When I Realized I Was an Alcoholic… There is a Solution

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You would think that the decision to go to a treatment center for my alcohol use would mean that I was willing to admit I was an alcoholic.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

For several days, every single time I woke up, I would think “Why in the world am I here?  What am I doing?”  I didn’t feel that I belonged.  I felt that I was somehow different than the people around me.  I mean, I didn’t drink a bottle of vodka a day.  I didn’t even drink every single day.  I could quit for a time (a few weeks).  Surely I’m not really an alcoholic.

It took a lot of explanation from the addiction doctor for me to understand.  AND reading the Big Book, the AA meetings, Big Book meetings, meeting with the Big Book teacher, etc.  It took a while for me to come to terms with it (which is step 1).

Some quotes from the Big Book that helped me understand:

“Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving up liquor entirely if they have good reason for it.  They can take it or leave it alone.”

“But what about the real alcoholic?  He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink.”

“Once in a while he may tell the truth.  And the truth, strange to say, is usually that he has no more idea why he took that first drink than you have.  Some drinkers have excuses with which they are satisfied part of the time.  But in their hearts they really do not know why they do it.  Once this malady has a real hold, they are baffled a lot.  There is the obsession that somehow, someday, they will beat the game.  But they often suspect they are down for the count.”

“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice to drink.  Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent.  We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.  We are without defense against the first drink.”

“If you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably an alcoholic.”

This last quote specifically is when I realized I was an alcoholic.  I’ve been able to quit for a few weeks at a time, but I have never been able to stay that way.  I always pick it right back up and drink more than before.  Also, when I start drinking, I don’t stop until I run out.  I would drink all the beer that Robert wouldn’t drink.  I would buy beer, come home before Robert did, and drink it all before he got home (being drunk by the time he got home at 5 or 5:30).  I would drink 12-15 beers at a time some times.  If I had rum or vodka, I always started in the morning, not long after I woke up.  Well, even beer… I mean, I rarely had any beer left for the next morning.  But if I did, I would start early.  Again, this wasn’t every day, but it was often enough (4-5 times a week… sometimes more).  This has been going on for several years and had just gotten worse over time.

Then… I got out of La Ha and met with my counselor as soon as I got out.  She read to me the description of someone with alcohol use disorder (AUD).  The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says:

“To assess whether you or loved one may have an AUD, here are some questions to ask.  In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
  • Experienced craving — a strong need, or urge, to drink?
  • Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?”

I literally had every single one of these.  So apparently I have severe AUD and didn’t know it!

The beautiful thing is, there is a solution!

The first thing I needed to do was find a sponsor.  I had one sponsor, then decided she wasn’t a good fit.  I’m so thankful that I went to a women’s meeting and found a new one!  She is amazing!

I talk to her every single day and tell her what I’m grateful for (minimum of 3 things, but I often tell up to 10).  I meet with her once a week.  I’m going through the twelve steps with her.

These are the twelve steps:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The most important thing is connecting with God every day through Bible study (at least for me) and prayer.  I am learning to meditate.  It’s been life changing!

Self care is also huge.  If I can’t focus on my self care, then I have more anxiety, which in turn, makes me want to drink.  So I have to be very careful to put that first.

I drive to AA 3 times a week.  Twice a week to women’s AA (Big Book and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions study) and once a week to the 720 Club Brown Bag group (joint men and women).

This is how I realized I am a true alcoholic, what AUD is, and what the solution is.  God is so good!

My Amazing Husband, Step 3 Prayer, Steps 6 & 7, Self Care

First of all, I just can’t get enough of our family pictures.  I have lots of favorites, but the one that keeps sticking out to me is the one of Robert and I.

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This shows the love that we have for one another.  He has been an amazing support through all of my difficult moments, including mental illness hospitalizations and addiction treatment.  He has also been so supportive of me outside of those treatments.  He helps me to see things that I don’t see on my own.  I’ve learned to accept what he has to say because he has my best interest at heart.  He loves me unconditionally.  I’m so grateful for him.

PAWS has me down a bit, still.  I’m very tired, sort of achy, feeling down, irritable, and still somewhat anxious.  It is getting better.  They say it only lasts a few days, so I’m hopeful.

I went to our women’s AA yesterday and was so encouraged.  On Wednesdays we read out of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions book.

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Yesterday was Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

I realized that I haven’t been doing this.  I went through step 3 pretty quickly.  I need to go back and memorize this prayer:

“God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!
Amen”

My next step with my sponsor is to do step 6 (which is a chart, breaking down my character defects), and to memorize the step 7 prayer:

“My Creator,
I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.
I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character
which stands in the way of my usefulness to you
and my fellows.
Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.
Amen.”

