I grew up in fear of my father. He was extremely abusive to my Mother in every way and this spilled over onto me and my siblings as well. He was and still is alcoholic and emotionally stunted to say the least but I still love him and have forgiven him for everything. He did the best he could and I appreciate everything. All this to say that my family values were negatively affected by my Fathers alcoholism. My sense of safety and security never even existed. Only fear and an inability to connect in any normal way. Hence the need for something more. Something other than what I had known growing up.
I didn't know what love was and I tried to find it by using drugs and forming my relationships based on drug use. All my relationships were based on drug use, self denial and addiction and not on who I really was as a person because in all honesty, I couldn't stand myself. I was a scared, insecure, anxious and constantly trying to justify and rationalize my existence by pointing out the ills of society and the world. I blamed my lack of effort and participation on society and the government, Completely ignoring my own defects and shortcomings. I used my ability to play drums and music to justify myself and find acceptance which landed me in bands who were similarly inclined to partake in the rock lifestyle(sex,drugs and rock n roll but mostly drugs). I adopted the rocker rebel persona and lived as outside of society as possible which eventually led me to the depths of isolation and hard drug use.
I crossed every line I ever made when it came to the kinds of drugs I did and once I did that, my life deteriorated in the space of five years to the point of having nobody left to fall back on, talk to or accept me, no job, no place to live and no hope for a future. I gave up. I was a thousand miles from home and needed to either get help or beg for mother to pay my way home at age 35. She suggested I call a number from the meetings list I received at my first meeting. I had been taken to a 12 step meeting by a coworker previously and identified strongly with all the introduction readings but it scared me and was too much to accept that I was an addict who needed help. But it didn't take long to realize I needed help and the moment I surrendered, the doorway to humanity appeared. As soon as I ASKED to see myself as I truly am so that I can stop going through the same destructive patterns over and over again, the program, the people and the steps appeared. I knew I had found what I had been looking for and it didn't take long. This was the beginning of my new life.
I was given a number for a second stage recovery house. I called and was given instructions on how to get a bed. I followed them and was picked up the next morning from the tattoo shop I was staying in for the past few days. I had my duffel bag and my tattoo gear and I was heading into the unknown. I was scared but I knew I had to do this. I arrived at the house and was oriented by the house monitor Mike. An older alcoholic fella who, I talk to on a regular basis to this day. He was chipper and I felt at ease with him. He told me this was a safe place and that really comforted me because the guys in there looked rough and I was scared. Once I had finished the paperwork and informed of the house policies, I felt good knowing that this was going to be a huge change from the life I just came from. I was required to attend at least 3 12 step meetings per week but I attended 7 or more. I got to know the men in the house and they helped me get to meetings. I got to know the local recovery community and this was how I started my return to humanity.
I did as the program sets out: I gave myself a break and focused on recovery primarily for that first year. I got a permanent sponsor after a few temporary sponsors. I struggled with finding someone who had something I wanted because I honestly didn't know what I wanted other than to not fall back into isolation and hard drug use. I did a thorough set of steps to the best of my ability and through this experience of confiding in another man with the honest truth of who I am, I started to experience real connection,trust and love. Until this moment, I had not known these feelings of love, support and most importantly security. Finally I could just be honest,relax, be myself and stop trying to justify or rationalize my place in peoples lives. As an addict in recovery, I found a place where I truly belong and although it took me a good three years and five relapses to accept this fully, it's the happiest I,ve ever been and most meaningful my life has ever been. The more I relapsed, the more I realized how much I value and appreciate the relationships I have in my life and how important it is for me to always look at myself and my part in things so that I can change into the kind of person I truly want to be. It took a lot of pain and close brushes with death to realize that I need the people in my life and they need me too!
