Today I turned fourteen. December 8, 2003 was my first day clean and sober.
It may surprise some people to hear that after I got sober my life got worse. I lost all my friends (barfly’s actually.) I wound up homeless, which never happened while I was drinking. My life was in ruins as I watched others who got sober at the time moving forward. It was six months after getting sober when I spent ten days in a psych ward. I didn’t understand what was wrong. I didn’t understand because I didn’t know I had bipolar disorder.
I reached a point that I knew something was wrong mentally, though I didn’t know what. I tried to go the county mental health clinic, but was turned away because I was “too high functioning.” Yes, I was living on the streets dragging my duffle bag around all day, and standing in the food lines at churches. Yes, I had all that going on, yet I was too high functioning.
Despite how terrible it felt, it’s my sobriety that saved me. Without being sober, I would not have sought the help I needed, I would not have kept going back to one county clinic after another, I would not have begun demanding the help I needed…and finally got.
I shouldn’t be here today. I used to look at the homeless lying under park benches and envied them. I could tell they had completely given up and were just waiting to die. But one day I realized that’s not what I wanted. My therapist told me he couldn’t help me if my brain was friend every time I walked through his door. In his words, he told me, “Get the fuck out of my office and go to an A.A. meeting.” He then pulled out a directory and a bus guide. The directory told him where the next AA meeting was, and he gave me the bus guide so I knew how to get there.
That evening was the first time I stepped into a meeting. The speaker had a very strong accent so I couldn’t understand a word she said, but I sat there and cried. My face was soaked. Even though I couldn’t understand her, I knew it was exactly where I belonged.
Miracles do happen.