When the Craving Strikes

God, grant me the serenity…

Hi.  My name is Jessie and I’m an alcoholic.  Today when I was coming home from my second AA meeting for the day, I had an overwhelming urge to stop at the bar near my apartment.  Why?  I wasn’t craving a drink.  I was craving the atmosphere and the company.  The problem is, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go in and not have a drink.  So, I came home.  I stared at this computer screen for well over a half an hour thinking about how stupid I was for even considering going to the bar in the first place and wondering how I was going to write about it.

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To Tell The Truth

God, Grant me the serenity…..

Hi. My name is Jessie and I’m an alcoholic.  I’ve found that saying those words out loud has gotten easier, but I still can’t say it the people I knew before I started AA.  Its simply not easy to say to your friends and family that you’re an alcoholic, especially when its a problem you think you’ve been successfully hiding for years.  And then there’s my faith – the one thing I want to share with people but I just don’t know how.  The only place I feel safe and comfortable telling the entire truth, aside from the three people in my life right now who know everything, is here.  Telling people the truth about your faults and your faith face to face is difficult, but I need to learn to move past the difficulties and trust the God will provide me with all of the resources I need to be open and honest with the people in my life who deserve to know the entire truth.

I’m at the beginning of my twelfth day of sobriety and I’ve yet to tell my parents about my decision to stop drinking and to start attending AA meetings.  Fear of disappointment is absolutely the main reason I can’t bring myself to tell them.  Also, I’m not sure how to explain to two alcoholics that their alcoholic daughter has decided to stop drinking.  Its of course a decision I’ve made for myself without concern for how others will respond to the decision, but I hope that it will always be regarded with positivity.  Disappointing my parents is a constant fear I have had for my entire life.  As an only child I always felt a massive responsibility to be the absolute best daughter to them, and I can’t help but feel as though I’ve failed.  Yes, I’m trying to turn that failure around, I just hope that they see the change as a positive just as I do.

Along with my sobriety, I have to find a way to tell them about my faith.  Growing up in a household where we never talked about God or Jesus or ever had an open discussion about faith caused me to build up walls where I felt uncomfortable ever talking about it with anyone.  After I started Alpha, however, that completely changed.  I now openly welcome discussions about faith and I love to hear the passion other people speak with.  My parents, however, have an open honesty about how much they don’t believe in churches or organized religion.  The church and the Catholic faith have been a home to me in the last few months when I’ve felt as though I didn’t have anywhere else I belonged, and God has welcomed me with open and loving arms.

Its not often you find a place that feels like home, and that’s exactly how the Catholic Church feels to me.  Everything just makes sense, and when I’m there I feel an immense sense of peace settle over me.  I know its the Holy Spirit telling me, “Jessie, you’re in the right place.”  That overwhelming peace has led me to join the RCIA program at the church with the hopes of being baptized and confirmed at the Easter Vigil in the spring.  This wasn’t a decision I made lightly.  I thought and prayed for hours, I researched as much as I could, and I had deep and honest conversations with not only other Catholics, but with people of other faiths before deciding that I was making the right decision.  I’m making a lifelong commitment to myself, the Catholic Church, and to God.  A commitment this large deserves to be witnessed before my family and friends.

I’m not even sure how to begin to explain to my parents how I became interested in learning more about my faith.  Their ability to understand my thoughts and reasoning has always been a burden on our relationship.  As a family we almost never talked openly about our feelings, our passions, and especially our faith.  Again, fear of disappointment is what is preventing me from telling my parents about this very important decision of my life.  This time, however, it isn’t that I’m afraid they will be disappointed in me; I’m afraid I will be disappointed in them.

I have this consuming fear that when I sit down and tell my parents that I’ve found a home in the Catholic Church and that I plan to be baptized they will tell me, “We don’t think this is a good idea.”  They don’t like organized religion, its as simple as that.  Even though I hope they see the positive changes in me, that fear is overpowering any chance of hope.  I don’t want to be disappointed in my parents for not supporting my decision, and I know that is what will happen if they decide to not be supportive.  I pray to God everyday that He will give me the guidance to tackle this situation and that He will allow them to listen with open ears and accepting hearts.

