Grapevine Online Exclusive
Unrealistic expectations of life and the world fueled her alcoholism
When I first came into Alcoholics Anonymous, I was in grave need of a solution to all of my problems because nothing in my life seemed to be going anywhere. I was flat-lining, running on the same circular path, over and over again, and very exhausted and agitated from constantly participating in this vicious cycle. The culprit, I believed, was my inability to maintain relationships, my lack of friends, my mom, and my job, basically anything besides myself. During the final months of my drinking and self destructive behavior, I was just waiting, either to die, for someone else to die, or to win the lotto. I always felt as though some life altering event would knock some sense into me, however, I was sorely mistaken because no matter what the circumstances were I drank.
I can remember, quite vividly, the first moment I got drunk because it changed my life. What then seemed like an awakening of the true spirit within me has proven itself to be the point which marked the beginning of a nasty fall from grace. I was at a small party where booze was being served. I was 14 years old and very intrigued and somewhat fearful of this powerful substance called beer. Whatever fears I had morphed into excitement and I took that first drink. As the warmth of the booze caressed my insides something within me fell in love. I knew that I was a changed girl, that booze would be the thing I had been waiting for, the answer to my problems, whether they be emotional or physical, and so on, it just got me out of myself for a good while, and heaven knows I didn't like myself.
I was in high school at this time and very awkward. I felt that everyone had something I didn't have, some very great ability to fit in and be liked. I coveted this power and when I discovered that alcohol made me like them I felt as though I had discovered gold. I took advantage of every opportunity to drink as soon as this fact became apparent to me.
Soon after I began drinking I became a topic of conversation and I liked that. I thought that my peers were talking about me because I was special, not because I was a belligerent drunk. My friends had a lot of trouble putting up with my drinking because they always had to take care of me or watch me. One night they made a hand-written contract never to drink with me again and they all signed it. I simply laughed it off and continued on my merry way, booze in hand.
I was a binge drinker throughout high school, a student and dancer by day, and a crazy drunk by night. A real Jekyll and Hyde affect was apparent within me. Drinking changed me into something different than what I really was, maybe one night it was a vixen, or another night an intelligent and insightful girl who found her answers to life within her self-destructive behavior. I thought all of this was very cutting edge and unique. I didn't realize that I was trying to rationalize my drinking by calling it something other than what it was. It wasn't a journey of self-discovery I was embarking on, but that's what my mind liked to call it. Usually the journey would end somewhere around beer number 10 and all that would be left was darkness. I didn't understand that I couldn't stop so I guess I really enjoyed making up any excuse to continue.
As graduation was approaching I was full of fear. I wanted to get into schools far away, to make an impression on my friends that said " this girl is willing to try anything." However, as I later discovered in recovery, being full of fear does no good when it's time to get moving. My fear was of the paralyzing type and I had no desire to attempt to go anywhere without some help. That help came in the form of more alcohol, and eventually a slew of hard drugs.
As my friends moved on smoothly, I seemed to stay in the same place. My life may have looked manageable because I was good at making things seem normal when I wanted to play the good guy. However, once the party started, it started for me, and instead of ending, it continued to progress into a daily ritual of drinking and or drugs.
I can remember always, even as a child, existing only to escape from reality. As a kid, I constantly day-dreamed about anything, fantasizing about how my life might be one day, how everyone would look up to me, and how great I would become. I lived for the moments of bliss that drinking gave me because without the magical touch of alcohol I knew these dreams were just wishful thinking. Being normal never appealed to me. I felt that I had to be famous for something obscure. As that idea became less and less realistic, my drinking picked up. I created my own chaotic reality, my own self-destructive and deadly day dream.
I use to feel strange being in Alcoholics Anonymous and having a history with drugs, but today I thank drugs for allowing me to hit a bottom quicker. Eventually, my using became quite apparent to those close to me and I was confronted. It felt like I had been hit by a ton of bricks. People were trying to destroy my secret life, my grand and wonderful life. If you would have seen me then, you would have laughed at the idea that my life was good. My mom and boyfriend were the first to find out that I had problems. They urged me to get help and I grudgingly agreed. I entered an outpatient program—an intense, two-hour-a-day routine that resulted in a graduation certificate. Needless to say, it didn't help matters much. Though I had some periods of sobriety, I continued to go back to any substance that would allow me, even for a split second, to be released from the horrible reality of life.
Eventually I got stable enough to begin school, keep a job, and maintain a very unhealthy relationship, due to a solution in a bottle, medication. For a while it made things seem alright, like I hadn't totally lost it, but eventually I drank again and ended up continuing for a few months. I finally hit a bottom when the meds were taken away from me due to misuse. As I withdrew off the medicine, I can remember how badly I wanted to drink. The desire was so strong that I told my mom, hoping to get her approval, that maybe a few drinks would be a good idea to help me get off the meds. Being the good mom that she is, and a nurse to boot, she was opposed. In fact she had the idea that saved my life, she urged me to go to a meeting.
It was at that first meeting that I found out I was not the only person in the world who felt as though they belonged on some other planet. Not only did my drinking look like theirs, more importantly, our feelings were exact matches. Since coming into AA, I have learned the meaning of happiness. I have learned that there is a life out there that's worth living. The 12 Steps of AA have changed my life drastically.
The process for me has been a journey. When I first came into the program, I would get butterflies in my stomach when the word God was mentioned. I remember writing in my diary about how much I loved AA, but the God thing, well, I wasn't so sure if I could buy into that. Nonetheless I began praying because these complete strangers told me that that's how they were staying sober. I got on my knees and began to meet God. I met him in the morning and at night, and then, we started talking more often because I learned that I could reach him whenever and wherever, that he never left me alone, not even during my worst moments.
I went through the Steps with a sponsor and began to feel the warmth of the sun as God removed the clouds that had been causing stormy weather. I learned that I have a disease, alcoholism, and that without a spiritual solution, I am a goner. I wanted to succeed at something for the first time in a long time. For years, I had been coasting down this spiral into nothingness and as God brought me back up in to the light, I began to feel some freedom for myself, the only thing I had ever truly wanted!
Today I live with my sponsor and a girl she sponsors. I am blessed to live with two women who are living this way of life. This is not the way my life was suppose to turn out. I was destined for a tragic end, so I thought, but have been given a new chance to live on this earth among all of God's kids. I sponsor a few women who make life quite interesting and beautiful. I always assumed living sober would be a bore, an impossible existence for a girl who knew only one thing: mental, physical, and spiritual manipulation through the use of foreign substances. My sponsor always told me, pumping me up, "we are saving lives here." What better gift to have than that! Through AA, we get life, and then we give it.
—Raeanne F., Buffalo, N.Y.
A Gig at the Bar
This musician had the chance to see and remember what her old life was like
That Morning Drink
He saw he was powerless and he took the Third Step
The Message on Tape
While away from home, he heard just what he needed to hear
Me and My Friend Moose
At then end, he had only one drinking companion: his imaginary friend