- Admitted we were powerless and that our lives had become unmanageable.
This step has two parts. First, I had to admit that I was powerless AND that my life had become unmanageable.
I could say that I was powerless because I couldn’t stop drinking even though I had multiple attempts of self-will. But was my life unmanageable? I had a job, an apartment went to college at 30+ years old, and graduated with honors. I drove a car and paid my bill on time.
I gave to charity by providing rides to homeless people and giving them money when I had it. I thought I was doing pretty damn good for being a single mom in Northern Virginia, which is very expensive to live. We had everything we needed, but it was always second to the drink. We would go shopping at the salvation army because I was broke, but not really, because I spent money on charity and drinking. Now I realize that charity came from people-pleasing at that time, which I will talk about later. Until I admitted that I was powerless, I could not change. I was, and still am, powerless over alcohol. It was 2018, and my husband was on deployment. We had just moved into our home the year prior. I quit my bartending job and was suicidal. I drank every day from morning to night, or whenever I would pass out, wake up, then drink more to “take the edge off .”A bar is an excellent place for an alcoholic like myself to work because I was surrounded by my love…alcohol. Sure, I have kids, a partner, friends, etc. But my true love was alcohol. I would’ve done anything for it and would prioritize it without question. It was not until I quit the job that I thought, hey, I won’t drink as much because I won’t be surrounded by it. Wrong. That is when my drinking picked up. I had nothing to do and nowhere to be.
I could drink without restraint, and my husband was away for work. I drank and made friends with the neighbors. We partied and acted like fools. Not all the neighbors liked me, and they still don’t, three and a half years later. I gained 50lbs, and my depression and anxiety were through the roof. I decided to see my Dr. and lie on the intake sheet about how many drinks I have per day to get on some mood stabilizer, and they prescribed me Zoloft. I started taking it, and all the while, I was drinking, so… That’s not how medicine works, mixed with obnoxious amounts of Gran Marnier and Vodka.
This deadly mix of drugs and alcohol landed me in a ball at the back of my dark closet at night, crying about how I am a terrible mother, and I hate myself and what I have become, and I wanted to die. My friends were at the closet door telling me that it was ok and I should come out. I am fine, and it is not that bad. I guess I was no longer the fun drunk. Meanwhile, things with my children were going straight to hell in a handbasket. After twenty years of drinking, my kids were 15 and 10 years old when I got sober. A drunk and depressed mom mixed with a teenage child of an alcoholic with their material is a deadly cocktail. We fought A LOT, and my other child witnessed it most of the time. There was a lot of chaos, and I felt that I was failing at the one job that was my reason for staying alive, being a mom. If I wasn’t good at that, then why even live, so I tried to kill myself. I tried to swallow the entire bottle of the pills I was prescribed to manage my moods.
In an instant, I thought of my mother, who did this same thing while I was in High School. Then I thought of the following:
I don’t want to be like my mom
I hated her for doing that to me
She was depressed. I’m depressed
I probably won’t even die. I’ll get my stomach pumped
I had my stomach pumped once
Harley would hate me so much
I would have a suicide attempt on my record and would never live it down
I fail yet again
I spit the pills out.
Thank my Higher Power which I call God, I will call it HP/ Universe/Universal God, that Harley had just run upstairs after a fight we had, and she shut the door, so, unlike me, she did not have to see her mom in that moment of extreme fear and rock bottom. I have so much more sympathy for my mom now after all this.
Yep, pretty freaking unmanageable. That was my rock bottom. I had to make changes, or I was going to die. I stopped shaking, picked up the phone, and called someone who knew about the CATS program at INOVA hospital. The process began, and I was scheduled to go to detox the next day. I was terrified and relieved. The instructions I was given were, “You have to be using at the time of admission since it’s a detox.” I said, NO PROBLEM!! I called up my friend, and we planned the whole thing. She would pick me up, and we would go to the bar we both used to work at and have one last hoorah, then she would drop me off at the front door of the treatment center.
And that is what we did, and that was my last drink, September 26th, 2018.
After five days in detox, I was told I needed to go to a treatment center to get the help I needed (I wanted it too). I was so anxious about everything. How was I going to pay for this? Who would watch my kids and animals? What will my husband say? Five hundred things were going through my foggy and quickly overwhelmed mind. I barely even remember that first week, but I remember that everything worked out. My HP had me the whole time, and that was before I even knew they were there. Insurance covered most of my stay at the treatment center for 28 days. After that, dear friends “moved in” to our house for a month to take care of things until my husband got home, ten days before my release.
While I was in treatment, I had a thorough opportunity to do my first step and look at all the ways in which I was powerless and how my life had become unmanageable. Although I let it all out from a place of raw vulnerability because I was told that the first step is the only one that I must do perfectly, I listened. The whole time that’s what I did. I listened to what people were telling me to do because I had completely given up on myself. There was nothing left, nothing but emptiness and despair. The last thing on this step, but not least, is WE. It is a we program, and we are here to support each other. I can not stay sober if I do not listen to those who have gone before me and have what I want. I can not do this alone. Alone lands me in my closet because I had tried to quit drinking on my own and failed yet again; isolated, depressed, violent, and suicidal. I was no longer capable of being in charge (I never was, though), and I needed help. The WE saves me every day. Every day, I reach out to someone when I have something I need to run by or have a question. Often I will call to see how I can support or be of service to a friend.
The charity is still there, and in this new way, it is in helping others stay sober and feel good about themselves.
I also help people by teaching yoga and helping others learn to love and accept themselves a little more every day.
The first step is the most important, and I remind myself of it anytime I feel myself struggling with things in life. I am powerless over _______ (fill in the blank), and my life was unmanageable. I will continue to be powerless, and the unmanageability is simply one day at a time.
I pause, call a friend or three, get some movement in my body like a walk in the woods, breathwork, meditation, etc. Then, I return to the person, situation, or thing, which now seems more manageable.
One day at a time
One hour at a time
One minute at a time
One breath at a time
I look forward to the next time we are together. Until then, be kind to each other.
With so much love,