Have you no shame!?

“If it were me I wouldn’t want anyone to know, but here you are, talking about being an alcoholic as if it’s the best thing that ever happened to you.” Well… that’s probably because it is. You hear people sometimes talking about being a “grateful alcoholic” and you think “grateful to be in recovery,” but that’s not what it means at all. Being a grateful alcoholic means being grateful to BE an alcoholic – grateful for every bit of the incomprehensible demoralization which accompanied our lives with those hideous horsemen named Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration and Despair.

I lived the vast majority of my life without the aid of mind-altering substances and I was miserable. I had times when I was genuinely happy, but for the most part I always felt very empty and unloved, fearful and angry. I couldn’t bear to be alone with myself, always needed to occupy my thoughts with busy-ness, and constantly sought approval from others. I thought if I could just get married and have kids, everything would be fine, so I found me a man who would be a good provider and give me gorgeous kids and we settled in for the long haul. While I was pregnant with my second child, I was overcome by a serious depression which continued for over two years. I went to doctors and counselors, took meds, went to church – I did everything I could think of, but nothing worked. I felt I was hurting my family and that they would be better off without me, so I left my husband and gave him primary custody of the kids since he was in a much more stable place than I was.

Over the year or so before the divorce, I had done some binge drinking, but once I was on my own that became a nightly occurrence followed soon after by serious drug use. When I walked into AA just one year after I left my family, I had dropped 60 pounds to 108; I could see my rib cage through my chest, I was so thin. My arms were covered in bruises and my face was an absolute mess. The worst was that there was no light in my eyes whatsoever. I was completely dead inside.

You know on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” how they began by renovating existing homes, but soon realized it would be better to just bulldoze the whole thing, pour a new foundation and create something phenomenal? That is what addiction did to me. AA was the new foundation and God was my General Contractor guiding the process of rebuilding me into something new. Just like Ty Pennington couldn’t just slap rooms on top of a ramshackle mess of a home without it all falling to bits again, God could not give me good things without me destroying them in my addiction. I had to start again from zero and build something lasting. Just as it is sad to see the bulldozer smashing through the rooms you raised your kids in, the destroying of a life through addiction is also painful. Once construction has begun, though, you can’t help but be grateful for that pain which allowed this new structure to be built.

Recovery has allowed me to not only escape the clutches of alcoholism, but to make sense of my life before I became alcoholic. The principles espoused in the program of A.A. are the same that guide my daily life to avoid the same pitfalls I experienced over all those years of feeling lost, confused and angry. Today, I am able to look back over my past mistakes with my head held high because I have made peace with those things and fully understand that I am not the same person I was when I did those things. “We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and convert them into assets. The alcoholic’s past thus becomes the principle asset of the family and frequently it is almost the only one.”

Today is the 29th day in a row that I have written about alcoholism. My whole life I’ve wanted to write, but never had anything I could passionately express in writing for any length of time. This certainly is not what I would’ve picked for a first choice, but it is my life today and it is something I care deeply about. I began this road to recovery with my car, an eviction notice, a pink slip and an overdrawn bank account. Addiction took everything I cared about and nearly killed me. Then just like Job, when I finally gave up and fully humbled myself, all my riches were restored to me and then some! Even if I were to lose it all again, I would be happy because I have one thing few others do: an amazing story of salvation that can reach into the hearts of even those whom the world has left behind.

My name is Laurie and I am truly a grateful alcoholic. Why on Earth would I be ashamed of my greatest asset; the one thing that I have even if everything else is taken from me? I do not regret my past, nor wish to shut the door on it because I see how my experience can benefit others.

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