I always loved to drink and party and thought I might be an alcoholic, but whenever I asked some friends and family what they thought, they said no way – “you’re not an alcoholic!” So I kept right on drinking and eventually smoking pot until I was almost 48 years old – almost 32 years of drinking, off and on, mostly on! I had my first drink when I was 16 – a quart of Colt 45 with friends on the local college campus. We each had our own quart and got a nice buzz; we all laughed and danced around on the lawn – so my drinking started off as fun and social, and ended up as a crutch, a tool, something I needed (or thought I needed) to be happy, to survive, to cope, to escape, to mourn, to celebrate, to keep from being bored.
I often thought that if I quit drinking I would be miserable and bored. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. I am happier and busier (in good ways) now than ever before, and life is good. I believe I live a spiritual life which includes daily prayer and sitting and/or walking meditation, being honest, helping others, and bringing joy into the lives of others, by simply being my sober self, and smiling at friends and strangers. I really enjoy going for long walks outside everyday, rain or shine. I used to just walk to the recycling dumpster with empty bottles of beer or wine – those were NOT the days, these are the days!
Denial and shame kept me from admitting I was an alcoholic and kept me from seeking the help I didn’t know I needed and could have, if I just surrendered and stopped drinking, one day at a time.
I have since learned that alcoholism is a disease, not a disgrace. That was so good to hear, such a relief, music to my ears – a relief like none I had ever really felt before.
I was born on a Sunday at high noon during a heat wave in August of 1954 – a child of the sixties, a baby boomer. Under the astrological sign of Leo – and all descriptions of Leo apply to me, a few of which are : “Those born under this sign are fearless and strong, which may be why Lions plunge in headfirst and let the chips fall where they may…Leo folks want everyone to be happy. The pleasure principle is paramount to the Lion, and along those lines, Leos are great at spending money. Come play time, Leos are at their best. Those born under this sign enjoy fun and games both outdoors and in (and with a group)…overzealous Lions may have to take a deep breath and slow down a bit.”
It took me a long time to “slow down a bit” – but I really needed to do more than slow down – I needed to stop and change. All my friends used to drink, so one of the first things I needed to change were my friends. That was hard at first, and quite an adjustment. Lucky for me, my best friend from 3rd grade was already sober! Then some of my “drinking” friends got sober, and I made lots and lots of new friends that I could rely on and also enjoy their company, without drinking!
My Name is Bill W. – Hallmark movie of the week (early 1980’s) – struck a chord with me when I happened to see it on TV – but I didn’t know why. I know why now – because I am an alcoholic, simple as that! Bill Wilson (Bill W.) and Dr. Bob founded the AA program back in 1935, and in doing so have helped millions of people get and stay sober.
The beginning of my recovery involved feeling feelings for the first time and learning that feelings pass and not to drink to escape those feelings – and finding out about other things to do instead of drinking alcohol, such as eating some candy or calling another person in recovery, going to support group meetings every day, trying to express how I felt and being honest with others. July 25, 2003 was the beginning of my sobriety – the journey of a lifetime.
The recent days of my recovery, including today, involve waking up with a smile on my face, going to work or working from home, attending various support meetings, calling, texting, and/or emailing friends in recovery on a daily basis. I meet friends for a variety of activities – no alcohol involved; I experience more laughter and serenity in every day of my life in recovery than I did before I got sober. I do service work of all kinds – help others as often as possible, volunteer for a local church and work for a not-for-profit organization that helps educate persons that are incarcerated. I live a full and productive life – I am happy, joyous and free – grateful to be alive and grateful to be living sober!
I want and have sober people in my life, by choice. I like to keep things simple, not complicated. No more drama. Today I know I have choices and I don’t have to please all the people all the time, as I used to do. I am grateful for my friends, family and sobriety. One of the best things that have happened in my recovery is that I met a man, also in recovery, that I can share the journey with.
My life is not perfect, but it is close – “progress not perfection” and so much better than it was when I was drinking. Another slogan I live by is “keep coming back”. I think I will keep coming! That’s some of my story and I’m sticking to it!