Friday, July 19, 2013

Overcoming the Stigma

***Submitted by Anonymous

I didn't want to be an alcoholic. I didn't even like to think of that word. It sent shivers down my spine. It was shameful, humiliating, and weak. It meant I was out of control. What would people think? What would they say about me? The big black cloud of stigma followed me around, and helped keep me sick. For too long.

But what I've learned is that this stigma was in MY head, based in shame, regret and fear of the unknown. It's what kept me trying to moderate, control, change my drinking for 2 years - falling short every time. It wasn't until my gig was up, and my loved ones were honest with me about the fact that I wasn't fooling anyone - they knew about my struggle with alcohol. It was no secret. Truth is, I knew they knew. At some point, my drinking to escape life's struggles turned into drinking just to feel normal. Without it I wanted to crawl out of my own skin. Things in my life weren't working anymore. In almost every aspect of my personal life I found unrest and discontent. But I didn't know what to do. I just knew that drinking wasn't it.

That was all before leaping into a program of recovery, finally surrendering myself to the process. I don't know how much longer I could have lasted out there, my drinking was progressing so fast. I knew I was unhappy, I just didn't know how to fix my life. Drinking worked for a while, until it didn't. Then it was working on killing me. I started meeting people who understood my pain, in a way only another alcoholic does.  People who spoke without reservation about their struggles, and listened without pause or expectation. I don't know at what point I became an alcoholic, or if I was born with the tendency, and it doesn't much matter to me now. I just know that the only way I can be present and sober is to abstain from it 100%. 

At first all I wanted to do is stop drinking. But a funny thing happened. 

My shame started lifting. I started changing. Changing the things in my life I drank to escape. I started allowing myself to feel. Changing my perceptions about feelings, people and things and changing from a place of control to submission. Willingness to take certain steps, and let go of the result. To take it on pure faith and prayer that it could get better. Accepting life as it is and not how I would want it to be. Life on life's terms. And I'm learning that my sobriety depends on my willingness to releasethose things that aren't serving me anymore. I'm free because I'm not forced to find the answer any more. And most days, I can find a few moments of serenity to hold on to. And when things are hard, to fall to my knees and pray:
 
Serenity Prayer (long version)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is
, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Amen.

Each day that passes, I feel shame that I used alcohol in that way. I'm even grateful for my disease. Because it brought me to my knees. Which is someplace I hadn't been in a while, but needed to visit. I'm practicing getting out of my own way. Out of my head. And what's in others' heads is none of my business anyway. 

Stigma faded. Poof!

10 comments:

  1. Beautiful! Thank you so much for this!

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  2. Glory to God! He is our greatest Healer. So proud of you sister.

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  3. Your story is my story. Thank you for sharing it!
    And thank you for letting others know there is help if you ask for it, it does get better being sober, life can become manageable and the shame can get less.

    I had shivers reading your story. Only another alcoholic could totally get it!
    Thank you and peace girl ::))

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  4. THANK YOU! It's my story too and I had forgotten (for the moment) feeling... exactly what you wrote ... "At some point, my drinking to escape life's struggles turned into drinking just to feel normal. Without it I wanted to crawl out of my own skin" WOW I really needed to remember that. Next week I must go to a business convention surrounded by alcohol in the wine country of Northern California. I've made my plan and reading this story tonight helps me remember I DON'T DRINK NO MATTER WHAT. I never want to feel like that again. Waking up without guilt, shame and remorse for the previous days drinking is part of the gift of sobriety. I am grateful.

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  5. Wonderful to know that you can in fact do it sober. Every day. Day after day, wake up clear-headed and remembering what happened the night before. Proud of you.

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  6. You share my story as well. After 8+ months, my shame is lifting! It feels great to be sober!

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  7. Amen! Amen! I needed that to feel refueled. God used you to deliver a very powerful message. Thank you for being His tool and vessel today!!

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  8. So eloquently written and not a word wasted.

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