Through my relationships on this recovery journey, I have achieved a level of sanity, success, connection and serenity that is truly impossible to have in the isolation of addiction. The trauma of my past is being healed and my true self is being recovered each day in association with others on this path of recovery. Through total abstinence from ALL mind and mood altering drugs I have achieved what I had thought impossible. That I could find acceptance for myself and others and learn to function and even thrive in a society I once blamed for my shortcomings. My recovery is not possible without the help of others. It is only through association with others that I have learned and gained ways to express myself productively and function in service to others. I find freedom in service to others and will continue to practice this because this is how I feel a truly spiritual live should be lived. Not in isolation but in service to others. It sounds a bit religious and maybe it is but it's practical when it comes to finding a better way to live without the use of drugs. I am happy and comfortable in who I am today. This is what I want for everyone and if my story helps put you on this path, my life is worth something and my suffering was well worth it."
You are not alone, there is hope! Please reach out.
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!
"I was born and raised in Medicine Hat, the middle daughter of 3. I grew up in an alcohol free home. I often heard stories of alcoholic relatives and was aware that alcoholism was in our family. From my very first memories as a young child I remember the constant feelings of loneliness and fear. Always wanting to be someone else, always wanting to feel different, never content and always comparing my insides to everyone's outsides. I was to the extreme quiet and shy but always seeking attention and approval. From a very young age I had suicidal thoughts. My brain never was quiet. I felt a prisoner in my own mind. Even the simplest things would happen and I would spend days if not months still thinking it over. I had my first drink at 12 years old and drinking became regular on weekends until graduation year. It felt a way to escape from reality, it blocked the thoughts for a while and took away the fears of living. But I never drank the way my friends did, I could never have just one and would wake up the next day with no recollection of the night before. I won awards for funniest person in grade 9 and grade 12. I never understood what they saw in me that I didn't. Alcohol made me everything I wanted to be funny, confident, social, until it stopped working.
At 18 I was married and and had my first daughter. I truly believed I had found my purpose, I felt it was who I was destined to be my whole life. I thought I had everything I ever wanted. 3 healthy beautiful daughters, the family home, nice vehicles, family vacations. Yet I still felt alone and very uncomfortable in my own skin. I made many visits to the Dr. office, I suffered from depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. My marriage ended after 15 years. As my daughters grew older I found I had more time to myself and continued on where I had left off in High-school. Alcohol once again made me more social, and gave me a sense of worth and belonging. I searched for myself in relationships with men, drugs, alcohol. What was just drinking on the weekends became daily and no matter how hard I tried I could not stop.
I tried just quitting drugs hoping that was my problem, I tried just beer for a while, then just wine, soon I couldn't leave the house or go to work because I knew I couldn't go long without a drink. Within 3 years I was a daily black out drunk. Waking up the next day full of guilt and shame. Terrorizing the lives of all those who cared and loved me. I became someone I could not control while drinking. I physically and mentally harmed my children, family and friends. I didn't want to live sober and I didn't want to live drunk anymore. The solution to my problems no longer worked. My daughters were saddened and scared so they made the decision to leave and go live with there dad. A recovered alcoholic friend reached out to me . I never knew there could be others out there that felt like I did, had thoughts like I did, and wanted to die just like I did. She first gave me hope by sharing her experience and then by taking me through the 12 step program of recovery. Today I am 20 months sober and will be forever indebted to the people that reached out to me. They showed me that I can make right the wrongs of my past and live free from the obsession I had. Today I know longer live in fear and live in the present. I want to be alive! Not all are fortunate live through this and I am very blessed to share my story with others that it may also give someone hope and a chance to ask for help."
If this person's story resonates with you, please message us and we can put you in contact with this individual. You are not alone.
"I didn't come from a home that had drinking as a part of it. I had two loving parents and I grew up feeling loved, valued and cherished. In 2003, though, I had 3 major events happen, that literally left me paralyzed to cope with life.
I had some friends who drank wine from time to time, so one night I decided to drink some too. It was during this time that I discovered the wonderful numbing effects of alcohol. It quickly became the "Calgon, take me away," solution to my emotional pain.
