Keep it Green!

I need to keep my memory green….

My name is Betsy, and I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, my sober date is 11/15/1991. I don’t think there is anyone who is more amazed than I am that I am sober almost 30 years. I can pretty much sum up my drinking and drugging history in a few words, “more…more…more”.

I have to start with My reality which is that I had a “picture perfect” childhood until I was 13. I am the youngest of 5 children, I am the only girl, and I was loved beyond words, spoiled and loved every moment it. When I was 13 my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I watched her slowly and painfully deteriorate, on a daily basis, for 8 months until her death. I know today that experiencing that changed me forever, some of those changes are still with me today, 47 years since she died.

When I was 16, after two years of feeling like I was sort of suspended in mid-air…no walls…no ceiling and no floor…. just sort of suspended but walking through life, three of my friends and I drank a case of beer. Now my friends each drank maybe 2-3 beers, but I drank all 6 of mine and finished what they had left. They were slightly drunk, and we were having fun, but I knew at that moment that when I finished that last beer I wanted more. I was also keenly aware that for the first time in a long time I felt my shoulders relax, my feeling of “impending doom” had disappeared and I was happy and relaxed in a way I had not been in the past 3 years.

For the next 16 years I did everything in my power to drink everything I could get my hands on and when I was introduced to Cocaine, I was over the moon excited that white powder would allow me to drink even more. My addiction quickly took away my common sense, my ability to love and be loved, my desire to do right as opposed to doing wrong…. I became an exceptional thief, an artful liar and a master manipulator.

An example of my complete lack of regard for right and wrong is when I got a DWI and I went to court with no lawyer, told the judge I knew he was going to take my license so why bother paying a lawyer, gave the judge my driver’s license and left the courthouse and proceeding to get into my car and drive off. I drove with no license, insurance or registration for the next 5 years.

When my life blew up and all my “score cards read zero” I landed in rehab. I was married for less than one year and had a six-month-old daughter. To be honest that did not give me any motivation to try and stop drinking and drugging. The second night in rehab my “solution” was to commit suicide. God had other plans for me. I despised God for taking my mother but the only explanation I have for climbing in off that ledge outside my rehab bedroom window is that God brought me back in.

When I went to my first meeting, I met two men who just shared about drinking like I did, and they looked happy, and they welcomed me. Another “I don’t know why moment” was that I went to another meeting the next day. What impacted me was that those two men were at the meeting the next day, that little lesson of consistency has been an important thread throughout my recovery. My first two years were emotional hell. I “felt” every single thing I had done during my active addiction and the guilt, shame and remorse were beyond overwhelming.

But I truly believe, today, that had it been easy for me to get sober I would not have stayed sober. I did not follow many suggestions early on, I honestly think I still had major brain fog. What I did do right was not pick up a drink or a drug one day at a time, I did go to meetings and I listened and tried to hear how others survived this “sober life”. Slowly, and I do mean slowly I went through the 12 steps of AA with my sponsor. Doing my 4th and 5th step had the biggest impact on my life. Learning that the way I processed events, experiences and relationships in general was flawed, that the flaws were within me in turn meant I could change ME. The women in AA helped me practice different actions and reactions and slowly I could feel myself getting better.

With those changes came a desire to understand God in my life and see that he kept me alive for a reason. I began to love and allow love in. I cherish my sobriety, every day I thank God for taking my obsession from me and I do not take it for granted, not for one minute. Getting sober is the hardest thing I have ever done but by far the most rewarding. I love my simple little life today! Meetings, fellowship, sponsorship and rigorous honesty are the cornerstones of my recovery today. Sobriety is not hard work it is a joyful gift, a gift that I graciously accept!

-Thank you to Betsy for sharing her story on RecoverySpeakers.com

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