Adventures in Changing Patterns of Addiction | Sunny's Story

For Sunny, alcohol was a part of her everyday life. It wasn't until one evening when her husband only brought home a small bottle of wine and she became upset that she started questioning the role that alcohol was playing for her. That night began a journey that would introduce her to AA and change her life. 

What made you start becoming aware?
When we moved to be closer to my husband's job, I realized I most liked the friends who liked to drink. One of those friends moved away and when I saw her again, she was 6 months sober. Everything about her had changed.  She looked younger, fresher, happier...everything was better and I wanted that.

How did you first attend an AA meeting? 
The only concept I'd ever seen of AA was on television, and I knew that people said, "My name is x, and I'm an alcoholic."

I didn't know anything about the 12 steps and when my friend started to explain she invited me to a meeting. The meetings last exactly 1 hour. People introduce themselves and the person who is the chair reads the "group conscience." Each person in the group speaks 2-3 minutes. No opinions. No comments. Just your story. If you break that, the meeting stops and it is addressed.  

It took me awhile to see the term "alcoholic" and apply it to myself. I began: 

I'm Sunny and I'm here to support my friend.
I'm Sunny and I would like to drink less.
I'm Sunny and I'm an alcoholic.

It was hard to use that label at first because I wasn't living under a bridge. I didn't have a DUI. One of the things about alcoholism is that you don't "get recovered". You are in recovery. 

When you first started going to AA, what did it mean to you?
I was surprised that the group accepted me unconditionally. I could go there all the time and no one was going to judge me. It felt amazing. Unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I was barely raised with love, much less unconditional love. Many times I would leave the meeting thinking someone would stop me and tell me I did this wrong or that wrong. Instead, I was totally embraced. 

My first sponsor literally spent almost 24/7 with me because my husband was traveling. She kept me accountable.  A sponsor walks with you through the steps.

What changes did you begin to see? 
I thought that I knew everything. It didn't dawn on me, what a joke that was. In my mind there was this insanity that it was all about me. That is one of the biggest defects that I have. I used to believe that it was all about me. That is why I wanted the next drink. I didn't care about anything else.

I've now been sober for 14 months.  In AA, you are given a chip every month for the first year, then 18 months, then on the year anniversary after that.

I am a sponsor. The lady I'm sponsoring calls me every night at 8pm. She is now working the 4th step which deals with character defects. 

How has being a sponsor helped in your healing?
It has made me go back to the book and re-read from a different perspective. I wind up rethinking some of my issues—my little control issues. Always funny to see that I'm trying to set the stage. To be the director of the play. People don't do it right. And that is what is crazy.

What would you tell others who are wondering if they have a problem?
They can go online to http://www.aa.org/  There are 20 questions. You have nothing to lose. You are the only one who decides if you are an alcoholic.

What changes do you see now? 
I laugh a lot more—especially at myself. When I see myself as the director of the play, I laugh and think, "I'm doing it again."  I don't have the self-hatred or insecurity I've always had. There is a group of people that I fit with. I never fit in school. Wasn't a cheerleader or a jock. I'm really happy. I have a program. Every morning I have a meditation. It all starts with honesty and giving ourselves over to a higher power that can do what we can't do.

© Cathy Hutchison 2013
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall