Laura C.’s Story
Beyond My Wildest Dreams
I was born an alcoholic waiting for a drink. Nervous, self-conscious, self-absorbed, full of anxiety and fear, separate and unique. I finally found my solution at age 13. I’m from a small town and the need to be included and liked informed all “choices”. Being a part of things meant always being at the party. I “successfully” drank until I was 43. Functioning, highly for a long time, but gradually becoming worse and worse as the years passed. I worked, at wine bars and restaurants, went to art school, I partied, I emoted, I took hostages I called boyfriends. I was quick to self-pity, anxiety and fear. Alcohol released that tight spring inside me which kept me unable to breathe, to ever feel just ok or excited about life. In fact, alcohol was my inspiration as I lived in fantasies and misperceptions of myself and the world around me. I couldn’t have fun without it and silently derided those who couldn’t drink like I could. While the knowledge that there was something wrong with me pressed on me and increased, I still didn’t put together that all of my problems, my emptiness, my loneliness, fear, my inability to grow up and show up for life, others or myself might be because of my drinking. Or that I was leaving a trail of harm, hurt feelings and broken hearts in my wake. I have no exciting tales of time served or DUI’s but a long tale of misery, pathos and bad decisions.
How I got to the place of beginning recovery remains a mystery to me. It was a God thing, to be sure. It was the perfect storm of being sick and tired of being sick and tired, exhausted by loneliness, of feeling pulverized, scraped raw and dead inside from all the secrets, shame and hiding. I just couldn’t stop drinking, I couldn’t do life without my best friend, alcohol, which had turned on me and stopped working the way I needed it to. I was living in confusion, low grade panic, fear and really just didn’t have any energy left to keep up the appearance of having it sort of together. I didn’t want to live but could only pray to not wake up or rather, come to, and that never worked. I had reached the point of surrender that I didn’t see coming or realized was happening. I think I’d finally said to an unsympathetic friend that I thought I had a problem. He asked me what I was going to do about it. In that instant when the words came out of my mouth I knew they were true. That I would check myself in to treatment. I probably felt as stunned as he did that I had any plan at all let alone that one. Seemed kind of extreme, but I had to go through with it, I thought. The treatment center taught me so much about my disease but mostly pounded in to me the unshakable belief that to truly recover I needed to go to A.A., get a sponsor and work the steps. My bottom was an emotional one, though the wheels were coming off of the life I’d manufactured out of fantasies and mistaken beliefs of what “normal” looked life.
Today, I never have to drink to get through life, a day, or a problem. Today, I am grateful for what I have instead of longing for what I don’t and that was never enough. Today, I feel peace inside and comfortable in my skin. I like who I am, mostly. I am honest, I live with integrity and I don’t just intend to but actually can-do estimable acts. Today, I get great satisfaction and happiness from service. I really am living a life beyond my wildest dreams, which I thought was impossible when I first heard A.A.’s claim to have that. It was beyond my wildest dreams that I could ever just feel OK or be reliable or be of use to others. It was beyond my wildest dreams that I’d ever be able to make decisions, do the right thing, have authentic compassion or follow through. I never thought I’d be able to actually set a goal, work toward it and attain that goal. It was beyond my wildest dreams that I would ever be able to gracefully receive love and selflessly return it. Mostly it is beyond my wildest dreams that being a decent, kind, thoughtful, useful member of A.A. and the human race would ever be my dream. I had wanted something more, something more, always something more without ever really knowing what that was or how to do it. Always disappointed and dissatisfied. I had wanted to be special, popular and spectacularly successful. Today my definition of successful is dramatically, attainably different and God’s in charge of what that is.