By Dan C., Punanai Treatment Centre Alumni
Here I am, 10 and a half years removed from Renascent’s Punanai Centre and still sober, being asked to share a piece on integrity. Truth be told, I was just a garden variety drunk. My drinking began at 15 and strangely enough, as often as me and my friends got ripped, there were rarely any troubles attributed to alcohol. For the first 10 years or so of my drinking, I also possessed the ability to have one or two, which I often partook in during the week.
I began working downtown at 18 years old and loved it. I loved the people, the action, the drinking culture, and always having someone to have a few beers with after work. I also began doing quite well financially and know exactly what Bill W. was referring to when he said, “I had arrived.” I had this exact feeling myself after another promotion at 24 years old.
I could likely sum up my crossing over to the dark side by saying life began to beat me up. I was losing my resiliency, and slowly developed that self-pitying, negative gorilla on my shoulder. No doubt I had the seeds planted young for a soul sickness to develop, which is at the heart of my alcoholism.
After getting sober, it took me many years to understand and accept the line from the Big Book “therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centres in their mind.” I could accept I was bodily different than my fellows, but not mentally. I was picked on as a kid and got into a lot of fights. My father, as loving a man as he is, was pretty tough on us kids, and my older brothers were pretty tough on me. Or so I thought. I remember telling myself when I was around 12 years old “I’m on my own in this world, I have to take care of myself because no one is truly on my side.” I should add my mother was pretty much an angel and a very loving woman.
I am not sure when, but somewhere in my late 20’s I began to drink more and more often, eventually progressing to getting drunk alone every night. I had always loved drinking but now it filled that void I felt because I had not achieved or gotten certain things out of life that I had wanted. Alcohol also helped with any perceived insecurities or deficiencies and at the bar I felt connected to others. And no one had any idea.
I was still doing quite well at work but emotionally I was a mess, and as I was to learn spiritually bankrupt. At 35 years old, I finally broke down, got honest, and told my younger brother I thought I had a problem with alcohol, but he could not believe it as on the outside he saw how well I had been doing. I had this massive, never ending conflict going on.
Getting drunk every night, not wanting to, then rationalizing it and continuously postponing when I would cut back. So, after coming clean with him, I began going to AA. I struggled for almost a year in and out, never really getting honest with myself, or anyone else. I began missing work and was appearing at the liquor store when it was opening or the bar down the street at 11am. After finally receiving the gift of pain I needed, I hit bottom and came clean with a woman in my HR department. After a few days in detox, I was off to Renascent.
I do not remember a lot about treatment, but it was difficult for me. At times I still possess this feeling I do not belong. Becoming honest and having integrity is a gift that comes from a good sponsor; repeating Step 5, along with the rest of them; relying on my Higher Power, which I call God; and helping others. It is not in my nature to ask for help, to say I am struggling, but has been absolutely necessary to get any sense of contented sobriety. From my experience, it all began with “I need help,” and that is the biggest step any of us can take towards getting honest with ourselves and others, possessing integrity along with contented sobriety.
- Share your experience, strength and hope at an upcoming Renascent Alumni Meeting.
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