I was a late bloomer to drinking, but I took to it like a sailor to water. If I was out with a friend who drank, they would say, why don't you just have one? "One?? Why would I bother?" I'd think to myself. I wanted to "feel it." The fact is once I had that first drink, a phenomenon of craving more would kick in. During the day, I would obsess about it and couldn't wait until after work to get some to take home. At times, I wondered if I was an alcoholic, but, I hadn't lost my job, my home or my family. I didn't live under a bridge. I had a picture in my head of what I thought an alcoholic looked like, and I didn't fit that.
Drinking wasn't a part of my married/family life, so I became very creative at planning, sneaking and hiding my drinking. It was actually quite exhausting! I didn't want my double life being exposed, so it also produced a lot of anxiety, (one of the biggest reasons I started drinking in the first place!)
Over the years, I found that my drinking increased. What use to be a solution to emotional pain, became a reward for hard work, celebrations and then, for no reason at all, except I couldn't wait to have it! Going to the liquor store was elating!! In the evenings at home, I would disguise my drinks so I thought my spouse wouldn't know what I was doing. Many mornings I would wake up with such fear and anxiety as I couldn't remember how the previous evening had ended. I would wonder how I even got to bed. I was sooo afraid to face my spouse. I'm not sure why I thought I was so clever, because most of the time, it was very obvious to my spouse and those around me, what I had been doing!
It was such insanity! Drinking...waking up in regret...vowing to stop...only to pick up again one or two days later. I ruined many holidays, times out with friends and family. I caused great insecurity and sadness with my children and spouse.
At one point, after one of these unfortunate times, I decided to go to Alcoholics Annonymous. I got a sponsor who with another person, took me through the steps. It was there I learned that I had an illness that I had no control over. Regrettably, I didn't follow the suggested 3 parts of the solution to my problem and went back out to drink.
Finally, after one of the worst of my regretful evenings, I woke up and heard bits and pieces from my spouse, about what had happened the night before with some treasured friends. I made a decision that I was too embarrassed to face them and that my family would be better off without me. I was filled with self-hatred and loathing. I couldn't seem to stop this endless cycle. I felt like the worst kind of failure. I decided right then and there that I had to end my life. It was an impulsive decision that almost worked. I ended up in the ICU for a few days because my heart was trying to stop. While there I had an amazing spiritual experience with God...the same God I came to know as a child. He surrounded me with His love and peace and the assurance that everything was going to be okay.
I left there and went to a Recovery Center. There, I was able to press the reset button on my life. When I returned AA was waiting. This was well over a year ago and my life has changed 180 degrees. Today, I am very involved in AA. I follow the program daily. I have made ammends to my family and friends. Each day, Irely heavily on my higher power, God, and am growing spiritually. The obsession to drink has been removed. I attend AA meetings on zoom, sponsor others and enjoy taking them through the steps.
Today I live with peace, serenity and joy. God, through the program, is taking the wreckage of my past and turning it into something beautiful and useful for His purposes."
If this person's story resonates with you, please message us and we can put you in contact with this individual. 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!"
"Growing up my life was pretty normal. My parents were both drinkers and they were what you would call "functioning alcoholics".
The household was a pretty good time tho.
When I was about 12 years old, I began to realize I was different. I noticed boys in my school more often then I noticed the girls. I soon came to realize that I was gay. At the time it wasn't popular or cool to be gay. I had to hide it at every turn in my life. And it ate away at me. The fear that someone would find out and also I just didn't want to be gay. I hated myself and who I was.
When I was 14 a coworker offered me some marijuana, and within a week I was doing shrooms.
I went from a straight A student to someone who could barely make it to school. The depression and suicide thoughts were starting to take control. And my only escape was smoking weed. I didn't drink very often tho in my teenage years as I didn't want to be like my parents.
