The story of Katherine, a recovering alcoholic and addict
Hello! My name is Katherine and I am twenty-one years old. First and foremost, I am a (sometimes grateful) recovering alcoholic and addict. I went to my first 12-Step recovery group when I was 14 years old, and I have been in (and out) since then. It took me until I was 18 before I fully embraced this way of life. Alcohol and drugs was my most coveted and reliable crutch for dealing with, well, anything.
I first started using and abusing substances when I was 14. I took to partying like a fish to water. I was a natural! From that first sip, the insecurities and fear that plagued me all day, every day, began to fade away. Drinking made me feel funny, sexy, confident, and most of all, FREE. I finally began to feel a part of something, like I even fit in with the “cool” crowd. The first time I got drunk I was at my best friend’s house. Her parents went out of town so of course, she had a party. Some guy told me I should take five shots of vodka as fast as I could. So I did. No questions asked. No thought crossed my mind that maybe it wasn’t a great idea.
Taking that fifth shot of vodka is the last thing I remember from that night. I woke up the next morning, naked in the bathtub, covered in my own vomit and urine. I felt nauseous, scared, exhausted and confused. But I also felt accomplished. Satisfied. Fulfilled. I had been a part of something. Sure it hadn’t gone that well and I was embarrassed, but laughing with my friends a little while later, all the negative aspects of the night magically disappeared.
I felt a sense of connection with the people who had been at the party. We had experienced something together that no one else could understand because they hadn’t been there. It took me a few more years, and some time in recovery, to fully comprehend the depth of my desperation for a feeling of connection with other people. It was this desperation for a feeling of freedom and connection that drove me to drink and use with a reckless, determined, dangerous obsession for another four years.
The problem was I could never fully enjoy my drinking and drug use. The same summer I was introduced to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous is the same summer I started drinking. When I think back to that time, it is so clear how my Higher Power was looking out for me. You see, my partying had gotten so out of control that my dad got fed up and sent me to my aunt’s house in Hawaii in an attempt to get me away from my friends. It just so happened that my aunt had been in 12-Step recovery for over twenty years!
In the beginning, she dragged me to the meetings, saying that she didn’t want to leave me alone. I thought they were strange and boring, and I mostly wrote poems and doodled on the back of meeting schedules for the hour. I don’t remember anything that anyone said. But I do remember coming to love the woody smell of the old church, the dripping of the coffee and the unnervingly kind smiles of the strangers. I didn’t understand what I liked about the meetings and people, but I knew that I felt safe for the first time in my memory.
Each summer I would return to visit my aunt for a month, and each time I would leave with a little more awareness, a little more understanding, a little more recovery – a little more AA. I would return to my hometown in Central Florida, and each year my drinking, using, problems and depression would increase at an alarming rate. When I was fifteen, I decided I would get sober. I made the decision while I was visiting my aunt. I managed to stay clean two weeks when I got back to Florida. But the obsession took hold of me, and I had no defense. So as I took a shot of vodka, I promised myself that I would get sober at some point before I turned twenty-one. But at the age of 18, halfway through my first year at college, I decided I would kill myself before I turned 19. However, before I committed suicide I wanted to visit my aunt in Hawaii one last time over Christmas break. It was over this month in December that something in me broke. Snapped. Surrendered. My Higher Power took me by the shoulders and shook me. I went to a meeting and, with a trembling voice, introduced myself as an alcoholic.
Thus, my adventures began.