Friday, May 27, 2011


     While studying the AA principles today, I learned about the principle of reinforcement that is gained after an alcoholic relapses.   It simply stated, 'A relapse brings truth to what we hear repeatedly in meetings — “Don’t take that first drink!” It reinforces the belief in the progressive nature of the disease, and it drives home the need for, and beauty of, humility in our spiritual program.'   This is a direct quote from the Daily Reflections posted on May 25, 2011.  
     The quote really took me aback as I was forced to think about relapses.  I have been very strong over the 11 days of this journey so I couldn't imagine that relapse would be a problem for me!   However, I had to get real and truthful with myself and admit that I was powerless over the alcohol and in truth have been craving it's effects for days.  Each time my family tells me how proud they are of me, I smile and it does strengthen my endeavors to stay sober, but it DOES NOT take away the craving!  
     These struggles with the cravings have caused me to search within myself to see why I have these cravings for a liquid that could destroy everything I have come to love and depend on as well as possible end my very life.  How could something that has such a negative impact on a person be refreshing at the same time?  Refreshing from the stresses and burdens of daily life, BUT....only for a moment.  Then, the thoughts of past failures all the way back to your childhood start to surface and there is no longer any refreshment from the alcohol.  The alcohol becomes a tool in which to then forget.  However, that doesn't work either!  Thus the confusing, troublesome, and destructive circle begins and ends with the alcohol.  
     Over my lifetime I have heard many explanations for the strong call of alcohol over a person all the way from it being a spiritual demon, a chemical imbalance in the brain, a food allergy, and even low self esteem.  Rather debate about the differences or similarities in all these explanations, I choose to believe that there is partial truth in each of them.    In some form or fashion, a spiritual demon initially leads to the introduction of the alcohol.  If you have any sort of chemical imbalance in your brain (which most humans do) the struggle to stay away from the alcohol is increased.  Then as your resistance weakens, your body developments an actual allergy to the sugar and grains that make up the alcohol thus when you drink the ill effects such as blurred vision, slurred speech, inability to think clearly, the ability to control body functions and emotions, and even the ability to stand up  get worse each time you drink.   When all this occurs, the self esteem of being a sexy, smart, productive, beautiful person turns into the exact opposite when you wake the next day to realize how you acted the night before.  It doesn't help matters in todays technical world when your 'friends' capture your drunken state on video and pictures!  
     So I ask myself again, WHY would I willingly pour a liquid into my body that would send me back to such a dark place?  The simple truth is because like almost every other true alcoholic, I always have the deep desire to control the alcohol instead of the other way around.  I want to be able to drink again like most people do.  I would love to be able to sit in the pool with my husband and have a cold beer.  I would really enjoy toasting our anniversary or New Year's Eve with a bottle of champagne like we used to.  But...the truth I have to deal with everyday is that I have to avoid the first drink because if I don't there will always be a second, third, fourth, etc etc etc until I'm lost again in the bottom of a bottle.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


     There sure have been a lot of severe storms lately, especially tornadoes.  I heard one news caster this morning give the high death statics for this year alone and it was in the thousands just for the U.S.  I watched as one young couple were interviewed and relived their horrific tale of terror of holding onto to each other for dear life as their home and both vehicles were destroyed around them.  Hearing their story really made me take personal stock in myself and my past actions as an alcoholic.
     I am so very thankful to have a forgiving husband and family who stood by me until I could admit to myself that I had a problem and begin the steps of recovery.  I laid awake in bed last night reliving the past few months when I would have been totally useless in the event of a major catastrophic occurrence.    I could not have aided myself much less anyone else in a crisis!  
     My dad is in home hospice which means that his days are numbered according to a fleet of doctors who say there is no medical recovery for his condition.  I think back on the days and nights when my dying father had to watch me stumble around this house while 'trying' to pretend to be a useful member of the household.  Now that I'm sober, I can see the sadness and disappointment in my father's eyes in my mind and those memories help keep me rooted in my sobriety.  I pray I never again have to see that look on his face because of me allowing alcohol to control my life!!
    My understanding and loving husband has been my rock throughout this whole ordeal of my alcoholism.   He had a lot riding on his shoulders having to be responsible for two handicapped in laws, a son, a full time job, pets, the finances,  AND a drunk wife!!  I have to painfully admit that if the shoe had been reversed, I don't believe I would have stayed the way he has!  However, I am very blessed with a forgiving husband who offers 100% support toward my recovery.
     Reading back over this post I realize that I seemed to have rambled away from the topic of storms, but actually I have delicately described the 'storms' that I have subjected my family to for months.  I have to take responsibility for my own actions and attempt to make amends where possible.  (That is a principal I am learning from attending and studying AA.)   In doing so, I have to acknowledge that I have caused a tornado of emotions of hurt, anger, fear, frustration, confusion, and even hatred by allowing the disease of alcoholism to control me, my emotions, and especially my actions.
     I know that attending AA meetings, reading all the books, changing my lifestyle, and making amends to family members WILL NOT stop the storms of life from occurring,  but now when the winds start to blow, the air pressure changes, and the clouds appear, my family will not have to wonder IF I will be able to stand firm with them when the actual storm hits.  They will KNOW that I will be there!      