I’ve got two big tasks ahead of me, and I don’t know whether to handle them both at once or to tackle them separately.  I will just continue to pray to God for guidance and that he will allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me each and everyday.  If I can’t be honest with my parents then I can’t fully be honest with myself or God.  The weight of dishonesty and fear is not something I want to be hanging on above my head for months to come.  I pray that God provides me with the tools, guidance, and resources I need to be open and honest with my parents, and I hope that you can pray that for me as well.

 

Our Father, who art in Heaven…

 

I’m blessed to be here with all of you on this 12th day of sobriety and I’m looking forward to many more.

With love,

Jessie

The Accident That Changed it All

God, Grant me the serenity…

Hi, my name is Jessie and I’m an alcoholic.  A few years ago a young woman came into my workplace with absolutely no experience and I was asked to train her.  My job requires a lot of close interaction and working in small settings with the same people day after day.  This young woman and I became fast friends – you do when you spend eight hours a day, five days a week, fifty-two weeks of the year together.  We laughed and joked and talked and went out for drinks and our for dinner and we really bonded.  She became one of my closest and dearest friends, because finally, I had someone my age where I worked that I actually got along with.  I was so happy to see her thriving at work and in life as she figured out her long-term goals and dreams.

On April 10th, 2016, that young woman was killed tragically in a fatal, single vehicle car accident.  She was driving on an exit ramp when she lost control of her vehicle and crashed into a tree.  She was drunk at the time.

Its never easy to learn of the loss of a loved one, but its especially difficult when the person is so young and when the loss is so terribly unexpected.  Its even harder when you find out on social media, and that’s exactly where I learned of the loss of one of my best friends.  I was sitting down on a Sunday morning eating breakfast with my family.  It was maybe around ten in the morning because I had just gotten back from vacationing in London and had a bit of jet-lag.  Like any twenty-something girl, I was scrolling through Facebook to see what was going on when my heart sunk into my stomach. “RIP Amber,” and “Rest easy, Amber,” had been written all over her timeline.  At first I thought it might have been some sort of cruel joke – maybe she had drank too much the night before and was suffering from some killer hangover or something.  As I kept reading, however, it began to sink in.  I pushed my plate aside and panicked, not sure of what to do or what to say.

It took me a couple of minutes before I could text one of my friends and coworkers.  I can remember exactly what I sent to her.  “I was just on Facebook and I read that Amber died in a car accident this morning.  I want it to be a joke but I think its true.  Go check and figure out whats going on.”  The vivid memories I have of that morning still haunt me to this day.  I can remember every text message, every phone call.  I hadn’t said anything to my parents for over half and hour,  although they could clearly see that I was upset about something.  When I finally got confirmation from my boss, I burst into tears.  My beautiful, young, energetic, twenty-two year old friend had died.  The world I knew was no longer the same.

I spent most of that day curled up in bed, thinking of all of the memories I had shared with Amber.  I kept returning to her Facebook page and reading the amazing messages people were writing.  Seeing how loved she was kept me crying for most of the afternoon.  Her presence in my life was a blessing that I didn’t see until she was gone.  The conversations we had, the time we spent together, I took it all for granted and I would now have to be living a different life without her in it.

The day after Amber passed away I went into work.  I was just coming back from a ten-day vacation, and during that vacation, my office had moved from one location to another.  Here I was, coming back from a thrilling vacation and instead of being able to tell everyone about how amazing it was, I was walking into a new workplace without one of my best friends.  Accepting and adjusting to the change and the loss was difficult, but overtime, we all learned to move on.  Coping with the loss is still difficult, but through Amber I saw the Holy Spirit and I found God.  Now, although the loss is still challenging, I have Jesus by my side to help me each and everyday.

