15 years ago I entered my first rehab, leaving behind a broken and overtly controlling marriage, and two very young children. I was on numerous prescription benzodiazepines, antipsychotics and antidepressants. All were prescribed following a severe post-natal depression episode that resulted in 3 months in hospital and numerous respite stays.
Alcohol has always been a large part of my life, it gave me the instant relief I sought from my whirling mind. It gave me relief from myself and from life.
I took my first alcoholic drink at the age of 13, it was messy, but I couldn’t wait to do it again. It made me feel alive, confident, fearless and outgoing. It made me feel all the things that didn’t come naturally to me.
By the time I reached my first rehab, I was carrying a lot of complex trauma, mainly from my teenage years. I made very bad decisions whilst under alcohol’s toxic spell. I hung around with dangerous people and felt the consequences as a result. Alcohol became my coping mechanism for life, and any prescription drugs I could get from my doctor.
In rehab and newly separated I made the fatal mistake of indulging in a rehab romance. Whilst I stayed sober and off the pills for 4 years, when the relationship ended I eventually returned back to alcohol. In and out of sobriety like a yo-yo, I jumped from one toxic relationship to another. Most of my relationships were physically, sexually and mentally abusive. I truly thought it was all I deserved.
I won’t talk about my children or their father here. All I will say is that my children were in my life but not nearly as much as I would have liked. I filled the gaping hole with anything and anyone. Of course, I didn’t know that was what I was doing at the time.
Every time I got sober, I made the same mistake, another toxic relationship, causing myself more harm and distress each and every time.
Getting sober again after my 4th rehab, I stayed single long enough to focus on a new career. I had always excelled in my work until the alcohol took over, and, it always did.
Training to be a personal trainer and ready to sit my final exam, I felt excited at the prospect of being my own boss. I had always loved exercise, it helped so much with my mental health. However, my body had taken a battering through years of alcohol abuse and an eating disorder.
Before i could sit my final physical exam 2 discs in my lumbar spine gave out during training. The pain was excruciating and debilitating. For weeks I was on bed rest. My dream of becoming a personal trainer crashed and burned there and then, and over the next few years two more discs herniated, another in my lumbar spine and one in my neck.
Consultants deemed the damage too severe to repair, so I was put on pain management and that involved addictive strong opioids and steroid injections. For 7 years I was on high amounts of codeine yet was still in pain every single day
One of my children moved in with me at the age of 16 and that was when I finally put relationships down, However, my tolerance to the pain killers had grown and grown. I was constantly tired, in pain and deeply depressed. Then COVID hit and my son and I were isolated in my 1 bedroom flat - alcohol once again became my solution. This time it was a short affair with the booze. It simply didn’t work anymore. The escape I sought from myself got briefer and briefer until there was nowhere to run or hide.
Full of self-pity, resentment, guilt and shame, I returned once again to 12-step meetings. I had followed the 12 steps since before my first rehab. It was always the same story, I would get sober, do the Steps, feel infinitely better, and then sabotage it all once again.
My current sponsor took me through the 12 steps exactly as they were outlined in the big book and explained everything to me. This time I gained a real insight into my self destructiveve ways and behaviours.
During my Steps 4 to 9 I underwent profound and deep inner healing. For the first time I found complete and utter peace. I should mention at this point that prior to doing my steps I detoxed off all the pain meds at home. I had truly had enough of them. They too no longer worked.
For the first time in my life, I no longer craved anything, I felt love, forgiveness and compassion for others and myself. I accepted myself and felt a unexplainable contentment. I had found and accessed a power deep within, that power I choose to call God.
Life for me today is a process of growing in my understanding of me and in developing my usefulnes to others, but also to myself. For the first time in 7 years im back at the gym engaging in regular yoga and pilates, it is helping me manage my back pain which is now minimal. I never once considered that the opiates were contributing to my chronic pain. Long term use, for me, did more harm than good.
I use all the tools in my toolbox today and that means looking after my spiritual, mental and physical health on a daily basis. Ive stayed out of relationships for 4 years now, i dont know what the future holds and I am okay with that.
All I know is I no longer crave or need a relationship, Im just happy being me and being there for my children. I also have a job that I love and am passionate about. Without the 12 steps, the fellowship of AA and the God of my understanding, Im convinced I wouldnt be here.
To anyone who feels like giving up, dont give up - just surrender. Now matter how many times you fall down, each time can be used as a learning curve to grow stronger. I have overcome some horrendous cases of abuse, mental health illness, an eating disorder and an addiction to alcohol and prescription pills - there is hope and a beautiful way of life available, please just ask for help.
Sober and clean since Feb 2022.