I am Alexis. I am an alcoholic.
Anyone who has ever uttered these words knows this story. I will do my best to allow God to express the pain and joy we have all been blessed with. It is an absolute honor to share this story and be of service, participating in the circle of what has been so freely given to me.
There are eight of us. There were eight of us. There are six now. Two gave their lives to this disease so that we may live. My father had six children before my mother, sister, and I. We grew up in Nashville. It was chaotic to say the least. Almost all of us are an alcoholic or addict. The insanity, chaos, and impending doom was suffocating and comforting. I do not say this to place blame. I say this because long before I ever picked up a drink an alcoholic life was the only normal one.
I understood fear, anxiety, and secrecy. These things were painfully comfortable. I was painfully uncomfortable with truth, peace, and faith. Many years would pass before I allowed the Grace of God to hold me.
The memories are hazy. I am told the haziness is God’s gentle way of protecting us.
We moved from Nashville to Pennsylvania. I recall feeling intensely shy and insecure. I quickly drew into myself. It is funny. I used to say this was when I started to feel different; but, lately I feel it was when I officially shut down. Unconsciously, I built a wall and dug a moat that not even a cruise ship could get across.
The teens were a period of noteworthy construction. I continued to build and dig. Alcoholism. Loneliness, self-pity, and isolation.
Figure skating found me. Success! I was seventeen coaching and running a business. It was a joy to watch the kids grow, learn, and build confidence. A beautiful gift from God. Seventeen and passing on passion by the bucket load. I was on top of the world. I would show them all! Then I discovered the drink.
Shortly after the first drink I cared less about what I could bring to the students and more of what they could do for me. I squeezed every bit of money and power out of them and their parents. Alcoholism.
I do not clearly remember the first drink. What I do remember was the immediate feeling that came over me. Relief. Relief in a way I had never known. It was love. I could talk to people and I was comfortable in my own skin. The racing mind stopped. The anxiety dissipated. Me. For the first time I could truly be me. It worked.
My newfound solution to life quickly turned on me. Alcoholism kicked me out of the house at nineteen. Alcoholism had me constantly moving. Changing. Scenery, jobs, friends, beliefs, attitudes, and me.
Dig, blame, and rationalize. Dig, blame, and rationalize. The delusion got bigger as the truth got smaller. I could not stop. I was obsessed. I had lost the power of choice. I did not know.
I took a hostage. I marched down the aisle as a voice inside of me was screaming. This was not the way to happiness. This will not solve all your problems. Turn around. Run! Give yourself a chance. Alcoholism said, “NO.” This man had no idea he would become a prisoner to the disease. He had no idea I would be swallowed whole. Hardly recognizable – inside and out. We are divorced today. I blamed him for my drinking and using for many years. Sober, living a spiritual life, more is always revealed. Thank God for that man. He may have kept me alive for all those years. We will never know. All I know is … I have been brought to this moment. So, thank you God and thank you Chris.
2005 was my first attempt at sobriety. This lackluster effort came as a result of a DUI. Additionally, I experienced an unfortunate run in with a bit of pavement, peeling several layers of skin off my face, and a miniscule desire to quiet the people constantly expressing their fright concerning my “behavior”. I had no idea why they were worried. I was not.
A brief stint in an outpatient program awarded me a degree in Sobriety. I had it! I adopted my father’s beliefs pertaining to willpower and logic. I moved forward absolutely convinced his beliefs would work for me. I attended a few of “those” meetings, sat in the back, came in after the meeting started, left before it was over, never shared, never asked for help, no change, and no God. NO chance.
Deciding to go it alone I made it a little over a year. I cannot being to describe the gut wrenching insanity that followed. I heard, “nothing changes if nothing changes”. What I could not understand was why I needed to change. I was sober. I had changed. What else needed to change? What were they talking about? No thanks.
The day came. It was a day like all the others. Waking up there was no thought of a drink. On the way to work there was no thought of a drink. Walking in the doors there was no thought of a drink. As I walked to the table I saw a sea of prepared drinks. It was alcohol training day. No thought of a drink. The trainer turned to me, “would you like to try one of these?” My head said, “I don’t want to say no anymore.” Before that thought was done the drink was in my hand and down my throat. Powerlessness. The way that I think when I am sober that makes me want to drink. No guilt. No shame. No remorse. Only that familiar feeling of relief. I could breathe again. I was gone before I knew it.