When I graduated high school I started a serving/bartending job and the drinking began. It was everything I was missing in my life. It let me be the life of the party. The jokester, the jock, the straight guy. It let me be someone I wasn't. It let me wear the ultimate mask. And drinking was fun for those first couple years. Then the depression took over, I had a suicide attempt and spent some time in the hospital for that. In my twenties I got my dream job and became a general manager of a restaurant. I had faked my may to the top position. I had arrived. But shortly I had started to experiment with cocaine. And it was amazing. Suddenly I didn't black out when I was drinking and I could control my behaviour more. That led into longer binges and harder drugs. Crack and meth were now a regular part of my life. But I still kept succeeding in my work life. Until I wasn't. I lost my job because of my alcohol/drug use and I eventually got 2 DUIs in a matter of a year, and spent some time in jail as well for drug possession. I quit doing hard drugs for a couple of years but eventually went back to them. I still drank and smoked weed daily tho. The next 13 years were a consistent pattern of drinking and using and being a "functioning alcoholic" as I still was self supporting myself and always seemed to have a job, and made management at most of the places I worked. I was living a double life. By this time I had come out of the closet and faced that part of my life and I was happy with that but the self hate and defence mechanisms were still ingrained in who I was. I was afraid to be my authentic self. I desperately wanted to be sober but deathly afraid I was going to lose a huge part of myself at the same time. It's what I used to stop my brain from spiralling. In my early 30s things were at their worst. The party had officially ended. I moved home to try to get some control of my life but within a couple months tragedy struck and my dad passed away. I was now on a death spiral that lasted for a year and a half. I didn't want to live but I was too scared to do the ultimate thing and take my own life. I eventually made the call and got into detox and rehab. It was life changing. It had been years since I had more then 2 days in a row of sobriety and suddenly I didn't feel so alone. I was finding out who I was. With a lot of work and a ton of help from some of the most amazing people I got clean and sober. For the first time 4 months, the next time a year and a half. I had a horrible summer of drinking and using again but I'm now coming up to two months clean and sober. My life has gotten considerably better in the last couple years. I still struggle with happiness sometimes. But I am one of the fortunate ones to have found what life can be like clean and sober. It is because I was desperate enough to reach out, ask for help and do what was suggested of me to do. If anyone reading this is struggling there is a whole host of people that are more then happy to help. An individual once told me I'm not on the road TO happiness but I'm on the road OF happiness. There is no end goal just a daily journey of finding out who and what I am as a person. It's been a blessing. Thanks for taking the time to read this."
"I grew up in a great family environment. A loving, caring mom with patience of gold. A dad who loved me, played sports with me and taught me many things. They always made me feel safe. Growing up I was always the athletic type and always enjoyed playing sports and being around them. I can remember from a younger age starting to develop immense and irrational fears and used obsessive rituals to control them. Thoughts of loved ones dying, being kidnapped, losing my talents, giving people disease or bad luck, becoming paralyzed or sick would be solved with continuous habitual rituals such as checking the bathroom and my room in the exact same order, touching things exactly 5 times, not touching people or pointing at them, saying prayers the exact same way, checking the house top to bottom over and over again before leaving the house. This caused me tremendous stress, confusion and anger. I also was always so concerned with how people seen and portrayed me. I always felt like I was being judged and that I wasn't good enough or didn't truly belong. It got to the point that even playing sports was no longer fun for me I would be in the batters box worried what the people in the crowd thought of how I looked or the ball I just let go by or on a partial break in hockey suddenly struck with worry about how I looked in the crowd, I felt trapped and a prisoner to my own mind.
The voices in my head grew and became stronger and stronger. I found alcohol around the age of 14 and from the first time it had quite the effect on me. It allowed me to fit in and be a part of no matter where I went and most importantly it shut of these voices and feelings that had been tormenting me and allowed me to be part of. I never drank normally I started and couldn't usually stop until I blacked out and passed out. I found hard drugs at age 20 that helped me to avoid passing out and allowed me to keep drinking the way I would. It wasn't long before I realized I had a big problem on my hands and I realized that these things were no longer working for me. They used to help and now they were a temporary escape with grave side effects becoming less and less effective and causing more problems and amplifying the ones already there. I became depressed and suicidal. I tried to quit for years and could not regaurdless of how many times I said I was done and how genuinely I meant it, I kept going back. I tried many different options and resources to get sober. Living sober groups, counselors, doctors (one who I still use today who has been a great help), phycologists, multiple treatment centers and could not stay sober regardless of their best efforts.
