Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Conversing Sisters: Sept 2, Restoring Us to Sanity

Me & Lisa, circa 2009

This post is part of a series of writings I did with my sister Lisa, in 2012. Our thoughts and perspectives reflect a moment in time. They may or may not have changed in the passing years.

Step 2: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”


Lisa's Thoughts  


It is often shared in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that we come to and then we come to believe. This was true for me, too. When I stumbled into AA, I had been consumed in so many substances for so long that I had no idea how to live sober. I had come to a point in my life that I didn’t know how to do anything without alcohol; it was my Master and I its puppet. So, without it, I literally felt paralyzed. Sanity wasn’t a word that I was really familiar with and it was a word that no one in my life would have ever described me as. The earliest recollections I have...I was insane, and was often hospitalized, or sent away because of my behavior. I had been diagnosed with pretty much every type of depression and many social conditions by the age of 16. Because this had been my experience, up until the day I got sober and even some time after that, the word restoration terrified me. I worked these steps with my Sponsor on a weekly basis. So exactly one week after working Step 1, I found myself walking back into that Brokedown Palace to begin Step 2. There she was full of love and light, patiently awaiting my presence, so she could teach me what someone taught her about this Power greater than herself restoring her to sanity. She was so excited and I remember thinking, what the hell is she so excited about? I wasn’t excited at all! I didn’t have anything to be restored to. I had been insane my entire life. I was so scared that she was going to tell me that I would be restored to myself before I started drinking. This confused me because who I was before I crossed the line into alcoholism is why I started to drink heavily in the first place. If that is all I could be restored to than, obviously, suicide would have been the better option.

So, as you can see, there was nothing to be excited about. Her excitement actually felt offensive as if I was the brunt of some cruel joke. Of course I can laugh about this now, looking back on it, but just like with Step 1, I didn’t find anything humorous about it at the time. We sat down. She read a few pages out of Step 2 in the Twelve & Twelve and mentioned a few things out of my assigned reading in the Big Book that had talked about being mentally and physically different from our fellows. We discussed the allergy of the body and the obsession of the mind. How when an alcoholic is determined to drink, they seem to forget about any consequences of previous episodes and seem convinced that things will be different this time.

Many people in AA refer to the obsession as a voice inside their head, similar to that of a genie or a beast. I would have to agree with that. I can’t tell you how many times I would be in situations and it was as if I wasn’t the one who had made the decision to be where I was, with the people that were there, doing things I had no idea I was capable of, all for a drink or a substance that could alter the way I felt, and assist me in functioning in a confident way.
My sponsor asked me to describe my insanity to her. I was extremely embarrassed but for some reason things just started falling out of my mouth- like sleeping with a bottle of Yaegermeister under my pillow every night, running the streets with some Tongan gang members, as if I didn’t know any better. At the time I was somewhat educated, had a pretty good career with a decent salary, two small beautiful children and an unhealthy marriage, but there I was acting as if I was a teenager with nothing better to do. I look back and that person seems like a stranger to me now. When I came into the rooms of AA I couldn’t even make macaroni & cheese. I remember a day when my kids were crying because they were hungry. I put a pot of water on the stove and by the time I came back inside from my cigarette break, which apparently was extremely long, all the water was gone and the pot looked burnt. I had a full on meltdown. I was crying hysterically. I picked up the phone and called another woman in the program and told her what was going on. She simply said, “Lisa, breathe, honey, and just read the box.” In that moment it was like the heavens opened up and I finally had all the answers! Just read the box! These things were so simple yet my brain was so saturated in alcohol that it never was that easy when I first got sober. The vehicle I was driving at the time was beautiful. I loved her so much. She seemed to get me through all the hard times when I was out drinking and somehow she was riddled with bullet holes by the time I arrived in the parking lot of that Brokedown Palace. My family had given up on me and I had no other real relationships to speak of. My drinking drove me to such insanity that I lost everything I had and even things I didn’t know I had until they were gone. The list went on and on and nothing seemed to even surprise my sponsor. She would just nod her head and giggle at times. I didn’t know what to think about this whole step thing or if I would ever be okay.

