I am an alcoholic and drug addict, sober and in recovery for 18 years. Before I found recovery I spent many, many years as an extremely dysfunctional, insecure, irresponsible lush and pothead. I was verbally and physically abusive to my kids when I wasn’t ignoring and neglecting them. I remember fondly my “hoochie” days when I was on welfare, going out to clubs every night of the week, getting fucked UP as in drunk and high before the club, continued drinking while at the club and a lot of other crazy shit I won’t get into. I shudder when I think of the days after that spent in isolation, still drinking and using, being miserable and suicidal many times. Afraid of everyone and everything, wondering what the hell happened to my life. What the hell happened to me? What was wrong? I was withering inside spiritually, terrified at what I’d turn into as a woman and a mother if I died inside. I should tell you that over the years I did seek help by going to church, seeing various therapists and even some parenting classes so I could be a better mother. But those measures only gave me temporary relief. I didn’t hit my kids anymore and yelled a lot less. But eventually the church would ask something of me that I didn’t like or conflicted with my drinking and using. The therapy would make me feel better so I’d stop going. Then I’d spiral down into depression, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. Always I found myself in that pit of despair until it felt like I’d never escape, so why bother. The first gift that came out of all that shit was desperation. I found this out later when I read it in an NA daily reading. The GIFT OF DESPERATION drove me to one more therapist’s office. Only this time my desperation lead me to answer all the intake questions completely and honestly. At the end of the intake the therapist said, “I’m referring you to our Drug & Alcohol program. I think your alcohol and drug use are contributing to your depression”. This lead to my next gifts: identification for what the fuck was wrong with me and a solution! I can’t tell you the profound relief I felt having a name for what was going on with me. All of the other blessings, lessons, and spiritual growth I gained from being an alcoholic/addict in recovery/sobriety can not be quantified. Seriously, it can’t. But the proof of that is in my voice, my writing and my message with this blog site. The best part is I and this blog site will only get better keeping God within me and AA beside me.
I’ve been single, meaning no relationships, no dating or physical intimacy for over 15 years. Now this might seem like a tough one but let me just say, don’t get it twisted- I may not have had sex in over 15 years, but I haven’t gone without orgasms either! Come on, we’re all adults here. Anyhow, this, meaning single, no relationships or dating, stemmed from sobriety. Part of the recovery process is A LOT of intense personal writing that gets to the heart of who and what you are. One of those intense processes is a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. My sexual inventory at the time was a horrific revelation of my motives for all of my relationships and men I’d slept with. I mean, my “number” wasn’t even that high for being 30 years old when I wrote out my first inventory. Long story short, I used sex to find love. I used sex to try and make him love me. Didn’t matter which him, the motive was the same. Out of that revelation, I understood I should not be in a relationship or even start one until I worked on myself. Unfortunately, my horror and absolute terror caused me to just shut down that part of my life. Shit, my kids were one, six and eight when I got sober. I had my hands full keeping my head above water with parenting and working full time. My development as a mother, friend, daughter, employee and sister skyrocketed over the years. My development as a woman, not so much… or so I thought. However, the gift in shutting down that part of my life is that it opened up my heart and mind to develop the woman I am today. I know who I am and what I bring to the table, so I’m no longer afraid of losing myself if or when I start dating or even get into a relationship. I accept, love and appreciate myself. So much so, that I’m just not able to tolerate anyone in my life who can’t. What a gift!
Let’s take my chronic medical conditions together, because I discovered them that way. Let me explain. I am a diabetic and I have Lupus. In January of 2010, five years ago, I started having weird issues with my hands and wrists. They’d go numb and one Saturday I woke up from a nap on my couch and the palms of my hands and fingers had a noticeable bluish tinge. The numbness became tingling. I showed my middle child Lyndon because he’d just walked in the door. He insisted on driving me to Urgent Care. They couldn’t figure out what was going on. They ran some tests and told me to follow up with my primary physician. I went to her and my symptoms were growing into an extreme stiffness in my fingers when I woke up and achy stiff knees if I sat for any length of time. I lost strength in my wrists as well. My job as a claims adjuster entails lifting and handling heavy paper file folders, reaching up and down for them. Work was agony. I literally could only work at 70% physical capacity on good days. I was so scared that for once in my life I only told 2 people what was going on. My sponsor and my boss at work. They were both phenomenally supportive. So back to the doctors. My primary doctor ordered more tests because initial results indicated I had developed type 2 Diabetes and a severe vitamin D efficiency. However, they didn’t explain the growing symptoms. I was sent to a neurologist for a nerve conduction study (ouch) and back to him again to go over the results. It wasn’t neuromuscular, but he saw an elevated ANA number on one of my lab results and referred me to a rheumatologist. The Rheumatologist diagnosed the Lupus, which is an autoimmune disease. Still don’t know what that means? My own immune system attacks, at will, ANY AND ALL healthy tissues, organs or systems in the body. My particular form attacks my joints and ligaments, thereby giving the arthritic symptoms of a 90-year-old woman. Lupus is chronic but treatable. As is type 2 Diabetes. My Lupus symptoms are treated with medication and has been classified as a mild form. I need to stay well rested, avoid extreme stress as that can trigger more severe symptoms, stay out of prolonged sunlight during the hottest part of the day and eat well. The Diabetes is under control without medication because I was stubborn at the time. I had just started a Weight Watchers At Work program and was having some success. The Diabetes caused me to get serious and kick my healthy eating and exercise into high gear. I lost 55 pounds, became very active with hiking, doing 5k walks, exercise boot camps, and regular gym activity. I’m convinced Weight Watchers worked so well for me because it’s set up very much like a 12 step program. Regular meeting attendance, peer support, accountability, and advice. I was primed by AA! So my chronic medical conditions make me responsible and accountable for my health in a way I wouldn’t otherwise bother with. It’s second nature now. Having to see my rheumy twice a year for Lupus and my primary twice for Diabetes helps keep me in check. Some might not see this as a gift or blessing, but I am lazy when it comes to my physical health. This forces me to do better, especially when I slide like I have the last couple of years, gaining weight and being sedentary. It’s incredible when I understand that all of these gifts, blessings and ability to find the lesson began with sobriety. I am blessed.