Join us as Denise K. from Jacksonville, FL tells her story of experience, strength and hope and how she's experiencing A New Life in recovery.
A NEW LIFE
Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. . . . Life will mean something at last
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 152
Life is better without alcohol. A.A. and the presence of a Higher Power keeps me sober, but the grace of God does even better; it brings service into my life. Contact with the A.A. program teaches me a new and greater understanding of what Alcoholics Anonymous is and what it does, but most importantly, it helps to show me who I am: an alcoholic who needs the constant experience of the Alcoholics Anonymous program so that I may live a life given to me by my Higher Power.
From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
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[00:00:00] Denise: Hi, I'm Denise Kay from Jacksonville, Florida. This is the daily reflection podcast.
[00:00:06] Lee: Good morning, everybody. It is September 15th and I'm joined in the studio today by Denise Kay. She's from Jacksonville, Florida, and she's here to share her experience, strength and hope around today's daily reflection, entitled a new life. Welcome Denise. I'm so glad you're here.
[00:00:22] Denise: Thank you for having me.
[00:00:24] Lee: So we normally start off by reading the daily reflection.
[00:00:28] Denise: Do you have that with you? Yes, they do. Go ahead and get started. Yes. Okay. A new light. Yes. There is a substitute and it's Fastly more than that. It's a fellowship in alcoholics anonymous life will mean something at last alcoholics anonymous page 1 52. Life is better without alcohol AA and the presence of a higher power keeps me sober, but the grace of God does even better.
It brings service into my life. Contact with the AA program, teaches me a new and greater understanding of what alcoholics anonymous is and what it does. But most importantly, it helps to show me who I am an alcoholic who needs to see the constant experience of alcoholics anonymous program, so that I may live a life given to me by my higher power.
[00:01:24] Lee: Love that. So before we get started, Denise, what is your sobriety
[00:01:29] Denise: date? August 24th, 2019. Oh, wow. You just celebrated
[00:01:36] Lee: a milestone installations.
[00:01:39] Denise: Yes. Thank you. You're welcome. So what do you,
[00:01:42] Lee: what do you think as you read this did anything jump out at you?
[00:01:46] Denise: Oh, gosh, yes, a lot, a lot. I mean the title, a new life and the first sentence, life is better without alcohol.
It it's so true. It's so true. I think, I've been on my sobriety journey for over 10 years now, trying try and come in, in and out and trying to figure this, this whole thing out. And You know it, every time I can make that statement, life is better without alcohol alcohol in my mind saying I'm going to have more fun.
I'm going to not be stressed. All the different things that my disease tells me. It's they're lies. They are lies because it takes it away for a moment. And then it amplifies it afterwards. So
[00:02:34] Lee: you said you were in and out. Your sobriety date is a little over two years ago, and yet you've been working on this journey for over 10 years.
So, is, is this the longest bout of sobriety or I guess the longest stretch of sobriety time that you've put together so far?
[00:02:52] Denise: No, the longest I put together was four years and that was when my babies were little. So, pregnancy helped me with that. It's funny how we can be sober in our pregnancy for our babies, but when it comes to us, it's, it's a much harder task.
So though I was able to, get some years under my belt, at being pregnant. And then I also just in those first years of having a baby, I didn't my, I didn't drink. And I was really scared about taking care of them and wanting to make sure that I was doing the right thing.
So, for them I was able to do it.
[00:03:28] Lee: And what was, were you, were you attending AA meetings
[00:03:31] Denise: at that time or just doing it on your own? No, I was, I wasn't seeing AA meetings. Right. At that time at a sponsor, I was sponsoring others. And I had a really, I was working really good program. And
[00:03:45] Lee: then what happened?
[00:03:48] Denise: Well, the kids got a little bit older and life got busy and I I'm a mom. And I, am also very codependent. And so I would do for others and my self care just started taking a back seat. And after a while, it just got to a point where I didn't have any outlets to release any of my anxiety or fears or negative feelings.
And they just built up so much that it just became, okay. Let's just do the quick fix, which is a drink for me only. It doesn't work forever. No, no, not at all. Not at all. And it, it, it was difficult for me because I am a binge drinker. So it's hard because I could go, there were times I could go with one or two drinks and then, but I never knew when that binge was going to come.
