All I wanted my whole life was to feel ‘Alright’. To not feel the inexplicable dread and weight of my days as a teenager and later the terror of my twenties when panic attacks were rife in all of my waking hours. Suicide was never an option I fully acted on but it dominated my thoughts for many years as a ‘if it gets this bad’ kind of get out clause. Thing is I never, ever wanted to die. I just couldn’t understand why I couldn’t live. Just live. Not endure and wait and sustain and suffer inside like I did. Unknown fears rattled my windows at night and lurked round every corner in the day. I could see no evil but with every nerve in my body I could feel it.
So I drank to escape the fear in my soul and then I drank to escape the shame of my actions and then I drank because I couldn’t not drink. Over the years I became so mentally obsessed and physically addicted I couldnt function without it. I was terrified to stop. The horrors of withdrawal were alcohol’s most persuasive advert.
When I finally gave up – after many false finishes, the relief of having no alcohol in my system kept me flying high for months. The higher I was flying the less I could feel the emptiness and fear that was back on the ground waiting for me. In the back of my mind I knew it was still there but ignorance was a skill I was very accomplished at displaying when something that I didn’t like appeared on the scene. And ignore it I did, diving in and out of new friendships, jobs, relationships and homes. Just like I did when I was drinking???? Haaaang on a minute this a bit too familiar…..what was it they said at the meetings? Running on self….some nonsense like that….
I crashed and burned at 3 years sober. Sedated in a hospital after suffering a mental breakdown. Hallucinating, stone cold sober and suffering panic attacks in my sleep. Something I hadn’t even experienced when I was drinking. Fear had finally caught up with me. There really was no escape. I had given up you see, but I hadn’t given in.
My sponsor chose me I believe. I wasn’t capable of making that decision. She showed me how I was running on self will and kindly told me about a situation she had been in many years ago (which mirrored my situation at that time excactly). I was able to grasp onto some hope. If she could survive then surely so could I. So how did she so it? What mastermind plan did she come up with? What did I have to do to get through this hell?? “Nothing” she said. “Let go”.
Over the past year I have learned more about life and how I fit into it than I could possibly imagine. I wanted to be a completely independant, sober woman. Doing it all and laughing in the face of Alcoholism. Ah the best plans and all that…. Through my Sponsor supporting me as we go through the 12 Step Programme I am learning at last that we humans are not meant to be independant. I am also learning that, for me, it no longer means being overly reliant on others but to look up and rely on God. My Higher Power as I understand him.
To no longer have to carry the ‘weight of the world’ on my shoulders is hard to describe. But it’s easy to see by the smile on my face. To be able to make decisions without the terror of potential outcomes outwith my control has made my life a much more relaxed place to be for me and everyone I come into contact with throughout my days.
So give up I say…but also, please give in. The relief is beyond belief.