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day 7

   It has been exactly a week since I made the life changing decision to take step one by admitting I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become a mess!   This is paraphrased out of the 12 step program of AA but when you think about it, it is the first step in any part of your life that needs to be changed or fixed.  Whether it's over eating, gambling, smoking, drinking, indulging in unsafe sex habits, or anything that prevents you from being a productive, healthy, and happy person.
    That word 'happy' is a word that has stuck out in my mind for several days now.  The Webster's definition of happy is content, pleased, or joyous.  As an alcoholic, I was the first person to drunkenly stand at attention and announce, 'I am happy with my life!  I like to drink and get drunk and I ain't hurting no one cause it's my life and it makes me happy!'   But when I started working through the 12 steps of recovery, I discovered that I wasn't happy after all.  In fact, I was miserable, sad, lonely, and heading towards the depths of darkness of no escape.
     How can there be such confusion in the simple meaning of a little five lettered word?  When I was drinking and riding the roller coaster of going from a state of being sober, going up the hill of laughter and silliness, going around the curve of slurred speech and stumping steps, up the hill of singing and being loving, to going down the hill the lost loves, forgotten friends, past mistakes, where I would finally come to rest for a moment on top of a steep hill where I could rest for a moment, but only for a moment, before I plunged into the darkness of anger, hostility, cruel words, tears, and sometimes violent acts if I were still sober enough to stand.  With one more drink, the ride would begin again and again and last until I finally ran out of alcohol or passed out from over indulgence.  
     There were a few times when I would be solely alone for the 'alcoholic roller coaster ride' but most times, I was with my family and forcing them to watch and witness and become unwilling participates in the destructive ride.   The next day when I would wake from a drunken stupor, I would wonder why everyone was so mad and on edge because after all, I hadn't hurt anyone...I had just gotten drunk to relieve some stress and make myself 'HAPPY'.

Monday, May 16, 2011

First Chip

     I activated this blog several days ago but had no idea what I was going to write about so I left it blank.   But today I found the voice I needed to share or put down in 'words' as my blog is called.   The words I need to voice is related to my journey towards sobriety.   I spoke words tonight in a room full of men and women some of whom I had worked along beside for years and some I met for the first time.  I spoke words I never dreamed I would ever have to say.  I spoke words that tasted like poison as I was saying them.  I spoke words that stuck in my throat and only came out after the tears started to flow.  I spoke the words, 'my name is Julie and I'm an alcoholic'.
     I went to the first meeting because after years of fooling myself and thinking I was fooling others, I was on the verge of loosing my family and possibly even my life so I made a simple phone call to an unknown person who seemed like a long lost friend before the conversation ended.  Her name won't be shared here but I pray I never forget her name.  I know I will never forget her voice.  I simply told her I was a drunk and I needed help.  She began telling me her story and some of her struggles and my mouth fell open as I realized she was also telling my story.  It was a story of hurt, pain, confusion, and frustration.  However those feelings were not her own, but rather feelings she had caused to the ones around her, her family.  She told a story so much like my own, I could hear my own voice and it was scary but relieving at the same time.  Relieving because I wasn't the only one with this problem and scary for the same reason.    She gave me the necessary details of the location of an AA meeting and encouraged me to attend.  I assured her I would 'try' still thinking to myself that I would not gain anything from attending a meeting with strangers for a problem that I didn't have.  (same words shared by thousands).    I went in and talked to my husband and other family members who all breathed a sigh of relief that I was taking the first step to recovery.  (the whole time I was still thinking I didn't have a problem).  
      When it came time to leave for the meeting, all my family members encouraged me not to let anything stop me from going and short of waving flags and saluting me, they were encouraging me as if I were about to run a big race.  A race I STILL didn't acknowledge that I needed to run.  Now here I am, running a race to sobriety and self peace but I'm proud I am on the right track.  Today is day 1 and I received my first white chip for 24 hrs of sobriety.  I have a sponsor who turns out was someone from my past who I encouraged to seek AA assistance many years ago so I guess in a way the circle does go around after all.
       I THOUGHT this was going to be an easy journey after all, 'I had no problem'.  After truthfully reading the 12 steps today I can only claim fame for the first one.  I admitted I was powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable.  BUT...I have done the first step!   I also acknowledge that I'm not ready to master step two but my son told me 'rome wasn't built in a day, mom, just one brick at a time!'