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Incredible Journey

Sheila, Colorado

My name is Sheila, and I am an alcoholic. I come from a long line of alcoholics, both my parents, both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The first time I drank alcohol, I drank a whole bunch of liquor, threw up everywhere, was horribly hungover the next day, and couldn't wait till that evening to do it again. I was 15. From that day on, I knew alcohol was special.  It made me feel attractive, witty, fun, I was no longer shy ... I just knew I had to have booze to have a good time.

I started drinking daily my last year of high school, and dropped out because drinking was frowned upon.  I got a job to support my booze habit, and while all my friends were making plans for college, I was working 9-5. For quite a few years I did not have any consequences from my drinking; I was a good employee, showed up every day -- although usually hung over.

My mom died from alcoholism when I was 20. That didn't stop me from drinking at her funeral. My dad had gotten sober a year prior to her death.  They had divorced when I was 16, and I had spent a couple of years going back and forth between houses. 

When I was 24, I decided to quit my well-paying job and follow a rock band around the country. This was quite the party scene, going from state to state, camping, drinking, drugs, I thought it was the best time of my life.  A year later I returned home, only to become restless and bored, so I packed up and moved to Colorado. I knew a couple of people here from my touring days, so I landed in a small mountain town where the only jobs were in the bars. I became a bartender and a waitress, and also worked part time in a liquor store. I had all the bases covered.

A few years later I got married, had a son, and started getting DUI's. That started a long process of stints in jail. I got divorced, remarried, had a little girl, and started the whole jail / DUI thing again. When my daughter was 2, I spent 7 months in jail. When my daughter turned 3, my husband got a restraining order against me, and I had an hour to pack up and leave. I had no where to go, no one to call. I had alienated all family and friends.

It was at this point I realized that I might be the problem, not everyone around me. I went into the city, and wandered around in front of a liquor store for a while, until I saw a squirrel, who was just looking at me, with these bright little eyes, as if to ask "So, what are you going to do?" 

I had this moment where I realized there was not enough booze in the world to make the pain go away. I made my way to the local detox. They knew me well there. I asked if I could stay the night, but because I was sober, it wasn't allowed. They took me to the homeless shelter, and every day, for 11 days, I went to the detox during the day, cleaned and cooked for the "drunks," went to every AA meeting I could find, and went back to the homeless shelter at night.

The counselors at the detox saw that I was serious this time, and they helped me get into a 4 month inpatient, AA based treatment facility. Wow, that was so scary for me, but I had realized that I would die if I continued to drink. The restraining order remained in place for 8 weeks, while I worked on getting well. At first I was miserable about it, but I soon realized what a blessing it really was, to have the time to work this program.

I threw myself into AA, and I have made some amazing friendships. The women in this program loved me until I could love myself, and gently but firmly, showed me how to live a sober life. I got a sponsor, started the steps, got a job, graduated from treatment, got an apartment. Got fired from the job, got another job, got canned when the owner went bankrupt, but that led to the job I have had for the last 4 years. 

So far this journey has been an incredible one. I have gone from being drunk, unemployable, friendless and childless to a sober, employed, contributing member of society. I have my daughter in my life, she is a fabulous 8 year old girl who has no memory of a drunken mommy. My relations with my siblings have been repaired, I have friendships that I never dreamed were possible. I never could have achieved this on my own.  With AA, grace, and my Higher Power, I have been given another chance at this thing called life.

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