24 Jul Shane’s Story
Shane– Hands Across the Bridge
My name is Shane and I am a person in long-term recovery. This means I have not put any mind altering substances into my body since September 10, 2011. Because of this – I have my friends, family and self-worth back.
I was born into a dysfunctional family of alcoholics and the most comfortable surroundings for me, involved chaos. My father left my mom when I was born and periodically came in and out of my life for a few years. He used to schedule visits with me and never show. Frequently, I would have had my suitcase packed and been sitting on the curb outside of my home for several hours before my mom would have to tell me he was not coming. It simply killed me. I believe this is the root of my ever evolving abandonment issues. From an early age, I was expected to entertain the adults around me with song and dance. They thought it was cute and I enjoyed the attention I received because of it. Very frequently, my mother would take me into bars with her and before long, I would be up on the bar singing for them. I now believe, this was where my codependency began to take shape and I would be seeking this approval from others for the rest of my life.
I took my first drink at the age of nine, while pouring my mother a drink. I don’t remember all the specifics of it, but I do know that I loved it and would continue chasing this feeling. Besides the occasional drink (when nobody was looking) or the occasional stolen cigarette, I was a pretty well-rounded and happy child and teenager, until my mother got sick. My mother was diagnosed with several autoimmune disorders and Hepatitis C in Nineteen Ninety. At the time, she was given no more than two years to live but she managed to stay alive for almost nine years. Still, she drank regularly and this destroyed her body very fast. I would frequently have to pick her up off of the floor when she was passed out and my caring for her became more constant as she became more ill.
My mother passed away from liver failure when I was only seventeen years old. That moment changed the course of my life forever. I immediately began drinking every day and consuming large amounts of any kind of drug I could get my hands on. I wanted to be numb and I wanted to never feel again. In fact, I really wanted to die with her.
Over the next couple of years, both my favorite aunt and my grandmother passed away. Then on a cold December night when I was twenty, my very best friend committed suicide. I found him dead.
I can never fully explain how this situation changed me but I would never be the same. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety. I have since also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress. For the next ten years, I drank and used frequently. Alcohol was my main thing but I certainly was not partial when it came to numbing my mind and easing my pain.
I began the process of recovery when I was twenty nine years old. I remained free of alcohol and drugs for four months, until I met someone in the rooms. I fell in love with this person and we stopped attending twelve step meetings. Of course we both ended up altered. He proposed to me and in the romantic whirl that we found ourselves in, we got our registered domestic partnership. Our usage escalated and we found ourselves regularly intoxicated for the next two years. In the end, my partner crashed our car in a DUI accident and we broke up. We got back together briefly but I knew I was dying inside and needed something, I just didn’t know what.
After we broke up, I was drinking every day and praying it was my time to die. I began planning my own suicide. One night at the beginning of September while I was drunk and writing out a list of people to leave my belongings to, I heard a voice that said “you know what to do”. I was very confused and very scared. Suddenly, a peace that I will never forget came over me and I began crying. I knew in that moment, that I didn’t really want to die and I didn’t want to hurt my friends and cause them to feel the way I felt, when my best friend died. I went to my computer and found a twelve step meeting. It took me two days of being sick before I attended my first meeting. I attended my first meeting on what is now my recovery anniversary – September 10, 2011.
I was welcomed by some of the kindest and most down-to-earth people I could ever have imagined. It seemed different somehow from when I was in recovery the first time. I remember seeing other hurting people and those who had begun to heal from their wounded pasts. I was willing to take their suggestions and was told that if I did, I too could have what they had. I began to make friends and work my steps. Every day was just a little better than the day before, one day at a time.
Today, I get to have friends and be a friend, I get to be completely present (even when I don’t want to be), I regularly attend twelve step meetings, I have a sponsor, I work the twelve steps of my chosen program, I am willing to be a sponsor, and I am of service to those who need me. My life is rich and full beyond my wildest dreams. Not a day goes by, that I am not in absolute gratitude for the life I have today.
This is my first year helping with Hands across the Bridge and it has been one of the most fulfilling events to be a part of, since I’ve been in recovery. I plan to be a part of this event every year now. I always want the ability to reach out my hand, the same way others have done for me.