My name is A—–. I’m an alcoholic and an addict. I can say this with certainty because when I drink or take drugs, I don’t stop. I’m not a normal drinker. I can’t stop at one or two. I can’t leave half a glass of wine on the table after dinner. I can’t decide to stop drinking an alcoholic drink that I don’t like. If it has alcohol in it, I’m going to drink it. Never mind if it’s too sweet.
I don’t take one Xanax or Ativan. I take five. One night I took 10. On top of drinking. The next day my husband made me flush my pills. But I saved five. I needed them. I’m an addict.
At AA and NA meetings, when we share our stories we start with our name and then state that we’re an alcoholic or an addict. I always say that I am both. Doing this is a reminder. It’s a statement of inclusion. We’re all in the same place for the same reason. No matter what walk of life we come from, we all struggle with the same thing. We are alcoholics and addicts.
It took me a long time before I could say those words. I didn’t want to be an alcoholic or an addict. I didn’t want to admit that I had lost control. The idea that I could not escape the trap on my own was unthinkable to me.
The Big Book of AA talks about the disease of alcoholism and how we have an allergy to alcohol. It helped me realize that my brain is wired differently from the brains of normal drinkers. When I have a sip of alcohol or take a narcotic, my allergic response is triggered. At once, I crave more.
This is not the same thing as an alcohol intolerance. In fact, my tolerance for alcohol and narcotics is incredibly high. What the Big Book is talking about is an irrational craving for something that will destroy me.
One might think that months of rehab would teach me the error of my ways. But even after 5 months of rehab, involving intensive therapy, daily AA meetings, and complete separation from my husband and all I held dear, I drank again.
People like to say you have to hit a rock bottom before you stop a bad habit like drinking or drugging. I’ve hit a lot of rock bottoms. I’ve woken up in pools of my own vomit. I’ve woken up out of black outs with no memory of where my clothes or glasses were. I’ve wallowed in depths of emotional despair so deep I thought I would drown. Rock bottoms are for romance novels.
You don’t have to hit a rock bottom to stop drinking or drugging. You have to stop digging. I’ve learned that I can always find a deeper rock bottom. All I have to do is dig for it. If I want to survive, if I want to thrive, I have to stop digging my own grave. And I’ve dug a deep grave.
For years, I dared the universe to hurt me. I declared that my drinking and drugging was only hurting myself. I refused to see how my actions were hurting others, and I fought to hurt myself as hard as I could. When the universe started giving me consequences, of course I didn’t like it.
My husband took the keys to the car because I was driving drunk. I was a danger to myself and society. My mother-in-law took the grocery store credit card because I was using it to buy alcohol. I lost my job. I lost contact with a good friend.
And I used all these consequences as excuses to drink more. You’d think they would be a hint for me to stop drinking and drugging – but I only kept digging. I dug until my hands bled, and then I dug some more.
To this day, I don’t know what made me stop. I accept it as a gift from the universe. A part of my spiritual journey. There’s something I heard in a meeting that I’ve held onto: We are not human beings having a spiritual experience…we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
My spiritual journey in this human life, with all its highs and lows, does have a purpose – even though I cannot comprehend it now. When I accepted that my life had a purpose, I began to live instead of drinking and drugging myself into a slow, lingering suicide.
I don’t want that life anymore. So here I am. My name is A——-. I’m an alcoholic and an addict. Knowing myself leads to freedom. Declaring myself an alcoholic/addict is not an act of shame. It is knowledge of self and a declaration of freedom.
This is a guest Share from Counting BlueBirds
You can read more on her blog; https://countingbluebirds.com/