"I miss Samantha," a friend in recovery recently said. "Oh! How is she?" I asked him. I hadn't seen her in awhile and I missed her too.
"Oh, you don't know," replied my other friend Patty. "Samantha overdosed. She died last week while you were in Vegas."
I burst out crying, thinking of Samantha's smiling face and how hard she tried to stay sober.
I've been thinking about her since then, and my other friends who have died since leaving rehab three years ago. Ten people gone. What happened?
Some will say maybe they "didn't want it enough." But I know a few of them did and were looking forward to their future. They DID want it enough. They DID try. But maybe they didn't have faith in themselves. Maybe they didn't have faith in their Higher Power. Maybe they didn't trust that life would work out.
When I was at my lowest, and drinking about a half gallon of vodka a day, I had no hope. I didn't care what happened and I didn't trust in anyone or myself.
Knowing I was going to either die from my alcoholism or lose my mind, I finally checked into a detox and then went to a 90-day rehab based on the 12-Steps program.
That was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Working the 12-Steps and searching inward have been my salvation. Believing and knowing I'm not the center of the universe and there is a purpose to life have saved me from picking up the bottle again and living my life fully in a healthy way.
How did I do it and how does it work?
First, I had to get honest with myself. I had to admit I was an alcoholic. Then I had to get honest in other personal ways. I had to live an honest life. No more lying and making excuses. Every time I lie I go against my true self. I don't honor who I am and why I'm here. When I lived in lies, I hated myself and eventually didn't trust my instincts.
I then had to become open and willing. Open and willing to giving my need to control and give my will power up to my personal God - my Higher Power. That made me humble and realize I wasn't the center of the universe. I couldn't control life. I had to live life on life's terms.
That was acceptance, and that was the beginning of trust.
Then I had to roll my sleeves up and begin working on cleaning up my past. I had to question my way of thinking and begin to understand my behavior. As I worked on past resentments and situations that harmed me, I looked at what my "coping skills" were at that time and what lies I created to get me through some dark times.
I realized I have (had) a pattern of feeling victimized and powerless. The lies I told myself ranged from "I'm worthless" to "I don't matter."
I felt I didn't have a voice. I felt vulnerable and weak. These feelings and distorted thoughts not only led me to use my one "coping skill" (alcohol) but kept me trapped in a downward spiral of dysfunctional behaviors.
I began using my new knowledge in ways beyond alcoholism and not drinking. I use new coping skills (see my five tools on the contact page) to deal with life's obstacles. I now see obstacles as learning opportunities. Through this healthy outlook, I grow emotionally and spiritually. By living in the moment and seeing more clearly, I have discovered peace of mind.
My brain's constant chatter, which I used alcohol to quiet down, has gone from a roar to a whisper.
I've lost the need to escape - from my feelings and from my actions that were causing me pain.
Emotional sobriety. That's what I have today. Perhaps that's what was missing in my friends' lives. They had put the pills or bottle down, but emotionally they were hanging by a thread ... and that thread broke.