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My Story

I drank for 27 years from the ages of 14 to 42 before being so sick that my doctor told me I had 6 months to live and my girlfriend at the time, Cathy took me to AA. I was kicking and screaming and intellectually justifying and rationalizing. I was a fruitcake. I even read several books that ‘proved’ AA didn’t work.

AA didn’t work.

When I finally got there I was hardly able to walk, but I stumbled in and fell in love with the ‘steps’. I thought my agony had ended. So, I went and got drunk and fell asleep on Cathy’s shoulder at my next meeting and this seem to set the pattern of the next 2 years.

I even began going back to the church to find my missing God.

God wasn’t lost it turns out, and I kept drinking and suffering the indignation of turning up at meetings and saying, Hi I’m Mike, Alcoholic, and I’m one day sober again.

I had found a sponsor and he was 12 years sober and teaching computer skills at a local Work for the Dole class I went to. He was cool. But also addicted to painkillers and I didn’t know that he wasn’t any soberer than I was.

My Dad

My Dad died on March 1, 2007, and I drank again, but the next year was plagued with longer and better bouts of sobriety, but none longer than 49 days. I couldn’t get past 7 weeks.

My Mum was becoming more and more demented with Alzheimer’s and I was caring for her. I used to joke how we were the blind leading the blind with our mental illnesses. I won’t say I got sober eventually so that I could care for my ailing mother but I believe in some part, Dad’s passing and Mum’s dementia made the decision to quit was easier and more urgent.

One year after my father passed away I drank. I was at the start of another ‘attempt’ when I couldn’t resist the chance to commiserate.

I drank non-stop for 9 days and nights which included my son’s 18th birthday. I was too pissed to leave the home and celebrate his special day and felt really guilty about it. Nothing different here, you say? Well, that’s exactly right. I had spent most of the last 30 years being sorry for myself and crushing my loved ones on special and non-special occasions. Just all the time!

Photo by Mike Mather At the Hospice

Horrible sobriety

I haven’t had another drink from that day to this. What was the difference, I’m unsure. I just feel that a weight had been lifted and the way forward seemed clearer. The following Monday I took myself back to my long-suffering doctor and got some Valium to get through the delirium tremens and set off to AA. During those first few days of horrible sobriety, I happened across a shop that sells incense and picked up a brochure for Buddhist classes. I had never been to one before but always read about spiritual concepts like Buddhism, Islam, and Taoism as an alternative to my Catholic upbringing at which I was quite resentful. This time I went instead of procrastinating and I went again the following week. By now I was going to meetings of AA every single day as suggested and was reading their Big Book.

The combination of Buddhist wisdom and AA pragmatism I was able to stop drinking but it was not all easy and beautiful. Today, I feel happy, sober-minded and grateful for all those who have helped me stay sober and build a happy, joyous and frickin awesome lifestyle. That’s my story of quitting and I’m really pleased that it lasted because the early days of recovery were tough and quite lonely. I did feel better each week as I became respected more in the meetings and accepted into the Buddhist sangha.

And Now…

Today I live by Buddha’s principle and follow the guidelines in the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book. The word God to me means all the Greater Spiritual Powers of all the sentient beings n all the planets of the Universe. Is that all-encompassing enough?

Because the fellowship is all inclusive and Buddhism teaches equanimity I have developed inclusivity in all my affairs.

If you want some help with addiction my website (dharmaholic.com) is always open.

love alwaz
mike

If you like the feel of this article and are thinking you would like to give sobriety a go, try my FREE 5 part course, “Stop Drinking – Start Living”.
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5 thoughts on “My Story

  1. I also practiced “binge sobriety” for a number of years before stopping altogether.
    In Charlotte, NC, there is a Buddhist recovery group. Isn’t that amazing? I’m going to give it a try if I find myself in the area.

    1. When I read your comment I thought ‘It’s a shame she gave up on sobriety’. Then I realised you gave up drinking!!! I’m a silly bugger sometimes. I would love to hear from you again if you do try that group in Charlotte. I haven’t been to one.
      Happy days.
      love alwaz
      mike

  2. I’ll let you know how it goes.
    I got the phrase “Binge Sobriety” from a memoir by Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who used those words to describe her sober binges. I thought it was kind of funny.
    Talk soon!
    💕 Shawna

    1. It IS funny.
      I long to make up phrases like that. lol.
      I also wish I had magic words to say to newcomers and re-offenders. Here’s my best shit for the time being.
      Don’t drink today – Love yourself to bits – Pray to a Higher Power of your choice – Talk to other sober alcoholics via phone, internet, in person, or pidgeon power. I think we need connection and that’s Joe Polish’s ‘new’ platform. “The opposite of addiction is connection’.
      love alwaz
      mike

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