Tuesday, March 4, 2014

the people around me

recently i decided to tap into the incredible wealth of thoughts, insights and experiences
of the people around me. i wrote to a buncha different people i know asking for their thoughts
on different subjects. i hope to be posting one of their responses each week.

our very first post is posted anonymously as she mentions AA and therefore needs
to keep her name private.

i am delighted to share a little window into her experience down the road of recovery -
thank you, friend, for this offering!


I stopped drinking twice. The first time I stopped because I experienced a blackout, and it scared me. I didn’t even realize what it was, at the time. A blackout is when a space of time passes and you don’t remember what happened during it. Wait, how did I get here??? It doesn’t mean passing out; it means totally blanking out. But I didn’t work a recovery program the first time, and that makes a big difference. At that point, I didn’t even know the word recovery. So about a decade later when my life hit another stress point, I lapsed. And when this happens, it sweeps over you like a mudslide. It makes up for the lost time.
My husband and I had recently moved, and it was a difficult one. We also met and started going on double dates with a couple who really enjoyed their alcohol. Oh, they were very refined and classy, but it was a lot of alcohol. I was really feeling gleeful whenever we got together, but this phase was what accelerated my fast decline into having four or more drinks of one kind or another every single day.
I knew it was a problem, but I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was afraid of what I’d find out. I looked things up on the web: How do I know if I’m an alcoholic? I watched the show called “Intervention”; I picked up books about drinkers. Luckily, I happened to sign up with a new doctor that I liked and trusted, and we had a discussion. At her encouragement, I tried to go a week without drinking, but didn’t make it. I asked her to refer me to a therapist who specialized in addictions. That was a huge relief to be able to confide my concerns to someone!!! After I’d seen her a few times, she asked me to consider AA. I resisted a bit; I had judgments about the type of people I’d find, but I went. Here’s something important I learned right away: every meeting time and location have a different flavor. I tried only twice: the first place felt dirty, somehow, a lot of smokers. The second location felt very clean and comfortable and welcoming. The people spoke my “language”; I related to them. I felt seen. I belonged.
I eagerly picked a sponsor; I was very interested in what the 12-Step Program was, and wanted to get started. Through my first year, I worked steadily with my sponsor, earning “chips” along the way. I loved having some direction! I felt invigorated, excited. No more guilt, no more hiding how much I’m refilling my glass, feeling sneaky and ashamed, even to my sweet husband! I had no previous idea that this was what “recovery” was about, or I would have skipped many months of feeling desperate and sneaky and guilty!
Let me say one last thing, which is important. People dig in their heals because AA is a “spiritual” program. They hear the name “God” and they freak out, shouting about abuses by “organized religion”. Here is the phrase that is used in the program: the God of your Understanding. That’s right; you can have your own belief system. Quite often, I’m not sure myself what I believe in, but I know there’s a mystery out there, that’s bigger than me, and that’s all I have to admit … that I’m not in total control of this life. For some reason, that works. But one has to be willing. Willing to embrace change in your life. Willing to let go, a little, and keep an open mind. As long as you dig your heels in, thinking I’m different and making judgments, well, you’re just ignoring the main issue.

I’ve been embracing life for three full years now. It just keeps getting better. The principles of the program deliver what they promise. You just have to do the work.


Official Site of AA with information: "Only You Can Decide"

An online chat room that holds scheduled meetings and just hangs out together in between.

This is a pamphlet that answers Frequently Asked Questions:

This is a link to full online versions of the show, "Intervention". 


Anonymous said...

Fabulous job, Terry. Thank you.

Diane in AR said...

BRAVO and excellent and heartfelt sharing - proud of you and hope you are proud of yourself every day - wasn't easy, but you did it!!! Thank you for sharing with us and thanks terri for this awesome idea. . .

Anonymous said...

real always leaves me feeling better..

Pamela Jones said...

Thanks for sharing your story of strength and resolve.

Anonymous said...

I have recently been doing many of the same things...searching the web for how a blackout happens...how alcohol affects the brain etc. I am an alcoholic binge drinker who wants to stop and yet...doesn't. I can't imagine a dinner on the weekend without a glass of wine. A summer without mojito's. But it is out of control and I read this as an encouragement for today. I head out to dinner tonight...and tonight I will choose tea.

terri st. cloud said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
terri st. cloud said...

anonymous........thank you for letting us know it inspired you. that's exactly what we were hoping for.

Anonymous said...

From Anonymous to "Anonymous" ... yes, I wondered the exact same thing myself, at the time. I wondered what would fill the space. I cherished the first sweet dryness of Chardonnay going down with some crackers and cheese. Those are all sweet moments. But I acknowledged that after the first warm wonderful feeling, I never wanted to stop, and the following sips never had the same wonderful, gentle effect. After the first one, they were all desperate attempts to recapture how wonderful the first sip felt. This is what's different for someone with a problem. We are either chemically or emotionally different from other people.