I'm a work in progress, but making progress (Thank you Lord.)

by CherylB
(Terryville, CT)

Reading your story really brought back memories for me. It's funny how we can have decades of bad experiences from booze (or drugs) and never connect the dots.

I started drinking after my parents divorced and my best friend drowned in a pond. Life had never been ideal, but when my father moved out and my mom had to get a job, I suddenly had time to get away with things. I used to skip school all the time. I'd get dressed and leave in the morning, hide in the wooded corner of our yard and wait for my mom to drive by on her way to work, then go back inside and back to bed. I'd do the same when it was time for mom to return. I'd walk in and if she asked me how school was, I'd simply say, "Fine." We lived close enough to the school that I can remember the school nurse peering into our living room window, trying to catch a glimpse of me. I would lay as still as a mouse until she was gone.

My first taste of alcohol was sipping from my mother's beer. She'd have a few each night while watching TV. When she'd get up to go to the bathroom, I'd chug some of her beer from the glass, then top it off with what was left inside the can. She never caught on.

I began drinking with the neighborhood kids. I remember drinking straight booze, then chasing it with soda. We figured it would all mix up in our stomachs, so why bother to mix it ahead of time? Boy, did I get wasted. I remember two of them carrying me back down the street (one under each of my arms.) Somehow, I got home and, as far as I can remember, my mom didn't know.

Cigarettes and pot soon followed. I also took pills, whenever I could find some, but usually from the medicine cabinets of our friends' parents. My group of friends were the druggies, the drop-outs, and the burn-outs. I fit in with them very well.

Got a babysitting job with a neighbor when we moved across town. They were a young couple and the guy smoked pot. We would sneak out into the apple orchard at night sometimes and get high. Eventually, he came onto me and it went just so far, but I felt horrible about the whole thing. So, one day I stole some money from the woman. She knew I took it, but I wouldn't confess. I got what I wanted, which was to get out of the situation.

I also got a terrible surprise, though. The man (Greg) hung himself. It turns out that she must have figured it all out and she told him she was taking the two kids and moving back to Germany. He did it in the basement, in full military dress, and I felt responsible somehow.

I kept drinking and drugging as much as I could. Somehow, I made it through high school, but nearly dropped out. At the age of 21, I had a born again experience and lost all desire to drink and smoke weed, which was a true miracle. I dumped my friends and clung to my sobriety and new relationship with God.

After 3 years or so, I became so isolated and lonely for companionship that I went against what I believed to be right and moved in with a man who was almost twice my age. I left my family and moved half way across the country. He turned out to be a sexually perverse man, and a very controlling, manipulative person. He took advantage of me for years, and I let him. I made it work, but slowly regained my freedom from him. I began drinking again during those 6 years with him. It helped me to numb the pain and to "loosen up" for when he wanted to go out dancing. Oh, how he loved to go dancing.

I got accepted into two nursing schools, and chose the one which had a dorm. I left him the month I turned 30. From that point on, I became a real party animal. Still not smoking or doing pot or pills, but, boy, did I drink. I carried a cooler of beer with me wherever I went. I know I could have gotten kicked out of the dorm and the school, but I didn't stop this behavior.

During this time in nursing school, I had my first blackout. I didn't remember driving home from a bar, where my friends fought me in the parking lot for my car keys. To say I was belligerent would be accurate. I got my keys, but didn't recall the ride home.

I graduated from nursing school and moved to another state. My sister died in the last semester, so I wanted to live closer to family. I got my first job as a nurse, met and fell in love with a severely handicapped man, and we moved in together a month or two later. He was totally blind, had a transplanted kidney and a partial foot amputation from diabetes. I figured he'd be fine now that he had me. Right.

We fell in love quick. A week later, I discovered that he was a pot smoker. He said it helped him with his blindness. I was mortified. I knew that I would not be able to have pot around me all the time and not eventually use it. If I had known he smoked from the start, I would have not gotten close with him, but it was too late to walk away.

After a few weeks, I smoked my first joint. I was 31 and a newly graduated RN. Once again, I was hooked. I began smoking every day. Everything I worked so hard to
learn was going up in smoke.

December of 1995, my husband and I went to a Christmas party that my nurse manager was throwing at her house. Hubby felt out of place and the booze only made him feel more insecure. On the drive home, he started saying that I was going to leave him, "just like all the other guys." I tried to rationalize with him, but finally, I stopped the car and told him to get out. I couldn't take it. I loved him with all my heart and he couldn't believe it. I went around the car to where he was standing to try and talk with him, but we lost our balance. I fell down on the ground on top of him. His foot got caught between the car and the curb and his leg snapped in several pieces.

I got him back in the car and we drove like mad down the road. I spotted a cop and we pulled over. I ran to them and said my husband was hurt and I remember the cop saying, "You wreak!"

We got to the hospital, and long story short, hubby got leg pinned and a rod in place and I felt like it was all my fault. "I broke my husband's leg." It became the big, dark secret in my closet. I lived in fear of having the truth be known. I promised him I'd stop drinking.

