It’s difficult to put all of my struggles on one page. Not because it’s painful to remember, but because I want to relate to everyone and be everything for everyone. I’ve dealt with this urge since I can remember. I’ve always wanted to help someone and be that person that could say that one sentence and BOOM everything is better. Life isn’t “one sentence” simple. I’ve been told time and time again to keep it simple, but I am not a simple person. I try to appear simple. I try to appear happy. I try to appear like what I have been instructed to be my entire life. When that was all too much, and the anxiety filled me to the point it was dripping from my eyes every single night, that’s when I turn to “it” again.
“It” has always been my comfort since I could remember. Anything to make me feel different. Anything to make my brain stop for just a few minutes. Anything to make the memories of last night disappear, only to be replaced by a new string of shameful events that I had to try even harder the next night to push deep down inside, never to be seen or heard from again. But they always come back. No matter how many pills I take, no matter how many bottles I drink. They always return, and I turn to “it” again.
“It” got me by without too much issue for a long time, but at some point, when I didn’t have “it”, my life was unbearable. I’d clock in for work, barely able to breathe until I could clock out and know I was on my way to find “it”. Just getting in my car, knowing I was on my way to get “it” made me feel like I had already taken a few shots of bourbon. The edge was gone. My brain stopped reminding me of all of the stupid things I said wrong at work, or how much everyone was judging me. Obviously, nobody ever told me they were judging me but I knew they were. My head was always there to remind me, blaring it through a loud speaker.
“It” started out friendly and helpful. But soon, “it” began to take over my personality, my decisions and my life, without my permission. It made things that were not morally okay with me, morally okay. I moved further away from my family in order to be closer to “it”. I thought I was just having fun but inside I was dying. Nobody could see that. I couldn’t let anyone know I was suffering. If I did, “it” would be a necessity and not a luxury, like I had been pretending it was for years. If anyone knew I was not okay, I would have to admit to myself that I had a problem. I was not willing to admit that.
The day came when “it” got the best of me and my body shut down. I woke up in a hospital with tubes up in my nose, needles in my arms and my body strapped down. My parents were standing over me, with a look of relief that I had been brought back to life mixed with disappointment. I couldn’t lie again and tell them “I only had 2 drinks last night” but I did. I lied, yet again. And, yet again, they shook their head and said “Okay Autumn…” and let it go. Four days later I was released. 20 pounds lighter, no color in my face or eyes, I checked myself out in the mirror and said “Damn, I look good.” Less than 24 hours later, I was on the barstool, ready to spend the night with “it” again. The same thing that killed me almost 5 days earlier was there to comfort me and help me forget everything I just put my family through.
Thank God for vulnerability and humility. I had no friends. I had used them all up. I had a good job, but I couldn’t pay my rent. All of my money went to “it”. I did not understand why I couldn’t not do “it” even when I’d tell myself from the moment I woke up “Not today. You can go one day”. But I always caved. I needed it. I knew I was hooked. It took me years to realize that and the second I did, something changed in me. Suddenly my parents asked me if I wanted to move in with them until I saved up some money to get a new apartment. Nobody wanted to be my roommate. I wasn’t reliable. I was shocked, but reluctantly said yes. I put my mask on. The mask that tells the world “I’m fine, but I’ll LET you help me if you really want to”. That mask has been with me since childhood.
A few weeks after living with my parents and being separated from “it”, a friend reached out to me and asked me if I’d like to meet him downtown for coffee and fellowship. I said “sure” and off I went. To this day, I don’t know why I said yes to this person, but I am so glad I did. He started talking to me about his life and how he was sober. He made it sound lovely. It sounded like what I dreamt life could be, but I could never get there on my own. This person called a woman that was sober and she dropped whatever she as doing to come see me. ME! Why would anyone, let alone a WOMAN, come see me? I didn’t have girlfriends. They were nothing but drama and unless they had a cute boyfriend I could flirt with, I didn’t want anything to do with them. But she came. and she was warm and welcoming.
She suggested, if I wanted to stay sober, I should call her daily. That was terrifying, but I wouldn’t let her know that! I don’t give people ammo to use against me. I’m strong and independent and can follow rules if it makes me look good. The independence was killing me though and I was at my breaking point. I didn’t have much longer, and I knew that. But something inside of me said “okay” and I called her. I didn’t know it at the time, but a higher being had slipped into my heart in a moment of vulnerability. The second I decided to meet my friend for coffee and fellowship, that sneaky Higher Being crept in without my permission. I am so glad it did.
From that moment on, I have not been alone. From that moment on, I have not had to put anything in my body to change the way I feel. It all started with a simple “Sure. I’ll meet you for coffee” and right there I ended my relationship with “it”. Over time, “it” became a memory I use to help others when I invite them to coffee and fellowship. I am now that person that can be helpful to others. It’s not always with one sentence, but over time, my network of friends gets through life one day at a time. I have seen friends stay and I have seen friends lured back to “it” but I do know that we all feel the way I felt. We all did the things that I have done. We all have each other’s backs. We all stay close together. If we all stay in the middle of our sobriety, we cannot fall off of the edge. I choose to stand in the middle, hand in hand with my people. I am no longer independent. I share my life and my story with others. Recovery looks different for everybody, because everybody has a different life. Help is available. All I had to do was say “Okay” and the universe took care of the rest. I just had to quit fighting myself and others. Today I am free and thank God for that.
Sobriety Date: 10/5/2014