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“Getting sober was the most difficult transformation of my life, yet it turned out to be the most rewarding.
Looking back at my life, I have realized that I have never felt comfortable in my skin. I always wanted to be that person out there and wondered why I wasn’t. I often felt alone, and I couldn’t find my place in the world. But alcohol made me feel OK, it seemed like the perfect fix for all of my insecurities. I could do anything with a little buzz. I could be anyone I wanted to be, or anyone you wanted me to be.
I believed that alcohol gave me courage, made me happy, and created a life full of excitement and many friends! I was the ultimate party girl, a social butterfly, always the first to get a party started, for any reason, or no reason at all. Eventually alcohol had become my best friend and I couldn’t do anything without it and if it didn’t involve drinking I just didn’t do it!
My last drunk was not something I planned; there was nothing wrong in my life. It was a sunny Friday afternoon when I started drinking. However, when I woke up, it was Monday morning, and I was lying face down on the kitchen floor, barely able to move. The house was a wreck and I was still wearing the same clothes I had on two days ago. When I realized that I just spent the entire weekend in a blackout, I completely freaked out! Somewhere in the middle of all the crazy thoughts running through my head, I had a moment of clarity! I finally came to the complete understanding that I could NOT drink like a normal person, and that I really was an alcoholic.
My life begun on April 15, 2008 when I made a decision to stop drinking and to ask for help! My main support was from the 12 step program where by following the steps, I learned how to clean my past, get rid of the shame and guilt, find a Higher Power, and live a happy sober life.
To this day, I believe that every day that I do not take a drink is a miracle, because looking back, it is hard to believe that I am sober today. This was a difficult and scary journey, but I do not regret any moment of it. It has shaped me into the person that I am today, and sobriety has given me a second chance at life.
Most importantly, I am finally comfortable in my own skin.”
Clean Date: April 15, 2008
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Omar: Tell us about how your life is today. I’m sure it’s pretty hectic with the kids. Tell us about your normal daily routine, including recovery.
Maggie: Yes, life with kids is hectic. I do have a routine. I get up in the morning. I actually take some time to say hello to the higher power up there. Then I take my kids to school then I get on the metro train and I take the train to work. I actually do some meditation on the train, which a lot of people think is weird, but there’s something about the humming of the train, and people are really quiet in the morning. That’s actually really cool.
Then before I walk to work, I say, “Help me be of service today.” I get through the day then I go home, do all the other chores, get school work done, get kids to bed. Then maybe I have a couple of hours at the end of the night for myself. That’s about my regular day during the week.
As far as recovery, recovery is every day. Even though I didn’t just mention it, I’d probably talk to someone in recovery, I have to say, at least every couple of hours. This is why I love the internet because I’m always connected to someone in recovery. Whether I’d just say, “Hey, have a good day,” or “How is your day going?” or “I’m having a crappy day,” or I read something that someone else is sharing, it’s all part of my recovery every day.
Omar: That’s beautiful. I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Maggie: As far as meetings, I have a schedule. Right now I’m going 2 days a week and my husband goes 2 days a week. We always go to those days. We go to at least one meeting a week. That’s basically because even at this point in our recovery, we need the meetings. We went through a period of about 2 years where we barely went to meetings, when the kids were little, they were babies. It felt like you just did not have time, not a minute to sneak out, but we were just getting really edgy.
Personally, I got really worried because the stress of your child crying and trying to keep up with everything and working and everything else, I just needed at least that one hour to decompress, get with my people in recovery, and just get my higher power connection back. Then I was all right. We continue that. It’s probably going to be forever.
Omar: You mentioned a little bit about staying in conscious contact with your higher power. Could you expand a little bit more about how you maintain that on a daily basis?
Maggie: Sure. I’m not a religious person, so the concept of the higher power was really difficult for me to grasp, but I’ll get into my story and why and all that. Once I got connected and I saw the power in it, I just feel like it’s always around me. I had a sponsor that used to tell me, “You have to look for God shots,” and she would tell me to write these things on a piece of paper that I would normally discard as just weird coincidences. I started writing all these stuff and I said, “Oh, my gosh. This couldn’t have just happened.” It’s how it began for me.
I look for those parts in my daily routines that happen. It’s funny because I was actually thinking today to pick one out that I could tell you about that maybe happened today, and I couldn’t think of one, which is crazy. That happens all the time, I swear. I don’t have a set prayer, I don’t have a set routine. I go through the day just talking to him/her through my day, whether I’m asking for patience or for guidance and something I don’t know how to solve.
Today I’m exhausted. I don’t know why. I’m just exhausted. I think maybe it’s the pollen in the air, whatever, but I was just asking for a little more strength to keep going, just let me get through this day and everything will be fine. I don’t know. I don’t have this set concept, but I know it’s there. I know, without my belief in the strength and the power, I don’t think I could be sober, and I know that for a fact. I couldn’t be sober today.
Omar: Tell us, Maggie. How much clean time do you have and when is your anniversary date?
Maggie: My anniversary date is April 15th. I will have 8 years of sobriety.
Omar: That’s awesome.
Maggie: It’s wonderful.
Omar: Let’s go back in time and tell us about how old you were the first time you drank or used drugs and, more importantly, how did they make you feel?