I didn't know if it was my third time drinking. Second time drinking. I mean, it just, it would pop in and I didn't know when that was going to come. And when that came, I didn't have an off button and I just drank until I blacked out and, got really, really sick. So, and then I, unfortunately, when I was blacked out, my body was still going and I was driving.
I was doing all kinds of things that I had no idea I was doing. Which, no one wants to do that. No one wants to be out of control of their body and not even remember what they did. Yeah. It's scary. It is scary.
[00:05:24] Lee: So what is it that brought you in this last time?
[00:05:29] Denise: So this last time I came in because.
I started to see as I was coming back or as I went back to alcohol in the end that alcohol wasn't enough. I started bringing men into the situation too, so it wasn't just, oh, let me go have a drink. Now it was, let me go have a drink. And. And a guy like, let me get a high of both because the alcohol wasn't enough to make me feel good about myself or made me feel how I needed to feel that at that moment.
So that that's what brought me in is it started getting out of hand. I work in in sales and I travel a lot. And so, that was my little escape. I was able to every other week go to town and travel and. Be in a hotel by myself. And my favorite thing to do was go down to that bar and sit there and talk up people.
And, eventually I ended up, waking up next to somebody. I didn't even know who they were and that started happening frequently and it was just, it, it just got to where it was really, really out of control. And my husband found it. About one of the incidents and I, had been in the program and I knew, once I got caught that I needed to be honest, like brutally honest.
And I, so I told him, this isn't the first time and this is out of control. My life isn't manageable. Not only with alcohol this time, but you know, with, with men too. And so that was really, really hard. And we separated for a little while, but we were able to reconcile and come back together and, we have a really amazing, beautiful relationship, friendship and marriage now.
[00:07:17] Lee: Hi, I'm sure you're not the only one that can tell the same story. And it's just beautiful that, that with some recovery, that marriages can be put back together. Relationships can be put back together. It's like so incredible because you wouldn't think so. Right. I mean, you would think there's no way that this is reparable and yet it is.
So I'd like to hear a little bit about your recovery. So you had your, I guess your husband found out you had the brutally honest conversation and there must have been some agreement as to what the next
[00:07:46] Denise: steps were going. Yes, yes. It definitely was, not, no more drinking, that wasn't going to, he couldn't handle that anymore.
And then, then we had to go into the trust factor too, because drinking. Is something, it's a very, for me, at least I am made me a huge liar. I mean, I even became a liar just in like my daily affairs. It was like, nothing was, nothing was good enough the way it was, I had to amplify it or make it worse or, it was, I needed to bring the chaos.
Into my daily life. And that just became a really bad habit for me. So a lot of trust factors, we did the life 360 on our phones where we know where we are every time. When I went to my sales meetings, the first thing I did right. Go into my hotel room and take a shower so that my hair was wet.
And I had washed all the makeup off my face if I, if I had had makeup and stuff on. And so, and then I would FaceTime lots of FaceTiming, because I, I'm definitely one of those drinkers that, I mean, even after a drink or two, you can tell, there's no hiding it, even though I thought I hit it really, really well.
I didn't, I didn't. And so, If he, if we face time with each other, he could see very quickly if I had been drinking or not. So there's a lot of accountability. As well as my children getting older that was a couple, a couple of years. Well, that was about five years ago. That I made that decision.
And then I did have, I had one relapse a couple of years ago and That relapse was because of a male figure a boss in, in my career that was, just putting a lot of pressure on me and being very rude. And so that triggered a lot of trauma. And I feel like this is just the process that we go through.
And for me, my onion, as they say that you want to peel the layers of the onion, my onion, just, I had a lot of layers and I feel like every time. One of those layers came out and I would find a way to like, I'd go back to drinking. Like I just, I, it was so painful that I just didn't know what else. I didn't know what else to do.
Even though I had the tools and everything, it just wasn't the con what was comfortable. So I went back to drinking and that was, I had one relapse in the last five years. And it was, because my. I was in an airport. My boss yelled at me and the bar was there and I was like, all right, screw it.
