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One Woman's Truth About The Addiction Illness
By: Wendy Silva June 2, 2009
My name is Wendy and this is my journey through the secret world of alcoholism, drug dependency, recovery thru transformation and salvation. I'm not a professional writer but I hope the reader can envision the process I went through. I also found, working with others, this is a common experience shared by most of us with this disease . With some of us it takes a little longer and we have to loose a whole lot more but admission of this disease and surrender to the solution is the common denominator for success. It took five years to consider I may be drinking to much and I Needed only to drink like I used to. It took another five years to finally realize I had no control over my drinking and Wanted recovery. After the final three years, I was emotionally, mentally, financially and spiritually bankrupt and was Ready to hear, accept and do anything that would ensure my recovery. During this journey I was widowed twice, lost my profession due to an orthopedic injury, (I lived through eight surgeries in two years), which left me totally disabled. My prognosis, eventually I would loose the use of my leg. The disability led to major depression and pain, opiate dependency, using assistive devices to walk, personal bankruptcy of all I owned and humiliation. I hit my bottom then left my third husband, who was an alcoholic and a member of an Italian mob family! (Life with him would fill an entire book all on it's own)
Although, our divorce was due to his alcoholism other little things, like waking up with him holding a knife to my throat, played a part as well.
Did you ever wonder what it would take to be, Recovered? So many 'ways' and so many people suggesting, advising, enabling, coercing, threatening, begging, or out and out trying to 'fix' us. What is it really all about? Why do so many fail? What does it take to 'get it'?
I am empowered to write my findings on this journey I've been trudging since 2001. Why? For this simple reason; the information I was given differed from Dr. to Dr. , sponsor to sponsor, state to state, institution to institution, room to room and church to church. The results were reflected in the declining success rate of those claiming recovery, or dare I say, declaring they were transformed.
I didn't hear the word, transformed, until recently. In the beginning, I knew I had become powerless over alcohol and my life was a little unmanageable. But, I wasn't an alcoholic! I didn't drink to excess or experiment with drugs as a kid. I was a social user of cocaine during it's popular phase in the 80's but no more than anyone else. When occassionally, my late husband and I went out to a club dancing or a house party, we par-took with everyone else. Other than that, I
considered myself a social drinker at best. Heck, even the liquor we received as a gift, at Christmas, was still in the closet the following Christmas.
So, how did I become alcoholic? Can someone not have this illness then one day, acquire it? Well, the many answers to that question kept me in denial of my alcoholism for a few years. At age 32, the death of my first husband, of 17 years, sent me into a tailspin. We met when I was 17 years old and I grew up with him. He and our 10 year old son were my whole world. Now, my son and I had lost everything. Yes, husband, dad and all we had accumulated throughout the years were gone. Steve was only 40 years old and we didn't think of life insurance or the future. He was a 20 year veteran cop and x- Chief of Police turned Paramedic. I was a housewife/mother/nurse, respectively. With both of us in the medical field, we saw death all the time and death happened to other people. We were living day by day and enjoying life.
Shortly after his death, a nightly glass of wine enabled me to sleep without him next to me, for the first few years. Well needless to say, the glass turned into two turned into three then a bottle. Within 6 years, I was drinking alcoholically. By that I mean, I was unable to stop, once I started and I couldn't not start. Those who have this disease understand that sentence.
However, within those years I managed to grow as an individual and was promoted to a profession I had no right to. By that I mean, I didn't have the appropriate degree to fulfill the normal hiring requirements. But, the position
within the medical field was offered to me and to my surprise, I excelled at it. I was so successful I bought my own home, a new car, got married, had another son and had a great life. But, slowly in the background, my drinking became more frequent. Let me also add, my second late husband, John, told me he was a recovered heroin addict. But honestly, growing up sheltered in a small town in Massachusetts, I didn't know what recovered addict meant or looked like, yet. We had a great life together. He was so into family, boating, vacations, loved to work around the house, a wonderful handy-man and good at everything. Unfortunately, his addiction was to become active, once again, and we would eventually separate. He loved opiates, all kinds and freely admitted it. He always thought he had complete control over the drug and himself, but of course, that wasn't true. All the signs of an addict were everywhere in our house, burn holes, punch holes in walls, he would fall asleep or nod off everywhere (including red lights). I could never understand opiate addiction and I remember thinking, how could anyone take all those pills anyway? What is that about? I even told him one time, if he had to do that, just go to a hotel and stay until the bottle of pills is empty. I really thought it was a one time deal!