This obsession of the mind is not limited to just alcohol. For me it comes in the form of men, food, shopping, and pretty much anything else that can distract me from my current reality. It is this obsession that leads most of us alcoholics into permanent insanity and often time’s death. Came to believe that a Power greater than myself would restore me to sanity. This sentence has a great deal to do with faith and God. Although we don’t tend to use the word God because there are so many people who come into the rooms of AA who are terrified of or have a huge resentment against God. I choose to call my Higher Power, God. When my sponsor told me that it was extremely important to believe in a Higher Power before I could continue the steps I was a little frustrated. I had believed in God my entire life and the way I understood him was a very old man with a long white beard and a black book with lots of red check marks by my name. So this being, the only vision I really had of God, meant that I was very afraid to acknowledge him or to confront those red check marks by my name.

I originally blamed this fear of God on the religion I grew up with and had resentment against the LDS church for brainwashing people to be afraid of God. I since have resolved that and have learned that my interpretation of that religion is what caused the fear not the actual teachings. After sharing these details with my sponsor she pulled out a piece of paper and at the top she wrote “Lisa’s God.” She then asked me to write a list of all the things I would have my God be and pray to that list for the next week until we met again. She also asked me to simply put my old idea of God on the shelf and I could retrieve it at any time if the “list God” was too uncomfortable. I thought much of this was crazy, and wondered if she had actually worked Step 2 herself, because she still seemed a little odd and a little insane to me.
However, I didn’t ever want to drink again, so I did as she told me to do.


In regards to the restoration of sanity...As I mentioned previously, I wasn’t interested in being restored to any previous time in my life. As I worked this step and prayed several times each day, I learned the restoration to sanity actually meant the restoration of my desires, my heart and my soul, and truly this step had little to do with my mind. It also helped me see just how temporary my mind is. I now refer to my mind as my ego, for the most part. I still think like an alcoholic on most days. However, the desires of my heart and my soul have changed. I no longer desire to die, or numb-out, or seek revenge for the wrong doing of others. I still have a long way to go in the restoration process. However, the things I desire today are things like being a good mother, sister, and daughter. Being of service to others, and helping others who are still suffering to find sobriety. To create deep meaningful relationships with the people about me. To live the prayer of St. Francis which talks about seeking to love than to be loved, looking to understand rather than to be understood, forgiving so that we can be forgiven, dying so we can wake to eternal life. In AA people often say, "live one day at a time.” In the few moments I am able to truly live, there is no insanity, there is simply peace and serenity. I still wonder why I was one of the chosen few who found my way to Alcoholics Anonymous. However, I try not to question it too much and just do the next right thing in hopes I never have to leave AA again.

Liz’s Response 


Lisa,

I love this essay. I’ve read it probably four or five times. The honesty & vulnerability you show in standing in your truth & telling your story is empowering.

I like to think of it as being restored to your spirit – the person who lived before. The person who agreed, as you believed, to take upon these trials in order to live to the fullest measure of your creation.

Amazing how different we saw God from the very beginning of our lives. This is one of the things that I love about this project.

Moment with sponsor - So important. Coming to a place where you were not alone. Where people not only get it, but have literally been there, done that. Common humanity is such a necessary part of healing.

Liz's Thoughts  


I was born a believer.  I’ve always known there to be a God. More specifically, I always knew there was a loving Father in Heaven that knew who I was and loved me.

I recall being a child of four or five watching Jesus of Nazareth and gaining a testimony that Jesus was the Christ. This belief profoundly influenced my identity and my relationship with the people in my life and the world. My life’s pain and trauma brought darkness into my life but believing that there was “a power greater than myself” prevented me from going into and doing dark things.

I am also religious: an observant, active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For most of my life, I was the only one of my siblings who was an active member of the church. In adulthood there was a period of time in which I was the sole active member in my family. This was at times an isolating and painful experience. However, I never felt completely alone because I always had my faith in God and Christ. With that said, I certainly have had my own periods of inactivity and have struggled with my faith.

