RECOVERY STORY OF THE MONTH
Sobriety Date: May 24, 2013
Hi everyone! My name is Amber, and I am an alcoholic. My sobriety date is May 24, 2013. I have a sponsor, I sponsor, I have a homegroup, I take the 12 steps into my daily life and believe in, and try to work with, a Power greater than myself, & that relationship continues to grow & change over the years.
Growing up, I lived on the East side of Cleveland. I was an only child & both of my parents are admitted alcoholics. There was a lot of partying & chaos that went on in my house. My dad had tattoo parties & there were always people around in & out and often staying on the couch. I loved that there was usually loud music playing & a ton of people around. But along with the fun there were many days of darkness. Violence & sadness also played their parts. I didn’t know until much later that the resounding feelings I had growing up were all based in fear. Fear of what just happened, what was happening & what would happen next. I don’t believe that any of my childhood happenings make me an alcoholic, just that it gave me some unhealthy ideas on what life looked like. I have come to be absolutely convinced that my alcoholism is just the allergy of the body & obsession of the mind that I have when I put a substance into my body & I try to keep it that simple.
I didn’t know until much later that the resounding feelings I had growing up were all based in fear. Fear of what just happened, what was happening & what would happen next.
I went to catholic school for 6 years but still never felt a personal connection to God. I always felt I didn’t quite “fit” anywhere & uncomfortable in my skin.
I picked up for the first time at 10 years old, Mad Dog 20/20. I have been a black out drinker from the very first time. I didn’t drink every day, but I did every chance I could & it quickly became the most important goal of my days. I felt in control & at ease when I drank. I would use anything you happened to have, no questions asked. I began to have legal consequences very early on, but it never phased me.
My parents divorced when I was 12 & I went on to live with my mom & we moved to Stow. My drinking increased & so did my anger & unmanageability. I started to be admitted to psych wards & treatment programs around the age of 13 or 14. This began my first introductions to Alcoholics Anonymous on court papers. I didn’t believe anyone really stayed sober, I sat in the back, got there as soon as it started & was always high. I’ll note here that I probably qualify for most 12-step programs but have found my home in AA. Looking back on it, I was a full-blown addict by about age 14 but I wasn’t aware.
The next few years my using progressed. I was unable to attain anything inwardly or on the outside. I lived only to get the next drink. Nothing else mattered much. It was like tunnel vision, most of the fun was gone by this time. In 2005 I was arrested & found myself in juvenile drug court, this is how I got my first sponsor & bought into the program for the first time. I stayed sober for 6 months. I had reservations & definitely did not understand or accept the disease concept of alcoholism, so I drank. I mostly half-measured any work I did & was incapable of being honest but didn’t even know it at the time.
Over the next year and a half, I drank as if I had never stopped and it just got darker. One day, a moment of clarity happened. At this point, I was living in a trap house and my life was empty, but I was used to that. I had a thought that I wanted the peace I had felt when I was sober for those 6 months. I asked my probation officer to put me in treatment and she was happy to. I felt relief as I was pulling in. I stayed sober for 5 years that time. In the beginning, I really tried and created a relatively healthy, productive life. Around year 2 or 3, ego really set in, along with delusions that I wasn’t truly an alcoholic. I took credit for everything good in my life & became more & more selfish & dishonest. Eventually, I picked up again. This time, it took only 4 months to give away everything it took years to gain in sobriety.
Around year 2 or 3, ego really set in, along with delusions that I wasn’t truly an alcoholic. I took credit for everything good in my life & became more & more selfish & dishonest.
During that relapse, I felt my whole life become dark, I was arrested a month into it. My job had multiple interventions with me & eventually was gone & I was unemployable. My car was gone along with anything of value on the inside or out. Any light inside myself was gone too. I knew I was screwed. All the things I learned in recovery were still somewhere in my head, I tried to hold on to control with every ounce of willpower I had. It didn’t work. Page 30 of the Big Book haunted me. Throughout the 4 months I was drinking, my dad, who is sober & also an Alumni of the Keating Center, would ask me every morning if I would go to treatment. Eventually, I gave in. On May 23, 2013, I used for the last time. I can still remember it all like it was yesterday & I hope I never forget. Then it was off to Jean Marie House.
Walking into the Jean Marie house, I’ve never felt more welcome anywhere. I remember often having care packages left on my bed, girls surrounding me with so much love & a listening ear. I detoxed there & the next few months were like torture inside my head. I had a raging obsession to drink that didn’t leave me for some time. They would say “Just stay.” I’m so grateful I did. After some time & a lot of prayer, the obsession let up, little by little. I began to laugh and make friends. I talked about leaving less and less. I started to let go of some shame and anger. I believe I began to accept my alcoholism as a disease & started to understand myself & recovery a little more.
They would say “Just stay.” I’m so grateful I did. After some time & a lot of prayer, the obsession let up, little by little. I began to laugh and make friends.
The biggest lessons I learned in the house & in early recovery was that I needed to be 100% honest & this is a gift that needs taken care of daily. I continued to stay & work the twelve steps. Eventually, I completed the program. The first couple years of my sobriety & choices I made were shaky at best. I didn’t always do what was suggested, but when I did, it turned out a lot better. So, I started to do them a little more & my faith in a Higher Power grew & so did my trust in the Program.
At almost 3 years sober, I had my son. He is my greatest teacher. My journey in sobriety as a mother would not be possible without the foundation I built with the wonderful women I have in my life that teach me how to be a sober mom. Over the years I have done group at the house on and off, and it’s always such a rewarding experience & bright spot in my life.
I continue to work with and sponsor women & they, without a doubt, help me more than I help them. I still talk to my sponsor almost every day & seek guidance. Sometimes I think I have fewer answers now than I did in the beginning. A few of us started a women’s meeting at my house & it’s been going on for 2 years. My life is good & I am in relatively good standing in all areas of it. I have had some of the darkest times in my life over the last 7 years, but I have not felt alone once. There have been so many lessons, peaks & valleys, & I am grateful to be a part of it all nowadays. I feel whole, relatively happy & useful. And I guess that is all I can really ask for.
Thank you for letting me share & for reading. I’m so happy to be a small part of Jack’s legacy.