The Sober Inspiration Series is a sequence of interviews with regular women, just like you and me, who have overcome alcohol dependence, abuse, and addiction. We feature women from all backgrounds and walks of life and praise all methods of recovery from addiction, whether support groups, higher power, rehab, counseling, DIY or a combination of all the above. Please join us in celebrating these strong, successful women. If you’d like to share your story, check out the interview instructions, and let us know.
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I was born in San Francisco, CA on November 13, 1953. I was the older of two girls. My father died when I was 3. My mother raised my sister and I as a single woman…she never remarried.
It was a very loving home…my mother, my sister and I. I was a teenager in the Haight-Ashbury when the hippies came along and the motto was “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll”. So, drinking and drugging was accepted as part of the lifestyle back then. It seemed like almost everybody was partying regardless of social status and I fell in with the party crowd. My party lasted much longer than most though.
What I Was Like
I first got drunk at the age of 14. It was first suggested that I attend AA in 1974. I didn’t believe I could be an alcoholic at 21 even though I carried a bottle in my purse, started drinking around 8 am every morning and had been arrested for public drunkenness.
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I had my share of incidents through the years…passing out from an overdose of pills, falling down stairs at a high-school game because I was drunk. Having my stomach pumped. I’ve fallen off of bar stools. I’ve thrown up. I peed myself on a regular basis. I was a blackout drinker. I was the one who after an evening out with coworkers would have to tiptoe around the next day.
Not knowing who I may have insulted or made a pass at the evening before. I’ve awakened in strange beds with strange people. I once drove across the San Francisco Bay Bridge in a black-out.
I was the type of person that was shocked whenever I got terminated even though I had been written up several times and put on performance probation.
I lost relationships, had 5 failed marriages, lost jobs, friends, etc. I was in and out of rehab, but I always managed to bounce back—-only to begin the cycle again.
I’ve used alcohol, pills, weed, cocaine, crack and heroin and all to an excess. I am certain that I was on a road of self-destruction and believe that my using and drinking would eventually have led to my death.
The road to recovery for me started when I got in trouble with the law. I had many ‘close’ calls down through the years but had always managed to manipulate my way out of trouble with little or no consequences. That is until 2007 when I saw those flashing red lights in my rear view mirror.
I’ll spare the sordid details but in general, I was caught driving around with a large quantity of drugs and paraphernalia—so much so that there was no way ANYONE would have believed it was all for personal use (But it was all for me).
They charged me with possession with intent to sell. Even though I had never been in any ‘real’ trouble the DA wanted to ‘throw the book’ at me and offered NO deal whatsoever. Thank God at the time I had enough money to hire a good attorney who somehow convinced the DA to change his mind.
I was given a deferred sentence and put on 5 years’ probation. I also had to complete a drug and alcohol awareness class, attend 12-step meetings and submit to random urine tests, plus pay probation fines and court costs. A ‘deferred’ sentence is different from ‘diversion’.
I had already plead guilty, so any infraction and I would go STRAIGHT to prison for 10 years.
The positive thing about deferment is that if all the requirements are satisfied, the case is dropped and does not go on your record. So, I was literally SCARED STRAIGHT. I was willing to do ANYTHING to keep from going to prison.
At first, my goal was NOT to get and stay clean and sober but to avoid incarceration. What happened is that I paid attention in the drug and alcohol awareness classes, I participated, and I learned a lot about alcoholism and addiction.
I went to the 12-step meetings with an open mind and saw people living drink and drug free who seemed happy. I began to desire that life also.
I had a glimmer of hope. I embraced the AA fellowship and after resisting working the steps, I got in enough emotional pain to give them a try. I found a sponsor, got serious and went through the process.
What I Am Like Today
Today I have an intimate, personal relationship with the “God of my understanding”. I am a loyal friend and I have a circle of friends, both in and out of AA. My life is an open-book, I hold no more secrets. Sometimes people are surprised when I share with them how far I have come. Many say it’s hard to believe that I was once deep in the throes of addiction.
My life is so much better now and although I still am faced with trials from time to time, I have been given the tools to work through any situation without taking a drink or drug. I believe that this disease progresses whether I am actively using or not. I believe that my continued recovery is based on being spiritually fit. Every day I start with a prayer of gratitude. I read, meditate and reach out to others. I post recovery readings on several recovery websites. I start each day grounded in recovery and spiritually centered. If I find myself off-center during the day….it only takes a few minutes to say a prayer and gain my footing.
I go to meetings. I have sponsees and a sponsor and she has a sponsor. I am eager to give back what was so freely given to me. I don’t pamper or pursue my sponsees but let them find their own willingness. I guide them with my experience, strength and hope. Most of all I don’t tell them as much as I try to show them by example.
I successfully completed all the terms of my deferment in October of 2012 and the charges were dropped and I now have a clean record. I can truly say for the years since then, I have been happy, joyous and FREE!!
These past few years I have been excited about the opportunity for continued growth. I’ve developed a thirst for new knowledge and an open-mind…willingness to accept new information and make changes based on that new information. I am no longer stuck in my old ideas and ways.
I don’t advocate AA for everyone and believe there are many roads to recovery. But I am grateful my Higher Power chose this as my path. For those of you that may be new or nearly new, even though we haven’t all traveled down the same road, I want you to know that we are on the same journey.
Never EVER give up…My name is Mary, I am an alcoholic and addict and my sobriety date is August 21, 2007.