Pamela Pesta is a Mama Bear, an author, and an alcoholic. I met Pamela on Twitter and she has quickly become one of my favorite people. If you or your loved one are in recovery her book Letting Go of the Thief is an ABSOLUTE MUST READ. It will put things into perspective and provide clarity where there is none.
Pamela is simply amazing. I know you will all love her as much as I do.
Follow Pamela on Twitter @pamela_pesta
Find Pamela's book Letting Go of the Thief on Amazon
A link to Pamela's site : http://thealcoholthief.com/
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Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (0s):
My name is Anthony Capozzoli and this is the Dismantled Life podcast. We share stories of hope, love, and strength from the darkness of addiction, into the sunlight of sobriety. These are stories from people just like us who have lived through the pain and made it no matter how bad it gets. Just know that you can and will recover. It takes work. It takes hard work. Each week. We talk in detail about what it takes to make it what it takes to beat your addictions. I am a recovering addict from alcohol, cocaine and nicotine. My addiction started in eighth grade. I ended up 50. I had over 40 years of very bad habits to break. I hit rock bottom hard, more than once I nearly died, I would have left my wife and two young children behind I've been clean and sober for nearly three years.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (47s):
I completely dismantled my entire life and rebuilt it from the ground up. I believe to make it in recovery it takes a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual approach. It takes a positive mindset. It takes hard work. It takes a village. Join me weekly to learn from my sober superhero guests on Dismantled Life podcast, subscribe and follow on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to your podcasts. Check me out at dismantled.life email me at [email protected] Anytime. Please be sure to leave a rating and review anywhere you listen to your podcasts. And let me know if you want be on the show.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (1m 28s):
Happy recovery. What was life like before you were full throttled with the addiction? Some people have really different answers to that question. And I'm just always curious how things started out for you.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (1m 43s):
Okay. So I will tell you this. I was just thinking about this before I came on here and I was thinking about, I remember when I got pregnant, I was 20. I had my children at 25 had twins. I remember when I got pregnant, I was like, in my, my mind said you, you're not gonna be able to drink for nine months. I mean, I remember that was one of the first things I thought of, and I wasn't full-blown alcoholic. I mean, I partied, I was young, you know, we drank a lot. I drank my way through college because for me, my drinking early on helped me help me feel like I was part of everyone else.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (2m 28s):
And I was, I fit in the crowd and you know, our family moved from Detroit to Cincinnati when I was almost 17 years old. And I went from a public school to a Catholic school from a working class middle-class neighborhood to a much nicer neighborhood. And I think at that point, the alcoholism, even though I wasn't fully drinking yet was already In there.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (2m 55s):
I get that. It's interesting. Life-changing events like that are big. And it's funny when you say you drank because that's everybody else was doing. And I think that that's a big deal. And I being sober and my wife drinks like a glass of wine or two, like once every few months or something, it's, it's, it's inconsequential for the most part. I mean, it's not, it's only, and I'm not justifying me. She can do what she wants. She's a grown woman. And it, it, it, my addiction, not hers, but, but she's not the kind of drinker anymore. Like we used to be rant. We used to rampage together and now I don't, I mean, I'm sober almost going on three years. And she just drinks literally socially, very far and few between, we just had a wedding this past weekend and she drank a little bit there.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (3m 41s):