A few years ago, I was feeling particularly disconnected from the Spirit. Church attendance was feeling more like an act of habitual obedience than a desire to learn, grow, and serve.

One Sunday, I was teaching a Sunday School lesson on the gifts of the spirit. The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that there are specific gifts that God has given each of our spirits for our “profit and learning” (D&C 46:1) “that all may be profited thereby” (D&C 46:12).

I was writing the gifts on the board and discussing them with the class. I had already written and discussed the gift of knowing that Jesus is the Christ. I turned and looked at the board to write down the current gift we were discussing and saw boldly in my own handwriting “Knowing that Jesus is the Christ.”

I froze and stared, forgetting about the class, and only seeing that statement. I was instantly brought back to that moment as a small child being filled with the love and knowledge of the truthfulness of Christ’s ministry.

This I believed. This I could hold on to. From here I could rebuild my faith. With humility, I could open myself once again to the God and his love. Humility is the greatest of all teachers.

This section of the Doctrine and Covenants also teaches that we are “commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally” (D&C 46:7). God gives to us liberally! I often forget that this is one of His attributes, that it is His divine nature to be liberally charitable to His children.

Meister Eckheart, a fourteenth century Christian mystic, believed that “God’s endeavor is to give himself to us entirely.” I interpret this to mean a few things.  First, that God is always as close to me as I will allow him to be. If I am no longer feeling close to God, then it is because of something that I have done. I remove myself from God; he doesn’t remove himself from me.

The rhetoric used in my faith speaks of the Spirit leaving us when we are no longer behaving in a manner that is in concert with the commandments. This rhetoric can give the perception that the Spirit of God is fickle and puts me in a mindset that I should be pleasing him in order for me to have the benefit of his companionship.

I find greater satisfaction in my relationship with the Spirit when I view the same idea (that we must be in concert with commandments in order to have the Spirit with us) from the perspective that God is always there endeavoring to give of Himself to me fully. It is up to me to open myself up and allow Him in. This gives me more autonomy in my spiritual development and places a higher value on my agency. It also puts accountability solely in my hands.

Spiritual teacher, Marianne Williamson teaches in her book The Gift of Change that “we’re punished not for our sins but by our sins” (emphasis added). This reiterates the loving nature of God. He does not bring about punishment. The punishment we may or may not receive from our behavior is a natural byproduct of our actions. It is automatically set in motion. God, on the other hand, is always offering love, forgiveness and peace. It is our choice as to how much of Him we will allow in our lives. We must be completely open in order to create necessary amount of space to accept the entirety of God’s gift.

I understand this principle and believe it to be a capital “T” Truth.  However, I find it difficult to implement into my life. I am a prideful, often willful, daughter of God. My ego and humility are constantly in a street fight. I root for humility to win and yet I often betray her by allowing myself to be seduced by my ego. Giving into the ego brings momentary highs and insanity into my life.

My life experiences have taught me that the only way to “restore me to sanity” is to become humble, so I can open myself back up to my Higher Power and allow Him to fill me entirely with love, light, learning, and growth for my benefit and for the benefit of others.

Lisa's Response


Liz,

I am so glad I re-read this tonight. I had a “spiritual awakening,” if you will, as I read this essay. I loved this essay, by the way. It helped me see Step 2 in a whole new light and a new understanding. What a gift, thank you.

I realized when you were talking about your moment when the class fell away and you saw the statement in your own handwriting that “restoration to sanity” is so much more than just the desires of my heart as I have come to understand in working this Step time and time again…it is actually the re-connection to my higher Power. The restoration of an eroded connection, if that makes sense to you at all.

I have this total surrender and Aha! right now!

In addition to seeing this Step differently, I also see the teaching of the LDS church in a new light. Thank you so much for writing this. I needed it more today than ever! The connection...that is what is being restored! I love it! I can’t say enough about it!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Conversing Sisters: Step 1, We Were Powerless


Me & Lisa playing with the decorator house on Christmas morning, circa 1981ish


This post is part of a series of writings I did with my sister Lisa, in 2012. Our thoughts and perspectives reflect a moment in time. They may or may not have changed in the passing years.

