“Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to – alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person – you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain.”
When I read these words by Eckhart Tolle in the “Power of Now” a few years into my sobriety, it hit home so hard. I’d wondered why I’d fallen prey to addiction. Why I didn’t have the willpower to stay sober. Why me? What did I do so wrong that I couldn’t save myself from an obsession with alcohol that was destroying me bit by bit?
I had to look deep inside and analyse what pain was causing me to drink. And there was so much pain. Pain I’d buried because it was too hard to live with. Things I’d done that I couldn’t forgive. Thoughts I carried that shouldn’t have tortured me every minute of the day. I was a prisoner of pain and alcohol numbed that pain.
The more I drank the more I felt I was becoming someone else. The more I was moving away from the person I was meant to be. The further I was to God, to everything and everyone I loved. Alcohol became the master and I was the slave. It didn’t matter how many times I said I would stop, curb drinking, white knuckled my way through, it always won and I remained the loser.
I attended my first AA meeting on 11 January 2010 with trepidation and fear in my heart. I’d tried every alternative to stop, it didn’t work. AA was my last resort. If I didn’t stay sober I was going to lose my family, my job, everything I held dear. Something happened at that meeting, something clicked, something made me stop drinking because I have not taken a drink since.
God came into my life in that meeting, he held my hand and never let go. Because I was brave to admit my powerlessness over alcohol, despite the fear in my heart, trembling hands, shaky voice, he gave me the courage to stay sober, one day at a time. They say it takes a village to raise a child, it took the fellowship of AA to love me until I loved myself.
Stopping drinking doesn’t mean I am cured from alcoholism. I will always be an alcoholic, I am only an arms length away from taking a drink again. But I chose to stop, to change my path, to want a better future for myself, the life I was meant to have before pain won, before I lost myself.
My work began the day I chose sobriety. I no longer had the crutch of alcohol to calm my nerves, to numb my pain, to hide my sadness. All the pain seeped to the fore, the insecurities, the fear of not being good enough. For a good part of my life I hated the shy, introverted person I was. How was I going to grow in confidence, how was I going to become worthy of myself? The answers lay in the rooms of AA. By attending meeting after meeting. Speaking up when I didn’t want to. Sharing my thoughts with my Sponsor, letting out the pain, crying a river of tears, speaking kindly to myself, being cheered on when I stayed sober for 30, 60, 90 days, one year, two, three, four, five, six, seven and now eight years!
How far I’ve come from the lost soul who wandered into that meeting. How much I’ve changed over the years. Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe how someone like me could have been given a second chance to get it right. To have found God again, to know that he loves me despite my faults, my mistakes and all the pain conjured up inside.
Mariah Carey sings it beautifully, “So when you feel like hope is gone, look inside you and be strong, and you’ll finally see the truth, that a hero lies in you”.
It’s my 8th Sobriety Birthday and I am forever grateful <3