Grapevine Online Exclusive

Published September 2019.

And Eventually, We Found Beauty In It All

A beautiful and loving ode to healing after the trauma of alcoholism

Consider that every person has a unique capacity to endure emotional trauma, and degrees of spiritual pain. I have observed this in recovering alcoholics; some have a greater capacity, while others have a lesser one. For example, my suffering appears trivial compared to the dramatic and torturous years of drinking endured by some of my fellow alcoholics in the program of AA. Within the rooms there are those who drank for decades, or to the brink of death. I drank until I was 25. There are some who lost spouses and families to their drinking. I did lose a boyfriend. I never lost a house. I never lost a career. But was I defeated? Utterly. I can confirm that, for myself, alcoholism progressed with such destructive force that I never had the chance to create those things, and therefore, perhaps luckily, was not in a position to lose them. True, my life may not appear as broken as the lives of others in the rooms— but perhaps the emotional pain I suffered, by 25 and drinking alcoholically, was all I could bear; I had reached my personal pain capacity. Ultimately, on September 21st, 2013, I woke up and I could no longer make sense of my life. In desperation, I realized that I had not the strength to survive another day in the alcoholic misery that living had become. I surrendered. 

Our collective experiences reveal that no matter how much or how little material loss we suffer in our drinking careers, most of us are left with the same feelings: guilt, shame, remorse, disgust, self-contempt and desperation, to name but a few. For many of alcoholics like myself, the pain that breeds our essential transformation does not correlate with our material losses per se. Rather, it is the emotional turmoil resulting from failing oneself, over and over and over again, that delivers our defeat. It is the disassociation from life that ensues as one succumbs to the muted and numbed reality that is addiction. It is the loss of self-belief that occurs as one watches one's life transform into something one willed it not to be. It is the shattering of the spirit that we barely survive. These were certainly the experiences and sentiments that brought me to surrender.

-- Emma W.

London, United Kingdom

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