Life Stories

Here you will find personal stories

 

Sarah's Story - Living in Recovery!


"Now, I was turning to God – asking Him to give me the strength to turn my back on the drink. But the alcohol had complete control over me – I was powerless. " ... Sarah Page bravely tells how she stayed in recovery from her alcohol addiction... Sarah works for Ipswich based charity, Talitha Koum where she now helps other women 

 

If you missed it, read the first of the 5 part of Sarah's journey...


alcohol Female 1Living in Recovery


Accepting that I was totally powerless over alcohol was the first step in my recovery – and after years of denial I had finally accepted that fact. I went down on bended knee and turned to the God I had ignored for so long. I literally cried out for help. I was frightened and had no idea how I was going to cope without the drink. I was consumed with fear. I had used alcohol for so many years to give me a courage and confidence I hadn't naturally felt – and it had been my constant companion for far too long. Now, I was turning to God – asking Him to give me the strength to turn my back on the drink. The alcohol had complete control over me – I was powerless. 

The denial that I had a problem had been almost as relentless as the craving for alcohol. For years, as I crawled into bed, or was put to bed by my long suffering husband, I would think “It will be different tomorrow, I won't have a drink”. But the need for a drink was more powerful than any good intention I might have had when I went to bed. I made some vague attempts to control my drinking, but towards the end I had absolutely no control. In fact, if I am totally honest, I'd had no control for a very long time. As someone recently said to me “Why would you try to 'control' something unless you already thought it was a problem?”. 

alcohol Female 3Early recovery was literally a matter of taking 'one day at a time'. I was, for the first time in many years, actually putting my head on my pillow at the end of the day, without having picked up a drink since I woke up. I learned and began to understand that I had been suffering from an illness, and that for me, it wasn't the drink two-thirds of the way down the bottle that had been the problem, it was the first drink I picked up – or even the first sip. Once I had put that glass to my lips, any thoughts of an alcohol free day, or even any attempt to drink less than usual, went out of the window.  The outcome was inevitable. I now understand that I cannot drink 'normally' – whatever that may be! It's got to be 'No' to any alcoholic drink for the rest of my life.  A scary thought – but with God's help, one day at a time, it has been manageable thus far.  

Somehow one day without a drink became two, which became three, four and so on. I felt exhilarated and free. Every day without a drink was such an achievement. I was on cloud nine!  I hadn't realised how sluggish I had become. I had been drinking so heavily for so many years that I had been functioning in a mechanical way. I had become a 'functioning alcoholic'. Drinking had become so much a part of every single day, that I was just on 'top up' all the while. What had started out as a drink that I 'deserved' after a hard day at work, somehow became two drinks and then three. Alcoholism, as with most addictions, is progressive – and oh so powerful. Where one drink 10 years ago would have given me a warm glow, a mellow feeling, 5 years ago that had gradually crept up and I was drinking two or three times as much to get the same relaxed, chilled-out effect.  

alcoholicfemale 3And sadly, that slow but steady increase in the amount I was drinking on a daily basis came to a head in November 2013. There were no niceties any longer – I was swigging out of the bottle, hiding bottles anywhere and everywhere, finding excuses to pop into the kitchen, out to the garage, or upstairs to put away some clothes. I was hiding the amount I was drinking from everyone – and always telling myself I could stop or cut down whenever I wanted to. Now was never the right time – it would always be tomorrow, or next week, or after a birthday, Christmas or the New Year.  

Like most alcoholics, when one type of drink no longer gave me the desired effect, which was to significantly change the way I felt (and felt about myself) I would try a different drink. I remember one year on holiday, when wine no longer ticked the box for me, I discovered that a generous measures of gin in a gin and tonic, as was quite usual (and still is, I believe) served in Mediterranean tourist resorts, gave me the sought after feeling. That worked for a while – but like everything else, it didn't last. I shudder when I recall the poisonous cocktail of alcohol I was consuming on a daily basis towards the end of my drinking. It is truly a miracle I am alive today. I have no doubt whatsoever that had I continued drinking I would not be here to be writing this today.

alcohol Female 5It seems quite strange to me that when I finally put the drink down, it was only 6 days before my husband and I went on a mini cruise to the Christmas markets in France and Belgium, only 3 weeks until Christmas itself, and only a month before the New Year. Holidays, Christmas and New Year had all been very good reasons for drinking even more than usual ….....and here I was, filled with a courage and determination I'd never had before. 

It's scary, actually, that the longer I am in sobriety, the further back I am remembering times when alcohol was far too important to me. I know that many years ago I was appalled at a corporate function that there were some people who were making the most of the 'free' drinks that their company had laid on. I thought they had already had more than enough! How could I be so judgemental? I became so much worse than those people I had silently criticised. They weren't alcoholics – they were just making the most of an opportunity to enjoy themselves. Years later, an alcoholic – I had never ever had enough.   

