Maria P is a recovering alcoholic. She is a member of the Aid in Recovery Book Club and came to speak to our community a few weeks ago. She tells us about her struggles with addiction. This is her story. Like millions of other recovering substance abusers, Maria has found sobriety and happiness. But the solution is not simple and not fast.
For those who don’t know me, I’m Maria P. from Brownstown, Michigan. That’s just south of Detroit.
I’m going to talk about how I grew up. This is my story of what happened to me, how I have lived with sobriety and dealt with what life threw at me without drinking.
I grew up in a close family, two older brothers and both parents. I always felt like I never belonged anywhere. I had a hard time fitting in and was always the shy kid in the corner. Never had many friends and today, I still don’t have many, but the one’s I have are real friends. I grew up ice skating and playing trumpet in the school band, then joining the marching band. I grew up Catholic, so I got this spiritual part down, right? Not at all, it takes a lot of work for me. Progress not perfection.
I was a late bloomer as far as drinking, never drank in junior high and had maybe a couple of drinks before I turned 21. Once I turned 21, it was off to the races. From the beginning, I could NEVER have one and stop; it was always a 12 pack, a case, a fifth of alcohol … until I blacked out.
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I was never much of an at home drinker. It started with going out with friends, making more so called friends at the bar including the bartenders. By the end, it was me stopping at the bar alone on the way home from work or anywhere. My life revolved around drinking. I would always find a way to make it out to the bar before or after I had someplace to be. I would stop after work and before I knew it, it was closing time, and I was left wondering what happened to the time. What happened? I sat there and drank it all away. Most of the time I would make it home. On very few occasions I slept at someone’s house (aka passed out). A few times had to have someone come and get me.
My drinking career ended about six months before my 30th birthday. In Jan 2011 I had a DUI, which was a wake-up call but wasn’t my last drink. My last drink was March 4, 2011.
I’m stubborn. Heaven forbid I would ask for help. I figured I could do this myself and just stop drinking. I did stop drinking, but I didn’t change anything else about my life. I was miserable. I was angry. I would lash out at anyone for anything, including my friends and boss at work. Luckily I didn’t lose my job, at least not yet.
About 3-4 years ago I lost that job, but I can say today it was not because of my drinking. Thankfully I had some excellent friends there, only a couple I still talk to. I decided to call our employee assistance line and start seeing a counselor, not that I wanted to talk. My friend pretty much told me I had to call, or that was it. I had not gone to court yet and wasn’t sure what was in store for me.
So, off I went to see the counselor. It was worse than pulling teeth to get me to talk. Not sure why I kept going to her but I did. About a month later, I went to court, received two years’ probation and some community service with any non-profit of my choice and of course $$$$. I did my time at church and had the priest write me a letter.
About the time of going to court, my friend suggested AA, not sure how she knew about it as she doesn’t drink. The only way I would go was if she came with me. I came and kept coming but couldn’t relate and wasn’t really working any program.
At about my 3-month mark I had to change, but I picked what I would change, and once I started listening to my sponsor, life got better. Picking and choosing hurt me about 6-8 months ago. I had the 5-year blues; I stopped doing mostly everything that worked for me, including calling my sponsor and going to meetings.
I finally waived the white flag and called my sponsor, and we started working the steps again, I changed most of my meetings and had met new friends. Today, my favorite meeting is a Youth in Recovery meeting, most of us are about 35 and under, but anyone is welcome. We have a pizza party once a month and go bowling quite frequently.
A year ago, I was broken emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I had nearly lost everything, including my house. How could I let this happen after having almost five years’ sobriety? How? I’m an alcoholic, and I don’t make good decisions. I reverted to the thinking that it will just go away or someone else will take care of it for me. Luckily I had a good foundation of the 12 steps and was able to fight back. Today, I have paid off my debts. I’m saving for a new car and have even bought new furniture.
Today, I play in a Community Band that I’ve been a member of in and out for most of my adult life since high school. Today, it’s different because I’m different. This time, it works because I can be reliable and enjoy it without having to drink before, at the break and after.
I really don’t ice skate anymore, I have found other interests and money is tight. Last year, I picked up bike riding. It was tough, but I couldn’t give up. I’ve gone from a mile and a half and thinking I was going to die to biking 20 miles last week. How? I surround myself with the people that push me and don’t leave me behind to struggle. I’ve also recently I’ve started training for a 5k.
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I’m only able to enjoy life today because I ask for guidance from my higher power every day and stay active in the program. This past year I had to learn how to love myself again and know it’s ok to struggle and ask for help. I would not change any of it as it has made me change many things in my life for the better.
I hope this story helps someone who is struggling to know its ok to ask for help. We all break. We all screw up. It does not mean we are terrible people, or that we are weak. Asking for help with your addiction is one of the hardest things. It is all worth it in the end.
I have gained so much in Sobriety including some really cool friends, and it has helped me to have and enjoy life outside of the program.
We practice progress, not perfection.
Click below for Maria’s video: