• Brooke Patricia

To Be Honest

As part of the groups, therapies and meetings at the core of my rehab plan, I recently

unfolded a piece of paper to one word that I had to spontaneously share about.

Ironically, it was precisely what has unfolded within me – powerlessness.


Admitting I am powerless over alcohol is the first part of the first step in my 12 step

recovery programme, and thus a timely place to start sharing my recovery journey with

you.


On this occasion, I was the girl with the ‘fuck its’ who‘s done with getting fucked up

because it fucks everything else up, even more than before.


“I came in here thinking I’d be a shining example of sobriety,” I said.


“Now I’m just a shit show of what not to do.”


Sometimes I open my mouth and insert my foot like a steak that’s raw in the middle. I

don’t mince my words.


Surprisingly, I was commended on my most honest share yet. Then I was told the same

again a day later by a different facilitator who asked the group to ask ourselves how

much we want sobriety.


“I want to drink,” I said.


“But I don’t want the consequences. So I can’t.”


My newfound honesty with myself and others means I’m facing my biggest challenge

yet and that’s to lose face itself – to unmask.


Admitting I’m powerless over alcohol has been easy for me. It’s accepting it that I’ve

found hard. Really hard. I’ve done some stupid things drunk and they just kept getting

stupider. Really stupid.


The anecdotes I’ll share with you won’t generally be war ones. I swear so many people

make those up. Or glorify them. If one is well pissed, how can they truly remember what

they’ve said and done? They often rely on others to tell them. Been there, done that.

Got the (nude) tee shirt. Woke up in it. Forgot their name and my location.


I’m here to talk about recovery, not drinking. After all, it’s the latter that’s resulted in the

former. Fortunately. Don’t get me wrong – I have had some great times drinking. I’ve

done ‘the parties, the places, the people, the faces’, as I refer to the lifestyle I once

dreamed of living. I can still live it if I want to. I’d just want to live it differently. But I’ve

got some new dreams now.


When I first came to rehab, I couldn’t walk. Alcohol had taken my most important asset

– my health. Yet upon feeling newly empowered, I tested my power over my self-

confessed powerlessness. Three times.


Alcoholism is a progressive and fatal disease that has very nearly killed me. More than

once. Sadly, my condition wants its sufferers dead. I’ve been hospitalised 11 times

within a year from some scary situations, including seizure, blood poisoning, alcoholic

hepatitis, days in black out, and sudden loss of consciousness both whilst out and at

home – alone – where I hit my head. I was told I was lucky I fell backwards on my

carpet as opposed to forwards on my tiling, where I probably would’ve cracked it open

and bled to death.


This time I have do things differently. The keyword being do.


After my last relapse, I whittled my options down. I can fully commit to recovery, drink

and die, or commit a sudden suicide. To be quite frank, neither of these excited me.

Although I’ve reached points in my life so low that I’ve lived like it didn’t matter, suicide

has never been and will never be an option for me personally. Yet one may waver that if

to drink is to die for me, then in active alcoholism I’m also effectively killing myself

–slowly, and for all those I love to watch on helplessly. That’s if they stuck around.

Active alcoholism has made me a selfish and lonely drinker. Isolation is a highly

dangerous place for an alcoholic, and when I thought I was only hurting myself, I was

sorely mistaken.


No one of sound mind would seriously contemplate the best of the above options.

That’s why restoration to sanity is an important part of my programme’s success. After

all, I’ve made the craziest decisions to drink when I’ve been stone cold sober. I got the

knowledge of my disease, I got sober and then I picked up that first drink. I’ve even

made a list of the worst things I’ve done drunk and that’s worse still, because what led

to them was a result of the same sober decision.


When I was first told to pray, I prayed to be a ‘normie’. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that

way. A ‘normie’ is someone who can actually relax and enjoy a drink with an impunity

that still annoys me, because I want it. Instead I just wind up wanting the whole bottle.

Forget everything and everyone else.


I arrived back to rehab from my last relapse in a vehicle with other guests after a

recovery meeting, smelling like a vineyard. The CEO of my treatment facility, Christine,

is very dear to me. She rightly described my behaviour as self centred because it can

be a trigger for other people struggling with early recovery.


She also said, “You can’t stay... but you can’t go.”


Her words broke my heart and I’ll never forget them. It simply isn’t safe for me to live in

my own home alone just yet – and in that moment I had nowhere else safe to go. But

living at my rehab is not an entitlement. It’s a privilege. I’m very lucky to have been

given another chance to get with an infallible programme, when it’s thoroughly

practiced. I am the flipside of the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s not my

programme that’s broken. It has been me.


I was taught that, even when sober, a true alcoholic is someone whose powerlessness

over alcohol even extends to the choice not to drink again, on self will alone. I am

scientifically wired to drink whether I feel shit, meh or amazing.


So my real problem is not drinking but lack of power – lack of power not to repeat the

desperate experiment of the first drink and the inevitable subsequent lack of power in

my life. Lack of power to have a relationship with family, friends, colleagues, a

significant other and my real self. Lack of power to avoid depression and anxiety. Lack

of power to find the direction to realise my talents and dreams.


That is why the concept of a Higher Power is vital to my programme. It is my only option

and it is proven to work when it’s sought.


My programme is designed to help me live a spiritual life by dealing rigorously and

honestly with difficult emotions, like depression, anxiety, lack of direction, lack of

purpose and hopelessness. It teaches me how to let go of old ideas which led to my

survival in active.


I cannot promise I’ll never drink again. All I can say is that now, when I say my morning

prayers, I ask my Higher Power – my Mum – to please remove my desire to drink,

instead of asking her to make me a ‘normie’. I’ve had to listen carefully for she has

blessed me with a whisper. Whilst I still think about drinking, my desire to act on those

thoughts is gone and my cravings are slowly lessening. I don’t know what the future

holds. But I do know that if I continue to truly work my programme, one day at a time, I

won’t pick up that first drink. I can leave it and have everything, or take it and lose the

same. Including my life.


It’s as simple – and as hard – as that. But the more light I shed on my darkness, the

less power it has and the more empowered I become in who I am becoming.






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