I'm going to go have a glass of wine. And I did. And I ended up in there within three hours. I ended up blacking out and in the ER, like 24 hours right there. I mean, it's just. It was boom hardcore. I definitely, when I drank, I wanted to or the person I became or what came out of me wanted to really hurt me.
[00:10:44] Lee: You mentioned trauma that you were the incident with your boss kicked up trauma.
[00:10:49] Denise: Is that part of your story? Yeah, it is, it is. I my biological father is was a very abusive alcoholic. And so he is a big part of my story. And I had to, experience a lot of, drinking and violence and even sexual abuse when I was younger with him.
And it was just. A really bad situation. And he was always stated at he wasn't, well, he's an alcoholic, he's a loser, he's an alcoholic. And, but he also was a pedophile and all these other horrible things. So growing up, I associated all that with the title of alcoholic. And so I feel like I fought having that as my label.
For a very long time. Cause I was like, I am not like him and I wanted to prove that I wasn't. And so I tried, I did when I'll just let so many and I'm just going to drink beer. I'm just going to do it this way or I'm going to, make sure I eat a full cheeseburger and French fries before I drink tonight.
So my stomach's not empty. And you all have little different things that you think, oh, maybe it's this that's causing it. It's not alcohol. It's not some, I have a problem without. It's not alcoholism. I just did not want that because I didn't want to be like him at all.
[00:12:13] Lee: I'm just, I'm really sorry that.
That that was your experience growing up. And I, I share not the same story, but the childhood trauma with you. And I do think that for me anyway, it's the original disease and it's, it's really why I drank for so long. And it was, it's why I had such a hard time getting sober to begin with because that those feelings are there still you take away the only solution we
[00:12:36] Denise: have.
[00:12:38] Lee: And there isn't anything to replace it with just yet. Like when we're new in the rooms, we take away the alcohol, the drugs and the men, and then we're just left by ourselves and we haven't yet traveled through the steps for the relief. And and so I just, lately I it's been just a theme, a recurring theme with so many women that I interview and so many women that I get to talk to and so many women in meetings and of course in my own story, but.
What do you suggest for women who are coming into the rooms with this kind of trauma that might be struggling once they do put the alcohol
[00:13:14] Denise: down? Yeah. Oh goodness. I mean, what I suggest definitely for me, the community was big. So. Go to meetings. And especially in the beginning, the trying to be in the rooms every day, if you can.
It just so that you're around a community of people that accept you and love you and understand you. It, that was really big to me because I felt the shame I felt. From everything I had done. And then also with this identity association, I was having such an issue with, with the alcoholism. I just thought I was like this horrible person and I was.
There's no way to fix me. There's I was just going to be screwed up forever. And so being around my community and my tribe as I called them today, because, you just get so close with them, go into a meeting, even the same at the same time every day. So you see the same types of people.
Is really good. And so that's what I did. And I met just a group of people that are wonderful. Some of my best friends and I, at, in the beginning I could only go to women's meetings because I wouldn't go into a mixed room. I tried and I just couldn't even look at the minutes. Who were alcoholics because I associated them with my father.
And so it allowed me, going into those rooms and hearing them and their struggle. It gave me empathy towards them and, and and One point allowed me to forgive my father for what he had done for me. And that was a huge weight that was lifted off me and a huge turning moment in my sobriety to not Harbor that anger and resentment anymore inside of me.
And to let that go and be free from it. Do you
[00:15:05] Lee: feel like the steps of alcoholics anonymous gave you a lot of relief from the internal pain?
[00:15:11] Denise: Oh, yeah, definitely the, definitely the steps, I feel like the steps went for me when I came out of, of my, my disease and just the heavy drinking I was, it was, I was so chaotic.
My brain was so foggy. I didn't really understand, like I knew what had happened and all the bad that I had done, but it was just so jarbled together. So being able to sit with someone else and really just, and my higher power too, of course. And just get it out of me. So that I could see it and I could write it and I could talk about it and hear it.
And then I could ask for forgiveness for it and I can move. I could move on. That was a big step. It was almost like I needed something like tangible like that to be able to really think through this is what happened, but not. Because that happened. Like, no, you don't blame yourself for that. You were sick.
