I never knew what was wrong with me until I entered AA. All I knew was that I was different and needed to be fixed. Over and over again, you hear “I just never fit in” uttered during meetings. Well, that was my reality.
I grew up in a very wealthy family in the Philippines. My grandfather founded the first bank and my father founded a steel mill. My childhood was really pretty perfect. I guess the best way to illustrate it is by describing what happened when I was around 5 years old. I wanted a pink pony, so they found a white one and spray painted it pink. I was overjoyed when I was able to ride around in my very own PINK pony. Well, needless to say, the pony died the next day due to poisoning from the paint and when I found out I was devastated. They could’ve just told me that I couldn’t have one!
Anyway, despite all the wonderful things my family did, I was always unhappy. I always felt a poignant isolation. I blamed the fact that my parents kept moving me around. At eight, we moved to Hawaii. At 11, we moved to Italy. At 15, we moved to Canada. At 16, my parents moved to Miami and I went off to a boarding school in Connecticut.
All I know is that I was always lonely and unhappy. I remember reading a book called “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” where this girl was put into a mental institution. That’s what I wanted for myself. I wanted to just be filled with drugs until I was numb and kept safe. I kept trying to fill the emptiness inside of me. Life was always overwhelming and painful.
When I discovered drugs and alcohol, I had finally found my solution. Drugs and alcohol allowed me to deal with life on life’s terms. The years rolled by and I got married and started a family. I was pretty happy during this time. I was able to control my drinking and I didn’t use drugs because of my children. Life was good for a long time.
Then I started to become extremely unhappy in my marriage. I started to feel a quiet desperation. When my father developed cancer and subsequently passed away, I was devastated. The doctors started prescribing all sorts of tranquilizers and sleeping aids. One year after my father died, my mother followed. This was the last straw. They were my rocks, my foundation. I felt lost and alone.
That was when my addiction spiraled and went out of control. Somehow, I had crossed the line from taking drugs when I wanted to, to have to take them. Drugs had become my master. I couldn’t imagine a life without them. When my husband would beg me to stop and enter a rehab, I absolutely refused. Even though by this time, I had kept trying to kill myself, I couldn’t imagine living without drugs and alcohol. How was I supposed to function? I kept showing up at emergency rooms. Finally, one of the psychiatrists at the hospital that was sick of seeing me there said: “If you really want to kill yourself, why don’t you take some poison?”
I don’t know what happened to me on the day of November 16, 2005. All I know is that I came to, once again, in an emergency room. But this time, something was definitely different. I absolutely realized and accepted the fact that I was an alcoholic and that I could never ever again put anything mind-altering in my body. I call it my moment of grace. There was nothing different about my circumstances. I had woken up in emergency rooms many times before. Why was it different this time? The only way to describe it is grace.
Having been introduced to AA when I had entered rehab 5 years prior, I knew that I had to give it a try. Either that or take the rat poison that I did buy and kept in my purse. I just couldn’t go on. I was at the end of the line. The reason I had even considered AA was because, for the brief time that I had gone to meetings, I saw people that SEEMED to have gotten better. I hadn’t bought it at the time. Sure, AA worked for you guys, but I’m different. I’m such a victim of my circumstances and AA was a cult full of Jesus freaks. Besides, I could afford therapy. I chuckle now as I write this.
As soon as I got out of the lock-down psych ward, I started attending meetings. I got a sponsor. She was someone that had been at rehab with me 5 years prior and she seemed like she was better. I did what she told me to do. I did everything kicking and screaming and bitching at her, but I did it. And little by slowly, my life began to change. Not so much because my outside circumstances had, but because of my perception. My husband was still as much of an “if you had a husband like mine you would drink too” kind of guy.
On November 16, 2017, I will have 12 years of continuous sobriety. I am so grateful for this life. In these past 12 years, I have lost 2 sisters and 1 brother to cancer; I finally got the courage to divorce my husband after 27 years of marriage; I lost almost all of my inheritance and what little I did get, I sunk into my husband’s business; I filed for bankruptcy; my home was foreclosed upon. And through it all, I have never even thought about picking up a drink or a drug. Today, sanity has returned and I know that if I ever took anything mind-altering, my life would fall apart and I will want to die again.
And what a life! I have true friends whom I love like family. Wonderful children who have blossomed and are happy and whole because their mother lives in recovery; beautiful grandchildren. And I have a new man in my life who was my friend in the rooms of AA long before we became a couple.
Life is good today. It’s far from perfect, but I have learned to count my blessings and be grateful for what I do have. I also, now, have a very loving higher power that wants me to be happy & whole. I am no longer a victim of my circumstances. Today, I have an inner strength and I am peaceful. I love my life today. I am BLESSED.