My name is Sarah. I was born and raised in Cincinnati Ohio. I’m 28 years old. I was born into a dysfunctional alcoholic family. My Father, Mother and Step Mom are alcoholics. I say that because I believe I was born an addict, so basically I was predisposed to this disease. The actions and choices I made created the severity of my disease. That is not to be confused with me blaming my parents for my addiction. I made my own choices.
Growing up wasn’t easy for me. I have 5 brothers and a sister. My parents were divorced, so I saw my Mom only every other weekend. My Mom and Dad are completely different people and different parents. My Dad was very strict and my Mom was the total opposite. I had to grow up very quickly. I was sexually abused from 8-12 by a family member. Saying that is still very hard for me. But I’m capable of saying it only because of the intense work I’ve done with my sponsor and my therapist. I understand that I’m a survivor and not a victim. Time and dedication have given me the strength to share my inner most pain with people in hopes that it will strengthen someone else.
I never had my own identity. I never felt “a part of” anything. Not even my family. Everyone always ran to me for advice, to fix their problems, and because I was the one that comforted everyone. I’ve always been that way, and I realize today that it’s a character defect that my God still uses today. The only difference is that I use it in a healthy way. I never knew that it wasn’t alright to not know something. I always had to “act as if I knew” because if I didn’t know then I would seem weak or undeserving of people’s time and love.
When I was growing up I always needed to feel accepted and wanted. I did what normal kids do, smoked weed, drank alcohol and “partied” with everyone else. But the difference was that when I drank all my problems became irrelevant. I suddenly didn’t care what people thought and said about me. I had confidence and joy that I never had before I drank. So when everyone else stopped, I couldn’t understand why I didn’t. I kept going until I passed out, and then when I came to I couldn’t wait to do it again. I was different than they were. Because when I drank and drugged, everything changed. My addiction progressed over the years. Slowly but surely I started experimenting further into opiates and cocaine. I was 17 years old when I was in the hospital for a chronic pain condition called endometriosis and a bladder disease as well. Without a cure for them, I was put on pain management with opiates.\
I continued to repeat behaviors through the years becoming more and more selfish and dishonest. From that point on I continued to spiral out of control. When I hit my first bottom, I was 22 years old. I was physically, emotionally and mentally dependent on my medication. I was in nursing school, and I was determined to not let my family down. So I stayed in my dysfunction until I could no longer stand the emptiness I felt inside. The physical and emotional pain was no longer being suppressed. My solution stopped working. Which meant I was left with myself, and I hated myself. So I reached out to my step mother, who had admitted her alcoholism and told me about treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous. A small part of me had surrendered. I would love to tell you I’ve been sober ever since, but that’s not how my story goes. I had gone away for two weeks and been physically removed from my substance, but I had done no internal work on my internal condition. Either way, a seed had been planted. I knew now that there was another way.
Years passed and I continued to fuel my addiction. I stole from whoever I could, I lied to whoever I could, and I made a choice to live a life that was nothing short of miserable. I felt like everyone else had gotten a handbook for life and that I was somewhere else when God was handing them out. I accepted my fate. I’ve heard people say that if they used again they would surely die. But that wasn’t the case for me. I knew that I would live and I would stay in my misery, and that was far more terrifying. I took so much from my family and the people who cared for me.
And because I was literally so numb, I didn’t care. All I knew was I needed to get the next one and I was willing to do whatever it took to get it. There came a point in my miserable excuse for a life, that I was completely broken. I begged for help. I could no longer continue down this destructive path. Even if it wasn’t for me at first, my family deserved better than what I was. So I took the chance of a lifetime and flew down to South Florida. Where I’m from, there is no help for someone like me. When I walked into the Boca location of The Watershed, I felt a sigh of relief. Shortly followed by some of the worst fear I had ever experienced. My solution was about to be taken away, and I had no idea how I was going to fill that empty hole in my soul. I was 24 years old.
I made the decision to go back home after my short time at Boca. I wasn’t completely willing to deal with life without any form of drugs or alcohol. My problem was heroin and opiates. As long as I smoked weed and drank, I’d be fine. Well I was sadly mistaken. My disease progressed so quickly after my attempt at only smoking weed and drinking on the weekends. I thought I could take the medicine because a doctor gave it to me. Little did I know that the phenomenon of craving set in when I took that first one. It didn’t take me long to hit another bottom and for God to push me towards where I needed to be. I called the only place that I had ever felt safe and understood. Shortly after that call I was back at The Watershed. I took such a long painful road to get to such an amazing place in Boca. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything because it has molded me into the woman I am today.
I learned that people can love me for exactly who I am and where I am. That I can love people unselfishly for who they are and not what they can do for me or what I can do for them. My life hasn’t been perfect since I came back to the fellowship. But I believe that all my pain and experience can help someone else to not have to endure what I did. My step mother has 3 years clean and sober today by the Grace of God. I threw myself into the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I felt at home there. It took time, though. I wasn’t that girl that walked into a meeting and knew I was home. And I didn’t really want what they had. I just didn’t want what I had anymore, and I was willing to go to any length I had to so I didn’t ever have to feel that empty hole again. I found a woman who guided me down this path of love and forgiveness that I never thought was possible. And I’m positive that I’m alive today because of what she’s done for me.
Sponsorship is a huge part of my life, and it gives me that peace that I so desperately craved when I was using. The Watershed taught me that it was okay not to know. That it was okay to not be okay. They loved me until I learned to love myself. They pushed me to do things I didn’t want to do. PHP wasn’t an option, and I for sure would be back home soon and not in halfway. But I ended up completing the program and finding my way in this world without picking up a drink or a drug. Without The Watershed, my sponsor, my family, the fellowship of AA and of course the eternal love from my Higher Power which I choose to call God, I would not be here today. And when I feel alone, or not good enough, or not a part of, I pray.
I pray for strength and guidance. And My God gives me what I need to continue on the path that He has set for me. Living in gratitude is far better than wishing for something that I don’t have or want. I can honestly say that today, my solution is no longer to drink and drug myself into oblivion to fix my internal and external pain and to elevate an obsession beyond my control. My obsession has been lifted, and my solution is trusting God, cleaning my side of the street and helping others. I’ve sat in those seats in Boca at The Watershed. I know the pain very well. But I refused to be beaten by this disease. I reached out for help and The Watershed took my hand.
The staff there and the people I’ve met from The Watershed have contributed to saving my life. I owe them a debt of gratitude. I had a little willingness and that was the humble start that I needed. I felt like giving up, and they wouldn’t let me. I’m alive and sober today because of that. I’ve lost countless friends and loved ones to this disease. The amount of loss is unsurpassable. And I live my life today, day by day and minute by minute. I love without conditions. Because I never know when I’ll lose someone else to this selfish horrible disease. Life is so short, and I refuse to live it in the darkness and emptiness that my disease takes me to. I’m happy, truly happy. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world. And I know that all those people I’ve lost in the 4 years since I first went to The Watershed, they did not die in vain. Because I’m still here and I’m still building my life. I know they are looking down on me and smiling. And that feeling is unmistakable. I can only hope that something I’ve said reaches someone’s heart. It’s not about what happened, or the amount of drugs and drinks I took, it’s about the feelings behind it. If you’re anything like me, you know that there aren’t enough drugs in the world to fix me. But I’m here to tell you that I don’t have to put anything into my body to help me get through the day. I have my family back; I have true friends today and most of all I have found true serenity in myself. And that is the greatest gift of all. God Bless. Don’t give up. You are worth it. Sarah G.