I’ve said before that if it weren’t for Amber I wouldn’t have found God.  It’s absolutely the truth.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her and pray for her.  These days in particular, I’ve been thinking about her more and more.  Recovering from alcoholism and participating in Alcoholics Anonymous isn’t an easy task.  Its time-consuming and challenging.  Everyday I think about Amber, and how she died in a drunk driving accident.  Alcohol is what ultimately took her life.  Knowing and understanding this is part of what keeps me going to AA meetings.  I know that I’m doing this because of her, and I want her to be proud of me in Heaven.

It’s amazing how much someone can change your life when you really only knew them for two years.  However, when you worked together as closely as we did, you form an incredible bond that only strengthens over time and outside of work.  I’m very grateful for every second I had with Amber.  She was and continues to be a blessing in my life.  And though I’m devastated each and everyday by her loss, I’m thankful each and everyday for getting the chance to know her at all.  I know she’s looking down on me and is helping to keep me safe and sober.

 

Our Father, who art in heaven….

 

I’m blessed to be here with all of you on this 11th day of sobriety and I’m looking forward to many more.

 

With love,

Jessie

The One About Alpha

God, Grant me the serenity…

Hi.  My name is Jessie and I’m an alcoholic.  Today I was asked to give a live testimony at my church to promote a wonderful Christian exploration program called Alpha.  I’ve talked about  Alpha in my previous posts and how it has changed my life and eventually led me to seek help with my alcoholism.  Today’s post is going to be a dry run of the testimony I could give in front of the parish, a story of how my life changed for the better.

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Sharing is Caring

God, grant me the serenity…

Hi.  My name is Jessie and I’m an alcoholic.  We’ve all heard the phrase, “Sharing is caring.”  We heard it growing up when our parents were teaching us how to play with other children.  We heard it in classrooms and at our jobs.  Whenever this phrase was uttered, however, the person saying is was usually applying it to a physical object.  “Share your cookies, Johnny,” or “Share your dolls, Susie.”  What we failed to hear throughout our lives is how important it is to share our stories, thoughts, and feelings with others.  I’ve come to learn that this is perhaps the most important form of sharing we as humans can do with one another.  Sharing our lives with other people helps transform and guide us and shape us into the people we become.

Growing up as an only child I often has a hard time sharing.  I had a hard time sharing my toys, my food, my thoughts, and more often than not the time I had with my parents.  I didn’t want someone else stealing my spotlight when I was a young child; I thought I deserved all of the attention they had to give.  This hindered me as I grew older.  I found it increasingly difficult as years went by to share my thoughts and feelings with others.  Often I would hold everything in until it became too much for me to bear, until I needed to find a way to let all that I had bubbling inside of me out.  I believe this is when I turned to self-harm as an outlet for my emotions.  At the time I was sixteen, I had just split ties with my best friend at the time, and I didn’t know how to express the sadness and loneliness I was feeling.  As years went by I eventually turned to alcohol to mask the pain, but I never truly knew how to share or give others an insight into how I was doing mentally and emotionally.

As I began to search out my faith I finally realized that in order to find the information I was seeking, I would have to share my questions with others.  I voiced my curiosities and was given a wealth of information by those who shared what they knew with me.  It led me to meet new people and to find that sharing was one of the most important ways to find out not only about others, but about yourself.

When I started Alpha I was introduced to an amazing group of people who shared their life stories with me and with whom I eventually became comfortable enough with to share a bit about myself.  The more we all talked, the more open I became with not only sharing information, but with receiving it.  I found that each story I heard touched or moved me in some way.  The impact that these people had in my life in unexplainable.  I was often (jokingly,) criticized for not speaking up or not sharing enough, until last week when we all met up again to discuss the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  The week prior I was having a discussion with someone when I realized when that moment was for me.  So, when it became time to open the discussion, I was the first one to share.  Oh, how far I had come from that first time meeting everyone when I could barely speak my name out loud when I was asked.  The impact that others had on me by sharing, however, inspired me to share my story as it was still vivid in my mind.  Again, my table had another wonderful and brilliant bonding experience over sharing our stories of how the Holy Spirit has touched our lives.