I realize today that this is because I suffer from a disease called alcoholism and it wasn't until I went to an AA meeting on a Saturday morning that I heard the message of how I can recover from this disease. They spoke of the solution instead of complaining and whining about their problems and struggles. They used their past experiences and struggles selflessly to help me. I heard the message of how I can recover from this from someone with the same shared life experience as me and how they got through it and I became willing to do whatever it took to recover. I was given a new way of living and today I can thankfully say that I am happily sober and these feelings of past fears, anxieties, OCD rituals and depression have dramatically lessened if not completely disappeared and if they do crop up now and again I now have the tools to deal with them in a healthy way and keep them at bay. I am a sober and free person today and have a new way of living my life thanks to the actions I took and those who showed me the way and am grateful for that.
Reach out you are not alone, you matter and deserve to feel the genuine joy live has to offer. There is a way through your struggles allow yourself to experience them."
"I started drinking at the age of 12. I think I needed one at the age of 6. That is about how far back I can remember where I didn't feel like how other people looked. I felt I didn't fit in. I felt alone in a group of people. I was riddled in fear. I had this constant feeling of impending doom. I was always scared of getting beat up, dying from a fatal illness or harm coming towards someone I love. It just always felt like something was about to go wrong.
These feelings had little to do with the environment I grew up in. My parents were loving, I was involved in sports, and excelled in school. While my life as a child wasn't perfect, I was blessed to have such amazing parents who truly did their best with the tools that they had.
When I discovered alcohol, it took all of the fear away. At last I felt comfortable in my skin. I could talk to girls. I wasn't afraid to fight. I felt at union with others. Alcohol was my solution to being maladjusted to life.
I can safely say I was better with alcohol. For many years it was my best friend......until it quit working and things began to go dark. Alcohol no longer had the same positive effect on me as it used to. I soon found that cocaine was able to help me continue to drink without getting messy. It was basically a vitamin to allow me to keep drinking and bought me a couple of extra years of relief. Soon after, things got even darker.. While my intentions were always to have one or two drinks to take the edge off, more often than not, the night would end with me alone, drunk and high in a complete state of paranoia staring out my window for hours on end with a baseball bat in my hands. While I didn't contemplate suicide during this dark period of my life, I did have constant and intense feelings of impending doom. These are feelings I had when sober and inevitably always drove me back to the alcohol and drugs.
To others, my life looked perfect. Even with all the alcohol abuse, I was still able to maintain a high level of perceived success. I had a good job, great family, lots of material possessions and many of the external benchmarks that society would deem as a success. But I was dying on the inside.....What I have come to learn with a level of certainness, is that your can't alleviate an inside malady with outside stuff. All the outside success in the world can't fill the whole in the soul that is alcoholism (addiction).
I know that men are often encouraged to reach out when struggling. I am the guy that did reach out. I started looking for mental help in my late 20's. Over the next 15 years I had been to counsellors, therapists, treatment centres, doctors, and private coaches. I have been diagnosed with ADHD, bipolar, manic, PTSD and depression. At one point in time, I was taking as many as 20 prescription pills a day. My mental state was really starting to deteriorate. I felt I had become a fraction of the man I was meant to be and the doctors told me I was going to need to take meds the rest of my life to maintain any kind of mental health. In addition to all the pills, I still couldn't stop drinking.
Now I do want to really clarify, that anyone that tried to help me truly had my best interests in mind. I also don't want to minimize any of these other mental conditions in any way. They are very real, cause immense suffering, and require medical help. It just wasn't what I was suffering from. The professionals didn't know what to do with me and unfortunately most didn't have the humility to say so, At the end of the day, I was an alcoholic. I can still remember sitting across from a recovered alcoholic and having him go through a certain chapter in their textbook for 12 step recovery. He was explaining how I was physically and mentally different than my fellows and it had nothing to do with choice. It felt like the gates of insanity were finally starting to lift. It was like holy shit.......that's me! For the first time in my life I finally knew what I was! Not only did this person explain what I was suffering from, but they also assured me there was a solution. I finally had some 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.