217-Debbie L- Sorority Girl in the Neck Brace Doesn‘t Know What‘s Best for Herself
Debbie L 00:00
I mean, this is not a life that I would have planned out. You know, I was climbing the corporate ladder like I said, I was, you know, I had certain goals in mind. I was never going to be dependent on a man. That was for sure. And here I am. I haven't had a paycheck in 24 years with my name on it. I just don't know what's best for me, is the bottom line. I don't know what's gonna make me happy. And I don't know where my life's gonna lead.
John M 00:29
Well, hello, friends of Bill W and other friends you have landed on sober speak. My name is John M. I am an alcoholic. And we are glad you're all here, especially newcomers, newcomers that is both to recovery as a whole. And newcomers to this podcast, sober speak as a podcast about recovery centered around the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. My job here on sober speak is simple. My job is to provide a platform to the amazing stories of recovery all around us. Consider sober speak, if you will, your meeting between meetings. Please remember, we do not speak for a or any 12 Step community. We represent only ourselves. We're here to share our experience, strength and hope with those who wish to come along for the ride. Take what you want, and leave the rest at the curb for the trash man to pick up. Greetings from deep in the heart of Texas. That was the voice of Debbie L that you heard at the beginning of this here episode and you will be hearing so much more from her and Uno momento. But first things first, this This episode is brought to you by excuse the little blip on my voice, my cadence there. But you know what I'm saying I started to say episode. And then I thought I'm going to switch to app and then I went back to episode. My apologies. That's a much more than you ever needed to know about what was going on in my brain. But nonetheless, this app is brought to you by Clinton. And Kirsten, and Jason and Priscilla and Kara, and Mary Lynn. And Laura and Jared and Tanya and Jude. Do you know what? Clinton and Kirsten and Jason and Priscilla and Kara and Mary Lynn and Laura and Jared and Tanya and Jude did? Well they went to our websites sober speak.com clicked on the little yellow donate tab and made a contribution to own to help us keep the virtual lights on so thank you Clinton, Kirsten and Jason and Priscilla a cara and Mary Lana, Lauren, Jared and Tanya and Jude. This episode is coming right out to humans. I John M just another Bozo on the bus will indeed be the chairperson for this meeting between meetings and I am truly honored and privileged to serve all of you listening in so take a seat if you will, around this virtual table and let's get cranked up no matter who you are or what your past looks like. You are most welcome here. It is an open table for all and we are glad that you have joined us
John M 03:57
so I want to delete read something to start off the podcast today this was posted in our super secret Facebook group and if you're not part of that, just go look for the sober speak secret group in Facebook and ash for in Michigan and we will get you in the Facebook group but my friend actually from the Frisco group Nelson posted in there and he posts a lot in a says in the the started offices service in big capital letters can take many forms and strengthens sobriety every time you do it. And then there's a quote from the book here is says life will take on a new meaning to watch other people recover to see them help others to watch loneliness vanish. To see a fellowship grew up about you to have a host of friends. This is an experience you must not miss frequent contact with newcomers, and with each other is the bright spot of our life, as from page 89, in the big book, and let me read that again, life will take on a new meaning to watch other people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you to have a host of friends, this is an experience you must not miss frequent contact with each other, or excuse me, with newcomers, and with each other is the bright spot of our lives. And the Nelson adds on a little commentary at the back of that post, and it says, is through service that the greatest rewards are to be found. But to be in a position of offering true, useful and effective service to others. I must first work on my self. This means that I have to abandon myself to God admit my faults to him. It clear away the wreckage of my past, work on myself has taught me how to find necessary peace and serenity to successfully to successfully merge inspiration and experience very well put successfully merge inspiration and experience I like that Nelson. He says I have learned how to be in the truest sense and open channel of sobriety. Thanks Nelson for posting that in the group. I appreciate you. Alright everybody. Now on to the featured guests, Debbie L. And we are entitling this particular episode sorority girl in the next excuse me, sorority girl in the neck brace doesn't know what's best for herself. In this will come clear as you listen to the podcast while we titled it that way. Debbie was a is really a gifted and talented overachiever, sorority girl this struggled with an eating distort an eating disorder in a sense of never quite fitting in. My favorite part, I think is where we get to hear about her 1968 P green convertible mg. Whiz, she named the car from hell, and that car helped Debbie to reach her bottom. As Debbie puts it, she thought being the skinniest blondest and Tanis girl would bring her happiness but it did not. Debbie found a through allanon and she is a self described suburban a soccer mom that says drinking made her well I can't complete the Fraser but I'll start it prettier Whittier and where you have to listen to the episode to hear the third word. Hi everybody, buckle up. And without further ado, please help me welcome Debbie L and we will have plenty o listener feedback at the end of this episode. Enjoy. Okay everybody. So today we are sitting here with Debbie L who I've known for quite some time. So Debbie, why don't you go ahead first things first, introduce yourself. Give your sobriety date if you wish and tell people where you live who are listening
Debbie L 08:36
in. Okay, I'm Debbie, I'm an alcoholic. And my sobriety date is June 15. Of 91. i My home group is the PROSPER country group but I actually live in Plano.
John M 08:50
So June 15 of 91 So help me with the math there Debbie that is how many years that's 3030 years 30 years that is fantastic. Congratulations on 30 The big Triple X
Debbie L 09:01
Yep, thank you. By the
John M 09:04
way I've always wondered this I don't even know if you know the answer to this question. I've been to the PROSPER country group so many times. Why do they call it the country group? Is it because it's out in the country? Do you have any idea?
