I realized that I was an alcoholic and went to AA on Nov. 24, 1976. I never drank again nor did I ever think that alcohol could help any problem I had. From that day, I knew that I was a pickle and could not go back to be a cucumber. Or, as I choose to interpret that change, that I was a butterfly with no desire to be a caterpillar again.
However, it wasn’t until June, 2009, in my 33rd year of recovery, when my husband left me for another woman that I hit my emotional bottom. Bill W., the co-founder of AA, wrote in a letter reprinted in the Grapevine dated July of 1956 that he believed the next frontier of AA would be emotional sobriety.
The main emotional support system I had in June, 2009, was my ex-husband’s large extended family. The night he left, 60+ people left my life. I had no warning of this complete abandonment. Today I am grateful for this experience. I finally had to give up my “prideful self-sufficiency”. As Bill W. wrote about in his letter about emotional sobriety, I had become dependent on the family and gave up that complete surrender to the God of my understanding.
After I completed a 5th step about my part in creating the abusive marriage that I was in up to June, 2009, I realized that I still wasn’t getting to the source of the matter. I no longer feared abandonment—I had survived. But why didn’t I feel completely free?
“Individuals use denial and repression to protect the ego from disintegration. Living with both the constant unpredictability of the alcoholic parent and the detachment and/or anxiety of the codependent parent is difficult enough for an adult who has a fully developed defense system. For a child, surviving the regular assault of trauma requires massive amounts of energy. This puts the normal developmental process on hold; there is no energy left to invest in development. While other children are learning to play, to trust, to self-soothe, and to make decisions, children in addicted families are learning to survive. The end result is a child who often feels thirty years old at five and five years old at thirty.” Jane Middelton-Moz
In taking another 5th step, I realized that I had recreated the home of my childhood. I had the good mommy role and my husband was the bad daddy. He acted out his misery by having an affair and leaving me.
PTSD, codependency and addiction began when I was a child. I didn’t know how to deal with anxiety and fear of living in a home controlled by alcoholism.