The bottom was a very dark place for me. I was spiritually, mentally and physically broken and had been functioning in a hazy, anxiety-ridden state for several years by then. Everything hurt and I felt like I was wearing cement shoes. I did not want to die, but I did not want to keep waking up.
I drank every single day and night for 12 years. Once I turned 21 and could buy my own alcohol, I did; everyday. I had a lot of fun in the beginning. I actually have many great memories of parties and good times with friends. Right around the last 5 of those 12 years, I admitted to myself that I had a problem. But alcohol was still working for me so I had no plans of quitting. The last year was so painful that there was no longer the choice of quitting or not, but rather the choice was to stop or die. Even then, I didn’t know how or that there was even the possibility of quitting.
Late one night, in a complete blackout, I called my mom who lived 3 hours away at the time. Fearing the worst for me, she said she would be there in the morning. Immediately upon waking, I drank 2 or 3 glasses of wine in quick succession in order just to function. She arrived and I began to share with her what I had kept hidden, or so what I thought was my secret. I shared of the anxiety and fear, of my alcohol-induced hospitalization, the isolation and my absolute lack of hope.
She had a solution that had proved successful for some she had known over the years. We looked in the yellow pages for an Alcoholics Anonymous Hotline and found the time and place of the next meeting. I new nothing about AA other than that is where I thought gutter drunks went. After we found the location for the 6:00pm meeting, I spent the day in some measure of relief that I had taken a mysterious step forward.
I arrived at the meeting, not before stopping at a bar and having several glasses of wine with a friend. What I noticed first were the happy, smiling faces. People were actually laughing and there was a tangible peace in the room. I immediately felt safe; a feeling I had not experienced in years. An “old timer” shared his experience, strength and hope. He shared that before he got sober, he thought he was insane; a notion I immediately related to. Now, I was interested. He shared that when he came to AA he found he was not insane, but rather an alcoholic! He found what he needed there in AA, the tools to quit. I started to cry, a lot. A very pretty lady next to me touched my arm and assured me “everything is going to be ok,” something I instinctively knew but was so truly grateful to hear her say. They told me to keep coming back. So I did. The craving for alcohol miraculously left me and I found peace and serenity soon after.
Our stories will always widely vary; but as the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous will tell us, we have a common bond. We do not all come into the rooms of AA like I did, so utterly ruined and willing. Some come resisting, kicking and screaming. But what we all try to do is follow the 12-steps to recovery. None of us do it perfectly, but we find that if we are willing to try, we can leave alcohol behind us and live again.
God willing, I will celebrate 11 years of sobriety in December of this year. These years have not been without difficulties and doubts. But what I can attest to is that without Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps of recovery I would not have my beautiful family, a job I love, a sense of purpose that grows stronger every day. I would not have my life.
We are here to help and assure you are definitely not alone. We can give you the hope you need to end this vicious cycle. You can contact me or any of the peers at any time.
Debbie Rose-Calilan, Peer Volunteer