When I was new to recovery, I absolutely, without a doubt thought there was no way I could be sober and happy, in fact I thought it was an oxymoron.
My life was a mess and had been for a long time. I’d been trying to get sober for four years and every time I tried, it went the same way. At first I’d be committed because the memory of my last drinking debacle was very fresh and clear in my mind (as clear as it could be for a blackout drunk) and I felt physically weak and mentally beaten. Surely I couldn’t keep putting myself through this hell again? This time would be different, I was done for good and my willpower and the memory of how bad it was would get me through.
My resolve would usually last anything from one day to three months. Sometimes all it took was one day and I’d be right back at the bottle and sometimes I’d white knuckle it for three months until I broke. During this time, one thing stayed the same, I was miserable beyond belief. I was a dry drunk, angry, depressed and exhibiting all the signs of alcoholism without actually having the alcohol in my system. This was no way to live and if this was what being sober meant, then I didn’t want it, I’d rather drink and be miserable than be sober and just as miserable. Thank God, I was able to find another way or else I really think I’d be dead by now, either from the drink itself or from suicide, because every time I drank I wanted to kill myself and it was only a matter of time until I’d succeed.
I went to Alcoholics Anonymous, the last stop on the block, the end of the road and the place I’d been avoiding for years. Sure, I’d been to a few meetings during my many attempts at sobering up, but I’d decided that I hated it and that the people there were brainwashed and bible thumping weirdos. I’d heard other people say the same thing and read a bunch of stuff on the internet too, but I was at a point where I would try ANYTHING and if it meant sitting around with a group of cult members, then I’d at least try it for a while before I ran for the hills.
I didn’t get it at first, the people in the meetings seemed ‘too happy’ – it had to be fake, but I was scared enough and desperate enough to stick around. In the first few months, I drank a few times and relapsed some more, but I did the one thing they told me to do – I kept coming back. Each time, I’d get some more clarity, each time something else they said would sink in and before I knew it, I had a Sponsor and I was working through the steps. Somewhere along the line, I had a day where I didn’t think about alcohol at all and once in a while I’d have a day where I actually felt, dare I say it? Happy.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t suddenly this glowing, gushing poster child for AA. I was still a scared, defensive drunk, but I had taken a leap of faith. I’d decided to listen to some of the suggestions of the people I’d met in recovery. I’d got a Sponsor and I’d started working on the Twelve Steps and somehow, I’d been given a daily reprieve from the hell of my alcoholism. This was something I’d never experienced previously, when I’d tried sobriety on my terms. So I stuck around and listened to what these people who were all alcoholics and addicts had to say. They’d live through the hell of addiction and knew firsthand what I was going through and here they were, willing to help me.
In the beginning, I’m sorry to say that I had nothing but contempt for these people of AA and their way of life, but I tried it anyway because I was at a point where I had nothing to lose as I had already lost everything. I’d found myself in a position where I asked myself this question – does it really matter how I get sober as long as I get there? Can trying a recovery program be any worse than it is now? I’d been avoiding the Twelve-Step Program option for years because of my preconceived ideas and it got me nowhere and almost killed me. Now I’m thankful to be in a place where I’m not only living sober, but on occasion, I’m actually happy and that’s a miracle for this drunk and I owe a great deal of that to the people I met in the rooms of recovery.
More information on Twelve-Step Programs can be found here