It wasn't until I finally put the drink down that I realised how ill I had been.  Not only did the physical craving leave me overnight, the mental obsession was lifted from me too. I know it is not like that for everyone. We are all different – but I was incredibly blessed not to have any withdrawal symptoms. Given that I was drinking at least a litre and a half of sherry every single day – and had been for some time – I have since learned that it is potentially life threatening to stop drinking completely without medical intervention, and to do so could be fatal. Praise God for his amazing grace.

Sarahs Story 300x400During the early days of my recovery I experienced a sense of euphoria that no drink had ever give me! I hadn't felt this well for many many years. I had used drink for a variety of reasons, some of which I will explore in greater detail, but nothing the drink had ever given me could compare with what I was experiencing having put it down for the last time. I felt free – gloriously, wonderfully free.

Over the next three or four months I gradually began to recover both physically and mentally. All the symptoms that I had consulted the doctor, quite frequently about, and for which I took so many tablets, settled down. The headaches, the early morning nausea and sickness, the heartburn, poor sleep, night sweats, cramps and irritable bowel – all improved and I gradually came off all the medication I had been taking.  I had mental clarity – I hadn't realised just what a 'fog' I had been trapped in. 

One of the biggest joys in early recovery was, and still is today, waking up in the morning, instead of just coming to. I welcomed each new day, with my wakening thought a silent prayer to God thanking him for my sobriety. I began to notice, and truly appreciate the sunrise, the sound of the birdsong welcoming in the day. I was no longer just existing, I was truly LIVING.  

As I gradually settled into my 'new skin' I became more comfortable with the huge changes God had brought about in my life.  With the help and support of my sponsor, who herself had been in sobriety for nearly four years, I began to realise that there were some fairly deep underlying issues which needed to be explored and laid to rest if I was to achieve a complete journey to freedom.


...Watch for other blogs by Sarah on the Heart 4 Ipswich website

 


TalithaKoumLogoSarah Page works for Ipswich based charity, Talitha Koum (TK) working with others to help women caught in addiction

Sarah's Story is being serialed and reprinted by kind permission every Monday in as her personal blog

If you want to talk to someone about this article or the issues it raises please contact Talitha Koum (details below).


If you need more information on the charity, giving or the Women Together program please do contact the TK office:.email admin@talithakoum.org.uk or telephone 01473 857432 or visit their website at www.talithakoum.org.uk


Sarah Page, 07/10/2016


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Sarah's Story 5th & Final Part of Her Brave Story - Precious Gift!


"At what point did my social drinking tip over into dependent, alcoholic drinking?  When did it go so horribly wrong? I really don't know." ... Sarah Page bravely tells how she overcame her alcohol addiction... Sarah works for Ipswich based charity, Talitha Koum where she now helps other women 


alcohol Female 3Just over two years ago she was moving rapidly down a path of self-destruction and almost certain death 
 

If you missed it, click here for the fourth part of Sarah's journey...


I am deeply sorry for the hurt and anguish I have caused my loved ones.

However I do not regret the past – nor wish to turn my back on it, because I now understand that my journey has all been part of God's plan for me – to make me the person I am today.  In AA we speak of spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.  

Through Shepherd Drive I heard of a charity called Talitha Koum – a charity which was building a rehabilitation unit to help women with addictions. Talitha Koum had also just started running a self-help support group, which met once a week, called Women Together. I attended this group for the first time in October 2014.

God has given me a story to share – and I hope that by sharing what God has done for me, I will be able to offer hope and encouragement to others in early recovery – or those still trapped by their addiction, so that they, too, may one day be happy, joyous and free.

I was baptised by David Steere at Shepherd Drive on Mothering Sunday, 15th March 2015.
alcoholicfemale 3The following is a prayer I wrote very early in my recovery the words of which are as true today as they were then: 

"God, thank You for delivering me from the darkest days of my alcoholism and for guiding me through the early days of my recovery. I do not deserve to have been granted such physical and mental well being, and for that I will always be grateful.  

I now surrender myself to You totally, sure in the knowledge that You will guide and deliver me from all the wrongs within me. I am willing to do all You ask of me, that I may carry Your message and the AA message to all who still suffer and are needy.  Amen"

When I first attended the Women Together group when I was about 10 months into my recovery, I was able to share my story with other women who completely understood me – who didn't judge me – just listened to me and gently supported me in my ongoing journey of recovery. 

The alcohol was only a symptom of the whole. Putting the drink down was only the first step – at the very beginning of my journey to recovery. Recovering is so much bigger than just stopping the substance misuse – it's about the spiritual journey – about rediscovering the person that has been hidden for so long – dealing with the deeper issues which contribute to the alcoholism or drug addiction, and learning to deal with life and all its highs and lows.

In July last year we started holding meetings at Shepherd Drive Baptist Church on Monday evenings – as well as continuing with the Thursday lunchtime meetings.

