I am Laurel Tracy, and I am a recovered alcoholic.
Ever since I can remember, I was vastly uncomfortable most of the time. I wanted to b
e anyone other than who I was. My impulses controlled my every move, and the majority of my energy was focused on finding ways to do what I wanted. I utilized defiance in order to gain a false sense of power, and I struggled to understand my emotional nature. As a result, my lack of understanding produced fear that I masked with destructive behavior.
Internally, I felt empty. There were times that I was able to find brief satisfaction through different people, accomplishments, etc. However, it was only a matter of time before the emptiness returned. The older I became, the more that discomfort grew into pain. In 2011, I was overcome by a series of short-lived and catastrophic events, all of which I created in a desperate attempt to control my life and the people in it. The outcome was devastating, and I ran from taking any responsibility for it.
I drank heavily for years. My relationship with alcohol was constant, but there came a time when I sought more. I obsessed about thoughts from my past that were painful to even acknowledge. Through using various substances, I was able to change the way I felt. I shifted my awareness and entered a quiet state where everything disappeared altogether. However, in the end, reality always returned and feelings of inadequacy flooded back in. Alcohol and drugs were a temporary escape that my life revolved around. When I reflect on the final days of my addiction, there are no recognizable breaking points. The days ran together and created what seemed to be never-ending angst and confusion.
In the process, I isolated and abandoned all other ways of life. I was alone, empty and tired. The temporary fix became more and more unattainable, and it became more difficult to escape myself and my morbid reflection. The extremes of my ‘low’ had everything to do with my internal state – unbearable.
My journey in early recovery was rough. I was resistant to almost everything because I didn’t know how to be anything else. Throughout my life, I have struggled with a paralyzing fear. This time, it was letting go of the things that I falsely believed were allowing me to survive. My belief system was in complete conflict with reality, and it took me being worn down in sobriety before I was willing to cease fighting. Slowly, I began to embrace the truths of a 12-step program as my own and came into agreement with a power greater than myself. By simply taking suggestions, and seeing what I could contribute rather than what I could take, remarkable things began to take place. Everything that I did not want to do turned out to be the absolute best thing I could have done.
My spiritual experience was a gradual but revolutionary change. It took me from being the most selfish being I had ever encountered to one whose happiness and livelihood depends on the constant thought of helping others. The people within the 12-step program have proven to be my lifeline. I have met some of the most phenomenal people in the recovery community. I have been reborn into a life that has more happiness and fulfillment than I could have wished. I came here for relief and instead I gained freedom. The best days are when I am able to fully remember and embody that gratitude.