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Nothing Left "Nothingman" @ by Pearl Jam

Updated: Feb 14, 2021

Once you stop drinking, your life will begin. It was a subtle whisper easy to dismiss. Or at least that was the excuse I kept giving myself. It was not a voice of my own because the last thing I wanted to do was stop drinking. Once you stop drinking, your life will begin. God sent me this message for over a year before November 5, 2018.


When I started hearing God's voice, I was still cursing at Him daily, asking Him why, and begging Him to change my life. I was utterly confused by how my life had unfolded, and I had nothing left to give. I could feel my physical body, but everything else inside of me had died. The ten percent of life I had left was for my children.


On November 4, I called a friend, Steve. There was no answer, and I was desperate for him to call me back. I waited all day and heard nothing, and I was praying to God, "Please let him call me! I'll do anything." Then, thirty minutes before I had to pick up the kids, Steve texted me. He said something along the lines of, “Are you all right?” My answer was, “No. Can you please call me?” Steve was not some man I was dating. I didn't even know him that well. But I did know he didn’t drink, and I needed help. Sober help.


I remember crying on the phone, which was nothing new. I had cried every day for the last three years after my divorce. Steve told me that he would be going to an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting the next morning, and I was welcome to join. I was willing to do anything. So I went. I knew nothing about AA at this point. I remember Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock went to AA in the movies When a Man Loves a Woman and 21 Days, but other than that--nothing.


I went to AA that next morning, and I have not had a drink for two years. I have zero plans of ever drinking again.


I never thought I had a problem with alcohol. Maybe I drank a little too much in my twenties for a few years, but it wasn't until the death of my marriage in my thirties that drinking became my new husband. This “new husband” and I would sit on the couch at night, watch movies, and go out to social gatherings. I couldn't live without this liquid husband. He would somehow take away the intense pain in my soul so I could breathe. But it didn't last. Instead, he began to carve out the insides of my body with a dull spoon in a slow, deliberate way. The toxic alcohol filter through which my life had to pass affected me in every way--physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.


I had it all planned out. I would have a glass of wine when I cooked dinner for the kids so they wouldn’t think their mommy drank too much, and I would finish off the bottle as soon as they went to bed. On weekends, I didn't have the kids. So, I started drinking as soon as they left in the afternoon because I couldn’t handle our crumbling family’s pain and grief. I had to numb my insides immediately with alcohol. I just couldn’t take the heartache anymore.


That first year I stopped drinking was tough, but it also produced many miracles. I remember praying and begging God to remove my desire to stop drinking. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. For one, I had to remove myself from my friends because I worried that the temptation to have a glass of wine with ladies I love would be too challenging. Two, I had to start attending AA meetings, and at the time, I lived in so much shame, fear, and embarrassment that the thought of meeting new people, even ones that understood, seemed painful. I was far beyond just being shy. I didn’t want to be seen by anyone. I started to fear people. So, I did as the program suggested, which meant taking it one day at a time. That’s all I had at that point--one day at a time. My prayers were answered.

 

It took two weeks for God to remove my desire to drink. I will never forget it because I went to a board meeting, and there was wine. And at that moment, I felt disgusted by the thought of drinking. The wine looked like crude oil. I imagined that I was the ocean, and there was an oil spill inside my body. Gooey, black, crude coating me inside. Suffocating me and choking me. Paralyzing me and harming me in every part of my being. How could my beautiful wine change from something I had loved to enjoy with friends at dinner? Now it became a dangerous and damaging part of my life that I could not live without.


I continued to attend AA meetings when possible, and at one meeting, in particular, I realized I needed to find a sponsor. Still, I didn’t want to speak to the group or stay after the forum. So, I memorized the phone number for a sponsor on the bulletin board and texted the number after the meeting. That is how I contacted Elizabeth, who has turned out to be the best sponsor for me. At the time, she was seven years sober and very diligent about her practice of attending meetings. Elizabeth’s engagement in the program was inspiring, but I was worried she would expect the same out of me. I just didn’t know if I had it in me to be as committed to AA as Elizabeth and others. But, I could promise her one thing--I wouldn’t drink. Elizabeth was an angel. She was gentle with me and never pressured me. She assured me she was there whenever I needed her, and she kept her word. She walked me through the steps and encouraged me daily. Her spirit, laugh, and generosity lit up a room, and I admired her graceful presence. I started feeling better as I worked the program--a little more precise, a little less anxious, and more hopeful that everything would be okay.


I have learned a lot about myself over the last two years that I will continue to share. But, mostly what I learned is that those who feel we are at our weakest are strong, and those of us who feel like we can’t go on will. Those of us who feel like we can’t socialize in public can light up a room. Those of us who have lost all of our confidence will continue a new life with better self-esteem than before. We may feel like we have no one, but it’s not true. We always have someone, even if it’s only one person. I heard the whisper. I reached out in desperation to a person I barely knew. I found Elizabeth. And I found myself. We will go on to live extraordinary lives with a new story. And if we have lost hope and faith in life, we will find it again. It happens one day at a time by sharing our stories of triumph so we can mend our minds together.

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