Typically alcoholics are obsessed with the idea that outside factors are what’s making life so unmanageable. Changing where I lived, worked, who I was around, the car I drove seemed far more simple then doing any actual work on myself. I considered myself a victim of circumstance rather then a spiritually sick person. All my attempts to escape my unhappiness via moving, getting a car, getting a boyfriend, aside from momentary relief, failed and I ended up dissatisfied still. The most reoccurring example of this was my belief that if I just stopped drinking I’d be who I thought I was always meant to be. Abstinence alone could fix my problems. I found once I stayed sober for a while with no real solution that I was extremely uncomfortable and irritable. And contrary to what I had assumed and heard, the discomfort didn’t subside over time, it intensified the longer I ‘stayed away from a drink’.
I never really drank to socialize or have fun, I drank out of what felt like necessity, to stomach life and the people around me. I drank to function. I somewhat understood this about myself yet still believed I could ‘just stop’ and life would fall into place. When I say sober with out a solution I’m referring to getting clean/sober and doing nothing to change my spiritual or mental condition. I’d argue that some of my times spent in the ‘white knuckle’ sort of sobriety have been more painful then times I was using. I was maybe not hurting or worrying my loved ones in the same capacity that I was when I was getting high, but not much else can be said about my character in those times. I was sober but very unwell and unpleasant to be around. I was discouraged to have everything I thought I wanted, a decent amount of sobriety, a job, a boyfriend, a car and yet I was emotionally unstable and depressed. It’s a dilemma most alcoholics face, not wanting to be sober and not wanting to be drunk.
I went into rehab (again) not at all convinced it would take, I didn’t think getting clean was possible for me. It was a 12 step treatment and sober living for women. This was the ‘solution’, or the most effective solution im familiar with. I was shown how to do real work to fix my mental condition that made sobriety virtually impossible for me. The work forced me to be less self consumed and gave me the ability to consider other people and help other people.
Through this work staying sober became easy at a certain point, I don’t stay up late at night fists clenched, repeating AA aphorisms like ‘remember when’ or ‘one day at a time’ until I exhaust myself and fall asleep, I hardly think about it. At the risk of sounding sentimental, 12 step work has given me purpose, direction and a relationship with God that has quite literally saved my life and given me authentic and sustainable happiness.
Catherine heads up the Brook Retreat for Women in Weymouth, Massachusetts as well as it’s United Family Group on . A structured sober-living program for women that teaches the Twelve Steps as means to achieving sobriety. If you or a loved one are struggling with finding sustained sobriety please reach out (781)-285-5760