Debbie L 09:15
I don't know. I know it started a long time before the current group is that is there now. And I guess when they first started it really was out in the country and right but
John M 09:28
they called it Yeah, if people don't know this who don't live in this area, but prosper was out in the country but it's not really country anymore. Even though there are country ish parts of this city. It's slowly becoming a very booming metropolis I guess what salutely Alright, so let me go ahead and set this up real quick. Because the reason that you are here today and we're doing interview one on one is because you actually told your story at the at the PROSPER contar. And at an event, which is called the Tri Cities event. And even though there's like five, six cities that are involved in the Tri Cities event, but that's a completely different story, nonetheless, you were telling your story at the Tri Cities event, and I participate in that. And I came up there, I was asked to record it, I came up there got all my equipment set up, you shared your story. And, and I don't know if you know this part or not, but what happened is I wanted to break it into sections. And they, the there was people who came up and they did the traditions, and they did how it works. And they did the intro and serenity, prayer and all that sort of stuff. And then I wanted to kind of give it a little break in the recording before I recorded you. So I said, Okay, I went up there, I got on my digital record, this same one that you're looking at here right now. And I, I pressed the button to stop the recording. And then you were coming up and I pressed it to start again to record you don't want to make sure all the settings are right, and all that sort of stuff. But when I pressed it the second time, I didn't I guess press it far enough, or whatever the case may be. I didn't depress it far enough. And, and then I got after you told your story. And I looked at the recorder i was i Oh my goodness, I didn't get Debbie auto reporting. So. So anyway, my apologies on that. But hey, we're gonna get your story anyway. You're on,
Debbie L 11:39
right. And I'm actually relieved because I ran out of time and didn't get to say everything I wanted to say good. Well,
John M 11:45
we'll give you some time here to share your story. Alright, so just because I was able to watch that, and I was able to Oh, and then we went back and forth. I don't think I don't know how much of this I told you. But your husband? Who a lot of people in this area now. Yeah, we'll mention to him on the front end of this. Because, you know, he's gonna be listening to the say, hey, talk about me,
Debbie L 12:12
right? You know about him, right? Yes.
John M 12:15
So he gave me your so I said, Oh, you know, I would love to get you on, you know, a one on one interview instead, you know, and he gave me your cell number. But apparently he transposed a couple different numbers. And I was, I was texting who knows who I was texting for a couple of weeks saying, hey, Debbie, just want to make sure you're there. You know, to make sure this doesn't slip through the cracks. Are you still interested in it? Finally, I replied to the email where it was and you were like, Tim gave you the wrong number. I'm like, Okay, now it explains it all. So somebody out there in the world somewhere has been getting texts about me, Hey, you want to come on sober speak and tell your story. They're probably like, what? Alright, better you all right. Now under this, Debbie. I'll try to shut up. Okay, so I know that you grew up in Kansas, right? You ever get jokes about that growing up in Kansas? Like todo? Oh, yeah,
Debbie L 13:14
we're not in Kansas anymore. Of course.
John M 13:19
Okay. So tell me a little bit about Debbie growing up there what it was like,
Debbie L 13:24
Well, I grew up in the middle of the country in a middle class family. And just really had a sense of entitlement from I don't know when I don't know where it came from. But I thought I should be living on a beach in a very wealthy family. And I have, I still have no idea where that came from. But I was always dissatisfied, I had that sense of dissatisfaction. My family appeared very normal from the outside. Just real
John M 13:56
quick on the sense of entitlement in your family as such. Were you the only one in your family that kind of felt that way?
Debbie L 14:04
I think so. My parents both came from very modest families. And my dad was pretty successful in his business. So they enjoyed having money to spend. We did a lot of fun things. We went on fun vacations, went to a lot of Kansas City Chiefs got to put a shout out for my chiefs. A lot of chiefs games growing up and a lot of royals games growing up. So they they enjoyed having the money to we were never without and
John M 14:36
but you kinda like I guess put a little juice under thinking yeah, I should be on the beach living in a mansion or whatever the case? Yeah. Did you like you know, gotta fantasize about that and such or
Debbie L 14:48
yeah, not that I remember specifically, but I just I thought there was more out there.
John M 14:54
Understood. Okay, so you're growing up in Kansas. You have this sense of entitlement. You said you're Family look fairly normal from the outside looking in, but then I think you put a button there.
Debbie L 15:04
Yes. Things were not normal in. In the home, there was no active alcoholism, but there was mental illness, other addictions. And I learned at a very young age to walk on eggshells.
John M 15:20
Okay, can you go into the mental illness and other addictions somewhat,
Debbie L 15:24
um, that's not really my story to tell. Okay. But I will just say that when people talk about growing up in an alcoholic home, I can relate, even though there wasn't alcohol, necessarily. And I never knew what to expect.
John M 15:43
And I relate to what you just said, because I grew up with a mother who had mental illness. And when I first got sober people suggested to me that you read ACO a adult children of alcoholics, river, and I could really relate to that, even though I didn't have anything like that in my home.
Debbie L 16:03
Yeah, yeah, I learned to walk on the floorboards that didn't Creek and to stay in my room and not make noise. And so I really spent a lot of time alone as a child. Didn't want to have friends over necessarily didn't because I didn't know what, what to expect.
John M 16:23
So and I remember from your story, I believe you were kind of an overachiever as a yes. Right? Yes, I was that alone.
Debbie L 16:30
So I guess it started in elementary school, I was identified as gifted and talented. And I did very well in school, I was made for the school system. And I also started to
John M 16:43
say you're made for the school system? What do you mean, like you could study? Well, I didn't
Debbie L 16:47
even have to study I was at a really good memory, I could memorize facts and regurgitate them on a test. So I always and I got a lot of praise for that, you know, we reward that ability. In our in our school system. I have three kids now. And they, you know, they're all different. And not all of them are made for school, for our kind of school system. So that's why I say it that way.
John M 17:12
So when you were younger, did you recognize Oh, wow, I don't even have to try it. This. This is easy for me.
Debbie L 17:18
Yeah. Yeah. Pretty much.
John M 17:19
Yeah. Did you is that I guess, I guess there's good sides and downsize everything is. So I mean, how do you see that now as an adult? Because I'm assuming you can still do that. Right.
Debbie L 17:33
I think I've damaged a lot of brains. But I recognize today that that is a tricky place for me to go. Because anytime I'm putting intelligence in front of spirituality, it's a problem. And I have a little saying on my bathroom mirror that talks about intelligence is like good looks neither earned, you know, their gifts from God. And yet, I was taking credit for these things that I didn't even work for. And, I mean, I, I was a product of our system, but I don't think it was. I can't say there was any virtue involved.
John M 18:18
Okay, so you're identified as gifted or talented? I think you also if I remember, right, you're in the figure skating world.
Debbie L 18:28
Yes. Well, yes. I started figure skating when I was about eight. I really liked it. Again, it was an individual sport, I can kind of lose myself on the ice in my own world, and was fairly talented at it. I continued for eight years, and got pretty serious about it. By the time I got to middle school, I was getting up at four in the morning in the dark. My dad would drive me to the rink, which was about 20 minutes away. I practice for a few hours, my mom would come get me take me to school late. Pick me up from school early, so I could go back to the rink, practice another couple hours. And I did that, you know, six days a week. Saturday's was a lot of off ice training, weightlifting, running, conditioning, dance, all of that. Yeah, I was pretty all consuming.
John M 19:26
Yes. So and at the same time, you're doing all this stuff in school as well with the Gifted and Talented program. Yes. And
Debbie L 19:32
playing instruments. I played piano and saxophone and oboe, wow. Yeah.
John M 19:37
My goodness. So looking back on that now, was that a good experience? Not so great experience. What did you learn from all that?
Debbie L 19:45
I think it was good. I. Again, I learned from watching my children. Two of them are very similar to me in that regard. And try to make, you know, more of an infinite emphasis on what They work at and how they go about things rather than the end result. And I do think it was good, I think it kept me out of trouble. You know, for those years. I didn't start drinking till I quit most of that stuff. So we're
John M 20:16
okay. So when did the drinking enter the equation,
Debbie L 20:21
so my freshman year of high school is the first time I remember feeling, not a part of like, something like I was different. And I know, I'd been presented with the opportunity to drink before that, and something in my gut knew that it was wrong. Something in my moral conscious, you know, kept me from doing that. But when I was a freshman in high school, I had a few things happen. I, you know, had this sense of, of not being good enough, not fitting in. And I decided that if I could just be, you know, the skinniest, the blondest, the tannest, you know, all these outward things, that I would be happy and I would look like those girls that were, you know, so happy flinging their Farrah Fawcett hair down the hallway. So that's what I set out to do and did get a boyfriend, and did get homecoming queen, and an eating disorder. So that's where my, that's actually where my addiction started.
John M 21:30
Wow. Okay, so you got two different as like a dichotomy there. Yeah. For sure, you got homecoming queen, and then you got the eating disorder going on at the same time?
Debbie L 21:47
Yes. And that was the start of kind of a double life that I, I lived for the next eight years. So, you know, none of that stuff brought me the happiness. I thought it would, of course, the boyfriend broke up with me, because I didn't talk enough. And that's a whole nother story.
John M 22:11
Did he meet like, talk to you talk to him? Yes. Or agenda.
Debbie L 22:15
Okay. Pretty much in general, I was really, really, really quiet. I don't remember being told that before high school. But once, you know, well, by that time, I had quit figure skating, I had quit was in the Kansas City Youth Symphony, I had quit that. And I was really focused on trying to fit in to the to the friend group. Prior to that, I hadn't been so concerned about it, I'd missed, you know, a bunch of sleepovers and dances and that sort of thing. But now that was at the forefront of my priorities. And and I didn't know how to do it. I didn't have the skills I didn't, you know, I wasn't comfortable. I didn't know how to start a conversation or, or even what to say in with someone that I knew or, you know, had been around a while. So definitely, you know, had some issues there. And kind of when all that happened, my parents also separated. How old were you there, I was 16 1515. And it wasn't really a surprise to me. And I can't say I was really upset about it, because they were so miserable. But I did worry about them individually, and how they would survive. Anyways, kind of a combination of things. And this friend group said, you know, come out with us come to our party. And, and I did and they drank and smoked pot, and I jumped right in. And with both feet and like the big book says, you know, became the real thing within months. Didn't take long at all.
John M 24:05
Were you shocked by that, that you were drinking partying so much?
Debbie L 24:10
Now, I don't remember consciously thinking of it.
John M 24:14
So just kind of a natural progression. Yeah. And you stayed with that group and other groups like that for as that was the beginning of right now. I'm assuming right?
Debbie L 24:24
Yes. Until I was 22. Okay, six years.
John M 24:29
So that so did you go to college?
Debbie L 24:33
I did. I did. So I live this double life like I mentioned, real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I was a really quiet, shy teacher's pet during the day and did very, very well in high school regardless of myself. And at night and on the weekends. I was a party girl and I found that with alcohol and me I could become the life of the party. And all that fear of people went away. I knew how to talk. I knew how to have fun. And but I always just took it a little too far. Right? missed the mark. Yes. But I did manage to graduate with a perfect GPA.
John M 25:22
Really? Yes. Oh my goodness. Again, I
Debbie L 25:25
can't say it's because I studied hard at it. I graduated first in my class, but I was not invited to give the valedictorian speech, probably because they knew I would be drunk on graduation. They asked the salutatory and to give the speech. Yes. So it was out here in Texas. Yeah, that was in Kansas.
John M 25:48
Okay. So you're still going? So in a way that was a high school, college goal. Okay. So and then you went to college is
Debbie L 25:54
a result of my good grades. I got a full ride scholarship to SMU. That's here, Texas. Yes. When you got to Texas came and sight unseen to the school, how'd you pick it? It was free. They actually, they offered me an amazing deal. They said we'll enter you as a sophomore, give you a year's worth of credit. You can get a BS in engineering in three years and get your MBA in the fourth year. All for free. And that was such an offer. I totally blew it. I you know, didn't realize what a good thing I had at the time. I did manage to barely graduate with a BS in engineering after four and a half years. But, you know, at least I got that out of it.
John M 26:47
Okay, so till what else do you want to say about those college years? Or their relationships? You want to talk about? Is there anything? I mean, just talk to me through those, those college years?