As I’ve stated before, I would have never even made it to AA if it weren’t for my friend sharing her story of sobriety with me.  We sat down to catch up with each other and discuss Alpha and faith.  She didn’t have to explain to me why she was only ordering water that afternoon at lunch, but the Lord works in amazing ways and He knew that if she shared her story with me, it would change both of our lives.

In AA the most important thing to do is to share our stories with one another.  Being new to the program, hearing other’s stories is an essential part to why I keep coming back day after day and to how I stay sober.  Its inspiring and eye-opening to hear the stories shared at the tables.  Often I sit there and think, “Wow, I’m so lucky I stopped drinking before my life became that crazy,” or, “That person is so fortunate and has such an amazing story to tell.”  Not an afternoon or evening goes by that I’m not continually blown away by the things I hear.

I’ve found that in sharing here I’m helping myself, because its cathartic to let the words and thoughts flow freely without instant emotional feedback, but I’d like to think that I’m also helping others.  I’m going to continue to write daily in hopes that people see what I’m writing and it helps them to understand and see things differently than they have in the past.  I’m hoping that someone will read this and see that perhaps they too are an alcoholic or that they may also have questions about their faith.  I hope people share their stories with me just as I am sharing my story here.

I’ll revisit this topic frequently as I continue to share my experiences and hear the stories that other people share.  Life is an amazing journey that God has blessed us with, and just as He has shared his love and wisdom with us, so should we share with others.

 

Our Father, who art in Heaven,

 

I’m blessed to be here with all of you on this 9th day of sobriety and I’m looking forward to many more.

With love,

Jessie

Grieving the Loss of a Best Friend

God, grant me the serenity…

Hi. My name is Jessie and I’m an alcoholic.  One thing I’ve realized in the last week of sobriety is that giving up alcohol is like losing a best friend.  Let’s face it, alcohol is one of the best friends we as alcoholics have had for years.  When we give it up we are essentially giving up our best friend.  Its only natural that we go through the grieving process to help us cope with the loss of a major part of our lives.  Grief is never easy, but we learn to cope and in our case, we go to AA meetings to help us talk through our grief with other people who have gone through or are currently going through the same things.

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A Day of Rest

God, Grant me the serenity…

Hi. My name is Jessie and I’m an alcoholic.  Sundays are typically known as a day of rest.  Its a day one spends having a leisurely morning, going to church, spending time with the family in the afternoon, and getting some well-deserved down time in the evening.  In the last six months my Sunday typically involved going to church, going home and taking a nap (because I was hung over from going out the night before,) and going to the bar late in the afternoon.  Before, when I lived with my parents, the routine wasn’t that much different.  I would wake up, eat breakfast, take a nap, and then the family would usually go to our neighbor’s house for a cookout and day-drinking.  Today, my Sunday was definitely not as laid-back as it once was, but even after everything I did, I will still consider it a day of rest.

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Faith and Family

God, Grant me the serenity…

Hi.  My name is Jessie and I’m an alcoholic.  Learning has been an incredibly big and important part of both my faith and sobriety journeys.  Not a day goes by that I haven’t learned something new; be it a prayer or a principle or a step of the program.  One of the things I’ve learned early on, especially in my faith journey, is that family isn’t always what you think it is.

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Go to the meetings, they said…

God, Grant me the serenity…

Hi.  My name is Jessie and I’m an alcoholic.  When I finally admitted that I was an alcoholic and ready to seek help, my friend and sober partner told me, “Jessie, you have to go to meetings.  They are the only thing that really helps.  I’ve gotten to the point where I’m more afraid of missing a meeting than I am of having a drink.”  I thought she was absolutely crazy.  Sure, the meetings probably helped her, but they couldn’t be that great, could they? And how on earth was she more afraid of missing a meeting than having a drink?  This was a few hours after I had my last drink and all I could think about was how I wanted to have another.  Of course, this was also before I went to my first meeting.

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