I was a functional alcoholic for over 25 years, and my addiction was dressed up in social acceptability. I loved to go to wineries, microbreweries, and local distilleries, but after 20 plus years, my refined palette gave way to whiskey bottles hidden in the basement and wine bottles hidden in the garage. I was functional insofar as I hadn't yet lost my wife, house, or job u2013 but I wasn't thriving.
I never dealt with some of the issues I needed to deal with. My alcoholic father abandoned me when I was young, and my mom married another alcoholic who was a hard man who once held me by the throat against the bathroom wall while my mother watched. I'd never dealt with those resentments and traumas. I thought I could outsmart and outrun them, but I wasn't smart or fast enough.
When covid hit, I took a turn for the worse. I was drinking to the point of pain, and I started to miss work at a time when my team needed me. My wife was packed to leave. I called out to God for help, and He said, "If you want to get up out of bed, I am here to help you." I then called AA, and a new friend said the words that would change my life; "I stay sober for me; luckily, everyone else gets to benefit, too." I had never thought of sobriety as selfish, and I am still not exactly sure why that was such a turning point. But over the past couple of years, AA and Our Collective Journey have provided opportunities for me to tell my story, come to terms with old wounds, and I now believe that all the stories I was told about God are true: healing, forgiveness, and redemption are all possible for me.
Please reach out. You are not alone!
"Growing in up in a small town, my early life was ripe with family, athletic events, recreation, and church attendance. I had a father who worked hard and provided what we needed and a mother who devoted her life to her children. My days were full of spending time with my extended family and doing what kids do. Tragically, my mother developed breast cancer when I was eight, and succumbed to the disease just three years later. A feeling of being separated from everyone else was made more prominent by the death of my mother and grandmother in the span of one year. I can remember thoughts of not wanting to live being prominent during this time. Fear was a feeling that I struggled with my entire life and after my mother passed away, I remember developing a feeling of impending doom that became my constant companion. A perpetual cloud of depression seemed to follow me everywhere. Moving on into middle school and high school, I began to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Anything I could procure to alter my consciousness I would use. During my junior year of high school, I attempted suicide by taking a bottle of sleeping pills and drinking beer. I had grown up in a religious household and felt drawn to seeking God, but never could I tap into God's power for any extended period of time. I manage to graduate high school and begin taking courses at the local junior college, but by Christmas break, I received two DUI's in the span of two weeks. You could say I was simply just existing. This type of living went on for six months...waking up in strange places, not knowing who or what I had done the night before. I was on the verge of being thrown out of my house at the age of 18. As fate would have it, I was given an opportunity to receive substance abuse treatment for ninety days at a local treatment center, and there I was introduced to a way of living that would ultimately change my life.
Twelve step recovery helped me achieve all the things I wanted out of life including a family, career, home, and the esteem of my peers. One would think that by having all of your exterior needs met, happiness and joy would follow close by. I can't say that good times and happiness weren't experienced during these years of my life. Something was missing. After almost twelve years of being on the wagon, I began using alcohol and drugs again. My life was soon turned upside down. Within a short amount of time, I was using drugs and drinking every day. How could I do this? How could someone who was an admitted drug addict and alcoholic fall back into this pattern of living? While I had attended and participated in 12 step recovery some during my sober time, I had never utilized the tools and put into practice everything the people in 12 step recovery suggested I do. By the grace of God, I found myself plucked out of the insanity and given another chance in 2013. The last seven years of my life have been far more difficult and far more rewarding than my first chapter of recovery. I've been given a way of life that works under any circumstance. Divorce, estrangement from children, legal consequences, and the condemnation from my community are situations that only a spiritual connection could see me through without drinking or taking drugs. Today I have a specific purpose in my life and all my needs are being met. I get to walk arm in arm with brothers and sisters who are just like me, and who practice the same solution that I do. I don't have to face anything alone. I don't worry what people think of me as much as I used to and the constant critics lurking in my head have quieted down. I am not imprisoned in my self imposed hell anymore. As long as there is a breathe to take, there is hope!"
We've ALL been there (literally). Our Collective Journey offers a no-BS approach to help you collect the resources you need to put your life back on track. There is no cost for this support, and we are ready 24 hours a day.