Debbie L 26:59
Yeah, it was crazy. You know, I thought moving to Texas, I would get away from some of that black cloud that always seemed to follow me. And the bad consequences that always happened, which I never related to alcohol or my drinking. But I remember you know, the first semester I was here finding people that partied like I did, and saying, Oh, you remind me of so and so back home, and you remind me of so and so. So it was the same, same situation, just different names and faces. I that first semester. I really wanted to fit in and SMU has a lot of money. And there I was going to school with some very wealthy kids from wealthy families. And so I talked my dad into getting me a credit card co signing on a credit card, and also getting me a car even though I lived on campus and had a meal plan on campus and walked to all my classes. Oh, I see trouble coming. It was big trouble. And this specific car was a 68 convertible mg MGB and it was pee green. And I wanted that car so bad. And so I got it. And it wasn't long my girlfriend and my roommate and I were out partying one night and the latch on the hood broke and now the hood on this Mg is very, very long. And the windshield is very, very short. And my roommate and I are very, very tall. So our heads actually stick above the windshield. And when the hood when the latch broke the hood came in bopped us on the head flew over the windshield and kind of stayed hinged but you know tapped us on the head and we thought that was hilarious. We pulled over and jumped out and closed it again and got back in started driving down lower Greenville it happened again and we just kept closing it but the next day I thought I should probably get that fixed. So the guy that I bought the car from went with me we we tied the hood down with a plastic jump rope got on central to head down somewhere downtown. He knew where to go fix it
John M 29:15
and just so people know Central is a it's a highway inner you know, major highway in the Texas area.
Debbie L 29:21
Big big highway going about 70 went under one of the M Street underpasses. The wind caught the hood. Fluid back this time I was the only tall one and it landed on my head. broke my neck.
John M 29:37
Oh my gosh.
Debbie L 29:39
Yeah, it was it was a it was a scary situation. Course I didn't realize it at the time. Didn't realize how close I was to being paralyzed or or killed. And yeah, so spent some time in the hospital couldn't wait to get back to drinking I learned how to drink through a straw because I was in a brace you know that kept my head from moving. And pretty soon I was getting falling down drunk again. No time at all while I was still healing.
John M 30:16
We will be continuing our conversation with Debbie L and just a moment just a reminder you are listening to sober speak you can find us on the world wide web as sober speaks comm there you can find approximately how what am I have to not 220 or so other episodes you can listen to for free. You can also find the donate button on our website which you can use if and only if the spirit moves you please keep in mind this is a podcast funded by you, listeners. So we're speaking as a self supporting organization through our own contributions. All right. Now back to Debbie. So you are alright, so you've had this major wreck. You've broken your neck. You're trying to come out of that and take me from there.
Debbie L 31:03
Well, it didn't really slow me down, I did have to drop a few classes. So that was my first introduction into the fact that I didn't have to take a full 15 hours every semester to keep my scholarship. And at SMU the sorority rushes delayed it's in the second semester, unfortunately. So by January, I already had a reputation. I was also the girl in the neck brace. So it was hard to confuse me with anyone else. And so that didn't go the way I wanted. I did not get in the sorority I wanted to but I did get in the one that I was a legacy to. I have an older sister who had gone to school and been in a sorority so I ended up in there did not feel like I instantly had a group of friends. In fact, I was asked not to attend their social events after a few years. But um, yeah, I kept the car from hell as we nicknamed it and the following year, I ended up getting a DWI. And it was the night before Halloween, no big deal. Wednesday night study break, went out on lower Greenville got pulled over taking up all three lanes on Greenville. And I had quite an attitude when I was drinking i
John M 32:31
You're the quiet, demure girl I
Debbie L 32:34
was not. And so when the police pulled me over, I jumped out of the convertible without opening the door, ran up to his door. And when he said ma'am, have you been drinking? I said no. Have you? He wasn't so amused. But I did okay, on the field sobriety test. I'm told I was in and out of a blackout. But apparently he was about to let me go. And this particular police officer had reddish hair and a huge you know, cowboy hat. And I started singing the Howdy Doody song. Which he did not appreciate. So the handcuffs went on. I went in the back of the car here I am a little you know, SMU sorority girl. I've got on a I remember what I was wearing to this day. I had on a red sweater with a big sailboat on it some jean shorts and some blue leather flats. That's quite
John M 33:31
good. Remember what they were wearing? Blows my MA?
Debbie L 33:38
Well, when I woke when I came to in the drunk tank, some women were talking about stealing my leather shoes. That's how I remember what shoes I was wearing. Yeah, but uh, yeah, so I got my field trip to loose Sterrett.
John M 33:50
I remember, which is a local jail. Those don't know,
Debbie L 33:53
yes, in downtown Dallas. I remember screaming that I had a credit card, therefore they should let me out now. And I don't remember much else of that night. But I will tell you, my when I got out of jail, I had to tell my dad and he hired a lawyer for me. And so a few months later, or whenever it was I went to visit this lawyer and meet him. He was a dear old man. He and his wife had a little his own little business. And I dressed up I had on you know, the rough hewn dress with it was hunter green with little ducks all over it. The neck came up to my chin and the skirt came down to my ankles. And I had my little resume with me if my good grade accomplishments. And I walk into this lawyer and he looks you know he looks over my record and says it all looks good. He goes well I have a video that they took of you in jail. I have no recollection whatsoever of it. And so I popped in the VHS tape. And we watched this video of I was standing there, I was supposed to be reading something on the wall. And instead, I was just screaming at these policemen in front of me and just cussing them out using every four letter word there is crying, snot flying. My hair was just Oh, Tangled, flying, it was a mess.
John M 35:32
Well different than the interview with the resume in front of
Debbie L 35:36
it. And I really couldn't believe it was me. That was the only time I think I ever saw myself in that state. And I remember the the lawyer turning off the video and saying, I don't think you have a problem with alcohol. And at that point, I was like, great. I don't have to worry about it. And I got off very easily unsupervised probation. A fine. And I was done. Wow.
