many people helped as possible, and it might catch the eye.
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Old 02-04-2012, 08:19 PM
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Great post...thanks.
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Old 02-04-2012, 08:34 PM
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NYCDogLvr!

This one made me cry, I am so new to this and these words mean't so much to me. Not ever really connecting with my AH father and breaking up with my alcoholic EX has been so traumatic. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
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