My Story

This post was published to Coach with Nicole Inc. at 11:13:24 AM 2015-03-17


Where am I?  The lights are so bright. The bed is so hard. Who are these strangers having a very loud and apparently humorous conversation over me? I open and close my eyes several times trying to clear my vision, but to no avail.

I’m finally told by an EMS worker that I’m in the Rockyview Hospital and was brought in by ambulance.  Apparently, the police found me sitting in my car in the parking lot of a public park. “Where is my husband?” I ask still trying to clear my vision.  A female EMS worker responds. “The police are questioning him.” 

“Did someone sexually assault you?” she asked while finishing some paperwork. “No. Why do you ask that?” I inquired. “Your pants were around your ankles when you were found in the front seat your car.” “Oh,” was all I could muster as I strained to scan my alcohol soaked memory trying to recall what happened. “I think you passed out,” she commented. That was the moment I remembered. “I pulled into the park to use the restroom and tried to get back to the car.” I completed the rest of the sentence in my mind. I remember having difficulty walking back to my car. “No,” I thought so loudly that I was afraid everyone heard me. “I’ve done it again.” Alcohol had taken me to another terrible place and now the police are questioning my very tolerant and loving husband.

I lay there thinking as my memory started to clear. I was driving to a friend’s house and realizing that there was absolutely no way I should drive since I couldn’t see the lines that separated the lanes in the road. I vaguely recalled parking the car and seeing my sweet dogs in the back seat staring back at me. It was if they knew the truth I had not been willing to see.  They were familiar with my alcoholic pit of despair, bottoms, each taking me to a deeper level within my disease of alcoholism.  Their beautiful big brown eyes added to the guilt and shame that my drinking brought me.

Oh the tsunami of guilt and shame that washed over me as I lay on those crisp white sheets. Everything in my life was tumblingout of control. Would this be the last straw for Hal? Please, God, no. I was drowning in an ocean of alcoholic despair and struggled to breath. For the thousandth time, I made a solemn promise in that I would never ever drink again, never. It was late November, late evening. I wish I could tell you I kept that promise.  Upon my arrival home from the hospital I stepped into the shower to wash all the drunken memories away from the last twenty four or so hours.  The stench of stale alcohol and cigarette smoke was deeply embedded into my pores and hair.  Repeatedly, I washed my body and hair to ride the stench way.  I couldn’t get the smell out of my nose.  Once showered and with clean clothes, I marched, with determination to take control of my drinking, out to the garage to see the damage I had left.  I was full of fear of what I would find and how the evidence would trigger my drunken memories.  A flash of advice from the psychiatrist before my release from the hospital a few hours before, come flowing into my thoughts, “you have a problem and if you want to live, if you want to save your life there is help, go to Alcoholics Anonymous.”  I continue to open the front door of the car to be hit hard by the smell of stale vodka, empty and half empty vodka bottles rolled around on the floor, my spare car keys, loose cigarettes, and lighters.  I picked up all the paraphernalia of my addiction and really, really wanted to hide the half empty bottles of vodka, but threw them away instead.  Today I was not going to drink ever, ever, again.  I was so humiliated I knew I had to stop and I wished all that day that I would stop.  Hal was wonderfully kind to me and reassured me that I was done drinking and I agreed.  I went to bed that night praying I would not pick up a drink again.

Spring arrives. The morning sun is now greeted by singing birds. The smell of new blossoms filled the air. But for me, well, I roll over wishing it wasn’t morning and wishing I wasn’t feeling guilty, shameful, and remorseful. And I haven’t even opened my eyes.

What did I do last night? What did I say? Again I am scanning my memory in an attempt to recall what happened. I try to remember if my husband came home from work last night, but I can’t. I pound my head against the pillow fearful that he came home and I picked another fight. It’s hopeless trying to remember. I decide to get up and face the music.

I struggle to get dressed while pausing occasionally to nurse a severe headache. My mind is racing. Why can I not stop when I get started? Why am I the last one drinking at the end of the party? Why do I have to drink to feel normal? Is this a habit? What the heck (wish I had said that) is happening to me and my life?

I try to brush my hair so I at least look acceptable. My mind continues its chatter. Bottom after bottom, my drinking gets worse. I keep finding myself in more and more dangerous situations. My husband is absolutely done with my self-pity. I have to get some help before he leaves me. I go out into the kitchen, but he has already left for work. A couple of cups of vodka in the morning, I make the decision to call a support group. I hang up after getting dates and times of the meetings. I’ll start attending in hopes of learning how to drink like a lady, a normal person, someone that can stop when it’s time.  That’s a good idea, I think to myself. Most of all, I’m going to do this to satisfy my husband and to save my marriage.  Previous mornings, Hal would beg me not to drink, cry with me and convince me that I shouldn’t drink, didn’t need to drink, and it wouldn’t help me face the day.  Every morning, I promised Hal I wouldn’t drink and by 10:00 am, when the liquor stores opened, I was at their door buying alcohol to drink and hide.  Alcoholics never, ever, want to run out of alcohol.

I reflect back now fully aware of how naively unaware and deep in denial I was on that spring morning, but it was the beginning.