Needless to say, John and I had to split up. He became someone I didn't recognize when taking pills or drinking alcohol (which, by the way, is one of the tell-tale signs of having the addiction illness). He was abusive and a threat to both my boys. When not actively using though, he was a great guy and for the sake of the family, decided to enter a detox/rehab. In order to visit him, I had to attend what's called the 'Family Informational Meeting'. Now this proved to be a wonderful meeting for me as it didn't just stop with instruction on the addiction
illness. I learned so much about co-dependency, enabling, boundaries (of which I had none, come to find out). Most important, I discovered I was molested as a young child and had absolutely no memory of it! This was to later fuel my alcoholism. My abuse was shocking to learn and the work I did in one on one counseling lasted for three years. John and I would re-unite only to separate on more than one occasion. But, the most amazing thing happened. Once he was out of the house, I realized the alcohol kept finding it's way to the kitchen closet! Over and over and over I would find it gone too! Someone was drinking it and that someone was drinking quit a bit, too. By the time I realized it was me, (and strange as it sounds, denial is a powerful friend to the addict) I still didn't know I was alcoholic. I was a home drinker, which means no one ever saw me so there was no proof of my intoxication. I would simply wait until my son's were in bed, as I always did, then surf the web with my glasses of wine nearby, until oblivion came. Night after night I went through the same scenario. Eventually incorporating hard liquor drinks in between wine days. In public or social gatherings, I would have two drinks, max, followed by large glasses of water until the evening was over. I would go home and finish off the bottle (which I had started before leaving). When I started to question if I may have some issue with alcohol, I remember asking family and friends what they thought. Now, I have since learned family, friends and co-workers are great enablers and will always side with that of complete health in those they care about. Well, with so many positive responses in favor of my normal drinking, I continued my already solid routine. I mean, hadn't I abstained throughout my school years? Didn't people agree with me all
the time that I was an 'average' social drinker? I had a great profession, was available to my kids, parents and friends whenever they needed me. The bills were all paid and up to date. Life was good! Life was great! How could I be an alcoholic?? John was now gone from our home, the years passed and one day I noticed I was no longer paying attention. The bills would go unopened until the last minute, the house wasn't as kept as it used to be. My drinking became more of a reliable friend in the form of a habit. Whenever an "upset" came at home, work or socially, I grabbed the nearest drink. I also noticed I began to purchase two bottles of wine, instead of one. I bought the bigger bottle of vodka and always made sure there was plenty for the weekend. I knew I would be unable to purchase any liquor on Sunday so I doubled up. More and more money was going to the liquor store and suddenly, they knew my name! Yes, I started to go to three different locations because I was going so often, I worried about what they would say? Can you imagine? I actually thought about such things. The wine took a back seat to the hard liquor, eventually. The liqueurs, I enjoyed throughout so many Christmas's, were but a memory. This went on and on for a few years and as I mentioned, steadily increasing my consumption. Finally, one day something happened to throw me into a tail spin and I went to reach for a glass of anything. But, to my horror everything was empty. So, off I go to the liquor store down the street.
The most amazing thing happened that day and I have no idea how or why it happened. I went to turn into what I thought was the entrance to the strip mall of my liquor store but it was one road short. I found myself attempting to turn
back around and suddenly was face to face with what I knew as a clubhouse which held meetings for alcoholics! I honestly didn't give it a second thought, I simply parked my car got out and walked into the building where there happened to be a meeting starting! I sat down, for some unknown reason and when it came time I announced, hi I'm Wendy and I think I'm having a problem drinking normal like I used to! To my amazement, not one person laughed, snickered or scolded. They simply said welcome.
That began my first attempt at recovery, when I thought I Needed it. Of course, I believed I needed to return to my old way of drinking, not the uncontrollable drinker I had become. You see, I believed I was still able to drink wine ok...it was that hard stuff that made me crazy!
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