Depression for me is a stark reality of sobriety. Regretting how I treated people when I was drinking and drugging is an ever present pain in my heart. The suffering and pain that I caused in others is something that is very hard to bear. Perhaps I would still be married if I had not turned my back on my wife to pursue self-medication and escape from all of the little slights and disappointments that come with existing. Perhaps I would have never witnessed a suicide attempt in my own bed. The way that I behaved before sobriety has caused a lot of unseen pain in others. Pain that I was obviously too drunk and stoned to realize.

I escaped reality time and time again, with such selfishness as to only see my own concerns and feelings. The carefree happiness that was rented and consumed in a bottle. A neat little package that gave me the arrogant confidence to tell everyone in my life to leave me alone and go to hell. The chemical happiness that afforded me an escape from the realities of life; if only for a little while. The people I drove away, the friends I use to have, the beer goggle image I use to enjoy. My reality.

I now find myself in a new reality. Regret. I have begun dwelling on the tenants of Alcoholics Anonymous. Step 6 says, “We became willing to ask God to help us remove our defects of character.” My defects have run deep for many years, and I have to live with my own actions and decisions. — “Step 8 – This step requires you to make a list of people you have harmed and be willing to apologize and right your wrongs. This step is so challenging because it requires you to take an honest look at just how much your alcoholism has impacted the people around you. People who suffer from alcoholism often behave in ways they would never behave if they were not under the influence of alcohol. The essence of Alcoholics Anonymous Step 8 is to come to terms with the actions your alcoholism encouraged and take personal responsibility for any harm you have caused another human being.”

In my darkest hour, when I was drinking and drugging, I was alone and living in a hell that I created. I finally began to ask God to take the horrible hellish burden off of my shoulders. I begged him to give me the strength to stop drinking. I had come so close to losing everything in my life. At that point I came to the realization that I still had my daughter, my home, car, and job, but I knew that if I took one step closer to the edge, the whole precarious thing was going to fall like a house of cards. God answered my prayer in the most unexpected way.

From that point on; instead of escaping from my pain every time I took a drink, God put me square in the middle of it. He changed my physiological chemistry to cause the alcohol and drugs to create unimaginable pain and depression. Drinking and drugging was no longer an enjoyable escape. It was a living hell on earth. I finally hit the bottom, and hit it hard. I could not sink any lower without using a jack hammer to dig through the bedrock. I finally had an alcoholic breakdown and made the decision then and there that I would never take a drink or use drugs again. I went to 5 AA meetings in a 48 hour period. I cried uncontrollably, and suffered through my darkest hour. I was so ashamed at how I had wasted my life away; ignoring the needs of others so that I could escape from my pain. Poor me, I thought.

Since then, the very thought of using or taking a drink frightens me to death. God has worked in mysterious ways and I am thankful. I find it difficult not to judge others when they drink. It is strange how something I did is now transformed into how I see it in others. I must live and let live, be gentle and understanding. I must have empathy for others who do what I cannot. But I also must remember the importance of boundaries. I cannot and will no longer allow other peoples’ behavior to influence or sway me from my path. Each has their own life to live. All that I can do now is lend a caring ear and offer my support in their darkest hour.

-Shag

(Here’s Where the Story Ends – by The Sundays)

People I know, places I go
Make me feel tongue-tied
I can see how people look down
They’re on the inside
Here’s where the story ends

People I see, weary of me
Showing my good side
I can see how people look down
I’m on the outside
Here’s where the story ends
Ooh, here’s where the story ends

It’s that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore
Oh, I never should have said, the books that you read
Were all I loved you for

It’s that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes me wonder why
And it’s the memories of your shed that make me turn red
Surprise, surprise, surprise

Crazy I know, places I go
Make me feel so tired
I can see how people look down
I’m on the outside
Oh, here’s where the story ends
Ooh, here’s where the story ends

It’s that little souvenir of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore
And who ever would’ve thought the books that you brought
Were all I loved you for

Oh, the Devil in me said, go down to the shed
I know where I belong
But the only thing I ever really wanted to say
Was wrong, was wrong, was wrong

It’s that little souvenir of a colorful year
Which makes me smile inside
So I cynically, cynically say, the world is that way
Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise

Here’s where the story ends
Ooh, here’s where the story ends

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