Step 1: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol that our lives had become unmanageable.”


Lisa's Thoughts  


There are so many blessings that come to mind when I think about Step 1. So many realizations and internal freedoms that took place when another woman, who suffered as I did, sat me down and worked this step with me. I had no idea, at that time, that by agreeing to take this first step, I was agreeing to begin an entirely different life. I remember that day. It was a cold day in February 2008. I had almost 60 days of sobriety. As I walked into this old broken down church to meet with this woman (my sponsor at the time), I remember feeling physically cold...internally cold as well.

I had been to a few AA meetings in this broke-down palace, as I like to call it. So, I was somewhat familiar with it and the people who sat outside sharing story after story in an effort to help one another. They were strangers, yet they had such love and compassion in their eyes. This concept of fellowship was foreign to me, and even though there were so many other people there who had similar stories, I remember still feeling so scared, and extremely empty, and alone.
As I walked in the door, there she was- her eyes full of light. Her energy had such deep warmth that when she greeted me with a hug her embraced warmed every inch of my soul and body. I remember thinking: How did she do that? Who is this woman and why is she so willing to help me? Her first words were, “Well, are you ready to begin the first day of the rest of your life?” I smiled shyly and said, “Well, I guess. I really don’t have any other choice do I?” We both laughed. She said softly, “Don’t worry, Honey, the only thing you have to change is everything.” I had no idea how true that statement would become as my sobriety path unfolded one day at a time. We read step one together out of the “Twelve and Twelve” which is a sister book to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. As she read, I began feeling complete surrender. The word “we” seemed to keep repeating and suddenly I didn’t feel so all alone. That one word “we” has taken on so many different meanings as I have worked the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous over and over again. “We” meant that I never had to be alone ever again. Regardless of what was happening in my life, that feeling of loneliness and self-pity would disappear just as the promises state in the Big Book. The admittance part of this step was huge for me. I had known for a long time something was wrong with me and the way I drank. However, up until that day, I had never had the courage to admit it to anyone, not even myself. I felt a level of freedom that day when I finally stood up and said,

“My name is Lisa and I am an alcoholic.”

It felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders and that I didn’t have to continue to live with this deep dark secret that had consumed all of me. I didn’t know exactly what would become of me after admitting that I was an alcoholic but I knew it had to be better than the life I had just walked away from. Since working this step, admittance is usually what sets me free in many situations in my everyday life: admitting that I was afraid to be a mother; admitting that I was angry at my Father for the way he treated me as a child; and that I was angry at my Mother for allowing and not intervening; admitting that I had married for all the wrong reasons; admitting that I have never felt good enough or comfortable in my own skin. There is such power in admitting. I learned there are many times in my life, that I am grateful, that I just have to begin with admitting. Then I can, eventually, move into accepting. I don’t have to take them both on all at the same time. “We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.” “Powerlessness.” Oh Goodness! My first thoughts about this were: What do you mean I am powerless? Have you met me? Don’t you know who I am or how important I am? I think I am pretty powerful and now you are asking me to take a look at defining myself as powerless?

On and on and on my thoughts went about powerlessness. I was pretty offended by it, in the beginning, to be honest. I had no idea that surrendering and admitting powerlessness would give me so much peace and serenity in my life and relationships. It was when I began looking at powerlessness that I realized many of the solutions to my life would usually come in complete paradoxes. The beauty in immersing myself in powerlessness helped me realize that not only was I powerless over alcohol and substances but, more importantly, I was powerless over people, places, and things. My whole life I have taken responsibility for everyone’s problems and shortcomings. It was always my fault and no one was ever thankful for my ability to take their problems on emotionally. I would spend all of my time and energy trying to fix everything or save everyone. It was when I began to understand this portion of this step that I realized just how co-dependent I really was. That if I “just let go” and “got out of the way” all of the people and situations, I believed I had control of and was responsible for, would work out just the way they were supposed to without my help.

