I needed every single experience in my life to get to where I am today. The good experiences, the bad experiences and the downright miserable experiences. I needed to drink every drink, take every drug, and tell every lie. I needed the two drunk driving arrest with nights in jail; the divorce; the bankruptcy; all arguments with loved ones; the stupid decisions; the job losses; flunking out of college; and all the rest. I couldn’t have done with one less of anything.
Today I’m grateful for all the pain I suffered from these experiences because I know I needed them to grow and change.
I try to share what it was like, what happened and what it’s like today. I pass on the touchstones of my recovery. I share about the first time I admitted I needed help, about my moment of clarity, about what my pink cloud felt like. I share about the relief of having the obsession lifted clean out of me. I share about my first meeting -- about feeling like I had finally found my way home after a long journey. I share that I wasn’t sure I was an alcoholic until a man said that once he took that first drink he never wanted to stop. I thought, “Yeah, that’s me. I never want to stop either.”
I was taught to start out talking a little about my drinking and my feelings of guilt, shame and remorse about the people I hurt with my drinking, including myself. I never want to forget what it felt like to be me in those last few years as the disease dragged me down. The frustration of failed relationships, the terror of running out of money, the insanity of believing a new job was going to fix everything. I share about feeling paralyzed to take any positive actions to look for work or even to clean my apartment. I don’t drone on and on in a never-ending drunk-a-log, but the newcomer needs to know that I drank alcoholically, suffered consequences, but kept on drinking anyways. Unless an alcoholic can identify with my drinking, he or she won’t pay attention to my solution.
I believe Alcoholics Anonymous works on the principle of enlightened self-interest. I benefit every time I share. If anything I say helps another alcoholic, it’s icing on the cake. I can’t get anyone sober, but sharing with others is absolutely necessary for me to stay sober and grow. It’s all about me.