John M 36:03
Okay, so. Okay, so now you're kind of off scot free. I mean, well, considering what could have happened, right. And how old are you at this point? Are you 2021 22? I believe 1919. Okay, so you've still got a couple more years of? Yes. Drinking ahead of Yeah,
Debbie L 36:23
couple more years of drinking and ER visits and blackouts and all the great stuff that goes along with it.
John M 36:31
Wow. Okay, so what was your first exposure? And how did you get to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Debbie L 36:37
So when I was a junior in college, I was at a party in a tree and met a guy.
John M 36:47
Just raise your you're at a party in a tree.
Debbie L 36:52
And I met this guy, and we kind of liked each other. And so we started dating. Now,
John M 37:00
was he in the tree too?
Debbie L 37:01
He was okay. Yes. And apparently, he fell pretty hard, not out of the tree. But for me. And the next day, he decided to get sober. I didn't really realize it at the time. But that meant he was a drunk. But he went to AA and he brought home his desire chip or showed me his desire tip. Few days, or however long later and well, you know how we are we get in a relationship we move in together before we start dating. And I remember reading the Serenity Prayer on his desire chip. And I just I thought it was some joke. I thought it was you know, some cheeky saying, and I remember laughing about it, totally didn't get it. Anyways, he started attending a meetings and I would go along occasionally to support him. Never once thought that it applied to me.
John M 37:56
So you didn't really have an inkling at the time, none.
Debbie L 37:58
Were always the last to find out. And he had a group of friends, young people in AEA that we hung out with. And I made friends with them. And, you know, the one thing I really appreciate it appreciate about that is they never once like judge felt I never felt judged. I don't remember them ever talking to me about my drinking. They said they did once when I was drink drunk that they tried to twelve-step me, I don't remember it at all. But I just felt comfortable around them. And I got to see what their lives were like without alcohol. And that was something I'd never seen before I'd never been exposed to. And consequently, my drinking became more periodic, I began to see that I could have fun without alcohol. And I would go you know, for days, maybe even weeks without drinking. Now every time I did go back and drink it was just as bad if not worse than before. And I would go on some major binge and you know, get in a fight with him and and ruin relationships, just like I always have.
John M 39:04
So your boyfriend at the time or you're living with and he's going to a as he's saying anything about? No, you talk to him after a matter of you know,
Debbie L 39:15
I don't know if if he was just in denial as well. You know, it is a family disease. So I don't know to this day, what he was thinking, but I do know that we were having a lot of difficulties. And one day he came home and he was so excited and he looked like he had just struck gold. And he said I know what the problem is, or more importantly the solution and I said what he said I'm an alcoholic. I go to AA, you need to go to Al Anon. And that is really how my sobriety started. I started I didn't know what else to do. I was miserable. I wanted to die. I didn't know what was wrong, I could not see that any of my, that alcohol was at any part of my problems. And so I did I started going to Al Anon and coincidentally didn't want to drink once I started seeking that spiritual solution,
John M 40:18
so when did you make the the switch? And you may still get Alan, I don't know. But when
Debbie L 40:25
did you I don't today, I recommend it to a lot of people. I think it's an awesome program. I happen to get into a really fabulous Al Anon group, the Preston group. And I'm so grateful to them to this day, but I got a sponsor in there and started working the steps and got to the fourth step and, you know, balked a little but finally gotten enough pain that I just did it. And the same with the fifth step, I have the sponsor. No, she's not an alcoholic, remember. And I went to her apartment she lived in in like, I don't remember where, anyways, she had also been a sorority girl, and she was eager for me to get through the steps. So I could start you know, volunteering with the Junior League and stuff like that. So I would go to her her apartment and I had been scared enough to to hear you know that you need to get everything out. And your first step, you need to just tell everything, no keep any secrets. And so I did I just let all over, told her everything. And stuff. You know, I'd never told anybody before. And she handled it so well. You know, she was not an alcoholic. In fact, she was an allanon because the guy she had dated was an AA. Anyways, she handled it very well. She said, I still love you. But she said, I think you need professional help.
John M 41:56
Debbie L 41:59
So she gave me a business card of a therapist that she had picked up along the way. And finally got the nerve to call and that person didn't work there anymore. But the man said, you know, we have this woman here that's been sober for 10 years, would you like to talk to her? And I intuitively know that was who I needed to talk to. So I got an appointment with her and she slowly slowly got the truth out of me. And And 12 Step me into AA.
John M 42:28
Okay. All right. So you're going to a sir, you've been going on or you're going to this therapist, she says what in essence, you should be going to AA. Did you go immediately?
Debbie L 42:39
I did she I again. So I was back to not speaking much. I didn't know how to function around people. She later told me that I was the most difficult patient she has ever had. Just trying to extract words out of me. Wow. Yeah. But she did give enough words to get an idea of how much I'd been drinking and she can have
John M 43:01
you would have drank a little before you went in there. I bet she could have gotten a lot more rowdy. Yes, you
Debbie L 43:09
got a lot sooner. So anyways,
John M 43:14
she's gonna go to the pressing group.
Debbie L 43:15
I did it first. Yes. But he was still going there. And oh, yes. He had a sponsor. We were still together for a little while after that. But he there's some sick people in IAEA and his sponsor kept telling him sex was the solution to all our problems. Thank you got that mixed up with the acceptance page. Anyways, yeah, I had to get out of that. And and I moved to East Dallas and started going to the lake Carlin's group.
John M 43:46
Okay. Alright, so the Lake Highlands group? I'm not mistaken. That's where you met that guy named Tim. Am
Debbie L 43:56
I right? Yes. That was much later. But yes. Okay. So
John M 44:00
so well, let's go through early sobriety. Okay. And then I want to get to your family too. So are so tell took me through early sobriety? And then after when did you actually meet Mr. Tim?
