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A New Person

Niki, US

Hello everyone, my name is Niki and I'm an alcoholic.

I would like to give you hope… and tell you how I got sober and stay sober.  I never thought I could.  I was a walking bottle of wine and full of misery and despair.  I never, ever thought that going to AA would make me who I am today.  I am so grateful to be sober and to be able to give hope to other people who are in a dark place and feeling  hopeless.  I received the help I never thought would be possible.  People in AA showed me love, affection and compassion.

 I'd always loved a drink.  From the time I was 14 onwards….. really.  I always enjoyed the effect it had on me, the way it made me feel, the way I was able to be more confident and thought I could be someone I wasn't.  When I drank I felt people liked me, and thought "oh that Niki, she's just such a scream, isn't she fun??!"  Truth is, behind my back, people thought I was completely off my rocker.

My first baby was born in 1994, Ben, a gorgeous baby boy.  My dreams had come true.   I was married, had a nice home and now a baby.  Then, baby number two, Jacob.  Again, I was the happiest person alive, right??  I had two beautiful boys, and a loving husband.

During this period in my life, I felt discontented.  I felt I was only on this planet to be a mum, and I started to resent my husband for his working commitments.  Where had my career gone, who was I and what had I achieved in life?  My glass was empty.  I was miserable.  The boys argued all the time, and Ben could be seriously harmful to Jacob.  I was so miserable and depressed.

I had discovered that if I took a drink, these feeling changed.  I wasn't a lonely mum anymore; I could be happy and dance around the room.   The alcohol made me feel content.  It was my best friend.

This went on for years.   I was living based on what time I could drink.  Soon, we were to move house, and with a new house, came a new baby.  This time a girl -  a delightful gorgeous baby daughter to love and to cherish.

My husband, at this time was still working away, trying to provide for his family.  I on the other hand, felt depressed.  I loved my children, but they weren't enough.  When I took a drink, I felt happier and felt I could cope with everything.

It was just normal for me, people would come and visit me and I would offer them a glass of wine, whatever time of day it was.  I thought nothing of the amount I drank, but I knew inside that I drank too much.   I just couldn't not drink.  I needed it.

Several years passed and my baby girl reached school age.  I was drinking every single night for all these years, maybe one bottle or two, but enough to take pain away and make me happy.

I would sit in the garage each morning and wish I hadn't drank so much, I had three kids to get to school and a hangover from hell each morning.  Each morning I would tell myself that I am not going to drink tonight.  That would never happen, by 4pm I was saying, "What the heck, I deserve it."

I didn't know how to discipline my kids, I was afraid of being angry with them.  I was afraid they wouldn't love me and I wanted to be loved because if I was loved, then everything would be ok, wouldn't it?  My husband showed me no love, and I felt so alone.  I had nothing in my life.  I felt terror, anger, pain and despair.

I started working, it was a good job, and I enjoyed going back to work.  With work however, came stress and stress made me anxious and unmanageable.  I would come home after a day at work, and at 1pm I would have a drink.  It was the first thing I did when I walked through the door before I'd even taken my coat off.  The minute I drank it, it was relief, it was my friend, the only thing that understood me.   I would feel better and start to do the jobs in the house before I picked the children up.

I had stopped eating by now and had lost so much weight.  I would make the food, but push it around the plate, just not hungry.  I would rather drink.  Some nights my husband would come home, and I'd already have drunk a bottle of wine, but I would phone him and ask him to bring some home with him, which he did.  I would leave the children when he wasn't home, once I left them when they were asleep, I was always leaving them in the car alone while I went into the shop.  I would bribe them with sweets and ask them not to tell Daddy.  I started to hide the wine all over the garage and in the kitchen.

All I was interested in was when I could drink and how much money I had.  I looked forward to it, and it was all I had -  my best friend.

I went to the Doctor and told him I thought I was drinking too much, but I didn't say how much I was drinking.  I didn't know myself.  My husband came with me once also, and I was now under help from Respond, a drug and alcohol team.  I had thirteen weeks until I was on their waiting list.  When I saw them, they asked me to do a drinks diary, I lied.  I got worse.  I felt I had opened up a bag of worms and wished I'd never said anything so I could drink in peace.  I would watch in horror as my husband poured the bottles he had found down the sink saying you don't need it.  I did, how dare he take away the one thing that made me alive.  I hated him for it.

Friends told me I was drinking too much, I knew I was, but I needed it.  Alcohol made me feel better, if it made me feel better, then why on earth would I want to stop?  I wished people would mind their own business and leave me alone.  Time and time again I wanted to leave, to be alone, just me and my drink.

