Like all human beings, I’ve experienced my share of pain, and suffered considerably. I was born into a violent, alcoholic home. When the clock struck six, and my father wasn’t home yet, I knew there was going to be hell to pay that night. My earliest childhood memories at the age of four are of my father coming home drunk, creating mind bending chaos by throwing plates, swearing in the most vulgar manner, slurring, being super aggressive, beating my mother from time to time, and threatening to kill her with the shotgun that was in the apartment.
I remember being terrified of losing my mother, and terrified of being killed. My strategy of protecting myself as best as I could was to hold my breath, so my father wouldn’t hear me in my bed, and therefore, wouldn’t realize I was there. I felt like a coward in realizing that I could not help my mother. I suffered physical, emotional, and psychological abuse from my father.
At a young age, I had low self-esteem. I learned to be ashamed of myself. I never felt good enough for myself, or anyone else. I had serious behavioral problems in school.
At the age of eleven, we moved, and I was not able to adapt properly. I always felt different from others, wasn’t able to fit in, felt unwanted, and suffered a tremendous sense of loneliness. In order to try and comfort myself, I started using food as a substance, primarily junk food, and food which was sugar laden.
I started drinking alcohol, and smoking cigarettes at the age of twelve, and this gave me a feeling like I could let go, and try to fit in, so I became really good at consuming alcohol, and was well on my way to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day for the next twenty eight years. At the age of thirteen, I started smoking marijuana on a daily basis. I experimented with cocaine, L.S.D., and hashish later in my teenage years.
At the insistence of my first love, I stopped smoking marijuana at the age of seventeen, but started drinking alcohol on a daily basis. All of this substance abuse masked the pain I had suffered as a child, and was suffering as a teenager, and only made things worse.
I tried to commit suicide at the age of seventeen by overdosing on a bottle of painkillers. At the age of nineteen, I slammed my car into a steel barrier at approximately 100 miles per hour. I was serious about wanting to stop the pain, and kill myself. Thankfully, my Higher Power had other plans for me.
I’m able to forgive my parents today. I’m able to have compassion for both of them, have understanding of where it is they come from, and love them as they are. I’m also able to forgive myself for the numerous mistakes I’ve made in my life, and have done my level best to make amends to the people I’ve harmed. A big part of the reason why I’m able to do this is as a result of working the 12 Steps in various recovery programs.
Although I would have been suited to attend a number of 12 Step programs, I’m a part of Alcoholics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous. If a person is addicted to something, chances are, there will be a 12 Step program available to help a person be free of the addiction. I also attended a rehabilitation center for alcoholics five times between the age of nineteen and twenty-four.
As a result of the 12 Step programs I’m a part of, and receiving treatment at a rehabilitation center, I’ve received the gift of thirty years of sobriety, received fourteen years of being cigarette free, am in my fifth year of abstinence from using food as a substance, and have been receiving the gift of maintaining a one hundred and thirty six pound weight release for more than two and half years now, one day at a time.
I simply cannot take credit for any of this. I attribute all of these modern miracles I experience on a daily basis to the Grace of God. Of course, it’s necessary for me to do the footwork like go to 12 Step meetings, work the 12 Steps on a daily basis, read the literature, pray, meditate, and help others who are continuing to suffer from addiction.
I’m not a religious person. I’m okay with, and respect those that are, but I do my utmost to be a spiritual person. 12 Step programs are spiritual in nature. We are free to choose our Higher Power as we are moved to do so, and this is one of the most freeing experiences I’ve received in 12 Step programs.
Today, I have a wonderful relationship with my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God. I’m happy and joyous beyond words, experience a great deal of peace, am in the best health of my life, and the vast majority of days, I feel free of any craving, or compulsion of substance, and am becoming free from the bondage of self, one day at a time, one moment at a time.
One day, I looked around the room at a 12 Step meeting, and saw two members named Joy and Grace. I realized my name is Freedom. I’m able to feel all of my feelings without wanting to numb them. These are the best days of my life on a consistent basis. Indeed, I’ve been given an amazing life! After a process of thorough and fearless soul searching, I know who I am today. I can love, and accept myself as I am. I can allow myself to be loved today. I can love others.
I am hopeful this writing will help people to receive recovery from these insidious, deadly diseases of addiction through 12 Step programs, and live lives of health, happiness, peace, and freedom on a consistent basis.
Love and Peace,