Debbie L 44:13
So early sobriety, I was involved with the ladies of like Highlands, pretty much exclusively. They had a really strong women's group. We had two meetings a week we ate before after every meeting. And then another night, we also took a meeting to the Magdalen house every Monday night after dinner. And so that's where I learned to do fellowship and you know, God put me right where I needed to be if someone had given me a big book or a workbook and said, Do this, do the steps and you'll be okay. I would have gone home and never seen y'all again. But he put me right in the middle of these women where I learned I couldn't speak when I got to meetings. I couldn't even say my name. And you know, they helped me walk through that fear and and helped me to, to start to figure out who I am and how to express that and to be okay with being me. And that
John M 45:11
is also part of the reason I wanted to have you on the podcast is because, you know, I mean, I get a lot of people on here. And many of them, you know, they've been, like, telling their story for years in front of, you know, large groups and all that kind of stuff. And, and, and I realized that you are, I mean, you represent a large swath is a word swath, right? Yes, sure. Yeah. Women, especially out there, who are, you know, May, maybe they're there, they do have a hard time saying things in meetings and such like that. I mean, I know you don't now, I know, you could talk now. But you know, in the beginning, I know you're kind of a typical like you said a during the when I heard saw you speaking at house how a suburban
Debbie L 46:03
soccer mom, suburban soccer
John M 46:04
mom, right. And I think that's great. And there's tons of suburban soccer moms out there. Alright, so you're going through that and I also remember you talking about the your job and how that kind of took some shifts and change. Oh, yeah, time. You know, it's fun. You're an engineer, right? I
Debbie L 46:21
am. I graduated with an engineering degree,
John M 46:24
what kind of engineering the degree was in
Debbie L 46:28
basically civil engineering. And I was started an internship while I was in school with a environmental engineering firm was actually a large engineering firm with a small environmental arm. So I worked for them for right before I got sober. And till I had my first child, so for about seven years, and so they got to see me evolve. And yes, I did change a lot in the way I worked in the way I showed up for work. So
John M 47:05
in you also, and I want to, I can't say this line, I talk to you about it before we start, but you also I've heard you say before, that when you drank and I'll let you fill in the the lie. Yes, I
Debbie L 47:19
stole it from a speaker that I heard and she said, when I drank I was witty or prettier and tidier. And so when you took the alcohol away, I felt like you know the gum on the bottom of your shoe. I had nothing. That was my liquid courage. So I had to learn how to do all that stuff. And I learned with a help I learned with professional organizations and, and counselling.
John M 47:44
I personally never felt tidier. But yeah. I get the idea.
Debbie L 47:54
Easy to remember.
John M 47:57
Alright, so. So let's, let's fast forward to you to the family. And in this last stretch of, you know, sobriety and what you have experienced in this time?
Debbie L 48:08
Well, I can tell you, the adventures don't end. That's why it says adventures before and after. For sure. I met my husband when I had given up dating, I dated for the first five years of sobriety and just decided enough, I'm not going to I'm going to focus on my career and my sobriety and had no intention of of dating and walked into a meeting and he was sitting there and asked me to go to coffee. So I did and you know, he was just so easy to talk to. He had a lot more sobriety than I did, or at least a lot more time. Okay, so I love it. Alright, so,
John M 48:52
so talk about that. So you are how many years over
Debbie L 48:56
five years sober? And he was and he was 18 years sober.
John M 48:59
Okay, a little bit of a difference, but at least you know, you weren't like in your first six months? No, I was not
Debbie L 49:04
he was not 13 stepping me. In fact, he went and asked a mutual friend of ours for my phone number he he, I guess was too scared to come ask me. So when she introduced us and and we started talking and he asked me to go to coffee. I said, Are you sure you don't want to ask and if if she should ask me. So I was a bit of a smarty pants. I was not intimidated. Let's say that.
John M 49:34
Alright, so you go to lunch or coffee or whatever. And you hit it off from there. How long was it to y'all got hitched.
Debbie L 49:42
We dated for about a year before we got married.
John M 49:46
And then the kiddos started.
Debbie L 49:50
Yes, we had our first child and so I lived alone. All of my sobriety. I had two cats. He was allergic to cats. I completed the cat, you know,
John M 50:01
that's so interesting to me and my wife is the same he or she was a big cats, cats cats, and I'm like, I don't care about cats, you know, and, and I'm allergic to cats. And so is this big deal when she had to get rid of Haley this cat and you know, the tears and stuff like that and, and I still remember now we got a laugh about it. But it was a big deal at the time anyway, so So you would live with your cats, he's allergic to cats. And then
Debbie L 50:30
Yep, and he had a house at the time. So I ended up moving into his house. And we had to learn to live with each other. And then, and then we had this baby and the baby was a surprise. And, you know, I thought that I could have the baby, continue my career, and all would be fine. And what I didn't know was that this baby had special needs. And we didn't find that out for several years. But when I brought that baby home from the hospital, it was very, very difficult. Doctors called it colic at first, you know, they didn't sleep didn't like to be held. And anytime I walked into a group daycare setting, they would just get sick throw up all over me. And so I couldn't, I couldn't leave this baby, I just couldn't. And my boss was very forgiving, and kept giving me more and more maternity leave. And finally he said, Look, to stay home with your baby. I'd have more respect for you, if you did. And that was what I needed to hear to, to give up my career. And that was a whole learning process in itself, you know, realizing how much of my self esteem I got from my title, my job, I'd been fairly successful, I was moving up the ladder. And, and that was a difficult decision, but I knew it was what God wanted me to do.
John M 52:01
And that so I asked you about your shirt when you came in? Yes. And that it is she can you talk about that,
Debbie L 52:10
or so Oh, the shirt says it's not about it's not just about awareness, it's not acceptance, and my child has autism, along with ADHD and bipolar disorder. And that has been, you know, one of the biggest areas where I've gotten to learn to be selfless and, and, you know, when you have a baby, first of all, you can't sleep when you want to, you can't go to meetings whenever you want to, that was a big, big switch for me. And, but then to have a child that's not always reciprocal, in the affection or just the rewards. And and it's, it's been a struggle, I'll tell you, they're 24 Now, and still live at home, I still drive them to school into work. And it's, it's, I'm grateful. I've never regretted any of our decisions that we've made. But it has definitely been one of my biggest growth opportunities in sobriety.
