Relapse & Recovery

Updated: May 29, 2020

We all have our stories, they are individual to each of us. I've heard scores of stories in meetings detailing the trials and tribulations of the afflicted such as I. From Low bottoms, High bottoms to the very confused and lost. I happened to be the later when I showed up to a meeting for the first time. I got my introduction to AA with as I like to say "A nudge from the good judge" after my first DWI. It was suggested to me that I would attend a certain amount of meetings, get my paper signed and do some other things I thought at the time were ridiculous. After all I had better things to do. Didn't the judge know who I was? Boy, I wish I would have listened to that judge and those good folks at those meetings. Not doing so would cost me a lot through out the next decade and a half. I went to the meetings sat on the back row with my head down not wanting to make eye contact with anyone, scared to death someone would recognize me or worst yet call on me. When called on all I could get out was Hi, I'm Reagan. After all I wasn't an alcoholic! I just messed up and passed out in the Whataburger drive thru at : 2:30 in the morning. That was it! So I did what I had to do to satisfy the court and off I went again. Well, a few years later I showed back up in that same judges courtroom. Another DWI! This time I passed out at the busiest intersection in the town in which I lived. He was not happy to see me, nor was I to see him. So back to AA I went this time just a little more curious than the last. Still I had illusions that I just had bad luck! Hey, I'm batting 1000% as long as I don't pass out is what I was selling myself. No mind the fact that my wife had just left and took my son with her. The pain and agony I would endure for the next 7 years or so I wouldn't wish on anyone. The funny thing about that pain and agony was that it was all 100% self induced. I did all these things to myself, that's the crazy thing about the disease of alcoholism. Most of us are normal in all other aspects of our life but, when it comes to drinking we damn near kill ourselves or actually do in some unfortunate cases. Slowly, I began to lose more and more, each time I thought God please let this be the bottom. To my amazement it just kept getting worst and worst. All the things that I had read in that big book were coming true but, not in a good way. As this process was taking shape in my life my desire to stop drinking grew and my ability to identify the problem was becoming clearer. Over the next 5 years I would bounce in and out of recovery. This was insane because I would get a little sober time strung together, just to relapse and go on another bender. Sometimes those benders would last only a few weeks and sometimes months. Now my alcoholism had progressed to the point that I had to be institutionalized to separate me from alcohol. Sometimes it was the ER for a banana bag then off to a 7 day detox or in the later stages a 30 day stay in rehab would be needed. I would get out of treatment with a firm resolve never to return and I meant it! I would do everything that was suggested to me. Well, I tried but, looking back on it now it was with half measures. So every time inevitably I would get drunk again. It wasn't until my last visit to treatment that the light bulb went off. I went to Valley Hope in Grapevine, Texas. There I ran across a councilor named Ed C. I found Ed to be an interesting character, he wore snake skin cowboy boots and he was a no nonsense type guy while he was teaching his class. This guy was in recovery and had like 25 years. Early on in his recovery he lost everything and lived in shelters and stayed sober, later his wife left him and married his nephew and he stayed sober. Somehow that last one stuck with me "How in the world did he stay sober through that?" Ed had a different way of teaching that made me think and he knew the Big Book frontwards and backwards. I looked forward to Ed's classes everyday! I knew I was going to get some good information about recovery. It was in one of those classes that Ed said " Step 1 is a two part step, NO?". His way of getting us to think. I raise my hand "well of course it is I have to admit that I'm powerless over alcohol & that my life is unmanageable". No problem, I've done that! Alcohol has destroyed my life and brought me back to rehab for the 6th time. I'd say that qualifies as unmanageable. Wrong, he says! Now I'm more than interested. That day Ed explained to us that Step 1 is in fact a two part step but, not how I was interpreting it. He said in order to take step one that I needed to not only admit that I was powerless over alcohol and my life was unmanageable but, I had to ACCEPT it too. Wow, I've been in and out of the program for 12 years and I had never heard that nor truly accepted that fact! So quickly I replied, "How do I do that?" I'll never forget this moment in time because it was so pivotal in my recovery. Ed simply knelt down to one knee and prayed to his higher power to help him accept the fact that he was a real alcoholic and without his help it was too much for him. That was it! It was like a light bulb went off in my head and it all made sense now! Pray!! So I believe I had a spiritual experience that day, nothing has been the same since! I pray everyday that God help me to accept the fact that I'm an alcoholic. My recovery started right then and there in that lecture hall in Grapevine, Texas. I'm eternally grateful to be sober today and I think my higher power for that everyday too! Page 85 of the big book tells us "what we have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition." So today I work hard to have constant contact with my higher power and life is still not perfect but, I can live with acceptance that my life is exactly the way it is supposed to be! Today, I don't have to drink and that's a wonderful feeling to an alcoholic like me. As I said earlier we all have our stories, while they're all individually different they're all the same!

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