Seems like yesterday I was sitting in my home watching the walls around me come down forcing me to address the black sheep in the room. My name is James F and I am an alcoholic. Crazy every time I say that even to this day it is powerful as when you acknowledge reality and own it that puts you in a powerful position to beat it.
It is strange looking back at that time in my life as while a lot of things happened, I was so fortunate to get out when I did. I had a 17-year love affair with the bottle. It owned me in every aspect of my life. I lived life for the next drink, and I didn’t really care what I had to do as long as I could be with it every night. Somehow or another I was a functioning alcoholic and was successful in my professional life. Although usually sabotaging it I always bounced back and could give people what they wanted. One thing I realized later on in my recovery is that I had given up myself and always lived for other people which killed me on the inside. I didn’t take care of myself and why I needed to escape to forget who I had become.
I did a lot of things over the years to survive, I lied, cheated, stole, manipulated friends, family and anyone that was involved in my life. I was good, not to brag at building an image that I was the top dog in life and people wanted to be around me. All the while I knew it was all fake, I was a fake. I have thrown my higher power out the window and sold my soul to the highest bidder. While the last several years before my trip to the Shed I knew I had a problem I always thought I was better than the average drunk and would pull up to AA meetings and laugh, look at those people.
In life there are always turning points that looking back I now see. Growing up in church I had been out of it for some time as I knew I was fake, and God would somehow see me for who I was. Don’t worry I am not turning this into a you must have God but that is whom my higher power is. I respect everyone’s interpretation of whom or what that is as it is not my position in life to judge. One day I had decided to head to the casino and through a strange detour ended up walking into a new church. When I shuffled in, it was quite scary, but the sermon really felt like it was directed an me. How did he know me? I didn’t know the pastor. While uncomfortable I chose to come back several times and started to dig down deep into my heart. The guilt started to really mount as I was not the same person I was in church as I was at home. Drinking took me down some very dark paths that how in the world should I even be in a church. Again, I found myself playing the game of being two people, good James and bad James.
My drinking intensified and my lying was getting out of control. I could not keep track of anything. Finances started to fail, and my work situation started to fall apart. I remember sitting in my room and dropping to my knees begging God to take it away. While the next several days issues started to crush me even more, I believe it was His way of pushing me. I picked up the phone and talked to a wonderful woman at the Watershed. Loraine if I recall correctly told me something I had not heard before. She said I have been where you are, and it will be ok. The next several days through insurance and finally for the first-time telling people about the secret I had worked so hard to protect I was on my way to the shed in Texas.
The Texas stay was short as due to some complications I ended up in the hospital and after a few days there was released to find out the treatment center I was at was gone and had been evacuated. I was sent to a fema shelter and spent 5 days there to ride out the hurricane. Despite living in filth, it was an amazing experience and I was no longer anything but a person like the 800 other people there, displaced. I met some amazing people and really put life in perspective.
Once we could get things situated, I decided to continue my journey and off to Florida I went. My experience at the Shed was really a positive as I could share my journey and learn not only from the staff but also learn so much for the patients realizing I am not nor would I ever be alone. In fact, one of my best friends to this day was my roommate from the Shed as we have beaten the odds and are clean living life.
While life after the shed has been filled with ups and downs, I am sitting here today being able to experience those. I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I had not put faith in my higher power, the shed and myself I would not be here today. Over the last several years I have lost my dad and been diagnosed with MS which has taken away my mobility. While hard to deal with I have been able to use the tools I received from the Shed to move through them and fight my disease.
For those of you who are new or have been clean and sober I now have over 10 years and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. Whatever your story it is yours to own and how it ends you have complete power to write with the help of your higher power. That is the exciting part, life does not have to end that way. Let go and live…..