John M 53:18
Yet to other children as well.
Debbie L 53:20
Yes, we later had a daughter, and then another surprise, just 14 years ago. Yeah. So they're spread out.
John M 53:30
It was spread out. So quite the family life. Okay, so if you were to sum up your story in regards to a, I guess, a theme, or a central story that you want to get out there, I mean, think about the people out there who are listening to this, there may be some people on the edge of Alcoholics Anonymous, you know, they don't really know if they want to join. There may be some people who are just struggling, we have a lot of people who aren't alcoholics to listen as well. Talk to me about your experience, strength and hope in terms of a theme for your life or what you want to put out there.
Debbie L 54:16
Well, I guess I would wrap up to say, just as far as having a completely new life, I mean, this is not a life that I would have planned out. You know, I was climbing the corporate ladder. Like I said, I was you know, I had certain goals in mind. I was never going to be dependent on a man. That was for sure. And here I am. I haven't had a paycheck in 24 years with my name on it. I just don't know what's best for me, is the bottom line. I don't know what's gonna make me happy. And, and I don't know where my life's gonna lead. You know? I have to tell this story when I was about 25 years sober. My sponsor who still lives in Dallas said, oh, I want you to come to this workshop, it's put on by this therapist. She's in recovery. And it's really cool. It's on a Saturday morning. So I got a group of women and we went down to Dallas, to this workshop. And we walk in, and it's the same therapist, I had my first five years of sobriety, the one who said I was the most difficult patient she'd ever had. And I saw this woman every week for five years, sometimes twice a week, sometimes in groups, sometimes in retreats, I saw a lot of her. And we walk in and we all sat in a circle, there were about 20 of us. And we had to go around and introduce ourselves and give a fun fact. And my fun fact was that this woman therapist running it had twelve-step me 25 years ago, and she just got the blankets look on her face. And we spent the next few hours together, she never could recall me, she did not recognize me. I had changed that much. And so it is possible, I don't know what you're going to change into. I don't know what I'm going to change into. But I do know that I can change by coming, continuing to come to this program and continuing to work the steps.
John M 56:15
That's great, Debbie. I am really glad, I'm glad that my mishap on the recording happened me to I. It's not that I didn't want to publish that. But I'm glad we're able to do this kind of more, one on one or in a more relaxed sort of setting. And I appreciate you. Appreciate everything that all your service for Alcoholics Anonymous. Appreciate you as an individual. And thank you for coming in today.
Debbie L 56:51
Thanks for having me.
John M 56:52
Always wrap it up here with page 164. From the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, it says abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to him and to your fellows clear away the wreckage of your past, give freely of what you find a join us. We shall be with you in the fellowship of the Spirit. And you will surely meet some of us like me and Debbie, as you trudge the road of happy destiny. May God bless you and keep you until then, once again, Debbie, thank you very much. Thank you, Debbie, that was absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for coming in here. And spending time with me in studio a and sharing your experience strength and hope. In a viewer out there listening. Remember, we do not want you sharing your gossip. But we would love it. If you pause your devices share this episode with a friend or family member, it may be just what they need today. Now, on to a little bit of listener feedback. Anthony, posted in the super secret Facebook group. He says I am attending this wasn't to this isn't written to me is written to the group and he just posted it in there. He says I am it. I am attending my first in person meeting tomorrow. Keep me in your prayers. I can't believe how nervous I am about this. And he has so many comments likes feedback, encouragement, it was just fantastic to see from the group. And then Anthony posted as a follow up. He got a picture of the a meeting schedule in Raleigh, North Carolina that he picked up. And he posted that in the group and he said first time ever exclamation point. I I left feeling loved and welcome. Thank all you guys for your prayers. And and he just got so many comments again. And you know, just so many people encouraging him and Anthony, God bless you. Thanks for posting that in there and keeping us abreast of your journey. That was absolutely fantastic. And I'm glad you made it to a meeting that is Gosh, just made my day. Okay, so here is a little bit of listener feedback. I have rarely done this. I don't think I've ever done this. In fact, I was in a I was in a meeting myself the other day at the Frisco group and several friends of mine came up as I was actually leaving the meeting and it was Ricky and Joan and Jason and Amy. And they said hey, we were just talking about Joe Mk. Joe is Joe M was the or MK however you want to put it was the a couple have episodes back and about how much they, they absolutely loved him. And and they, you know, big thumbs up and Jason in particular when, look, it's live listener feedback in tastic I love to hear that. And I hear a lot of often comments every once in a while about the podcasts and and I rarely put them on, you know, I wait, I can hardly remember the to get the things in here that are actually written down for me. Much less things that people tell me kind of went off. But anyway, because of that, I am going to ask him, would you like to hear more of Joe look, and they were all like, yes. So I'm gonna reach back out to Joe muck and have him get some if he's willing. Yes, some time with him back on the schedule. So thank you, Ricky, Joe, and Jason and Amy for your wonderful live listener feedback.
John M 1:01:01
All right, Marlene writes in actually, I think it's more lean up. Excuse me. She says hi. Hi, John. My name is Marta Lena and I'm an alcoholic only through God's grace have I been sober since the eighth of May 1994. And I started my step work. Three months after this day, and I have never stopped doing the work. I want more. I'm sponsored and I sponsor other woman. I have a home group and I live in Sydney, Australia. She's an Aussie. She says I have been married to my loving husband for 55 years. Congratulations Marlena. Then she puts in parentheses no credit to me. We had children. We had two children. And we lost both MK goodness in recovery, she says and one through cancer at 48 years and went through schizophrenia at age 43. My goodness. And then she says but we have three very special adult G kids I'm assuming that means their grandkids. She says I fell in love with a from the very start and I never fell out of love for it. Members have passed me off every now and then. But I've I'm never bored or tired of our 36 principles and just in case you don't know what she's talking about there. That's the 12 steps, the 12 traditions and the 12 concepts. She says I've been on Zoom meetings everywhere around the globe, but mainly in the US a meeting a day at least I have joined a few mailing lists who keep me informed when meeting flyers etc. I'm also not 100% able bodied now I love Katie P together with so many but but so many of the other speakers. I listened to Ricky Debbie I think she was Rick w the other day and through and found him through his website and through his website I found sober speak Yeah, that's got to be picked up. Yeah. I also love listening to a speaker tapes. Hope my waffling has not bored you much love and blessings your way Marlina with a big butterfly emoji and your Wofully did not bore me in the least thank you so much. Marlena for writing in waffling like so I when I picture the word waffling picture people kind of going back and forth on a particular subject. I don't know I have to go look that up. Thank you Marlina for writing in. And you know, I'm not actually going to look that up, right? I just I say stuff like I'm going to look it up, and then I forget it. But you know, my intent is good. Anyway, Campbell writes in and he says, Well, here's another Aussie. He says Good day, mate. We're gonna die back out to Mr. Campbell. He says I'm Campbell from Brisbane, Australia. Tomorrow. I am seven year sober. Mr. Campbell, that is fantastic. He said, I found your podcast by searching sobriety on castbox. For those of you don't know, that is a podcast player. But anyway, he says, I know these Spotify for my podcasts. Hmm, I don't know exactly. Maybe there's a typo there. He says I have enjoyed all the speakers so far. I love hearing other people's recovery. The great parts are the struggles. And it reminds me I'm not the first or last person to have to deal with whatever is going on in life. Yeah, I call it just being another Bozo on the bus there, Mr. Campbell. And he says thank you for a great podcast. Thank you so much Campbell. It was Once again, congratulations on your seven years and good day night. Susan writes in, she says, Hi John, I fell server speak during the pandemic. I remember in April of 2020, I was hand sewing masks, and listening to your podcast, hour after hour. Very cool Susan. She says, I have changed over, or Hi, I have over eight years clean and sober. And I love a the fellowship and how the steps have changed my life and the whole life of my family. We recently moved to San Diego County in California, and I listened to your podcast here and there. I always resonate with David G. And Bill C. And I would love to hear more women who have long term sobriety love what you're doing, and appreciate you all the best and 2022 God bless, Susan. So
John M 1:06:04
you know, thank you for writing that in. And I don't you know, sometimes I don't think about the the diversity between men and women and everything else that I need to be thinking about. And I just kind of take what comes to me, if you will easy, you know, things that kind of fall on my lap people that I'm referred to, and all that kind of stuff. So I'll have to I'll have to keep my eye out for some No, we have a lot of women on here, right with long term sobriety. But I'm thinking about some of the the guests that we have had in you know, coming back many times, and they generally are of the male variety, and I get what you're saying. So thank you, Susan, I appreciate it. Susan s writes in a way to say no, so this is a different Susan. And oh, I remember this. This was somebody so there's somebody in Australia and other Aussie. And her name is Isaiah, and she posts something in the secret Facebook group, as she's communicating with somebody else about where she's located in Australia. And I says, Oh, I'm sorry, this this, this is something different to do with Susan s. That was just her signature line, Mike. So I posted in the Facebook group and she says she's like says she's talking to somebody else in the Facebook group. She says yes, yes. She's talking about where she located. She's a yes, yes. It's just a stroll. Bondi is about 900 kilometers south and a whole timezone away. And then she says, I just found this amusing. She says, she's talking about me, she says, Isn't this fella. Me? Just the most adorable source of light? I like it. He's a little bilingual glow worm. He sure is. And he's got an emoji of a glow worm. And this just cracks me up to know in hope the shindig she's he's talking about our our live event was a spiffy event the greatest words he says can't wait to plug it into my ears when it's up. It sure is a good life. Don't show reckon question mark. She says these podcasts Sure. Add a sparkle to my well. Thank you I once again for your woodiness in the super secret Facebook group. I really appreciate it.
John M 1:08:59
Paul writes in he says Hey John, thank you for the podcast in your encouraging words. Oh, okay, so I remember there's just a little background on this. Paul is written in on at one point and he wrote an email I replied, I think it was a little a really not the best that and email I have people write me really long email sometimes and then I'll like reply with two words and I've written really bad about it but nonetheless, I just have shown this time and I'm just not good at the writing part is what it comes down to. And so I think he thought I was a little bit Curt, but then I read it on the podcast like I'm doing now and put a lot more explanation on it. And you know, I can't even remember what I said. But anyway, he said thank you for your podcasts in your encouraging words. And he had a whole different perspective on you know, my thought about it. He's, he says, I now have a HomeGroup and Have a sponsor at last. Please keep up the great work or you are doing quick question, which podcast do you talk about step four. Paul as from Colorado. So I so there's there's if you want a particular subject that you're looking for, I mean, there's a couple different ways to do this. If you go to our website, and you click on podcast, and then there's a little our glass or no magnifying glass, I think this was called, and you can like type in a particular word, and then you'll get the search results, like I typed in step four, and I sent him those results back. If you have a podcast player that lets you actually search episodes in that way. You can do the same thing. But anyway, those are the two best ways to go about that. But Paul, I'm glad you have a sponsor. And it looks like you're going on to step four. And that's so cool. And a HomeGroup. Man, you're cooking with gas as they say, Right. Thanks for writing in Paul. Priscilla writes in and she says Hi, John. I just celebrated one year of sobriety today. vantastic Miss Priscilla that is? Oh, no, no, she didn't say on today she said on November 8 of 2020 21. And I want to thank you for the podcast it is it's been such a blessing and a source of strength for me. We also had our third child I'm not going to say his name and or date but he she says his name and on what day was born she says it's been a wonderful year. Your friend Priscilla will Priscilla that's fantastic go and congratulations on your your new welcoming your new member to your family and that is fantastic. He gets a sober mama. That's so cool. Clanton writes in and he says Hi John, I love the podcast. I just stumbled on it about a week ago on Audible. Oh my gosh, I'm on Audible. No, and I've been binging the episodes ever since I have to go check that out. He says I th