December 21st 2011. This was the beginning of a new way of life. It was a cold Tuesday evening and I was sick because I hadn't had a drink. I walked into my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and I was greeted by a very tall lanky woman with a big smile. She extended her hand to me and said, "Welcome, I'm glad you're here!” I thought to myself, “Is this woman crazy? Does she know who I am? What I've done?” And then she guided me to my seat. After I sat down I listened to everyone introduce themselves as alcoholics.
“How did I get here?” And now it's finally my turn and I say “Hi, my name is Raven and I'm an alcoholic.” It's real now. I'm here! Alcohol who was once my best friend had turned its back on me.
I felt lost and empty. I was twenty-eight years old, and I was depressed, angry, and alone. I spent my teenage, young adult, and early adult years chasing the bottle. I had many vices, but alcohol was my first love. I remember the day we first met.
I was fourteen years old and I was visiting my older sister. Her friend came over with a bag full of alcohol. My first drink was a Long Island Iced tea. And then, I took the drink and then the drink took me. I felt a warm sensation throughout my body and I knew from that day that as long as I had alcohol I could go on living.
You might be wondering how I ended up an alcoholic. It just so happens that I was a very anxious and depressed child. I felt like I never quite fit in anywhere. I have a large family but we're not close. I've always wanted to feel loved and connected to other human beings.
My childhood included a lot of trauma, and sexual and emotional abuse was the norm. I had all of the material possessions any kid could want. My parents provided a very nice living environment, but children don't need “things” as much as they need love and security. I've never felt safe or protected in the world. I had to learn how to defend myself early in life.
I had to fight and I did a lot of it. Violence became my response to conflict. I walked around with the weight of the world on my back while I felt guilty and ashamed. I had secrets and in this room full of people, at the AA meeting, I felt alone.
I sat through the meeting and as it ended people came up to introduce themselves to me and told me to keep coming. I thought, “Keep coming, why? Nobody invited me anywhere and these people I barely know want me to come back.” I thought that these people were nuts but they touched me.
I went back week after week and I hit small milestones. Thirty days, sixty days, ninety, and one year. As I write this I am over four years sober and through the program I've found a connection with a higher power, I've built healthy friendships, and I'm learning who I am one day at a time. The road isn't always easy but it's always worth it. Keep moving forward. There aren't words to express my thanks and gratitude.
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