Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee. Decaf coffee over ice that isn’t wet. Chicken or beef? Bacon, bacon. More bacon. With bacon sauce.
Talk to me about your first high or your first alcoholic high. What were you trying to cover up?
The first time I remember getting high was out front of Ripple’s drive-in in Edgemont. We moved to Orem from Salt Lake City where all my family lived, and my mom put us into Catholic school in Provo virtually ensuring us pariah status among the Mormon children. In our Orem rental house, we lived in a sane family oriented neighborhood with lots of kids to play with who all went to public school. I stepped on my first bee and I dropped a rock on my big toe, losing the nail. I also knocked the wind out of my lungs when I fell off my bike jumping moguls. Normal childhood stuff. I could handle my Mother and Father because I had friends to confide in. When we moved to our house in Provo, it was on top of a mountain with a paved road and a propane tank. Limited access. My parents dream home. They purchased the acreage so they could run around naked outside without any neighbors watching. It was the 60’s. I needed friends and I got on my bike every day to ride around and find them. Summers were the loneliest time for me. I hooked up with some local kids down the street from the ward house. We’d been to primary and they wanted to go to Ripple’s for Lime Rickey’s. The purpose of the adventure (although unspoken) was to find a way to ease our collective, pre-teen angst and raging hormones. We went into the market next door and bought some airplane glue. We took turns sniffing it. This is what I affectionately call the valium effect. Certainly, alcohol followed afterward. It was easy to get my hands on and affordable. I was trying to cover up the fact that my family was insane; that every day I went home not knowing if I would either be body slammed to the floor (by my father) or serenaded by him with his sultry voice and guitar or staring into a circle of my 3 immediate family members who were screaming at each other .. I never knew what to expect. Getting high was a discovery of immense proportion because this was a way to make all feeling disappear. No feeling, no thinking, no pain. This became my formula for survival.
What happened to you?
Traumatic experience. I was date raped on my 18th birthday. I became pregnant. I graduated from High School. I moved away from home. My parents found out that I was pregnant. They came to where I lived and grabbed me; one wrist, one arm, one parent; other wrist, other arm, other parent. Threw me into the back seat of a car and told me to lie still all the way to California. I disassociated into two people that day, both named Kathy .. or maybe it was DID. We’ll never know for sure. They traded my baby for the payment of a hospital bill. I had the money to pay the bill, but they wouldn’t let me pay it. We drove home like nothing ever happened. I was forbidden to talk about it with anyone. My afterwards plan was to drink until I killed off all my brain cells. Turns out killing off your body and brain is more difficult than one can imagine.
What stopped you?
It took decades of alcohol abuse and severe loss to have any impact on my awareness. I had no healthy relationships, no self-worth, no money, and no spiritual connection what-so-ever. I’d been in and out of several psychiatric hospitals to address everything but the alcohol. I’d been diagnosed with several mental health disorders, but I always kept my usage hidden as I couldn’t face the possibility of losing the one tangible item that meant the most to me always: booze. I finally stopped because I was going to die. I didn’t want to die, I just wanted to be dead. Only an alcoholic knows what that feels like. In April of 2009, my daughter told me she was engaged to be married and I could not allow her to walk down the aisle with a broken, disheveled, drunken mother at her side. She was more important than the booze. She was the one person I loved more than the booze. I didn’t love myself, but I knew that I had to learn to live a life with the absence of alcohol, or risk losing her forever.
Talk to me about the lies you told yourself about getting drunk.
I lied to myself about everything. You could not tell the truth in my family. It fell upon me to tell a story of believable proportions to extricate myself from the fighting, which involved my mom, dad and sibling. I learned to lie, exaggerate and embellish just enough to keep my dad from beating me up or chasing me off the balcony in one of his daily rages. If he believed my story, I was off the hook for whatever infraction he was going to attack me for. If he didn’t believe me, I could wear him down with my bullshit. It had to be a win for me because I lived every day with the fear that I would not live. The lies served as a protection from him, her and my community. And with that lie strategy firmly entrenched into my thinking, I could substance abuse with impunity.
How do you know when your Higher power is live streaming through you?
I know that God is live streaming through me when I have enormous peace just before an extremely difficult task or when I must make a hard decision. I become awash in peaceful feeling, like a sonic bath; invisible guidance. Life has real challenges which must be faced soberly. I also know that there are helping hands with me always. I feel energies intensely, and I try to stay alert for these guides. I know that I know some things which I can’t explain, and I look for proof in the form of intuition, just to secure my confidence that I am indeed downloading from source. There is no difficulty with the size of a miracle and they happen every day, everywhere. You can hear them, you can see them, you can feel them. Most recently, I had one come through me as a violent chill; it was painful. And I knew in that moment that I was to be part of something, probably awful but necessary for the universe to get its work done. Then, awash in peace. The valium effect; but instead, this little valium is from God.
Do you have any parting advice to pass on to your future self?
It is okay to be an alcoholic. It’s rather cool. Just keep on truckin’, baby .. don’t pick up no matter what. No matter what. I would tell myself to remember the day that my liver stopped hurting, because I remember that day and it did stop hurting! And other healing milestones. There are no stupid questions and no shameful events; just missed opportunities to change and to grow. They do circle back, the opportunities, so pay attention for a chance to learn an additional lesson. And stay connected to your like-minded peeps in recovery. That’s what the Fellowship is for.