Today, I heard from an old friend. Someone who used to be sober but relapsed over 2 years ago. She is 48 hours into her detox, so dopesick she can’t even sit up in a chair. I remember what those early hours of sobriety looked like for me. How quickly we forget the anguish and suffering that used to be the only steady part of our lives.
I spent years knowing I had lost control while still holding onto the shred of hope that I could somehow “make it work”. An early death was something I had resigned to before even reaching the age of 18. I knew drugs and alcohol were going to kill me. The deep, insatiable desire for them came on almost immediately after I began using. My obsession with them would override everything; days, weeks and months would disappear before my eyes. Early on, I might have been able to moderate my consumption of substances but I had no desire to. Sometimes I would substitute using people, food or money to make up for the drugs I couldn’t get. But as my alcoholism grew over time, those things no longer worked on their own. I found myself having to act out in unhealthy ways regardless if I was strung out or not; and mostly, I was strung out.
The shame, emotional pain, confusion and rage made normal life impossible. Even if I was able to attain a “normal” life, enjoyment of it would have been unthinkable. If I could have seen into the future at the life I have today, I just wouldn’t have believed it. I knew deep in my heart that I couldn’t make it on my own. I needed help. I needed something other than my own ideas. That is what lead me to the rooms of 12-step meetings.
The tricky nature of alcoholism is its ability to confound and baffle people who know the alcoholic almost as much as the alcoholic themselves. I have been in a place of desperation countless times before I got myself to a meeting. I just didn’t know what was possible on the other side of alcoholism. I didn’t know that once I had admitted to my innermost self that I was an alcoholic, that I had already begun the process of transforming my life. There is freedom in admitting complete defeat. I just have to remain willing and open to new direction and experiences. This is a daily action for me, a step that I take every day with the knowledge that a spiritual solution is the only option for an alcoholic like me.