Yes. You did it. You have to take responsibility and accountability, but that's not who you are. And so it really helped me in moving past the shame and self hatred that I had for myself.
[00:16:25] Lee: Yeah. I found that too. The process of doing the steps and connection to higher power allowed me to forgive myself and also discover
[00:16:32] Denise: who I really am.
And I am a child
[00:16:36] Lee: of God and a good wholesome person. And we don't ever
[00:16:39] Denise: have to do those behaviors ever again. No. So,
[00:16:42] Lee: Hm. Have you, have you sought outside help? Because these, these childhood issues have nothing to do with AA necessarily. Other than that, I think we do get to wipe off a huge chunk of bad behavior and self-compassion, and, self-criticism, I guess, off, but did you find that you needed to seek outside help or do do anything
[00:17:02] Denise: else?
Yeah, I did. I did for my trauma. I definitely and my sponsor helped me with that too. Going through the steps, it was like, I'm not a therapist. I can, I'll help you, walk you through this, but I'm really here just to be a guide and a friend to you as you go through the process.
And so as, as we would go through some certain things, it was, That may be good to get some, maybe go talk to somebody. So I did, I got a trauma therapist and adult trauma therapist that I've been working with. And that's been, that's been huge too. And getting that. And then recently I started going to Alanon, which not traditional Alanon.
It's called the double winners. And it's a group of alcoholic women only that are also suffering or, or have, suffered from some type of abuse from alcoholism, with their family or friends or something. So, that's been really neat too, because I think what I've found in now, my older age with my children, And my daughter is 16, so she's, she's getting into that age where it's very difficult.
And I feel like I was, I'm very over protective of her because of what I went through. And so, just seeing how codependent I was. My children and trying to play like the God role in their life. Like, no it's going to happen this way, or it's going to happen this way and pretty trying to protect them about everything.
It's like, that was too much weight on me. And I couldn't handle that. And so that's when I went into the, so the Alanon room so that I could be a better mother and that I could be a better person and be okay on my own and understand that I do have a higher power and he's in control not me. And just lifting that more of that burden off of me that I was carrying and they have a higher.
Yeah, exactly. And it's not us. I know. I know. And we don't want it to be us, especially when they get their hormones and their teenage years. Woo. Yeah, it's a lot. I don't want to be the, I don't want to be the one they're angry at exactly.
[00:19:15] Lee: You, you talked about your higher power a couple of times. Did you have a concept of a higher power before you got into recovery?
[00:19:23] Denise: I did, I did, I was, I was raised in a church. It was non-denominational but it was I would they were pretty judgmental and so I had a concept of higher power, but it was a judgmental religion was my concept. So in, in there I had a relationship I did youth group. I did, a church.
I did all that kind of stuff. So I had that relationship, but I actually think the way I was taught. The religion hurt me more than it helped me because it caused me more shame. I was judging myself even harder. I'm like, whoa. And so I had to re really relook at or with my sponsor too. She helped me with this.
And really, really, yeah. Who is my higher power, I call him God, but what does that mean to me? What is God to Denise? Learning that and being able to go, I can, I can, my higher power. It doesn't have to be the same as everybody else's and have to look the same, feel the same. It's a very intimate and personal relationship.
And just because a religion states. There God doesn't approve of something or someone or some way doesn't mean that that's how my God is. And so that comparison piece dropped and I started really searching my personal relationship with my higher power aside from religion.
[00:20:48] Lee: And so do you feel that your higher power today is.
A completely different one then that you grew up with. I mean, has that Ted, does that continue
[00:20:58] Denise: to change? It does. It does. For me, spirituality is something that, it's inside of you. And I think as a child, even though I had that judgmental religion that brought me to a higher power, God, I always had that relationship of this is my creator.
He loves me more than we even know how to love. I mean, it's just, it's so huge. And so I always knew that about my higher power and believed in that and not like was in my heart. But it was really how I allow my higher power to love me and be part of my life that changed because I stopped.
Pushing him out of my life when I was doing wrong, or if I felt shame or bad, I would be like, oh, I can't, I can't pray. Or I can't talk to him because he's so mad at me and hates me. And why would he want to be around me? Talk with me. And so I had a lot of that where I would push them out. Doing wrong.
