To the amazing women of Crying Out Now: Readers, Moderators, Sober Women, Women with a DESIRE to stop drinking, Curious Women, All the women brave enough just to come to this site with an open-mind,
It is because of support like this that I have made it back to one year of continuous sobriety. And, while for me a 12-step program of recovery works best, when I came back to it after 3 full years of doing more alcohol- and drug-related research I was convinced it couldn't work for me.
I want to share my story because if just one woman reads it and can identify with enough of it that she thinks sobriety might be worth a shot, then every single day of this last year has been worth it.
That is not to say that every day has been a struggle. Some have, certainly. But mostly my days have been happy and free. I closed one door when I decided to return to twelve step meetings. I closed the door to booze. I shut down my alcoholism. And what did that do? It opened up every other door that I believed to be closed. Now I have life.
But let me begin at the beginning. I am a born-and-raised New Yorker. Kinda. I was born in Trenton, NJ to people far too young to have a baby and adopted (at 6 weeks old) by two crazy people in NYC. My parents brand of crazy (when I say parents I mean the people who adopted me, raised me, put up with my craziness), was not a bad brand. They did not physically abuse me. The emotional abuse was unintended. They meant well. But good intentions aren't always enough. My father died when I was 21 and my mum and I are now good friends. I have taken responsibility for my part in things, so I do not want to dwell on mistakes. I'll just say that the primary problem was that there was never anyone around. I never felt safe. Ever. And I was living in a world in which I did not fit. I went to a school with super rich girls and I felt lesser. And, I had no with whom to share my fears. So.... I turned first to food. I ate to numb. I ate to fill the emptiness. That was at 8. By 13 I had found pot, booze, and boys. In fact, I turned to boys much more than drugs or booze at first for two reasons: one, boys are easier to come by at 13 years old; and two, boys are easy. So for a while I gave blowjobs and had sex with boys that were wildly inappropriate (older etc) and it was intermingled with booze and pot.
By 15 I took diet pills or asthma meds regularly to get high. Speedy little guys in those days.
I have very few memories from the teen years. I am a great disassociator. I know by age 16 I was having sex with a sailor--visiting the city on Fleet Week--on my friend's rooftop in a semi-blackout or brown-out from copious amounts of alcohol.
By age 18 I was meeting men off the internet, getting fall-down drunk before I met them, and then.... Well you get it.
Onto college. My drinking changed there. It was easier. So I went from bingeing on weekends to bingeing a few times a week--at least 3. And it's where I found I "glass," cocaine, and ecstasy. These were like little miracles. To me they appeared to do no more than make me able to drink more and without any nausea, spins, vomiting, and best of all NO BLACKOUTS. Needless to say it goes downhill from there. I think around age 20, my dad was dying, my drug and alcohol use was amped up, I asked a man to come back to my room. he beat me up badly. I wrote on the wall, while I was drunk out of my mind "I am an asshole."
I am never a daily drinker at this point . Always a binger. My grades in school were fine. I had a job. I was fine. Just having fun. Right?
My dad dies. I drink like ... I use it as an excuse to drink harder, drug harder, and ... more than ever before. I move to Scotland to escape my problems. They come with me. I come home. Day one home and I am as wasted and coked up as I have ever been and....
Before I moved to Scotland a shrink had given me a book called Living Sober. I put it my shelf and left it there. When I woke up back in NYC, skin crawling, sweating, exhausted, headachey, and filled with shame I looked up and saw that book. I called the number for someone who could direct me to a twelve step meeting. I don't know how I knew. I had never thought about it before. I just knew something had to change. I knew I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. And that was the beginning of my first four years sober. But not the end of my using story because I never really admitted I had a problem. I mean I talked the talked and to a degree I walked the walk, but in my head I always thought "this is just another whim," or "I'll clean up my act and then go back to drinking and it'll be fine."
Yeah. Well. After four years I went back to drugs and alcohol. It's because, in essence, I had forgotten how bad it really felt. I had moved away from basic principles that had kept me sober at all. I didn't really believe I had a problem.
I spent the next three years drinking and using cocaine in a way I had never before. It was as if my "disease" had been waiting for me, getting stronger. I didn't look back. Binges lasted anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. There were always men. There was always shame.
I got into a terrible and abusive relationship, and a light bulb went off 'I can only end this if I get sober again." Like, I knew I was strongest and clearest when I wasn't using. And that was the beginning of a year of trying. I tried and failed over and over again for a year to get it back. I tried twelve step meetings but without really trying. I could get 60 days together. then 30. then 10. then only 3 or 4. My binges were getting more and more frequent and the sick feelings worse. Finally on October 9th, 2011 I called a friend who also struggled. I wanted to kill myself in a very real way. More real than ever before. But instead I called Jay. I begged for help. I said I was afraid twelve step meetings didn't work for me. I was one of those poor unfortunates. He said "sit tight. Go to a meeting tomorrow. I'll give you one of my Antabuse." For 2 months I stayed sober on fear and Antabuse. But that was not a life, and I knew from experience that twelve step meetings could offer me a life. Not the meetings themselves. I would have to work for it, but that it was a bridge back to life. And, for the first time ever I was willing to go to any lengths to get sober. I went back. I counted my days out loud. I listened. I listened and listened and listened. I drank in the information instead of booze.
So my solution is twelve step meetings. They are not a Christian Cult. I do not pray to Jesus. I do not pray, in fact, to any Judeo-Christian God, or any deity for that matter. I do pray every day. I say thank you to the world, to the universe for helping guide me through the another day. I ask for continued strength and clarity. And, I believe I had better put into this world what I want to get out, so I try to lead a life with roots in love and service . That said, I have a good job. I have not devoted my life to practice of meditation. But I help people when I can. I try to give back what has been so freely given to me. I try not to judge people, but to understand them as I would want them to understand me. But the truth is, just asking for help is a HUGE change and one that can have powerful effects.
I exercise a lot. I eat clean. I train dirty. I love my life. And, I love myself.
I used to think when I crossed the street "None of these cars want to wait for me. They think I am disgusting and wish they could hit me." Literally, those words would float through my head. Sometime in this last year, that stopped. And now I even think, sometimes, "I bet that driver thinks I'm a hottie ."
I never imagined I could have a life like this--one where I liked looking at myself in the mirror.