Guest Post: A Story of Surrender and Recovery
Recently I asked several of my recovery friends if they would be interested in contributing to my blog by sharing their story. I only got one favorable response, “Of course, whatever I can do to be of service.” You see, this friend is an amazing person who despite his troublesome past has not only recovered, but has become an inspiration and a guiding light to many. His commitment to be of service to others is exceptional – I have watched him take the shoes of his feet and give them to a homeless woman!! His journey is quite powerful! You may not relate to all of the circumstances, or have never had any of the same situations in your life, but the feelings of loneliness, anger, denial, numbing out, suicidal thoughts, and despair, are often common to all of us. This is his story:
He wasn’t that bad.
A Story of Surrender and Recovery
Written by Anonymous
I grew up in a Catholic home in South America, the first of three children in a modest, comfortable home. My mother was a nurse and my father was a Medical Doctor who was also the president of a local mountaineering club. He became well-known when he and his two rope mates were killed by an avalanche one week before my 7th birthday.
Our widowed Mother took us three kids to the United States a little over a year later.
Our family was free of alcoholism or abuse of any kind. There had simply been the upheaval of this major event.
During the next eight years we moved eight times, and Mom remarried and had another daughter. I was withdrawn and depressed.
Finishing High School, I had gotten drunk a handful of times in my life, and considered myself a “non-drinker.”
Then I went to College. I drank three times my freshman fall semester, and got excellent grades. I drank every weekend my freshman spring semester. I drank to oblivion, and blacked out every time. My grades changed noticeably.
Sophomore year I became obsessed with a girl. The relationship was very exciting and very sick: she was cheating on her older Doctor boyfriend with me. She spent weekdays with me and weekends with him.
I “blotted out my consciousness” with alcohol on weekends.
Meanwhile, I was being bullied by a popular school athlete.
I started getting violent, and the dorm RA started to take note.
I accumulated a disciplinary record.
Written incidents included punching and kicking holes in walls, breaking the dorm door window with my fist to get in after hours, and my first fight with the bully, where campus police were involved.
My behavior then became scarier:
I carried a small machete under my jacket or a brick in a waist pack (depending on the weather) and fantasized about harming the bully.
By the end of sophomore year, I was placed in “maximum disciplinary probation” of 32 weeks and I was sent to “outpatient rehab” for the whole month of April: three hours a night, four nights per week, for four weeks. Finals were in May.
“My name is …. And a I’m a STUDENT!!” I was outraged.
I drank a few times that summer after the outpatient rehab.
At the end of the summer, as I prepared to return to college, I had a watershed Idea: I would secretly take the pistol my grandfather gave me for my 16th birthday to campus. The plan was: In case of unbearable situation with the bully – kill him and let cops kill me.
On Halloween night, Junior year, I hit a low point in my morale while too drunk to walk home from a party. In that extreme drunkenness, I “decided” to quit school, drive five hours home, and that I should take my gun with me. My girlfriend’s roommate managed to get me to my room, and panicked when she saw me get the gun out of the closet. I realized I couldn’t drive in my condition, and found my situation so acutely unbearable that I must now shoot myself instead. So I was trying to put ammo in the magazine of this pistol while the roommate was trying to take the gun away and screaming. The disturbance attracted the attention of several kids in the “24 hour quiet” dorm that I lived in. Two girls were trying to take the gun away from me and were injured, as I was trying to force them to let go of me. (This I learned during the hearings for my expulsion.)
The Police came… a long night followed. I ended up at the nearest Psychiatric Hospital – “Patient exhibited violent and suicidal behavior due to psychosis and/or substance abuse.”
I was expelled from the University.
I went to my first “voluntary” AA meeting a few days later.
I was NEVER going to drink again.
I was blind to my powerlessness.
I drank when I had 14 months, and again one month later. That was my last drinking episode: two drinks at a bar, realizing I had no money, and then going to a meeting I frequented.
I was miserably depressed most of the time.
In October of 1989, the “love of my life” got shot in a spectacular episode by a police man in New Orleans. That incident was the best excuse ever for me to seek oblivion. All my thinking about how God did not meddle in human affairs, about how the world was a hostile, warring place and that life was not worth suffering, came to its highest unbearable level. I wanted to drink so bad… but then I thought, sober: “I might as well kill myself.”
I somehow went to a meeting and surrendered utterly to the man who became my sponsor that night, and realized I was powerless over my thoughts and feelings.
He asked me if I was willing to do everything he had done to get sober. We “took the third step” together: on our knees, in front of the coffee table in his small apartment, in front of his wife and his young daughter. We read the Third Step Prayer from page 63 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous out loud:
God, I offer myself to Thee–
To build with me
and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness
to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
I have never once since then wanted to drink or kill myself.
I have been rebellious and suffered terribly the consequences of my “self-will run riot.” But, by the Grace and Mercy of God, I have not had a drink again.
I finally understand what “Thy Will be done” means: I am supposed to figure out, daily, what God would have me do to serve those around me: AA members, family, coworkers, clients, strangers in the traffic….
It is not about what I think or believe or feel. It is about what action I take next.
My first actions to get sober were to tell my sponsor what I was thinking and feeling, then following his directions: to do the reading and writing, and to say the prayers and make the amends of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I have been sober over 25 years now.
I got my girlfriend pregnant sober. We got married and had three more children sober.
By the Grace of God we are still married and our children have grown; all our material and spiritual needs have been met, one day at a time. We have suffered our mistakes and outside events being continuously surrounded by the love of our families, our fellow AAs and our Church friends.
If you would like to share your story on this blog, to help inspire and support those still struggling with addiction and/or alcoholism, and those currently in recovery, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles. You may also find some great inspiration, support and resources at the bottom of this page.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using. (Ref: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders)