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    BWS Stories - "You Keep On Playing Those Mind Games"...From Depression to Hope

    "You Keep On Playing Those Mind Games"...From Depression to Hope - Chrysalis

    Deb Sellars Karpek is a writer, Reiki Master and Jewelry Designer. She is married and lives in the Midwest. Her writing can be found in Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul, Sobering Thoughts, the National Newsletter for Women for Sobriety,, and her website at


    A thought came to me as I was out walking the other day that filled
    me with gratitude and joy. I am the woman I've always wanted to be! I am a capable, competent, caring and compassionate woman. One of those women I used to admire, be jealous of, despise and desire to be. Sobriety has given me the courage to believe that dreams do come true. I've discovered my creative side and talents that were buried beneath the bottle.

    The woman I've always wanted to be is competent. I've written two
    books, secured an agent and published some articles since I've
    decided to pursue my dream of being a writer. I work in new job, a
    healthy environment, where I receive good pay and respect for what I
    do and who I am. I no longer settle for less; I don't have to. Now
    I'm going after the whole loaf, as opposed to the crumbs I used to
    think I deserved.

    The woman I've always wanted to be is caring. For the first time in
    my life I am able to give and receive love, freely, without fear or anxiety. I feel it! I care deeply about people and things and want to give back what has
    been so freely given to me. My heart is bursting with joy and love! I
    know that I can do anything I set my mind to. I've always assumed
    certain things were beyond my reach, beyond my capabilities. I've
    come to learn differently.

    The woman I've always wanted to be is capable. Incredibly so! My
    thoughts create my reality. I can handle everything that comes my way
    with dignity and grace. I've discovered I have a nurturing, selfless

    The woman I've always wanted to be is compassionate. I have a
    knack for buoying people up with humor and love. One of the ways I
    practice this compassion is in my role as a Moderator for Women for
    Sobriety. I try to be a role model for the new women coming into the
    program, helping them, as others helped me when I was new. I see this
    as a way of giving back and it strengthens my sobriety as well.

    I feel as if I'm finally growing up, coming alive, discovering who I
    am. At the ripe old age of 50 I am the woman I've always wanted to
    be! I have good energy and people like being around me. I am fun to
    be around—me. Sober! I've had women tell me they want what I have;
    that they desire to live as I do, in a happy and healthy recovery. I
    am surprised and grateful when I hear this.

    All my life I have felt different, that I didn't quite measure up. I
    wasn't as pretty or as smart as others. I didn't have enough money,
    my home was too small, my car too old. I was too thin, too fat, too
    odd, too loud, too silly. Filled with fear and self-loathing, I was a
    scared little girl who hid behind her humor. On the outside I
    appeared to be confident and in control but on the inside I was a
    quivering wreck, insecure, frightened, sad, lonely and angry. I had a
    false bravado that was so strong I almost believed it. On the inside
    I felt as if I were rotting. It was all a lie. I was a bad seed and
    if anyone took the time to get to know me they'd realize this and
    dislike me. Of course I projected this image and it became a self-
    fulfilling prophecy.

    And so I began to collect addictions: addiction to men, alcohol,
    drugs; anything to keep me outside of myself. I'd been running
    most of my life and in my twenties the pace began to pick up. There
    was a time when I actually didn't mind the hangovers, the self
    induced illness, the days in bed. The physical pain was much easier
    to deal with than the emotional pain. It gave me something to focus my energy on, while it kept the other thoughts at bay.

    In high school I began to drink to fit in. Alcohol made me feel
    smart, sassy and sexy and I wasn't afraid to say anything to anyone.
    However, I always suffered the next day, horribly so. I would tell
    myself I'd never drink again it's just not worth it. But I always did.

    Eventually I found myself lost in a sea of drugs, alcohol and
    emotionally abusive relationships. I discovered cocaine and I loved
    how it made me feel buoyant and larger than life. Once again I'd be
    the prettiest, skinniest, wittiest, smartest girl in the world. I
    could hold my own with anyone. Life was great. Let's party! I
    continued to suffer physically. I had lowered the bar and the sick
    days became a normal part of my life. It didn't occur to me that I
    had a problem. Everyone did it. Everyone drank. Everyone drugged.
    Everyone had hangovers. It was the 80s. It was California. It was okay.
    By the 90s I was drug free, but weaved in and out of alcohol abuse,
    until I finally crossed that line and admitted I was an alcoholic. Of
    course it took me years to realize this. I liked to do things the
    hard way.

    The alcohol no longer helped. It didn't feed the hair of the dog. It
    didn't take away the hangovers. It didn't make me witty, pretty and
    free spirited. I no longer heard that roar, felt that rush that would
    cancel out all of the dark thoughts. It made me sick, miserable, fat,
    bloated, and filled me up with disgust and self-loathing. It was no
    longer a tonic. It had become a toxin. I was ready to be free. But how?

    How indeed? I never asked for help. I considered it a sign of
    weakness. I should know better. I grew up the oldest of seven kids
    and I was used to taking care of others. Because I was a good girl
    not much attention was paid to me. My parents were too busy trying to
    survive and raise their family to spend any quality time with us on
    an individual basis. I learned at an early age to be self-sufficient, to take care of others, and not ask for help.So I never asked, never let anyone see the vulnerable side of me. I kept it all inside and kept on running. I allowed myself to remain
    in the background. My needs were not met and I didn't think I could
    ask. My anger and resentment grew and I became quick tempered and
    anxious, full of self-doubt. I had a hard time trusting others
    and myself. Were my feelings valid or was I just a whiny spoiled
    brat? What was real?

    One day I was tired of being sick and tired. I had had enough. Home
    from work, hung over, full of guilt and remorse I decided to look for
    help. I found it in the form of a Women for Sobriety AOL message
    board. Little did I know the profound effect it would have on my life.

    I knew I needed to get sober but I had no idea how to live sober,
    with any quality of life. I really didn't think that was possible.
    I knew if I tried, I could not drink for periods. I had done it
    Before…twice. The first time I was sober five years, the second
    time, two years. While I did not drink during that time I didn't
    really have any quality of life. I just knew not to drink. I spent some time in AA, but never really connected to that program. I felt out of place, which only contributed to my belief that I was different, that I just didn't get
    it. It made me focus on my shortcomings, rather than placing a
    positive emphasis on my sobriety. I could do plenty of that on my
    own! I needed a different spin, a positive focus.

    Women for Sobriety provided that for me. Never in my life have I
    connected with something as strongly as I have with WFS. I read the
    statements and felt I was home. I loved what they said to me.
    They're so positively powerful and resonated very strongly within
    me. I remember reading them the first time and getting excited,
    thinking that I had finally found a way to live sober. They were
    going to be my blueprint for a new life. I became a part the WFS
    message board on AOL, ordered a lot of WFS material and I
    became a student of sobriety. I began to use the statements like
    affirmations, repeating each one, some for weeks at a time. It felt
    strange, but the idea of affirmations appealed to me so I incorporated them into my day, first thing in the morning, on my drive to work. I carried the statements around in my purse or my pocket and would refer to them throughout the day. I acted as if a lot in the beginning, and still do during challenging times.

    Then a wonderful thing happened. Little by little my life began to
    change. By changing my thinking, I have changed my life. The quality
    of my life is better than I've ever imagined. I have evolved from
    that sad, scared little girl, to someone just not drinking, to someone
    in true recovery, developing all sides of herself, spiritually,
    physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even during the challenging times, I feel
    as if I've been given the tools, confidence and support to deal
    with anything that comes my way. In March of 2005 I celebrated five years of sobriety and look forward to many more!

    It is a wonderful feeling being the woman I always wanted to be!

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