On a Sunday morning the following November 2007, I found myself sitting in a small full gospel church with my husband on one side of me and a spiritual mentor on the other. I was very, very sick, so hung over holding a glass of juice was a struggle. I can still remember the smell of the wooden pews, the numerous flags from a variety of countries that were draped around the room. I remember the singing and how it made me feel. But most of all, I vividly remember the love. I was in desperate condition, yet somehow the love cut through all the darkness. I felt acceptance from those closest to me. I saw it in faces of the other congregants and could feel the love coming from them. I could feel a deep emptiness being filled. Most of all I wanted to feel and be normal like those in church that day.  The service closed with the song “Amazing Grace”, and I was filled with love and hope.

On that autumn Remembrance Day, I didn’t take a drink. It was the first time in years—the beginning of a new journey—my journey. It was time to start dealing with life on life’s terms and having faith in something larger than me—one day at a time. I started feeling hopeful that I could recover from a hopeless state of mind and body.

I started to piece together a morning without a drink, an afternoon without a drink, and a full twenty four hours without a drink.  Day by day without a drink, I felt more and more hopeful that I just might be able to stop. The spiritual principles I began to learn excited me and saw a huge light on why I drank. Every milestone, first 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and 1 year was celebrated with great joy and happiness that I no longer obsessed for alcohol or any another mood-altering substance.

This obsession was lifted. The light in my life increased. In part it helped to know if I didn’t do as I was instructed that I would drink again and this time it would be one hundred times worse. My love for this new light and my fear of returning to that dark bottom and even worse provided needed motivation to stay sober. 

Everything changed for me. The biggest surprise was that a group of women who knew how I thought and had done things I had done, loved me unconditionally. They showed by their example that there was hope for me to change my thinking and my life.  I wanted that so badly I did what they asked me to do and eventually I got better.  They greeted me with love in their hearts every time I walked into a room.  I learned how to love myself through greeting others with love in my heart and serving others.

Og writes “Muscle can split a shield and even destroy life but only the unseen power of love can open the hearts of men and until I master this art I will remain no more than a peddler in the market place.  I will make love my greatest weapon and none on whom I call can defend against its force.”  “I will greet this day with love in my heart.  And how will I do this?  Henceforth will I look on all things with love and I will be born again.  I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit.  I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars.  I will welcome happiness for it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul.  I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.”  My new tribe of friends were saying the same thing just with different words.  I was encouraged to journal a list of as many things and people I was grateful for.

I learned that as long as I was trying to run everything and control everything I’d never get better.  All I had to do was have a little faith that there was something out there that was and has always been looking after me and to give my control over to this Power every morning and every evening. 

November 2009, I was looking to deepen my recovery. A little book entitled, The Greatest Salesman in the World, came across my path. Perfect timing with a perfect message. I instantly fell in love with Og Mandino and the principles he taught. It was as if we were instant best friends. Og had accurately described how I had felt back in those dark days and how I currently feel at sunrise. In Scroll I, he writes, “As the words of these scrolls are consumed by my mysterious mind I will begin to awake, each morning, with a vitality I have never known before.  My vigor will increase, my enthusiasm will rise, my desire to meet the world will overcome every fear I once knew at sunrise, and I will be happier than I ever believed it possible to be in this world of strife and sorrow.”  

Scroll II: I will greet this day with love in my heart brought more awareness to a principle I was already practicing. I began to read and re-read this Scroll learned more and more about how to love at a much deeper level. I learned to find gratitude in everything. I discovered that my past experiences can help me serve others even more effectively. Scroll II changed how I see people and myself, how to find the good in and to accept all. I’ve learn how to “zealously inspect that which enters my body, mind, soul and heart!”

As a recovered alcoholic, the most difficult endeavour is to forgive myself for the harm I had caused to those who love me.  Scroll II assists me on a daily basis to love everyone which in turn teaches me to love myself.  This Scroll also teaches me to find the good in everyone and accept people where they are, and in turn, learn to accept myself. 

Og wrote “How will I act?  I will love all manners of men for each has qualities to be admired even though they be hidden.  With love I will tear down the wall of suspicion and hate which they have built round their hearts and in its place will I build bridges so that my love may enter their souls.  I will love the ambitious for they can inspire me!  I will love the failures for they can teach me.  I will love the kings for they are but human; I will love the meek for they are divine.  I will love the rich for they are yet lonely; I will love the poor for they are so many.  I will love the young for the faith they hold; I will love the old for the wisdom they share.  I will love the beautiful for their eyes of sadness; I will love the ugly for their souls of peace.”

Og has taught me and continues to remind me how to love, accept, and serve others. He asks, “How will I do this?” I will use my past experiences, which heighten my empathy. He asks, “How will I speak?” I look for the good in others. He asks, “How will I act?”. I will build bridges so that my love can enter their souls. He asks, “How will I react when others throw arrows of hate and spears of anger?” With love I will turn their hurtful words into the softest of rain. He asked, “How will I confront?” Silently and to myself I will say, “I love you.” 

This scroll houses the most important spiritual and acceptance of others and of self!  When I’m meeting with new coaching clients or women who want to get sober, I remind myself of the love in Scroll II and share that love with those that cross my path. The freedom to be of service to others releases me from my ego and self pity. I am forever grateful for sweet Og and his parallel journey that now brings much needed light to so many.  Today I encourage you, in silence, greet someone with love, it will change their life and yours.

Today, I share my experience, strength and hope as a Recovery Life Coach.  I became a Certified Og Mandino Coach in June of 2010.  May 2015 received second certification through Crossroads Recovery Coaching.