March 2, 2015

My time at 11th Step was short compared to the amount of time I spent obsessing over my next drink, but the drink never could give me the contentment I was looking for like sobriety has. Drugs and alcohol came into my life and immediately became my solution to dealing with the world and its people. When my friends and family became concerned about my drinking, I only learned to hide it better.

Time after time, drinking got me into humiliating and soul depriving situations, but I didn't care. I was seeking a connection that I had only found in alcohol. Nothing and no one could make me feel as good as that first drink did. After some long, drawn out years in black outs and chaos, I decided that I didn't want to do it anymore. The only problem was that even when I really wanted to stop drinking, I couldn't. I didn't know how. I fought it; I substituted other things in its place.

There was always the lurking notion that I would be able to drink like normal people if only I tried hard enough. There were two parts of me: the rational side and the alcoholic side. I couldn't differentiate between my rational and sick thoughts. Little did I know at the time, I am incapable of thinking myself out of a drink. I am saved from drinking each day based on my spiritual condition. After many short, haphazard attempts in AA, I came to 11th Step desperate. I had nowhere safe to go, and I didn't think anyone really cared to help me anymore. I had lived at 11 Step for a few months one year previously.

I was compliant, but I didn't take it seriously. Like many other stories in my life, I got drunk again, ending up worse than ever. I had mostly cut 11th Step out of my life, but they welcomed me with open arms when I asked to come back. The kind of love they show me is wholehearted like that of a parent. When I came back to 11th Step, I was barely able to sleep at night. I hardly had enough money to get my car's gas tank above the empty line. I was so confused and unsure of what my future would hold.

The one thing I knew is that I didn't want to drink or do drugs anymore, and I was absolutely incapable of staying sober by myself, no matter how hard I tried. I was furious when I had to make my bed in the morning and take out the trash; however, Mercedes and Linda pushed me along to take care of myself. It was that simple at first. I began washing my face and bruising my teeth before bed. I learned to wipe off the dripping honey jar before putting it back into the cupboard. When I stole cookies from one of the girls, I bought her more, because I was tired of being a thief. I was taught to be responsible in a way that I didn't know when I was drinking.

I learned to forgive when I didn't necessarily want to. I went to meetings every day, where I got a lot of hope from people who claimed they were once like me. I immediately got a sponsor and started on the steps. Mercedes helped me pick the sponsor who has loved me and showed up for me unconditionally since I met her. 11th Step helped me to build a support network of loving people both inside and outside of the house. When I decided to go back to school, Mercedes and Linda were right by my side cheering me on.

For three semesters now, I have maintained a 4.0 and am excelling in school for the first time in my life. When I began to give back and speak at treatment centers, Linda offered to go with me for support. When I got a job and didn't want to show up one day, Linda talked to me about being responsible and keeping to my word. I stopped biting my nails and smoking cigarettes; Mercedes wrote down a "sobriety date" for it on the calendar to encourage me. I didn't understand things like why I had to learn how to tie a trash bag around a trash can until I left, and those life skills really came into practice. I have started to automatically do all the things that I routinely did while I was at 11th Step.

I learned a great deal about cooking, healthy eating and wellness that I have implemented into my routine. I feel clean and organized, and I finally feel like a lady. Most importantly, I know that I have a family at 11th Step with Linda, Mercedes, and the wonderful group of girls. The lonely, apathetic feeling I had every day when I was drinking doesn't live inside of me anymore. Life will always have its ups and downs, and I am sure to make mistakes.

My mistakes allow me to learn, grow, and ask for help. At last, I feel happy and free. I know I am going to be okay as long as I continue to practice what I have learned, because I have been given a real solution that lasts.

Sarah H.