One morning I woke up and my eye was hurting, I had lost all use of my right side of my face and gone blind in my eye.  I went to the Doctor and was admitted to hospital that afternoon and was diagnosed with shingles on the brain.  I stayed there for two weeks, I drank every night in hospital, and people came to visit me and brought me wine.  I would hide it from the nurses.  I came out of hospital and continued to drink.

I was preparing and doing the children's dinner, and as soon as it was made, I would go to bed.  Then get up before my husband came home, carry on drinking, and just drink all evening.  We never talked, never did anything as a family and I was stressed and on the verge of a mental breakdown.  I went to see Chinese doctors who told me I drank too much.   The anxiety now was immense and I started to take anti-depressants.

My parents divorced and I hit my breakdown.  The depression and anxiety was so strong that some days I could not get out of bed.

I was nearly 40, and I decided that a dog would stop me drinking, so I went out, and bought a dog without my husband knowing.   I had no idea what sort of dog it was, but it was a dog and I was happy for the first time in ages, I had what I had always dreamed of having, a puppy to get me well, to love me unconditionally.

Soon, I stopped being able to " be."  The illness rapidly got worse.  The first time I took a morning drink, I remember so well.  I was full of terror and had a knot in my stomach that would not go.  The kids were pressing all my buttons, and I took a drink to feel better, and I did.  So, that became a good thing to do in my eyes, I felt bad, so I drank.

I started to take the children to school drunk and then went to work, I would take a small children's container to work with me, along with a huge packet of mints and a toothbrush.  I couldn't function at work and was always so tired, work colleagues would comment and I was nic named "Pissy".  I would come home, and the same insanity would start.  I knew I had to stop working.  By now, with lack of eating and alcohol being my main food, I had a permanent upset stomach and was sick every morning.  I slept with a bucket by the side of the bed, I would wail and cry uncontrollable to my husband, asking him for a divorce and telling him he must be having an affair and he simply didn't love me.  It was his fault.

I left work… I just walked out one morning. When I got home, I drank to the point of no return.  Every day was now a drinking day, I would drink, drive the kids to school or walk very drunk, always stopping to get more supplies and desperate to get home and start the medicine.

The house became a mess and I did nothing all day.  My friends came to see me, I was rude to them and told them to go.  Older friends, I never saw.. I made excuses not to see them.  Contact from my family was nonexistent.  People didn't know what to do with me….nor did I.

One morning, it was 9.30am, and I had a desire to call someone, I was constantly ringing people but could never remember who I had called and what I had said.  But this day was different.  I was crying and in pain and I knew I was wrong in what I was doing.  I called AA.  A lady called Margaret came to see me.  She said get to a meeting.  So I did.  I was overwhelmed with love and compassion, but they didn't fix me, and I wasn't as bad as them.  I continued to drink, going to meetings drunk, with my puppy, desperately asking for help, but not really wanting it.  Many a time after a meeting, I would go and get more wine, come home and drink it, telling myself I could control it.

The school got involved; they were worried about the children.  The children took photos of me asleep drunk in bed, and wrote in my wardrobe "please help us".

I went to hospital about five times, each time the visitors got less and less.  I would leave hospital and come home and I knew where I had hidden some bottles and would get straight back into what I believed was my medicine.

One time, I phoned for an ambulance which took me to hospital again.  When I reached A&E, I would panic and want to get home to my puppy and my drink.  This one particular time, I phoned for a taxi, I got in the taxi and was in my pyjamas, I asked the taxi driver to stop and get me some wine, I gave him my car keys as security and he went in and bought me 6 bottles of wine.

I wanted help, but I wasn't ready to stop drinking, I couldn't stop.. how did I stop?  I didn't know what was wrong with me.  I had no idea I was at the highest point of what was to be my rock bottom and my addiction was so alive and killing me.  The doctor told me to stop drinking, or I would be dead within a few months.  I didn't believe them, of course I wouldn't be, this was me, ok, I drank too much, but I wasn't going to die.

I continued to drink at home, I didn't wash, and I was grey in complexion and had yellow eyes.  My breath smelt and so did I, my husband would throw me literally in the bath in front of the children and I would cry and scream.  My eyes were dead, and so was I.  I could hardly drink now, as I had no money to go and buy it, all my cards had been taken away and I was stealing from my children's money boxes.  If I found some money at home, the relief and excitement of being able to go and get some wine was electric.  I stole wine from the supermarket once.  Another time I tried, I was caught, and was chased down the road, where I threw the wine box at the security guard.  I would often take the car, slamming the front door on my way out and saying I was leaving.  I never did, I had nowhere to go.  I would go and sit in my car, in a deserted place and think of ways to kill myself.  I would always take the puppy with me though, and there was no way I was going to kill him.