My head told me I would go home, put my head on the pillow, and wake up like nothing happened. I believed the lie; only it did not seem like one. There was not even a second thought. So, I did just that.
The next morning I woke in one of those strange mental blank spots and found myself at a bar. Walking out of the bar I stopped at the beer distributor to pick up a case. It was warm. It did not matter. I pulled them out one by one guzzling as quickly as I could.
By the grace of god this only continued for a year and a half.
It was worse. In less than twenty four hours I was worse than where I had left off. Absolute full flight from reality. I played poker around the clock, paid no bills, and my possessions were props. The daily struggle to float the illusion was exhausting. Insanely, I did not know.
The last hours were epic. I impressively trumped the normal chaos. Drinks, drugs, and men. Chasing the never ending elusive smash and grab for safety and security. They always escaped me. Broken I sat on the stoop late in the am. This was it. These are the cards I had been dealt. I surrendered to the drink. I was prepared to go on to the bitter end.
God had different plans for me. I had no interest in getting sober and somehow was plucked from the gates of death and dropped into a rehab. Thank you to my parents for confronting me. If it was not for their support, forgiveness, and love who knows if I would be with you all today. I was angry and terrified. My best friend had been taken away.
I would love to say I emerged from rehab a new woman. I did not follow the rehab’s advice. Minus the drink not much had changed. I refused to seek help. I kept up with the gambling, sleeping around, shopping, and anything else I could get into to get out of self. Two years passed and I could no longer deny the depth of my misery. My personal “happiness checklist” had come true. I had been given everything I always wanted. When I put my head on the pillow at night the hole inside of me was the size of a crater. I was so alone. Nothing would fill it.
Another miracle was on its way. Out of the blue I found myself at a “meeting”. I heard a small still voice. It told me this was it. I better ask for help and I better do it now. This was my window of opportunity. I turned to the man next to me. My mouth opened and words flowed out without my permission. I had asked for help. He put me in contact with an angel. This woman carried a message of freedom. She loved me until I could love myself. She gave me her God until I had my own. She showed me how to make use of spiritual principles. I was promised a way of life that would beat anything I had ever known. I was promised freedom from fear and the bondage of self. She said the hole I had always felt would eventually become so full that all I would want to do was help others. That is exactly what has happened.
I took direction for the first time in my life. Every suggestion but one. I would not allow God into my life. Little did I know I could not. I was still playing God. I still thought I put the drink down that day. I still thought I had returned myself to sanity. I was still taking credit for all the miracles in my life.
My dad passed away. I felt fine with the initial jolt of it all. The shock wore off and the new reality set in. Shortly after an intensely debilitating anxiety leveled me. A depth of anxiety I had never experienced. There was nothing to medicate it. Nothing to fall back on. My old behaviors had been removed. The darkness took me down. I was finished. God had better plans. A shattered spirit brought me to my knees and with palms up I finally asked. Drink, die, or go for God the voice said. Thank God for the angel who carried a message. She spoke simply, “This is just where you are right now, pray about it.” Acceptance and action. She had passed on the miracle. The gift that was so freely given to her. Her patience had paid off. I was finally ready to receive.
That very day God entered my heart and mind in the most miraculous way. I had faith before; but, now I have a faith that works under all conditions. Faith that works everywhere, every time, and with everything. In the dark and the light I give the credit where it is due. God has done for me what I could not do for myself. My dependence is upon the Spirit of the Universe. I cannot believe I think, feel, act, and believe in this way. I cannot believe that a life lived in the spirit of love and service is what keeps the hole full and at most times overflowing. I cannot believe that honesty, integrity, humility, love, tolerance, and patience solve all of my problems.
Thank you God, Janet, and all the spiritual giants that came before me. We stand on the wings of angels. Each and every one of us. We are plucked from the gates of death for a higher purpose – to be of maximum service to God and to our fellows and to let our light shine in the darkest corners of the earth.
Anyone CAN change!
Much Love to All!