My sponsor, at the time, helped me see that I was playing God and interfering with God’s business. If I was going to stay sober it was crucial that I leave God’s business to God, and mind my own business. It sounds hysterical to me now, but in the moment it didn’t seem so funny. There I was having a tantrum that I wasn’t God, and could no longer afford to act as if I were God. It was obvious to everyone, including myself, that externally my life was unmanageable! I had let go of my employment, my children, my family, my husband and many of my friendships, so that I could drink the way I wanted to, whenever I wanted to, without any interference. More importantly than my life being externally unmanageable was that the real chaos was going on inside. It baffled me that taking one drink, just one, had the power to cause this ripple effect of pain and suffering for not only myself, but also for everyone who cared about and loved me, and that I cared for and loved too. It was this horrific cycle of moments of sobriety and then quickly without any intention I would be drunk again. I can’t tell you how many mornings I woke up and promised myself I wouldn’t drink that day so I could show up for my responsibilities as a mother, an employee, a daughter, a friend, etc. Then I would come to somewhere in a strange place with strange people, honestly, not knowing how I got there or how much time had passed since I woke up and made that promise to myself. This cycle continued for a very long time. In the last nine months of my drinking career, my life had become so unmanageable that I was determined to die but didn’t have enough guts, so to speak, to put a gun in my mouth. So, I was on a mission to commit slow suicide through cocaine, meth, pills, alcohol, dangerous men or whatever else was available to put into my body that was life threatening. The thought of living an unmanageable life was too overwhelming and to think that I could NEVER drink again was something I just could not fathom. There were moments when the alcohol would wear off and I would begin to feel my actual feelings. The guilt and shame of the wreckage of the past would consume my heart, mind, body, and soul with an immense amount of pain. I honestly believed that it couldn’t be fixed or taken back. There was no way I could be forgiven for yesterday’s actions and the future seemed dark and hopeless. I was emotionally, spiritually, and physically bankrupt in every way...lost and blind without an ounce of strength to get back up and fight to live again. Step one taught me so many things. It helped me shift my perception just enough that I felt a tiny ray of hope after I had worked it with my sponsor that cold day in February so many years ago. She helped me see that I only had to worry about today. I would learn a few years later, when I worked this step again, that I really only need worry about this moment.

A connection to God only exists in the now. God doesn’t live in yesterday, tomorrow or today. He simply resides in the now. I have learned that “now” is the only place I can truly find, feel and hear Him. It is in the admitting, in the completely surrendering, that I have won my life back. I am truly grateful for this step and the immense power it has in my life today.



Liz’s Response 


Lisa, this is excellent! Well written with a clear narrative and strong point of view. I clearly heard your voice. It makes me feel like I need to step up my game. :-)

Liz's Thoughts  


I believe our power is something we have to give away. It cannot be taken from us. When we give our power to someone and/or something else we then become subjected to them/it.  I have seen this happen with substances in the lives of family members and friends. I’ve personally experienced the consequences of giving my power over to another person.

I was in an abusive relationship for ten years (eight of which we were married). I gave my power to my ex-husband, gradually.  At first it was my time and attention. I became intoxicated by him. I wanted to spend every minute together. I started skipping college classes, sleeping through my early morning classes because I had stayed up all night with him, cancelling plans with my friends, and slacking at my job. This behavior isn’t necessarily alarming and  is common human behavior when you start a new relationship. Generally, what happens though is people eventually find better ways of balancing their responsibilities and their relationship.

As our relationship continued to progress, in addition to my time and attention, I gave him my agency. I wouldn’t make a decision without discussing it with him first. I would do whatever he thought was best, even when I disagreed.

After a few years of this continual transfer of power, my life was no longer my own. Everything I did was for one purpose: to make him happy.  I wore what he wanted me to wear. I was friends with who he wanted to spent time with. I began to talk like him and think like him. I even ended relationships at his request – including my relationship with my parents.

My life was unmanageable because it was no longer mine.

It was his.

This began to erode my identity and my spirit. I became a shell of person. I was a desperate person doing desperate things in order to stay in a relationship that was destroying me.

I didn’t want to see this.

I would twist, justify, bend, deny, and avoid the truth so that it would allow me to keep the status quo.

All that changed when the truth demanded to be seen.