But before that, it had been months. And I say that because I think you get caught in the current of alcoholism, sometimes hanging out with your friends, because I think that it's and people make their own choices, but I think it lends itself well to just doing what the crowd does. Pit bull says it best, show me your friends and I'll show you your future. And I think that that's a perfect example. And this is not me talking poorly about anyone's friends or group of friends or who they hang out with. But if all of your friends are drinking, it's weird. If you are not. And that's the feeling that most people get, at least I certainly did. I mean, I started in eighth grade, so my rampaging started, I'm almost 50 now, and I'm going to be 50 in about a month, maybe two months here, December.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (4m 29s):
Thank you so much. And you know, it's fun, Pamela is I am in better health and better shape. Now at 50 than I was my entire life save about two years in high school when I was wrestling and super active and athletic and everything. And I am in better shape now than I have in my entire life. And it's because I am not drinking, smoking and doing cocaine. That's the largest big part of it. But the other side of it is I'm, I'm active both physically and mentally and spiritually in lots of different ways. So it's cleansing and in a wonderful way, sorry, I didn't mean to detract from the story, but that's totally fine. That's I think that people get caught in the current of alcoholism and that is just, I'm not, you know, I'm feel like I'm making that up, but that's just something I, I do believe that.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (5m 15s):
And I also think that people forget sometimes that kids, younger children will do what their parents or people that they know will do. So when people say things like it's five o'clock somewhere, it's, you know, it's happy hour brunch. And again, the parents are people too. But what I'm saying is those things stick a little harder than you might think my children, they, you know, they, they pick up on things that you cannot believe they've picked up on as you know, and those, those are the kinds of tells or trigger. I'm not going to call them triggers, but those kind of things that you say and do, or when you go to birthday parties and there's three times as much booze than presence for a five-year-old.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (5m 58s):
It's interesting to me.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (5m 59s):
Yes. Yes. And you know, my mother always would say, you are who you, your friends are definitely. And it's that same concept. Like, but you know, back when I was in, where I, when I was in college, I went to Xavier university in Cincinnati and everybody was drinking. First of all, the drinking age was you could get three, two beer, you know, that, you know, so you'd have to drink a ton of it. But I mean, you know what I mean?
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (6m 28s):
You got to take a case of it to catch a buzz, but yeah,
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (6m 30s):
But you did, or you would try to buy the real stuff, but, but it was, it was so prevalent. I mean, like people had pigs everywhere. I mean, it was part of the deal was part of being a student. Really?
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (6m 44s):
This is a little off topic, but I do have to say one thing about Cincinnati that I love in that skyline chili. I don't know how you feel about it, but my goodness, every time I go there, I am not kidding. I eat there five times. If I'm there for three days, three of my meals are there. And I say that because I couldn't stop the, I had to say it otherwise it would just always be bouncing off the, the, the front of my mind, the entire conversation. But I don't know what it is about that. And people don't like, you like it. I love skyline chili.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (7m 12s):
Yeah. You'd love the cinnamon in it.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (7m 14s):
I think that's what it is. I don't know what the hell it is, but it's still funny.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (7m 18s):
Yeah. Yeah. And I'm sorry. I didn't mean no, if you're ever in Cincinnati, stop by and I'll treat ya.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (7m 26s):
I love that. I will pick up on that for sure. But that being said, so you're, you know, you're in <inaudible> and you know, the three-two beer splits and you're drinking and, and that's just what people did and I, and I get it. And so then you're pregnant at 25 twins at 25. And the first thing that comes to mind is that, Oh my, I won't be able to drink for nine months. So I'm wondering, did you start up again after the babies were born and kind of get back into the rhythm of that?
