After going to meetings, for the first few months, I would wander around aimlessly. I was walking without purpose. I would walk and walk to nowhere, for no reason. It was cool enough for a leather jacket. Sometimes, a light rain would fall. And I would walk. Sometimes with a friend, sometimes without. I reflect on this now because, almost four years later, my life is enormously different.
I’ve become a straight shooter, a caring friend, a reliable work associate, a loving partner, a trusted sponsor.
A sober woman.
The early days were shaky. I would never go back there. To feel my skin crawl with dread the way it did when I realized the mess I had made. Years of running away from reality.
I found alcohol at a young age and my drug of choice quickly became ‘what do you got?‘. The day after I had my first drink at 13, I smoked heroin. I didn’t see anything wrong with this, and that’s what was wrong with it.
I came from a place where chaos was normal, and telling other people how you felt–if you were sad or scared–made you an outcast. I had spent my life believing I was a disease, wrapped in skin, walking among people. I prayed for the day I wouldn’t wake up, starting around the age of 7. No normal 7-year-old does this.
Drinking was my escape from the burden of life.
Aside from the anxiety and the panic that set in after a night of drinking and using drugs, the feeling I remember most is the loneliness that exists in the moments before a drink or shot or line takes hold. The feeling of being completely estranged from everything around you, even yourself, even your own reflection. The discomfort that comes with such a destitute state of loneliness that you are compelled to take another drink and another shot and another line again and again until you feel nothing.
When I eventually found AA it wasn’t that I couldn’t stop drinking, it was that I had to drink. Feeling life with nothing to numb myself was too much for me. Therapists never seemed to understand that. I often asked them if their line of work was hard. Sometimes during a particularly sad tale I would tell them of the dad who never loved me, or of the men who paid me to have sex with them, a tear would roll down their cheek.
‘This must be a hard job for you,’ I would tell them.
I don’t feel estranged anymore. I know my reflection now. I care more for others, more for myself. I am not a disease. I don’t crave a drink or a drug or to hide myself, at least not today. And the journey is far from over.
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