All the tricks I used before only led me back to the truth. The truth being: I was in an abusive relationship and needed to get out. Oprah Winfrey teaches the principle - you have to name it to claim it.

Once I acknowledged that I was powerless over my relationship and that my life had become unmanageable, I was able to start to see things for what they were. Once I acknowledge that, I started to reclaim my power and began the long journey to selfhood.

Lisa's Response


Liz-

I was extremely amazed how easy it was for you to understand the meaning of this step! I believe everyone can experience a sense of powerlessness and unmanageability, regardless, if they are an alcoholic or not. More and more, I find these steps are just steps we can use to help us with being human and to find comfort and peace as we make this journey back home.

I so appreciate the things you said about your marriage and can relate on so many levels. I believe it is stories like yours that have the potential to help serve the masses because of who you have become and how you are living proof that with God all things are possible.

Thank you for sharing this with me!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Conversing Sisters: Thoughts on Addiction

Me & Lisa, circa 2013

In April, my sister, Lisa, passed away. I was 18 months when she was born - I've only known life with Lisa. Learning to live in the world without her has been difficult and painful. She was one of my master-teachers in unconditional love and kindness.

Lisa experienced many trials and heartache in her life - some from her own doing and some from the actions of others. She didn't allow this to make her bitter and hateful. Instead, she sought to bring light and love to this world. She did this imperfectly. And her effort was a thing of beauty and inspiration.

She had great wisdom and insight. Lisa's big dream was to share these insights with humanity as a way to bring more light and healing to a world that she new intimately to be filled with darkness and destruction.

Her Facebook page is full of quotes and thoughts about how we can be better humans and more loving towards each other. She would tag countless people in these posts, clogging our Facebook feeds with light and love. This would often drive me crazy and now...

*breathe*

...and now I miss her.

Lisa was a writer and speaker. Her voice was silenced way to soon.

Today is her 38th birthday. My gift to her, is in the spirit of her big dream, is to share some of her wisdom and insights with you.

In 2012, Lisa and I did a writing project focused on the Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) 12 Step program. We decided to do this project for a number of reasons: (1) She had been sober for a few years and was heavily involved in AA. She wanted me to understand the AA program better and I wanted the same; (2) We want to work on our writing skills; and (3) We found it fascinating that we could grow up in the same house and have different ways of being in the world, different perspectives, and different memories. AND be similar in so many ways.

The project lasted for 14 weeks. Every week we wrote independently about the same topic/step. At the end of the week, we read each other's essay and gave feedback. After finishing the project we talked about what we wanted to do with it but never took action.

I've decided to share it here to honor and celebrate her.

I'll release one a week over the next 14 weeks.

I hope that this series will bring understanding, compassion, empathy and healing to those who are struggling with addiction and to those who love addicts.

I hope that it gives comfort to those of us grieving the loss of Lisa and wanting more of Lisa in the world.

Happy Birthday, Lisa. I love you and miss you.

This post is part of a series of writings I did with my sister, Lisa, in 2012. Our thoughts and perspectives reflect a moment in time. They may or may not have changed in the passing years.

Addiction

Lisa's Thoughts  


The definition of addiction according to dictionary.com is, “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming.”

Dr. Dyer would also add not getting enough of what you don't want. I agree with both definitions however I would like to add that addiction is the unconscious search for a pseudo-state of well-being.

For me, when I put substances in my body I felt a sense of relief, a level of okayness and comfortability within my own skin. What I was not aware of when I began drinking regularly is that it was giving me a false sense of self and a pseudo-state of spirituality. Alcohol and drugs seemed to fill that hole that ached inside of me. The only problem was the euphoric effects offered were simply temporary. So, it made perfect sense to me to continue to consume as much as I could as often as possible to achieve that false sense of well being.

In addition, what seems to be the solution and your saving grace, in the end, ends up becoming your Master. Because you "don't fit in" without it, the lengths you will go to to obtain it lead to incomprehensible demoralization as the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous talks about. I have learned that addicts do not continue to drink and use because they necessarily want to. They have just come to a place that trying to live without it seems impossible.