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (7m 55s):
Okay. You know, I don't know something really interesting. I didn't really start going off the rails too. My boys were in high school. If my parents had the, my boys overnight, when they were little or whatever, we went away. Oh my God, I partied my Fanny off. Right. But I somehow managed and actually the count I ended up going to rehab. And one of my counselors there told me that sometimes the mother bear instinct, overrides the alcohol instinct for a certain period of time. And I do believe that that's what happened to me that once, you know, I partied, you know, we'd go out and drink or, you know, and I always excessively drank do not get me wrong, but I, I managed it.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (8m 43s):
I managed it. And then once they were in high school, they played football and lacrosse. And once they were 16, I didn't, I wasn't responsible in terms of getting them places and stuff. So I, it that's when it began, I finally kind of let go and let the alcohol ride. Okay. I'm good.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (9m 3s):
Super interesting. I've never heard that before, but I totally get that. The mama bear instinct is in control. So to speak until the mom, that her instinct is not needed because the babies can take care of the babies, but 16, 17 year old children, that makes a lot of sense to me. I totally get that because some, I don't have the exact same experience, but when my kids go to away to my mom's for a day or two, I don't go pick up the bottle anymore because I'm not. But when they were gone, Holy hell that I hit it hard. So I totally get what you're saying. That's super interesting to me. And then, so you're off the rails. Then the kids are old enough to do their thing. I get that.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (9m 43s):
And you know, I I'm, I have to say, because I deal with a lot of women. I sponsor a lot of women younger now with little kids. And I, I always think God, every day I'm like, thank God they weren't two years old. And I was passed out. You know, I, I thank God for that. Definitely. Cause it happens. And it could have happened to me. I don't know. I got lucky.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (10m 3s):
First of all, there's all kinds of blessings buried in alcoholism that people don't realize until they get sober things that they've gotten away with or that they survived. And they have to be grateful for those things. I'm grateful for a lot of things every day that I, you know, I shouldn't have survived to be quite Frank. I shouldn't be here talking with you today because of a lot of stupid shit that I've done. And I'm grateful for my guests to come on and share their stories in our Frank about the reality of that, where there are times where things, like you said that, thankfully it wasn't when your children were so young that, you know, it could have been much worse.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (10m 39s):
Yeah. It could have it still affected them. Don't get me wrong. Cause I was drinking when they were in high school and they knew, but you know, I'm just lucky.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (10m 50s):
Definitely. So how does that, cause that's one of the things I struggle with. Like w what do I, how do I talk to my children? Because I I'm, I'm dealing with my, my oldest is starting to ask questions. He's asked to come on the show and he wants to be a part of the podcast. And I want him to be the, I want him to be on the podcast, but I don't know how to have him be a guest without seeming like I'm exploiting my son. I don't know how better to describe that. And I'm afraid, I'd love. I want him to have a voice and I want him to share what he experienced. Cause that's only fair. And I have to take my medicine to be, to be clear, I have to take my medicine and there's medicine to be taken for sure. But I struggle sometimes with how best to do that responsibly as his father.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (11m 32s):
And then how frankly, can I speak to him? Do I talk about cocaine the way I do on the show? Normally do I, not as I do, I mince words, do I not? I wonder sometimes because it's all in there and I'm waiting for it. Hopefully, hopefully my recovery has taught good lessons, as well as the bad lessons. I've taught him when I was struggling. Yeah. And now
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (11m 54s):
You're, you are a changed man. And he sees that. And I think, I think if you hit him, I don't think it's really exploiting. I think it's just like any other alcoholic being honest. And he would be honest about his experience with his father because, you know, we suffer and we're in the darkness, but so are they, they, they live it like we do just in a different way.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (12m 19s):
It's very true. And I'm so ashamed and that's one of the biggest struggles for me is dealing with, I let them down. I did to them exactly what happened to me with my father. And I'm not talking shit about my father. I mean, yeah. But I'm saying, cause I made my own choices. Right. I mean my, my own choices to do what I did. Right. But I feel bad that I did that knowing full well, how that impacted me is as a kid, I did that to my kids. Thankfully, as you mentioned earlier, that it was blessings and that your children weren't terribly young. I I'm, I'm blessed that I stopped myself before. I guess I got off the ride is the only way I can describe it. They're eight and five and I got off the right three years ago. So I I'll take a little solace in that part of myself.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (12m 60s):
And I take some solace in the fact that I, that I changed directions for there. They were when they were young. So yeah.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (13m 9s):
That's great. Good for you because I mean, they, they are going to have an incredible life because of it. I mean, so many children suffer. There's actually a chapter in my book that talks about when I was in rehab. I really just, I don't know why, but I want to say, this is when I was in rehab. This counselor said we prayed at the end of a group session. And he said, and for all those who had no choice and he was talking about the children and my immediate mind went to, well, those are all the kids in the crack houses. And like, I honestly, that's what I thought. And then one minute later I'm sobbing and I realized, what are you, Pam?
