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My Story – NewMe111092011-01-12T06:06:23-08:00


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    Two years ago I was waking up after having gotten drunk for no reason at all. My last drink was not interesting nor triggered by anything in particular. I just decided that four double whiskey drinks at the airport bar + three more on the plane made sense. I got a ride home and no one got hurt. But something in me said: “This isn’t how normal people live.” And that started my journey.

    For the newcomers, this alcoholism and addiction thing is really hard, because it isn’t just a physical disease. It is primarily a disease of our thinking. And after many years of building ourselves up to think that we are smart and our brain helped us solve problems, make money, and do good — we have to unlearn a lot of stuff. We have to admit that we don’t know how to solve the problem and we need to rely on other people — and that is where Addiction to Rehabilitation and programs of recovery come in.

    Today I have 2 years sober; and while I am happy that I have two years, I don’t get to graduate, I don’t get a diploma, I don’t get a little card to carry around that says “RECOVERED”. I’m just an alcoholic and will be for life.

    Instead, I get something even better. I get to practice the new tools I learned in the program and from all of you every day. I get to experience life for real, rather than in a fog of alcohol.

    For most newcomers, you probably think we are full of BS. Well, so did I. So, on my second sober birthday, I’ll briefly (in my long winded sort of way), describe how my thinking changed over the two years. It helps me to write it down, so thanks for reading.

    How my thinking has changed in 2 years of sobriety

    First Day Sober: Normal people don’t drink like this. When I start drinking, my hand keeps pouring while my brain is screaming STOP. Perhaps I should go to an AA meeting.

    First AA Meeting: After driving around the block three times before going in… These people are nice enough, but my story isn’t nearly bad enough. I still have my house, my car, my wife, my kids. And all this God stuff, and surrendering?!? 90 meetings in 90 days — how the hell do you go to work and do that?!? I’ve always been able to solve my problems on my own. And I’ll do it this time as well.

    First Month of Sobriety: This sobriety thing is ok, I’m doing it. I’m a HFA (High Functioning Alcoholic) so I’m not like everyone in AA. They tell me I need to work the steps and get a sponsor, but I’m going to wait. Perhaps I’m not as bad as I thought I was. But hey, I’m goal oriented … Let’s hit our 90 day sobriety goal and then re-evaluate.

    90 Day of Sobriety: I made it — woohoo! This sobriety thing is easy. I don’t need to go to as many meetings now – once every two weeks is good. Damn work is hard, my family life is ok, but my wife isn’t giving me all I need. I still feel lost and more depressed than when I was drinking. But, hey, at least I don’t need a sponsor like some of those people in AA.

    6 months sober: Alright, this is too easy. Got my 6 month chip today, everyone clapped. Blah, blah, blah. I’m not like them. Life still kind of sucks, though. Making less money, not feeling driven. Thanks AA – but I don’t think I need you anymore. I’ve solved this drinking thing. But you know, if it was this easy to stop drinking, I probably didn’t have a problem. In fact, my problem was just that my work sucks, my kids are a pain, and my wife doesn’t want to be romantic with me. If only everyone else would change …

    6 months and 1 Day sober: Let’s go buy a bottle of scotch. You’ve done so well, a single bottle won’t hurt. … and then somehow my higher power got to me and put a single thought in my head … “those damn AA people warned me that the voices would come some day — oh crap, maybe I have no freaking idea what I am doing” And my the grace of god, I didn’t drink.

    9 months sober and about the time I joined Addiction to Rehabilitation: Ok, I’m going to AA a few times a week, I have a sponsor, and I’m on Step 4. It doesn’t make sense, but I’ll just do it, because my plan didn’t work. Addiction to Rehabilitation is cool, but where is the separate forum for the high functioning alcoholics — because I’m not like those other people.

    1 year sober: I’m starting to understand that AA and recovery is less about the drinking and more about my thinking. I’ve got to use these Steps (that still don’t logically make sense to me) to change how I think and interact with the world around me. And oh yeah, I’m a control freak. I’m still pretty unhappy, but I’m starting to see that it may have been my drinking causing my unhappiness and not the other way around. Despite my love of instant gratification, recovery isn’t going to work that way; it takes time. When do I graduate?

    18 months sober: Ok, so practicing the principles of AA are really just about being a good person, helping others, saying you are sorry when you make a mistake, to stop worrying about things you can’t control, loving other people. Ok, that makes a bit more sense now. I’m learning how to deal with life on life’s terms, not my own. I guess I do have more in common with these people than I thought … the guy who just got out of jail after 30 years, the woman who has 3 DUIs, the man who almost died from drinking. High Functioning — we’ll I guess that is kind of B.S. actually. High-Functioning is just a STAGE of alcoholism, not a TYPE of alcoholic. I just got off the elevator early. Now it is my turn to try to help others.

    Today – 2 Years Sober: Wow! I’m not so much happy that I have two years, but that I now have the tools and the new thinking to be happy. I am dealing with problems in a healthy way. I have improved my relationship with my wife, my kids, and my higher power. I am more comfortable letting things happen as they will. I have Sponsees and have watched them get the gifts of recovery. I have genuine friends who love me just because. I get sad sometimes, but know that it will pass. I know that it isn’t always about me.

    I know that I am an alcoholic and that I cannot drink. But, this is not a bad thing. It is a gift. I have been given a wonderful new way of living through my recovery.

    And to all of you on Addiction to Rehabilitation, in AA, the newcomers, and to my higher power.

    Thanks.

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