by Sylvia H. (Walker 1995)
My name is Sylvia and I am an alcoholic.
I wrote about my sobriety for TGIF over nine years ago. And now I am going to write to you about how I lost my sobriety after I celebrated 18 years.
I went to Renascent in April of 1995. It was the best decision of my life to get clean and sober and finally get the help I needed. I had no problem admitting that I was an alcoholic and drug addict, so half the battle was done. The hard part was KEEPING IT! And I did pretty well for 18 years. I did what was told to me: I got a sponsor, I joined a group, I got active and started working the steps. I was feeling good, staying clean and sober, my life was getting better and better. I was employable. I stopped working in the clubs, and I had my family and friends back in my life. At nine years of sobriety, I got married and had a child.
I went through periods of my sobriety where I was a Stand Up Alcoholic and went to my meetings, to AA retreats and Big Book studies too, and then there were times where I would be totally off the beam and NOT go to meetings. It’s funny how easy it is for me to think I can take the wheel and go it alone and do this life without my Higher Power and leave it to my own devices! Bad thinking on my part.
Just before my 18 year mark, I separated from my husband. My eight-year-old daughter was having a hard time with our new life and the separation of her parents. I was not attending meetings, did not have a sponsor, nor was I asking God to help me and direct me. I was just a ticking time bomb waiting to explode, and I didn’t even know it!
And then came the day when I took my first sip of alcohol over at my folks’ place, nervous before going out on a date. Just one swig, that’s all I took, but I took it.
Then, a few of my old fears came back to visit, and the only way I could handle them was to drink – because I had cut myself off from all the supports of my sobriety. And lo and behold before you knew it, I was drinking a beer at lunch with the girls from work. Now, most of them knew I didn’t drink, but I did it anyway. And they would say to me, “See, you don’t have an alcohol problem – you can control it!” Ha, if they only knew. I started to date a lot and I would not tell the guys that I was an alcoholic and I started drinking with them. No one knew that I would wake up three hours later feeling horrible, feeling guilty and cradling myself like a baby, because I couldn’t believe that I drank. So that went on for over one and a half years until my last drink which I will share with you.
I went to Cuba with my daughter, now 10 years old, and I knew that I was going to drink. I got drunk the first day we were there. After my sister-in-law and my daughter noticed the change in my demeanour, they smelled the drink and said, “Hey, this has alcohol in it!” I pretended that I didn’t know, that I thought it was a non-alcoholic pina colada. What a deceptive person I had become. I would go and get beers for the friends I made down there, and I would swing to the bar, down three beers and then come back with a non-alcoholic beverage for myself.
It was finally enough. I stopped and had my last drink on July 3, 2014.
When I came back home to Toronto I told my sponsor everything and as fabulous as he always is, he still accepted me with open arms, and told me what I had to do, which was be honest, share, go to meetings, get active and work the steps in my life. And don’t drink!
I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching and working through a lot of issues that I had never dealt with, even in my 18 years of sobriety. It brought me to my knees, and I am still working through it. The guilt of going back out. The shame of telling my dear friends in AA that I went back out. It was really really difficult. But I had to be honest and share and let people know that NO MATTER HOW LONG you are sober you are still only ONE ARM’S LENGTH from that first drink.
I have shared at meetings of my going back out, and there is still some sense of shame, and I am still upset with myself. But I have learned that no one can take away my 18 years, and also that my sobriety is a Daily Reprieve. I do not count the days like I did when I was first sober. I have to live in today, and I can’t take back yesterday, but I can live in today, one day at a time. I want to enjoy the journey, no matter how difficult it is.
All I can say to you who are reading my story, never get cocky or think your time in the program will keep you safe, because it won’t. I am living proof of that. Don’t do what I did. Cherish your sobriety, no matter what you are going through, reach out to people who will lift you and help you along your journey. Don’t go it alone as I did. Guard your sobriety, with your all your Heart, Soul and Mind.
Wishing you much love, peace, happiness in your continuing sobriety,