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!
Recovery Series: Personal Story
I always like to call my childhood average. I grew up in a middle class home, neither rich nor poor....my parents are still married and I had a younger brother...no alcohol or drug abuse in the home. I had a very secure, stable and I'd even suggest a predictable home. Despite every reason I had reason to be a happy and well-adjusted kid, I never quite felt like I belonged. I always felt like a "faker"...like I had tricked people into thinking I was smart and nice, and also tricked them into thinking I belonged, because I knew I was on the outside looking in. If people really knew me...saw me, they would know how unworthy and incapable I really was....and then there would be rejection.
Hence, the imposter. The person I sent into the world on my behalf....the bright, shiny and happy person showed up around age 14. The character did well in school, made friends easily and secured great jobs. And I did that all by tricking people. The real me, the one that no one saw....was empty, insecure, filled with self-loathing and jealousy.
I started to treat that dark feeling and powerlessness in my own way. My obsession with restricting food and starving is what took me into counselling, psychiatry, day treatment and medication for many years. I thought it had finally worked!! All the doctors and group therapy finally lifted my obsessive thoughts around food, but honestly....the SAME day I packed up my food scale and stopped weighing food portions, was the day I picked up the bottle and my relationship with alcohol really took off.
I see now, that I continued to treat the same internal condition...just using different substances. My fall into chaos was immediate and never seemed to slow down. I could no longer attend work, a place where I was respected and had been a top performer for many years. I wasn't getting out of bed or showering and I was deeply depressed and highly suicidal. Despite all that I had to live for and the many reasons I had to quit...I could NOT quit. And I really believed that the world would be a better place with me....a "taker" a person that required a "babysitting", not useful in any way, nor contributing to a single thing in life.
Despite all signs indicating I had a serious problem with alcohol, I had a pretty good idea of what an Alcoholic was u2013 and it was NOT me. I owned my own home, always held a valid driver's license...I wasn't abused, or spending my last dollar on a bottle or hitting the food bank. I saw myself (poor me) in a misunderstood category....of not really having a problem...but also kind of having a problem.
In an effort to stop the constant pleading from my parents, and the desire to get back to work I enrolled in a treatment program in Medicine Hat, AB to address my alcoholism. But the real gift was being introduced to the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous and a handful of people that changed the course of my life.
Today u2013 my life is completely different. I'm just NOT drinking...but the obsession to drink has been REMOVED. I know deep peace in my life...something I've never known before. I'm back to work, I've been able to restore my credibility as a trusted employee. My personal relationships have been cleaned up, and I've made amends where required. The hope and joy I have in my life is a real experience and I'm no longer faking the happy look on my face.
Please reach out, you are not alone!
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.