I know that throughout the duration of my drinking career there would be sober moments where I would have some clarity and then the guilt and shame from my behavior would overwhelm me to the point that I would be convinced that suicide was the only option. Sobriety was not. I remember those sober moments as feeling excruciating pain. In my mind, I was a victim and if you had my Father or my ex-husbands or my etc. you would drink too.

As I continued to drink, my life quickly became chaotic and eventually there was no amount of alcohol or drugs that could get me drunk or high enough to be numb. My solution had stopped working. So now what?

Although drinking had several consequences, up to and including drinking my children away, it honestly never occurred to me to quit drinking. I didn't correlate the wreckage with the alcohol. I believed everyone else was to blame and that I wasn't hurting anyone else but myself.

This is the disease of perception that I have found most addicts suffer from. Their soul is dis-eased (diseased) and the only hope for recovery is a spiritual solution. The problem I found early on in my recovery journey is that a spiritual solution must include God.

I had become so afraid of God. I truly believed that there was no hope for me.

I didn’t know there were other people like me.

I knew that most people didn’t live the way I did. Before I found AA, I was convinced, yet again, that I was hopeless. I can tell you from the time I was a very young child I always had the perception that I was different and didn’t fit in.  My sisters seemed to have this bond and although I would try desperately to fit in, in my mind, I just never did. I didn’t seem to connect with my Mother. I always felt like she tolerated me but didn’t necessarily enjoy being my Mother. I did connect to an extent with my Father. We seemed to think alike, however, he was so mean at times that my thoughts had once again convinced me that he hated me too.

So, here I was 28 years old with really nothing left to speak of except for losing 2 children, failing at 2 marriages and a family that I believed truly didn’t want me.  I remember looking back on my life the first day I was sober - December 10, 2007: I had given a child up for adoption. I was molested by a family member when I was a small child. I had been hospitalized several times throughout my life for depression, alcoholism, etc.

What is to become of me?  How do I stay sober without all of this pain?  Will I ever be loved and forgiven?  Will I ever be the Mother I agreed to be?  How can I be a part of a family who doesn’t want me?

I had so many questions and no answers but I knew to drink again would be a slow and painful death so it was either immediate suicide or sobriety. Trust me, suicide was really the option I chose but I had to try for my two small children at the time.

What I am trying to emphasize here is...


I also have learned that I am addicted to everything from food to men and any substance in between because of the way I think and believe.

Although addiction has been a heavy cross to bear, it turns out it has been the greatest asset in my life today.

Liz’s Response 


Lisa, thank you for sharing this with me.

Liz's Thoughts  


Loving an addict is painful.

Literally.

I’ve developed pains in my chest that feel as though someone reaches inside, squeezes my heart, and let’s go. I’ve been acutely aware of the emotional and psychological turmoil of losing my sisters to addiction, but it wasn’t until I went to a doctor that I realize that my sisters’ addictions are affecting me physically.

I went through the stages of grief, which was odd because my sisters were still alive - that is their bodies were still alive but I no longer knew the person. So, actually, my sisters – the sisters that I knew – were dead or maybe they were just missing.

Sadness, disappointment, longing would come in waves, sometimes separately, sometimes all at once. I missed the conversations we used to have. I missed their laughter and points of view.

I became angry - angry that they would choose alcohol and drugs over their children, over the family. I understood that addiction was a disease, and not exactly a choice, but at first it was impossible to hold space for that understanding with compassion. I wanted to scratch their eyes out. I was angry about the trauma they were causing in their children’s lives and how these children would not know the parts of my sisters that were imprisoned by the addiction.  

All of this was too much for me and so I dissociated. I stopped calling them and wouldn’t answer their 3AM phone calls.

And yet, every time my phone rang the first thought that went through my head was - which one is dead?

I’d look at the caller ID.

If it wasn’t a family member, I’d exhale.

If it was a family member, I’d hold my breath in anticipation.

This went on for years and eroded my sense of well being. I missed my sisters. I loved my sisters. I felt abandoned and alone.

Lisa's Response


Liz, I so appreciated your honesty.

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