We officially married five months later. I was a step mom and inherited a ton of responsibility, not to mention all the work of being a nurse working full time and sometimes more. Shortly after our honeymoon, I had an incident at work and tested positive for pot. I lost my job on the spot the day the results came in. I was going to have to go before the nursing board. My life was falling apart.

A year to the month of our marriage, my husband's kidney started to fail. I realized I had married a ticking time bomb. All of a sudden, I knew how things were going to turn out. I became numb and something inside of me died. I stopped trying so hard, stopped caring so much, and just went into a shell of booze, pot and pills. They were there for the taking for any nurse with half a brain.

Hubby began a steady decline with many stops along the way. He died in his sleep in February of 2000. He had no lower legs, four useless kidneys and was living on dialysis. I was glad for him, but it was the worst thing that could have happened to me. I didn't expect it and didn't see it coming. There were so many things left unsaid, and I had no closure.

I hate the word Alcoholic, because I believe I am just a plain old Addict. I've abused all the things I've mentioned, and food too. Thankfully, I had wisdom enough not to use cocaine and other drugs that I had opportunity to try. I knew if I tried them that it would be all over for me, knowing myself. But I have struggled with them all.

In 2006, I had another miraculous deliverance from booze and pot. I was sober for 2 yrs and 7 months, then I caved to temptation during a terribly difficult time of stress and anxiety, but for about six months, I'd wanted to drink again.

Having said ALL THIS, I have barely scratched the surface of all the things I've done or been through. But looking back, alcohol has always led me to bad outcomes. Over time, the blackouts became more frequent, I had more bad episodes around family and could no longer hide how booze was affecting me. All the while, I would tell myself I could control it. I would only drink after 7 pm, or only when out for dinner, or only for special occasions, or only when not around family, or only outside of the house, etc. Nothing worked, because nothing but abstinence ever could!

Over all the years of driving under the influence, I'd never had an incident behind the wheel. That is, until about a month ago. I was drinking heavily, took my PM meds which included Ambien for sleep, and then got the notion that I needed to go to my sister's house and shovel out their driveway for them. They had just returned from a FL trip to a mountain of snow. I drove all the way there, but for some unknown reason, I turned the other way and was heading home. I fell asleep or "passed out" behind the wheel and the car went off the road into a small ditch full of snow. Thankfully, it was their street. I didn't recall much of what happened, but the car was stuck and had to be towed out. I spent the night on my sister's couch and woke up in the morning knowing that "the jig was up." I could never again say that I've never had an accident while drinking and driving.

I've heard it said that one is too many and 20 isn't enough. Well, that's me and booze. I was the same way with pot. If it was around, I smoked it multiple times a day. I'd try not to, but I would. I once even flushed the weed down the toilet because I hated being controlled by it. Why can't I just use and leave it be for another time? Why can't I just do things in moderation?

The answer is: Because I'm an Addict.

I'm one week clean and sober now, and I am determined to stay clean. Thank you for starting this website. Reading your story made me take a long, hard look at myself. You helped me see the light. God bless you and your family.

Comments for I'm a work in progress, but making progress (Thank you Lord.)

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Jun 19, 2011
by: Rae

thanks for writing back!
Congratulations on your anniversary. Sorry it took me a little bit to answer - school, work, meetings etc are keeping me super busy.
My mom and I are both doing well - I just celebrated 10 months clean last week, and I have been clean longer than I ever have...so I'm pretty happy about that. One day at a time though I guess :)

So glad to hear you're healthy and staying sober and congrats on the weight loss as well!

Write back any time - take care!


Jun 12, 2011
Just checking in with y'all!
by: Anonymous

I'm still doing great and going strong. It will be 5 months sober on June 21st. Wooohoooo! I feel joyful and in control. I know that substances are one great, big illusion! I feel so wonderful on absolutely NOTHING. I'm getting to know ME again.

In fact, I've been dieting and have lost a total of 65 lbs! Only 30 more until I reach my goal and can practice maintaining the loss. Eventually, I may feel good enough to actually go back to working part time as an RN.

If any of you out there are still "on the fence" and think you will miss drinking (or whatever) so much, please stop believing the lies that come straight from the pits of Hell. It's all a mirage. Alcohol is a depressant! I feel joyful! When I was drinking, I thought joy was something other more fortunate people experience.

Happiness is right there, within your grasp. Reach out and choose to be happy! It's as easy as that. And if you are trying to do it without knowing God, then I sincerely ask you to have a good, long talk with Him, soon. ;)

Rae and Mom, I hope you are both well and joyful too! Peace!

Cheryl (Original Poster)

Cheryl, it is SO good to hear from you and hear all your good news. You are accomplishing amazing things!

Rae and I are doing well also and appreciate your good thoughts.

Congratulations on your sobriety and keep up the good work! Please stay in touch!

