An Addicts Journey
Alcoholism did not get me until early my 40’s. But there were early signs that it would eventually take hold.
I had tremendous academic and vocational success, but none of it made me happy for more than a minute or two. Drinking or not drinking, I was never there for my wife, my family, my friends or anyone to the degree I should have been.
My drinking would escalate between the ages of 16 to 30. At around 22, there was no joy left in drinking. It was purely medicine for me. I quit at age 30 – on my own. Thirteen years would pass, and I would become “drier” with each passing year.
By Shayne Sundholm
Work, travel, isolation
I became a work alcoholic. The truth is I always was one (and still am to a large degree although I am working on it), but I took it to another level. Substitution is what many call it. The “ism’s” were fully intact and getting worse throughout this time.
I would work so many hours and travel on business so much that I would rarely see my wife, family or friends. I preferred it that way. Why? Because I believed if I spent any more time with these people they would not like me. After all, I did not like myself. However, I did care very much about these people. I loved them! I just had no idea how to express it.
At 42 I would make an ego-driven business decision that would bring my disease to the attention of our families and everyone we knew. I bought a business that I never should have. I relapsed. And then, having never received medical attention for my alcoholism, in less than 24 months I would have 20 ER visits, 15 detox stays, 4 residential rehab stays, 4 psych center stays, 2 DWI’s, wind up $500,000 in the hole, separated from my wife and suicidal.
I remember, just before I went into my fourth and (thank God) final residential rehab, my Dad’s brother called me. He said, “You know Shayne, you are killing your father.” My Dad was 78 at the time. That really stuck with me.
Finding my way back with God’s help
From the moment I stepped into that last rehab, I felt different. My God was going to do for me what I had been unable to do for myself. I have no other explanation for it. I surrendered and, from that moment, the sad country song that had played out over the past three years started to play in reverse.
I finally accepted that my thinking was broken. I had never been right in the first place. I decided to let other people who knew what they were doing do the thinking for me. I would do all that I was asked to do. I did and got well quickly.
Keep on doing the work
Today I am happier than at any other time in my life. It’s a far better life than I could have ever imagined. My mind does not spin a million miles an hour any longer as it did my entire life. I do not live in the past or the future. I live in the present moment. I no longer believe money and material things will make me happy.
Today, I am developing the ability to have true relationships with family and friends. I learn something new every day. With God’s help its been a miraculous journey, one that will never end if I simply do the work required.