My Granddaughter And My Recovery



Ok, so here we go.  Alcoholism, recovery, sobriety, addiction, you’ve heard them all.  My granddaughter recently asked me to write a piece on my recovery.  She suggested that with everything that is going on in the world these days it might be helpful for me to write about my experiences. To give others who are suffering from addiction some hope and direction. What a wonderful idea. 

It’s kind of difficult to figure out where to start. It’s definite I would not be writing this blog if I hadn’t gotten sober when I did.  In fact, I probably wouldn’t even be alive. My life would not include the husband and family I have or the relationship with my children and grandchildren.

When you have an addiction, no matter what it is, the most important thing on your mind is yourself and how to get your fix.  Whether it is drugs, alcohol, gambling, food, or even sex.  Addiction is the most important thing in your life.  How to get it, how to find it, pay for it and use it. There is nothing more important. The (not so) funny thing is you don’t even know you are doing it.  Everything is fine because you have done it for so long it is as natural as breathing. Until – everything starts falling apart, you have money problems, relationship problems and nothing is working right.

I always thought a drunk was the guy you see shuffling down the street in old rags carrying a paper bag with something he’s drinking in it.  Nope.  It was me.

I suppose I started at my father’s knee sitting on the floor watching him drink his beer. He would give me a shot-glass of beer so I could be big like him.  I was about 4 or 5.  I found I really liked it!  Growing up alcohol was just a part of our lives.  Every night my dad would have his six-pack and peanuts. For thirty-five years, he worked for Anheuser-Busch where they could bring home a case of beer every Friday.  They had beer breaks instead of coffee breaks.  So drinking beer as I got older was just a given.

After about ten years, my marriage fell apart. We both had a hand in that and we both did our fair share of drinking.  After my divorce, I had several jobs, didn’t spend enough time with my kids, and life just wasn’t working. Alcoholism in the time of coronavirus - BBC News

When my kids were growing up I know I could have made better decisions.  Should have stayed home more, spent more time with them instead of going out and drinking.  Alcohol also contributes to the inability of managing your anger, which is never a good thing.  They say you make poor decisions even when you are not drunk because depending on how much you drink, you are never sober.  You make promises you know you can’t keep, priorities are out of whack, and right and wrong are sometimes very blurred.  

My life was a mess, nothing was going the way it was supposed to.  I tried fixing it by having relationships that didn’t really mean anything.  I wasn’t happy and most days I couldn’t wait until evening to have my glass of wine.  Something had to change but I had no idea what it was.  Until one day I was offered a job that also included a move.  Well, I had a chance to move and jumped on it thinking that the move would fix everything.Reality Cowboy Stars - True West Magazine

Wow, over seven hundred miles away should help, right?  It was a place I had always dreamed of, doing what I loved, and riding horses.  Out in the middle of nowhere, cows, horses, cowboys, lots of open spaces, and no freeways.  How could it get any better than this?  It was better, but the drinking increased.  Rodeos, bars, dances, and drinking.  What a life!

About six months after my move something hit me like a lightning bolt.  That lightning bolt was the realization that I couldn’t have a serious relationship or worthwhile life while I was drinking the way I was. But the lightning bolt soon faded and the drinking didn’t.

About a week later I was leaving the local bar after work.  It was 20 degrees below zero, packed snow on the road and I have no idea how I drove home.  Waking up the next morning at home, in bed with the worst hangover I have ever had.  That day was my wake-up. 
If I had run off the road between town and home, which is about 30 miles of highway, I would have frozen to death.  Not the way I wanted to go out.  I had alcohol poisoning and was sick for 3 days.  It was the first time I had called in sick to work from drinking.

When I finally sobered up I made a pact with myself to stop drinking.  Well, at least until I was 80 and I would open a bottle of champagne.  I found that telling myself it wasn’t forever, made it easier to keep to it. 

I found all the information I could about alcoholism and getting sober. Doing the proverbial 12 steps and going to a couple of meetings, I found a woman in town who gave me support and introduced me to meetings. Through all my readings and listening, I found there is more to addiction than the substance you need.  It’s not the alcohol that’s the enemy, it’s your past that pushes you to relieve the pain with whatever helps.

Whether it is abuse by parents, sexual abuse, anxiety, depression, domestic abuse, a physical trauma, no matter what it is, it can be dealt with.  Find it, look at it, take it apart, accept it and move on without the crutch.  Don’t give those situations the power of you destroying yourself and the people in your life a little every day.  

Looking at your past, finding the cause is very painful and difficult to face. It hurts, a lot! But the more you unravel the past, the more you understand why you drink and how to cope with those times of cravings. Yes, change is scary.

  •  Understand why you drink
  •  Find ways to cope
  •  Implement coping mechanisms
  •  See that you are worth having a good life
  •  Notice the good things happening after drinking
  •  How different life is
  •  It isn’t always easy

The first year was harder than hell.  The physical withdrawals were nuts.  I had the shakes most of the time.  Panic attacks, anxiety, and just emotional chaos.  They say when you stop drinking, all the emotions you stopped by staying drunk, kind of creep up on you.  If you started drinking at a young age like me you weren’t able to learn how to deal with them, so when you finally feel them, it’s difficult to know how to handle them. 

You cry for no reason, scream at something that wasn’t that bad. What a roller coaster ride, and not a fun one. The saying is “One day at a time”, but sometimes it’s an hour at a time or 10 minutes at a time.  It’s actually whatever time you can handle that works.

I did learn that physical exercise helped.  Running again every day seemed to relieve the stress and release the endorphins to help with the anxiety.  Also, reading more and kept very busy outside. The hard part is learning to identify your triggers and how to deal with them.  That’s when journaling is very helpful. No matter what you think, you can learn to deal with them.

There was one fall from grace about three months after my initial stopping.  It was very ugly and I won’t go into details but the next morning I felt worse about myself than I ever have in all my adult years. I was lucky there was an AA meeting the next day and I went to it.  I confessed my slip and was surprised that everyone there was so understanding and helpful.  They all told me, “Oh, well, it happens. 

Now the trick is to get back up and go forward.  Don’t look back.”  The group told me it isn’t the fall that counts, it’s if or when you get back up.  I did and I try not to look back.  It’s been twenty-seven years since and there are still times when . . . but I don’t.  I just say not now.

If you are finding yourself relating to my story in any way, talk to someone.  Get some help.  My purpose in writing this is to let you know your life is worth much more than the one you are living now. Don’t let your addiction continue to control your life and limit the life you should have. 

Western Memories: Snyder proud of deep family roots in Rifle ranch life |

You can read more on the life I have gained and love on my other blog posts.

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