My very best wishes for you,
Shelby (Rae's Mom)

Feb 19, 2011
Thank you
by: Anonymous

Your story really struck a chord for me. I feel your pain and so admire your strength and bravery as you continue working toward sobriety. Thank you for sharing. I wish you all the best in your journey. You clearly have a wonderful spirit and so much to offer others. Stay strong, keep fighting, and you will find serenity.

Feb 03, 2011
by: Anonymous

I'd had a break down in the past. Back when my husband was alive and falling apart. I checked myself into a rehab, but it was a huge mistake. It was a "catch all" place, full of people who were mentally unstable, not just addicts. I thought I would get intensive therapy, but it was a joke. Our group therapies were monopolized by the most demented, and maybe we got an hour of private therapy a day. Honestly, I don't think we even got that much. I checked myself back out a week later.

I will take your advice and seek out a meeting if I start struggling with the temptation again. I have quit smoking cigs also (years ago) and I find that the same triggers make me want to drink as used to make me want to smoke. Extreme stress, frustration and/or anger will do it every time. I know what to watch for and I know how important it is.

Just posting here makes me feel much better. To have the connection with you is a real blessing to me. I'm glad it blesses you, too!

Feb 03, 2011
Thank you so much!
by: Anonymous

Shelby and Rae,

I thought I had set this up so that I would receive an email whenever there was a comment posted to my post, but I haven't received any. I was just rereading my story because I took a chance and sent the link for the page to a good friend of mine. She asked me what was different this time about living without booze. I started to write her, then realized I'd already written it all down here. I hope she can handle all the truth.

I don't count days, but I'm still sober. For me, it's not a daily temptation. The first three days were a bit tense, but it got better after that. In the past, both times were partially divine intervention and partly refusing to even consider drinking. I remember when I'd drive by my favorite liquor store I would turn my head away and speak out loud, "Thank you, Lord." That's all it took. I really believed it was behind me, but I caved after six months of temptation in 2006.

It's another long story, but all the years of loss and turmoil culminated in me having a break down. I've been on disability ever since. Except for when the disability insurance company forced me to go back to work. I made it through all the applications and interviews, but the day before my first day of orientation, I said "..... it". It was Father's Day and I went up to a local bar/restaurant and had a beer (or two) and some fried Callimari. I remember thinking I hadn't been missing much, but the flood gate was now opened. I started drinking daily again.

I just realized there was a space limit, so I'll have to continue this on another post.

Jan 31, 2011
Thank you
by: Rae

Hi Cheryl,

I would also like to thank you for sharing your story with us. I know it can be very difficult at times, but I believe sharing your pain with others really lightens the load.

You've definitely been through a lot..more than I could ever truly understand. On some level, I feel your pain - I have been through a lot and lost a lot as well. But on another level - I really can't imagine what you have been through.

That being said, I just want to tell you how much I admire you for trying to stay sober. Sometimes it can seem like there's no point - but if you just give it a chance again, I think you'll see that it's truly the greatest way to live. You are very brave for everything you have been through and for sharing it with the world. I truly appreciate it.

Like my mom said, I can tell you that AA meetings have helped me tremendously. I can't imagine trying to stay clean and sober without them. Rehab, while not something I ever hope to do again, was one of the best experiences of my life. I know not everyone "needs" rehab, or has the opportunity for rehab, but I believe it changed my life for the better. Rehab combined with outpatient and meetings has really made early sobriety easier for me. I remember getting clean the first time around, refusing to attend meetings in the beginning and I was almost as miserable as I was when I was still using and drinking. I can't tell you what to do, nor would I ever want to, I can only tell you how much AA meetings and making connections with other sober people has changed my life for the better.

You should be very proud of yourself for having one week clean...all you have to do is stay sober today, and that week will turn into months, and into years.

Please feel free to write back and comment, or share some more of your story at any time. We would love to hear from you again. If you have any questions, we would be happy to answer them. I wish you nothing but the best, and thank you again for your kind words and for sharing your story with us.
Take Care!


Jan 30, 2011
Response to Your Sharing
by: Rae's Mom, Shelby

Dear Cheryl,

I don't know where to start. I was so moved as I read your story. Thank you SO much for sharing with us and the world. Your words at the end, about my daughter's story having helped you, made me cry. That is what we hope for. That is why we started this website. If we can touch even one person, we feel blessed and that it has not been in vain.

There is so much I would like to say to you. Most of all, I want to encourage you to see your own strength. You have survived so many difficult times, you have continued to move forward, you have continued to seek answers, and you have been strong enough to share your story with us. You have the strength to remain sober and contribute so much to the world.

You didn't mention exactly how you achieved sobriety in the past. I don't know if you have attended AA meetings or spent any time in treatment programs. I encourage you to do so and not rely on sheer willpower alone. I have seen what treatment and AA have done for Rae.

Again, I thank you and wish you the very best. Congratulations on your sobriety for the last couple of weeks. It truly is one day at a time for all of us whether we are addicts or alcoholics or not. I hope you will stay in touch and make additional posts about your progress and about anything that you feel may help others.

God bless you and watch over you,

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