At rehab we had something called Seekers every morning.  It was a way to practice step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Every morning, we would have 10 minutes and prayer and meditation, we would read the step 3 and step 7 prayers, and we would sing Amazing Grace.  I plan to add back in the 10 minutes of prayer and meditation and step 3 & 7 prayers again.  It is a great way to start the day!  I will also continue my She Reads Truth Bible study!  Starting in January, a friend of mine here at camp and I will be doing a 1 Peter Bible study!  Looking forward to it!

Today for self care I will: 1) Eat a healthy breakfast, 2) Eat a healthy lunch, 3) Enjoy my coffee and Bible study (and do my morning prayer), 4) Meet with some friends here for encouragement, 5) Clean up the house (just vacuum, make my bed, and do the dishes… nothing major), 6) Shower, put on makeup, and dry my hair, 7) Listen to classical Christmas music, 8) Do a new meditation 9) Take my supplements and medications, 10) Share my gratefuls with my sponsor.

The meditation: Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Take a few moments here then allow your focus to broaden to your body and the sensations that it’s feeling. Now expand your focus to anything touching your body, noticing those sensations. Lastly, expand your awareness to everything you can hear and sense. Now reverse this process and come back, one step at a time to your breath.

Even on the hard days, life is good.  I’m so thankful for another day sober (64 today!).

Beautifully in Over My Head

In Over My Head

I have come to this place in my life
I’m full but I’ve not satisfied
This longing to have more of You
And I can feel it my heart is convinced
I’m thirsty my soul can’t be quenched
You already know this but still
Come and do whatever You want to

I’m standing knee deep but I’m out where I’ve never been
And I feel You coming and I hear Your voice on the wind

Would you come and tear down the boxes that I have tried to put You in
Let love come teach me who You are again
Would you take me back to the place where my heart was only about You
And all I wanted was just to be with You
Come and do whatever You want to

And further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours
And further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours

Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
Then you crash over me, and that’s where You want me to be
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
I’m Beautifully in over my head
I’m Beautifully in over my head

Gosh.  This is one of my favorite songs, and I feel that it is more relevant now than ever.  This song was in my head most of the time I was at La Hacienda (as well as another song… that will come).  I have stepped out of my comfort zone more than I ever have.  I’ve stepped off the shore into the unknown.  He has been there from day one, and I feel his presence more than I have in a long time.  I am beautifully in over my head right now as I do step work, share about my addiction and sobriety, continue to share about my mental illness… and most of all, living with these.  I wouldn’t say it takes a strong person to live with these because I am not strong in my own power.  I am strong because God gives me the strength each and every day.  And He has led me to different ways to overcome.  The most important thing is that I am worshipping Him, spending time in His Word, and praying to Him every day.  Without Him I am nothing.

I will definitely serve God through becoming a sponsor through AA eventually (once I get through the 12 steps myself), but I don’t know if that’s enough.

I feel that God has allowed me to have mental illness and alcohol addiction for a reason and a purpose… to help others and to glorify Him.

I am currently praying about going back to school… either to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor or a mental health counselor. God has taught me so much about what I’ve gone through, and I want to serve Him in a way that brings Him glory and brings other people to a place that I am at right now! Free from alcohol/addiction, free in my mental illness… all because of the resources He has sent my way. I don’t know if my mental illness will allow me to work, and I’m currently working with a lawyer to get disability because of my work history. But I’m not sure if my time in the work force is over. I think I can work part time. We’ll see! Robert is all for it if I think I can handle it.

I feel that God will use the suffering that I have gone through to glorify himself.  He has a plan for it!

“Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain from the fallen nature or fallen man. Every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that. I don’t if it was cancer or critiscim. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something. It’s not meaningless. Course you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen. When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you got cancer at 40; when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out. Don’t say “it’s meaningless!” It’s not. It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory. Therefore, do not lose heart. Take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach His word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for!” John Piper

I have been through a lot in my life. I have been through the gruesome suicide of my brother. Postpartum depression and anxiety. I have been diagnosed with bipolar 2 and severe anxiety with general, panic, obsessive/compulsive, and social. Alcohol addiction. Hospitalizations (inpatient and outpatient), treatment center for alcohol, and lots of doctors appointments and counseling appointments over the years. I have had many suicidal ideations myself. Life has been difficult, but I am finally in a place in which I am free (one day at a time!), and I want to share that with the world through service!

Please be in prayer with me as I make a decision.  It may be a while, but I will keep praying until I feel at peace with a decision.