Continued from last week…A little bit of this or that and I could nurse a drink all night without throwing up. In no time at all I had arrived, or so I thought. I had a bunch of friends to hang around with. We did exciting things: skipping school, taking road trips, and drinking. It was great for a while. Getting hauled into the principle’s office or being questioned by the police, things I would have been ashamed of before, were badges of honor. My ability to come through these events without giving away information or being unnerved brought me respect and trust among my peers.
Outwardly I was a young woman who was comfortable with herself, yet ever so slowly these actions that I knew were wrong started eating me. My first reaction was to drink more, but the outcome wasn’t what I expected and I continued to raise my intake without the desired effect. It didn’t seem to matter how much I drank or what combination of substances I took; I could no longer find the relief I sought.
Life at home was falling apart around me. Every time I turned around I’d done something to make my mother cry. At school they were looking for ways to be rid of me.
I started the painful spiral to my bottom a scant two years into my drinking career. Knowing I had to graduate, I made adjustments to my lifestyle to stay in school. I watched my friends continue to have fun. A depression settled over me, encasing me in a gray haze. I couldn’t skip school anymore; my boyfriend came home from boot camp with another girl; my mother was still crying, and it was my fault.
There were several attempts at suicide. I’m grateful to say I wasn’t good at it. Then I decided since I wasn’t having fun anymore, I’d quit drinking and using. I mean why waste good booze if you’re going to feel just as bad drunk as sober? I held no hope for feeling better when I stopped.
It never occurred to me that I couldn’t stop. Every day I concocted some new method of staying sober. If I’m with this person, or in that place, I won’t drink. It didn’t work, but every morning I woke up with a new resolve to stay sober. The voices in my head became more vicious with each failed attempt: See, you failed again, you knew you wouldn’t feel better, you’re a loser, and you’re never going to beat this, why try, just drink until you’re dead.
I was not a nice person sober, I was angry and frightened and wanted others to feel as terrible as me. Toward the end I prayed for God to take me in my sleep, and I cursed Him in the morning for allowing me to live.
It was never my intention to end up in AA; I couldn’t be an alcoholic because I was too young. I got a job at a local pancake house and the late hours attracted a wide variety of clientele, including some members of Alcoholics Anonymous. They were not my favorite people to wait on. They, in fact, drove me to drink. They were loud, and hard to please, they table-hopped and didn’t tip very well. I waited on the same bunch for six weeks before finally being granted a night off.
Now, I thought my problem was insanity, and what happened on my night off clinched it: I missed the motley crew who had plagued my existence for over a month. I missed the laughter and their bright smiles. I went and had coffee with them.
Through a chain of events I choose to believe were the actions of my Higher Power, they convinced me to go to a meeting. I was told it was a special anniversary open meeting, which meant that anyone could attend. What could it hurt? Perhaps it will help me better understand them.
On the designated evening I arrived to find that the anniversary meeting was the following week, but they decided I should stay. I was shocked and humbled. These people wanted me around? I stayed and listened, but was careful to let them know I didn’t have a problem and then attended the anniversary meeting the following week. The next week a friend, who was admittedly an alcoholic, asked me if I was going to the meeting. My head went into hyper-speed. If this person thought I needed to go, perhaps I did, but I wasn’t an alcoholic. I attended that meeting and decided drugs were my problem and from that night forward, I quit drugs, but the result was a sharp increase in my drinking. Staggering home one night, it occurred to me that perhaps if I stopped drinking for a while, maybe I could get a handle on things and then I could drink again because given a choice I’d take drinking over the other stuff in a heartbeat. Angry doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when I had to admit I was an alcoholic.
Even though I was grateful not to be nuts, I felt cheated because all the people sitting around the tables of AA had been granted more years of drinking than me. It just wasn’t fair, but then someone pointed out to me that life was rarely fair. I wasn’t amused, but extending my drinking career simply wasn’t an option.
Ninety days sober cleared my thinking enough to know I’d hit bottom. If I were to go back to drinking, it would just be a matter of time before I’d succeed at suicide, or again started the life of the living dead and real death was preferable to that. At this point I surrendered and admitted I was an alcoholic without a clue what to do about it. I stayed sober and one summer with people who enjoyed life sober was all it took for me to want sobriety more than I wanted to drink. I will not tell you I did everything I was told, when I was told, how I was told, because I didn’t. Like most people new to the program, I tried to find an easier softer way, when I couldn’t, I looked for the one person who could wave their magic wand and fix me right now. I finally realized that if I wanted a sober life, I was going to have to do what the others had done, no one made me drink, and no one was going to make me sober. Alcoholics Anonymous is for people who want it not people who need it. Unfortunately most alcoholics never make it to AA’s door.
This story is taken from “My Chance To Live,” in the Fourth Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.
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