The madness got worse; I was a disguising mess, with no reason to live apart from drinking.  My mother and father-in-law did all they could to help me, but I was a mess and not listening.  My mother-in-law would come to hospital with me on several occasions, where I would swear to the nurses and cry my eyes out.  Nobody knew what to do with me, and neither did I.  My mother didn't come and visit me like she had done, if and when I did see her, she had such pain in her eyes… but I didn't care, all I wanted to do was drink.

I had now started to drink 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  I would wake up and not know what time it was, where I was, but I knew where the wine was.  On occasions I would go and wake the children up at 2am, not knowing if it was morning or night.  I have no clue how they got to school and how they ate.

On the last week before I turned 40, I called the ambulance every day.  I cut my hair so it was about an inch all over.  I took tablets to try and kill myself and didn't want to wake up.

It was 24th April 2007.  I was alone again, and drunk.  I had no idea where the kids were and how they had got to school.  I called an ambulance.  I left the front door open, put the puppy away and was found in the lounge, half dead.  Next time I woke up, I was in a hospital bed covered in drips, alone obviously.  I was so sad, what on earth had happened to me.  I felt a presence of peace and someone stroking my arm, I cried and lay there, just wondering how it had come to this, what had gone so terribly wrong with me?  I surrendered.  The game was up.

I spent a week in hospital, with very few visitors, feeling very sorry for myself.  My cousin had died a few days before, I wished I had.

I came home, and social services came to see me, my therapist from Respond was also with us, and so was my husband.  I was sober.  They did their report.   I knew I had to get well.  This was the start of my journey.

I went to a treatment centre run by the NHS, and was taken the next day.  I drank that night, but only a ½ bottle and went to see a friend in the fellowship who threw it down the sink.

My therapist drove me to the treatment centre and I was so very fearful, but I also knew I was ready to get well, not for my kids, but for me.

I came out six weeks later; I did 90 meetings in 90 days, and gave my whole self to this program.  My journey continued as I found a sponsor and found a higher power.  I did the steps and did service in meetings.

After 20months, my head had gone.  I was so unwell, I wasn't' drinking, but I was discontent and irritable.  I was on the verge of drinking again, but I didn't.  Instead I found someone online, and he took me through the steps the way that the book describes.  I did these steps in eight days, but I was ready, I was willing to go to any lengths.  I was soon to be aware of a special bond between me and my higher power.   I knew I was being looked after.

Today, I adore my children with all my heart, they are the best thing in my life and I love them unconditionally, no mother can explain the love for her children.  I have a beautiful relationship with my mum today; she is my rock, my best friend.  I love my husband today, and I don't want to divorce him.  My dog Barney is my hero, he's adorable and my recovery dog.

When I was drinking, it was all about me, I had no thought of others and what I was doing to them.  I wanted people to show me love, and they didn't.  I wanted to be fixed from my illness.  I had to fix me.  It was always everyone else's fault that I drank the way I did, today I know I can't change anyone, only me.

When I did the steps, I discovered that my expectations turned out to be about me.  I looked at me for the first time in my life, and found out I had been selfish, self centred and full of self pity.  I ran my own show, and wanted people to do what I wanted them to do.

I could now see that it was me and only me that threw the booze down my neck.  Today, I have learned to deal with life, living life sober.  There are no "should have" or "could have" now.

Today is today, and today is a miracle because I am sober.   I am one of God's children, and he gave me help where no human power could.  It's up to me to decide how to feel on a daily basis.

I cannot change anything or anyone, just myself by working my program and growing spiritually on a daily basis, doing what I know best, staying away from one drink, one day at a time and dealing with things that used to make me want to get out of my head.

Today what is important is that I am spiritually well and fit, and show love to my loved ones.  Show them respect and admiration.  I thought the worse thing that could happen to me was that I was an alcoholic, now it's the best thing in my life, AA is my whole life, without my recovery I am dead.  I went to a dark place with my illness, but without doing that and going where I went, I would not have become a new person, I see things differently today.  It's not all about me, it's about living in the now, doing what I can to help others and being the best person I can be today and not needing that alcohol.

Thanks for listening, with love in fellowship,………Niki xx

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