Priya’s Battle With Addiction Blog Series: Part 9 of 12
Posted by Reboot
Just around the time I came into recovery, my mother was recommended another 12 step program for herself. At that point we understood it to be something that would help my mother and family handle me and my alcoholism and deal with my recovery and my relapses (if any) in future. We were proven wrong in the first few meetings that she attended. From here on, my drinking was not going to be the center of her universe. My mother once shared that the purpose of the family meetings was for the family to learn to deal with the chaos an alcoholic is capable of creating at home and heal from all emotional and spiritual damage done during drinking. She was going to turn the spotlight onto herself now and start to live her life effectively. I was completely sore after hearing this. I didn’t understand how I was responsible for any chaos in our home- It was God who had given us a rough life. More so, I never imagined what emotional and spiritual damage I could have possibly caused to her.
I admit I was very young when the drinking and the drug use began, but I was now an adult and drank of my own money and free will. I seldom drank at home or at family get-togethers and so never really caused any drama and most of all, I always looked out for my mother and sister’s well-being and so was a good daughter and sister.
How then could I or my drinking hurt or harm them? I do recall having many violent outbursts in the recent past months at home, but those were only because I was being rubbed the wrong way. I also simultaneously remember instances when my family needed me and I was always there to help and support. So what dysfunctionality was my mother facing? Why did she need the family self-help programme? I knew I had a drinking problem, but basically, I was a good kid and conducted my responsibilities very well. My mother didn’t have to work any programme- unless she was going to start getting even with me!
Within the next few weeks, this chatter in my head started clearing out. I noticed a change in my mother’s behaviour. While I was still stalling on the fence with my programme, she was glowing and blossoming. Clearly, she was finding some answers and I really wanted to know what was going on. One evening we got into a heated argument and I told her if she didn’t agree with me I was going to drink. For the first time I saw a cold and stoic expression on her face and in a straight tone, she said that I was free to do whatever I wanted. She only hoped I was ready for the consequences because she was not going to support my drinking or handle the mess after that. I was stunned, where was this coming from? In the past, whenever I threatened to drink or blamed her for my drinking, she would respond with fear and guilt and that was when I would get my way. This time it was different. Did my mother stop loving me and did not care for me anymore? I walked off and went to bed that night, I did not drink or use but cried myself to sleep. I felt a surge of doom that night. I was convinced that the only back up support I had left- my mother and my family were going to leave my side. If I didn’t have them, I was going to really be left all alone in this big bad world. I didn’t want that to happen. I stayed sober and clean from thereon.
One afternoon, I requested to attend a family programme meetings with my mother. A little reluctant, she agreed and took me for the Sunday morning meeting in our neighbourhood. The family 12 step meeting was nothing like I expected. No one huddled in groups based on their relationship with the alcoholic or addict, no one bitched about the alcoholics or addicts in their life, no one made plans to get even for the humiliation their addict or alcoholic had caused them.
I walked into a room full of people who welcomed me with love and open arms. As they started to share, my eyes swelled up with tears. I heard people share on frustrations of living with an alcoholic who refused to sober up, the fears surrounding an alcoholic’s unpredictable behavior under the influence and the shame they caused in society. The violence and the aggression people felt all the time and how hopeless the situations was. Some people spoke of trying to control the situation and manipulate the situation by being the best parents, spouses, siblings, friends and never being appreciated by the alcoholic. What amazed me later was at no point did any of these family members share about getting even or revenge and said they still loved their alcoholic and addicts.
this point I noticed a strange phenomena, they had all turned the focus of their shares onto themselves and dealing with their pain or grief or frustration or anger and healing from their trauma and suffering. I was left speechless. The level of acceptance, compassion and tolerance I saw in those rooms was inspiring. For the first time, I saw a group of people detach themselves from their loved ones in disease and live and love their own lives. They had the tools to not get sucked into the negativity that we as alcoholics and addicts were spreading.
Walking out of that meeting, I felt ashamed of the denial I was in all along. Of course, my mother suffered alongside me. My hopelessness and helplessness was as much hers as mine. She felt the exact same shame and guilt that I did and her fears about my life were incomprehensible.
I was told by my sponsor that in recovery I would get my chance to make amends to my family for all the wrongs I had done. For now, the biggest amends to them would be for me to stay sober and work on improving my life.
Every day, the foremost thing I am grateful for is having a recovery programme for the family. For the first time, my family and I are on the same page. We speak the same language and most often understand what the other is going through without the struggle. Together we are on this beautiful spiritual journey where at the onset of any challenge we can pick up our spiritual tools and power through. I’m grateful that my family is truly a source of strength for me. At times when either of us feel pulled down or stuck in a difficult space, we have the other’s strong shoulders to lean on. Today, no matter what the issue is, we face it together and grow a little each time. We have much more in common and so little differences, but we learn to accept the differences and love each other regardless. Our journey together is more meaningful thanks to our respective spiritual programs and life in recovery is filled with moments of joy, love and laughter.
In my drinking days, I could not ever imagine having such a bond with my loved ones. Today I’m grateful that recovery has made this possible. My life and journey in recovery is even more special because my loved ones work hard at their own recovery programme too.
Priya is an Addict and an Alcoholic who came into recovery at the young age of 23. She continues to work a 12 step program closely with a sponsor and has been sober for 5 years since 2011. Priya lives in New Delhi-India and has a joyous and fulfilling personal and professional life. In her free time, Priya enjoys reading, listening to music, bake and watching movies. She strongly believes that for her to keep what she has learned in recovery, she must share her experience, strength and hope with other recovering Addicts and Alcoholics.