Over the last year – over 30 ladies have attended Women Together meetings – about 16 of whom are still doing so on a regular basis.  Some ladies have now been in recovery several months whilst others are still struggling with their substance misuse.
Sarahs Story 300x400The meetings offer the opportunity for women affected by any addiction – and women of any faith or no faith to
  • meet in a safe environment
  • share their thoughts feelings and experiences with one another
  • share their common desire to get well
  • give each other support and encouragement and
  • gain self confidence – self belief and self worth that their addiction has stolen from them

Anonymity and confidentiality are fundamental requirements of the group. We encourage women to continue to attend any 12 step meetings which focus on a specific addiction e.g. AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous).

I'm now privileged enough to be working as a volunteer for Talitha Koum, and support Jenny in her leadership of the Women Together meetings.

My sobriety is a precious gift from God – and I protect it fiercely. It has given my parents back their daughter, my husband his wife, my children their mother and my grandchildren a grandmother who I hope they will only ever remember as the person I am today – the person that God made me to be.


...Watch for other blogs by Sarah on the Heart 4 Ipswich website

 


TalithaKoumLogoSarah Page works for Ipswich based charity, Talitha Koum (TK) working with others to help women caught in addiction

Sarah's Story is being serialed and reprinted by kind permission every Monday in as her personal blog

If you want to talk to someone about this article or the issues it raises please contact Talitha Koum (details below).


If you need more information on the charity, giving or the Women Together program please do contact the TK office:.email admin@talithakoum.org.uk or telephone 01473 857432 or visit their website at www.talithakoum.org.uk


Sarah Page, 09/09/2016


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Sarah's Story Part 4 - Second Chance!


Sarahs Story 300x400"At what point did my social drinking tip over into dependent, alcoholic drinking?  When did it go so horribly wrong? I really don't know." ... Sarah Page bravely tells how she overcame her alcohol addiction... Sarah works for Ipswich based charity, Talitha Koum where she now helps other women 


Just over two years ago she was moving rapidly down a path of self-destruction and almost certain death 
 

If you missed it, click here for the third part of Sarah's journey...


On the 2nd December 2013, I walked – no I think God carried me – into an AA meeting (Alcoholics Anonymous) and the compulsion to drink left me instantly.  It was nothing short of a miracle.   God had done for me what I could not do for myself – or anyone else. 

He freed me in an instant from the burden of my alcoholism – and I haven't physically craved a drink since. I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from me. God so blessed me that from that day to this I had no withdrawal symptoms and have been granted excellent health. 

alcohol Female 1What an amazing gift God had given me.  What an amazing spiritual re-awakening.  I left that meeting with hope and a sense of peace and calm that I hadn't felt for a very long time. 
I met some amazing people – all of whom seemed to understand me.  

They were speaking my language – and seemed to know my story – my thinking – my feelings – my behaviour –   without me having uttered a single word ….... and I felt incredibly humbled by the stories they shared. 

I felt myself drawn to a lovely lady who became my AA sponsor.   We met regularly and I began working the 12 step programme of recovery suggested to me. The AA programme of recovery is very spiritual – and I had very little difficulty in deciding to turn my will, and my life over to the care of God. 

alcohol Female 3I started going to church on Sundays with my parents again and attended regular AA meetings. I was recovering physically but there was still something missing – and I think now that it was that I hadn't yet found my spiritual home, my church family, in Ipswich.

When I was four months into my recovery, David crossed my path again when he took two funerals I attended. We met and talked at length – and I shared my story with him.  I told him that I was still searching for my spiritual home and asked him where, as a retired Minister, he now worshipped.

In June 2014 I walked into Shepherd Drive Baptist Church for the first time and heard the Minister, Simon Robinson share God's word in a way I'd not experienced before. The message was so very clear. I had absolutely no doubt about what God was calling me to do – and I kept going back.  

I attended a Christianity Explored course during which Simon helped me more clearly understand God's word.

God's calling was and still is so strong, that I knew without any doubt – that I wanted to commit my life to Him – to reaffirm my faith in Him – and be part of His church. He is here with me now – in my heart – and here to stay.

Jesus died on the cross, so that our sins may be forgiven. 
I asked Him to come into my heart and my life to forgive all my sins, be they in thought, word or deed.  

I know that through His Grace, I have received that forgiveness and that Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God, is now working in me, filling me with the Holy Spirit and that He will be with me forever. 

Not everyone is given a second chance – but by the Grace of God –  I have been, and I am so very, very grateful.


...To be continued next week

 


TalithaKoumLogoSarah Page works for Ipswich based charity, Talitha Koum (TK) working with others to help women caught in addiction

Sarah's Story is being serialed and reprinted by kind permission every Monday in as her personal blog

If you want to talk to someone about this article or the issues it raises please contact Talitha Koum (details below).


If you need more information on the charity, giving or the Women Together program please do contact the TK office:.email admin@talithakoum.org.uk or telephone 01473 857432 or visit their website at www.talithakoum.org.uk


Sarah Page, 22/07/2016


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