And I mean, we're always making mistakes and doing wrong. I mean, we're imperfect. It's just the way, and, and that's okay. It's okay. We don't have to be perfect, but I strive. I strove really hard to be perfect in my life. Especially because of the abuse. When I was younger I did not, I had to keep that a secret until I was about 17 years old.
I didn't tell anybody about it. And so I lived a pretty long life. That whole secret TIF newness. And you don't really know me and I'm going to be the straight a student and the best cheerleader and put on this facade so that no one really knows what's happened or what's going on. But in spirituality, you can't.
You can't hide from that. You can't put that face on because my God knows my heart. And so I felt like I was always battling that shame of that. And now I don't because, I know now that, like I said, I'm a child of God. He is my creator and he created me and he loves me more than anybody.
And so. Just like, I love, I've got three dogs, I've got two kids. I've got, I have all this, all these, beautiful things in my life now. And I love them so much. And, and they could, they're not going to ever do anything to make me not love them. I understand it a little bit more as a mother.
But it's, I understand that too with my creator now. So it's allowed my relationship with my With God to expand exponentially and just, just become something really beautiful. Hmm. That is so
[00:23:39] Lee: beautiful. I do love that the process of doing the steps and doing the recovery allows us to bring that shame out into the open rather than hide it from God and let it keep us away from God.
It connects us to God and to other people, because you can probably connect so well to other women who have been through similar things.
[00:23:57] Denise: That's been a neat part of the program too, like is being able to get to a point where I live so much of my life in shame and hiding really even in my adult life, because I was cheating and I was being this.
Adulterous as the religion I was raised in would call me and all of these names that I was like, gosh, I am really screwing up in this life. Like what is wrong with me? Like, and so I was doing all of those things and it's just, it's just so I don't know. It's just so much, so much better to be able to just Not have to feel that way anymore to be able to just like, let that go.
That lie. And that's the lie of addiction. That's the cyclical circle of addiction is it's going to, it's telling you you're bad, you're bad, you're bad. I'm bad. I'm bad. I'm bad. Okay. I'm going to drink. I'm gonna drink and drink. It's just this lie in this circle and I was just stuck in it.
Yeah. And I couldn't get out of it until I did. And the way that I did is I kept coming back and I kept fighting for myself and for my life. I'm so glad you
[00:25:03] Lee: did. So as we begin to wrap up what would you share now? Like, let's say there's, there's a woman that's listening. That's maybe not found her way into the rooms and she's just suffering and feeling the shame and can't put the drink down.
[00:25:16] Denise: advice would you
[00:25:17] Lee: have
[00:25:18] Denise: for her?
I would just tell her to, just to keep trying that she's worth it and that she. Has an amazing worth in this life. And she's actually been given a gift to help others. And there's a whole nother life out there for her and she just has to go and find it and to do that. She needs to be around other women.
If that makes her feel comfortable at first or just AA go into the rooms, try to go to a meeting, try to go to one at the same time. So you see the same people. Sit in the back and don't talk in the beginning. If you have to, until you feel comfortable, but just go and just watch the change, start to happen because it will, if you take the step and you take the action, the change will come beautiful.
[00:26:16] Lee: Yes, it will come and we need. You woman listening to us, we need you in the rooms. We need
[00:26:23] Denise: your magic. Yes. You are worth that. Yes. And you are beautiful and wonderful. And this does not define you. This is a sickness and it's, it's one of the worst out there. I mean, if you look at the depth. It is one of the highest, so we have to fight, fight this disease, but it is a sickness.
It's not who we are. It is not who we are and it does not define us. And don't let anyone ever tell you that or make you feel that way. Yeah,
[00:26:56] Lee: beautiful. Denise. I'm so glad you said yes. And you came and we had to reschedule, but we fought it. We fought, we fought, we made it happen.
[00:27:05] Denise: That's right. Thank
[00:27:07] Lee: you so much for sharing Denise.
You're a courageous courageous person. And I know you've, you've helped a lot of people today, so thank
[00:27:15] Denise: you. Well, I am so happy to be here and it's been wonderful talking with you or meeting you and. Anytime you need, want me to talk? Let me know. I know I will.