In a recent meeting, I was asked to share. Its my home group so they ask me a lot. I always share! Even when I don’t want to, I still try to give some of my experience, strength and hope. That particular night I wasn’t feeling it. I drew a blank. So i politely said, “My name is Amanda and I’m an Alcoholic, i would just like to listen tonight, thank you for asking me.” Well holy shit I’ve never had so many eyes looking at me at once before. So i said, “Okay…….or maybe I will share?” Everyone laughed. I took it as a sign from God saying, “Amanda! Someone in this room needs to hear you!”
What I ended up speaking about was actually really important and I had some friends come to me after thanking me for sharing. Sometimes the words are so scrambled in my brain I have no idea how they sound when they come out. You see, my brain works extremely negative. Its wired to think bad, make big assumptions and play a pity party. I believe this is a product of my environment from birth to 30 yrs old. I dont blame anyone now, but its a simple fact that we are a product of our environment. I didn’t have the tools to cope. I had no self esteem or confidence, and I didn’t believe anything good would ever happen to me.
It wasn’t until i got sober in July 2014, that my thinking started to change. Up until that point, I had no idea that the problem wasn’t the drink. It was between my two ears. Alcoholism is a disease of the mind, an allergy of the body and a spiritual malady. When i heard this, my mind was blown. However, i still didn’t believe anything could ever help me. All I knew was that the one thing that helped me for so long, no longer worked. The bottle used to be my best friend, my therapy, my confidence, and my courage. But after 8 years of drinking, my last 2 years became completely unmanageable. I didn’t believe I could live without it. For something that once made me happy, had become my worst enemy. I was restless, irritable and discontent, even during my sober moments. It sounds a lot like a toxic relationship and in a way it was. The bottle was this manipulative, two faced boyfriend that I needed to break up with but I was so weak, I couldn’t. My life had never been full of roses and butterflies. It had been dark, gloomy and miserable with periods of sunshine that was quickly followed with overcast. For someone who never saw much sun, it was easy to believe it would always be stormy. The drink was my umbrella for many years. But the umbrella started to break. It wasn’t working anymore. I was standing in what seemed to be a sea of unbearable pain and I no longer had anything that was protecting me.
When i started going to meetings, I started listening to others speak. Sitting there angry, mad and depressed that I even had to walk in those doors. But i listened. I realized there were so many others like me. I had no idea the woman with the pretty makeup who looked like she had the best life was actually a recovering alcoholic. I was shocked to see a man who owned his own business and wore a suit by day, was an alcoholic. My perception of an alcoholic were the ones who walked around looking for cans to get some change for a single beer. Or the alcoholic father who abandoned his two daughters, like mine had done. I had no idea that a single mother that held jobs down and paid the bills was an alcoholic; I had no idea that I was the exact same as these people until I listened. My eyes were open. My ears were listening. My heart began to thaw. It had been frozen for so many years. I realized there were many types of alcoholics, of all ages, races and backgrounds. I realized that I was one of them. This is when I finally accepted it. I looked at these people around the room and I didn’t look at them as losers. I actually really respected them. So if they arent losers, than I cant be either. If millions of people have beat this disease then maybe I can too. But i quickly learned that its a lot more work than just putting down the drink. I had to begin doing the work.
With the help of the 12 steps, I was able to forgive people in my past that I never thought I could forgive. Forgiveness is not for the other person. It is not to let them feel better and wipe the slate clean. Its for ourselves. Its a choice we make not to hold on to the pain anymore. We give it to God to deal with! What those people did to you still matters. Your feelings are still valid! But make the choice not to hold on to it anymore. They will have their judgement day as we will have ours. So dont hold on to their shit anymore! GIVE IT TO GOD. Also, forgive yourself!!! Things you’ve done wrong were done most likely because you were not in the right frame of mind. I wouldn’t have hurt those I loved if I wasn’t sick. Thats right; I was sick. I didn’t know there was a solution. Alcohol was my solution. Now i know there is a different way. So i have to forgive myself! I was also able to realize that i had been living in a spiritual malady for 30 years. My thinking was completely messed up. I could not live the happy life that I wanted if i was to continue thinking negative. I began focusing on my assets and working through my defects. Its important to realize that no one is perfect. Sorry to tell you, but you arent either! You arent unique and you will never be the perfect one. Strive for progress not perfection. I am a firm believer in gratitude. I practice gratitude every single day. It helps me stay positive and maintain my spiritual health. I am grateful when it rains at night because I can hear the rain drops while I fall asleep. For so many years I couldn’t hear them because I was passed out drunk. I am grateful to be able to drive home after a night out, wash my face and get into bed. I’m grateful for my sons chatting to me non stop about their drama with their friends in the 4th grade because If i was still drinking I wouldn’t have cared to listen. I’m happy that my sister can call me with her problems because I can now be there to support her. If i was still drinking I would never have gotten a phone call. I’m grateful to go to work and not worry if someone can smell the alcohol on me from the night before. Today I am not a loner. I do not hibernate in my dark living room. I have friends, family and love today! I receive messages from people asking for help! I AM GRATEFUL FOR LIFE TODAY.
I have chosen to be open about my recovery for one reason. To end the stigma! We are NOT hopeless. We are NOT awful people. We have a sickness that involves underlying issues that must be worked out in order to heal. The fact that we have desire to overcome this is strength!!!! WE CAN RECOVER! Addiction does not have to be a death sentence. Its possible to recover and live to tell your story. I love to tell mine because If i can give hope to one person struggling, than everything I’ve gone through is worth it!
I must maintain these things on a daily basis. Its crucial to my recovery. Its like a car. You must do the maintenance in order for your car to run properly.
Acceptance. Forgiveness. Spiritual Health. Gratitude. Help Others.
I’m happy to say that I will be sober 3 years on July 24th 2017.