Thank you so much to Samantha for sharing your journey with us all, by writing your story you will help others.
A Proud Pickle
There is one thing I know for certain. I know I am an alcoholic. And, while some time ago I hung my head in shame at the prospect of being labeled as such, I can say today, I’m proud to be an alcoholic in recovery.
I wasn’t always an alcoholic. Of course not. I was consumed with an ism. It was an ism full of ego, self-hatred and loathing. It was brimming within security and selfishness. Those terms seem to be so contradictory, but for one living with an ism, they are so very,very real.
During high school and college I drank like those around me. I drank at parties. I often got drunk but never encountered a blackout. When I came home from school I drank occasionally at parties, but only got drunk a few times a year. I would never consider myself a problem drinker.
My first husband and I rarely had alcohol in our home. And, when we did, it would sit in the garage for months. That was until my mother died and I had two children. After the birth of my second daughter I treated myself to a drink every evening. One drink became two which in turn became three.
Problems at home began to grow. My marriage was deteriorating. I suffered severe postpartum depression. I was working an additional job as an adjunct instructor and buried myself in my teaching and being a mom. I was hiding the pain of my depression, sadness and grief. The distraction of working more wasn’t working. The escape I found in alcohol suddenly seemed to work. Alcohol was now my new therapist and with it I could just bury all the pain I was so desperately hiding from.
I’ve read it takes a woman less than two years to develop into a “full blow alcoholic.” My tolerance wasn’t that high and I would say it took me only six months. After my separation I drank nightly. I drank until I blacked out. I would wake up in the morning dreading the stories told to me of my uncharacteristic behavior the previous night. Suddenly with the help of my “best friend” I shape-shifted from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.
During a trip with my family, I drank so much that I considered suicide. My sister called 911 and I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room. I was given some anti-anxiety medication and sent home. I had a severe reaction to the medication. After returning from the trip I returned to the emergency room. My chief complaint was the negative side effects from the medication but I knew, underneath that,I had a problem with alcohol.
After an assessment I was admitted into the hospital’s detox facility. I spent four days there and another six weeks in an intensive outpatient program for women. This is where the foundation of my sobriety began to take shape. I learned how to foster relationships with women. I learned that when you take alcohol out of alcoholism, you are left with the ism. My ego was so strong I wouldn’t admit, even in treatment I was an alcoholic. I would say, “I abuse alcohol.” I still held on to my disease and would often leave a few minutes early from treatment to get to the liquor store before it closed at 9:00 p.m.
My story is full of joy, happiness and growth. But, it is a story of frequent relapses. I think that just proves that with AA there is hope. It is my ego that has so often interfered with my sobriety. Sometimes,it was simply too hard to grasp that I could live so much of my life without a dependence on alcohol and suddenly, I was an alcoholic and couldn’t drink. How could I not drink again like a “normal”drinker? Best put, by my grand-sponser,“Once a cucumber becomes a pickle, it cannot be a cucumber again.” I was in fact a pickle. And, I was a pickle in a pickle for I couldn’t accept my disease.
My ego has told me I can keep alcohol in my house. As a result I have relapsed. My ego has told me I am God to another alcoholic and in doing so I put myself in harm’s way and relapsed. My ego has simply just said, “you don’t havea problem” and, again, I relapsed.
Somehow my higher power put people in my life to help guide me along the way. From a co-worker that helped me find and stick to AA to a stranger in another state who took me to meetings daily – one day at a time I finally built my structure of sobriety that started building so very long ago.
I like to think that the program not only helps me to not drink but I have the opportunity to live a much richer, happier life than I could have ever imagined. Those characteristics of my ism are curtailed, they are managed and I have the self-actualization to work with other woman, to reach out and to change behaviors and attitudes that cause me to behave in a destructive manner.
Today I have a wonderful sponsorship family. I have deep, meaningful relationships with other women. I do things now for others not for the recognition or to stroke my ego, but rather to honestly help people and show them they too are loved. I have a relationship with a higher power and a relationship with myself. I have today and that is all I can guarantee. I have today.
Today, I can finally say, I am Samantha and I am an alcoholic. I am an alcoholic, I am a pickle, no longer a cucumber, but I am a very proud pickle.