Maggie: My mom was an alcoholic. When I was a kid, I didn’t really know where … She lost custody of me, but I knew of what was happening even though I was little. Then, later on, my family would tell me or talk negatively about her. I was petrified to touch anything, drugs and alcohol, for a very long time. I actually went through all of high school and most of college without drinking. If I did, I’d literally have one glass of wine and then I started feeling the buzz, and I would be like, “Oh, my God. That’s it. I’m going to be an alcoholic.” The fear was basically on whatever memories I had and whatever I heard from my family.
The funny story is, when I was 21, I went to the store to get a 6-pack of wine coolers or 4-pack, I can’t remember what they come in, but I bought 2 4-packs of wine coolers because at least I had to show my ID for 21st birthday. I went home and I had 3 friends over and I had 2 wine coolers and it happened again. I was like, “Oh, my gosh. I’m getting drunk.” That was my drinking very early on. I was so scared of it. It just scared me really.
Omar: I got you. I totally get it. Most of the time, when I ask this question, it’s usually the same. “I had it. It was the best feeling ever. I just felt like all this weight was lifted off of me. I was fearless,” and blah, blah, blah. For you, it’s very different. It was very different.
Omar: There was a lot of negativity associated, a lot of fear, guilt, shame.
Maggie: Oh, I wanted to drink because I wanted to party with my friends. I felt like an outsider then. I was invited to some parties and stuff. I pretended to be drunk. That’s how I went through it.
Omar: Oh, wow!
Maggie: I would sip on something and pretend to be drunk. Then I’d be going home going, “Oh, my God. I drunk. Maybe I’m an alcoholic.” The fear was horrible, yeah.
Omar: Number one, what was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
Maggie: I think, for the most part, it was definitely I think denial. I think denial. The fact was I didn’t want to be like my mother. The stigma and the stereotype that everybody … My family just put her down all the time and talked really badly about her. I just didn’t want to be like my mother. It was really, really hard to accept that I had a problem and admit that I was an alcoholic.
Omar: Maggie, you were such an amazing storyteller. I absolutely love the way you answer questions and tell your story. I can totally relate. I’m sure many of our listeners can, too. Beautifully said. Number two, at one point did you have a spiritual awakening, that aha moment in recovery when you accepted you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed the hope that you could recover?
Maggie: It was definitely my last drunk, that moment where I was trying to decide whether I was going to end my life and drink myself to death or continue, and that connection with my daughter now possibly growing up the way I did without a mom. That was a really crazy coincidence that I called my very first God shot.
Omar: Absolutely. I remember it myself. It’s thank God for our children. I’ll tell you that much.
Omar: Do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to a newcomer that you read in early recovery?
Maggie: I’m not a book reader, which is really strange probably to many people.
Omar: Too busy.
Maggie: I’m not. I’m too busy, but I remember reading Living Sober early in recovery, which is a literature book. It is a little outdated, so you get a lot of giggles with the language and the things that they recommend that you do for fun, but it’s a really, really great book. It’s easy to read. It has sections in it where, like, what do you when you’re bored and stuff like that. That was great.
I do want to recommend the book because almost everybody that I know that read it, and I read pieces of it when she was advertising the book, because it was just published in October, I believe, last year, but the Sarah Hepola, Blackout, apparently, is a fantastic book. I would recommend that one.
Omar: Blackout: The Things I Drank to Forget, Sarah Hepola.
Maggie: Blackout, yes.
Omar: That’s one of the … Why I do everything on Audible. I got so many recommendations from the ladies that I interviewed that I was like, “I’ve got to listen to this book.” The memoir is amazing. Her stories are just like, “Whoa!”
Maggie: The pieces that I read, I was like, “Whoa! That’s me right there.”
Omar: Yeah, blackout drinking, many of those. All right. Then, number four, what is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Maggie: Calling people. That one was really, really hard to learn. We used to call it the 50-pound phone. It’s so heavy you can’t pick it up. Now everybody has cell phones, so that doesn’t even make sense. That’s the other thing that my sponsor had me do. She had me call 3 different women in the program every day, 3 different women every day, which I thought was crazy and, “What do I say to these people?”
Let me tell you, when my mom was dying … My stepmom, sorry, my stepmom, who became pretty much my mom. When she was passing away, I had all these people who would call. I called a different person every day I was 3 years sober. It was the first time I actually totally realized why this was so important. It’s huge, huge, huge to build a network and have phone numbers because I was determined not to drink, but I had to figure out how to get through this part of my life.
These people that I learned how to call in early sobriety, and I still had their phone numbers, they carried me. They carried me for 4-plus months through the whole process. Get your phone numbers and call people.
Omar: Finally, number five, if you could give our newcomers only one suggestion, what would it be?
Maggie: Give AA a good chance, meaning of us, especially me, I didn’t come to AA willingly. I hated it. I thought mostly what everybody else thought. It’s a cult. It’s a religious group. I thought all of these things, and all that you hear, but it’s changed my life. It absolutely changed my life. Just give it a chance. Go to a bunch of meetings, meet a bunch of people, talk to a bunch of people. You don’t like one kind of meeting, go to another meeting and go to another meeting. Just give it a really good chance because it really does work.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER
“Give AA a good chance…”
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Maggie!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.