Imagine watching your 12 year old daughter receive a chemo drip into her little arm. That sadness might make you lose hold of your sobriety. Imagine landing your dream job and having a celebratory lunch with the boss pouring wine. Could happiness make you lose your sobriety, too? Denise found it wasn’t the event, it was her.
“My parents were alcoholics,” says Denise, “and I was vigilant. I thought it was okay to drink a little in college, yet at some point I was not having fun, and couldn’t stop.” She managed three years of sobriety with the help of the St. Mary’s Hospital outpatient and 12 step programs. “But I had too much pride and a fear that things would not be confidential and anonymous.” Her sponsor told her that her sobriety needed to be more important than work, but Denise left 12 step, and eventually started drinking again.
From the outside, it looked like Denise was a successful professional woman. Few people knew her secret. “I thought that if I was good, strong, and smart enough I could “cure” it on my own. When I couldn’t, I actually convinced myself that the meaning of my life was to be a bad example for others – that God wanted me to be an alcoholic to help others.”
Desperate, Denise went to Holy Cross Abbey in Virginia for a week of silence. “I wrote prayers and put them in the prayer box begging for help.” The experience brought her peace.
But not sobriety. “I just couldn’t stop.” She seriously considered death. “Then, two weeks after the Abbey, God helped me.” Denise called her husband and told him she was going to rehab. She considers herself more spiritual than religious but believes that the week of prayer was her first step.
Denise went to Crossroads in Antigua, a facility started by rock star Eric Clapton. She spent six weeks and has been sober since. “I am bursting with gratitude and joy for life.”
Denise’s advice to addicts: “Know it is a disease and get help. Keep looking for the meeting that has like-minded people.” Denise now has friends from meetings. “They are my friends, not my 12 step friends.”
Denise says that the people with addictions are often accused of being unfeeling. “We are very feeling people – we just don’t know how to feel the feelings. At some point you have to quit trying to figure out why and just figure out the fix.”
Denise’s daughter is now a young mother and doing fine.
WEBSITES: JTNN.org. VirginiaTrappists.org. CrossroadsAntigua.org (cost $31k for 6 weeks, insurance accepted)
Let’s help each other Through the Scary. Please share your successes. Contact me at Laura.Newman8888@gmail.com.
Laura Newman – JTNN Board Member