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (13m 51s):
You were doing it. And you hurt your children. And that was a big epiphany for me.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (13m 57s):
Oh, definitely. I, in that, that's been the hardest thing for me and I, I, and I agree a lot of times through my recovery I've said I, or when I was rather let me explain that when I was actively using, I would say, I can't be that bad because I'm not like so-and-so, or I'm not doing it like that, which is all just a bunch of bullshit, right? I mean, I'm covering and I'm making excuses or justifying my own crap. Right. And I think that that's a knee-jerk reaction. So I think that that clarity, that breakdown, if you will, is, is very welcomed. I I'm working with some friends of mine that are struggling with some issues of their own of late, about some breakdowns or struggles around alcoholism.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (14m 39s):
And I never told them what to do. I just listened to them. And, and I'm not going to say sponsor that's, that's not the right term, but I I'm always willing to listen and, and offer not advice, but some opinion, if you will, about some of the struggles, because I've, I've lived it pretty hard for the last three years. And I think that sometimes those moments of clarity or are, they're not welcomed quite frankly, when they're happening. A lot of times it's pretty ugly stuff. But, but when you're done that moment of relief washes over you and it's worth everything,
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (15m 9s):
Yes, it's freeing. It really is. It brings you to the next step. It brings you to the, you know, the next thing, the next thing to deal with and so on. So yeah,
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (15m 20s):
Absolutely. So I'm sorry to keep detracting from your story.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (15m 24s):
Oh, that's okay. We're going to go where we go. It's all good.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (15m 27s):
Your kids are older, you're off the rails. What does that look like for you day to day? Are you, how, how often, how much and where are you drinking?
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (15m 36s):
So what happened was, you know, in high school, what I, okay. So I was writing a world war II book at the time and it was a great thing to hide behind. So I remember I decided to kill off a character that I didn't plan on killing off. And I just decided, and this is where I think I was beginning to cross the threshold. I thought, Oh, I'm going to have a glass of wine. It was maybe one in the afternoon because it's so thick and I'm going to kill this character off. And from there on, in, I mean, I felt that like afternoon tranquility, my worries went away, you know, and I just felt really good. And so then what I was able to do was do that and then stop at like four 35, o'clock make dinner.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (16m 23s):
You know, they come home, you know, do all that stuff you do with your kids, talk about their day. And then when they would go back to bed, I could have more wine or beer or whatever. And then eventually they went away to college and twins. So they both went away with the same time. And I was still doing my book and I remember day one, I was like, I am completely alone. Here we go. And from there on, in those four years in college, I, I remember buying my first pint of vodka. Then I then after a year or so it was two pints then, you know, then years, you know, this went on for about, I'm trying to think, like six.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (17m 12s):
Yeah. So when I'm, while they were in college and then by the time when they were out of college, I, and they were really on their own, I proceeded to move to bigger bottles and I hid bottles everywhere. And by the end I was drinking a fifth of vodka a day. And I, and I'm five foot one. I mean, I don't know, I wasn't showering. My husband had tried all these interventions. I couldn't stop. And I mean, I was terrified. I'm like, I don't know how I'm going to stop. Something's wrong with me all these years I had done tried to do. I was a very beautiful person and all of a sudden there I was stuck in vodka.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (17m 56s):
It was horrible.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (17m 57s):
That climb is a familiar story where it starts out with a little bit. And then that little bit keeps gradually growing to be more and more. And then all of a sudden you realize that your cart is full at the liquor store for the day. If you will, in that, I think that's a familiar story for many of the guests that have been on the show where you don't even realize how far you've fallen until you take stock in, I, it got one of the things that used to always make me aware of how bad I was is a recycling day. When I would bring out three full bins of bottles, beer bottles, whiskey bottles, vodka bottles, and people didn't know it. I mean, at least on the street. And it went, my wife knew because you think you're hiding it well, but you're not.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (18m 39s):
But jammed with bags of empty will empty bags of cocaine inside the cans and the bottles and stuff, because you think you're being smooth, but you're, you're just not right. So it's, it's interesting that, that, that progression, that climb is it's the tiny little steps. People don't realize that it's happening, where all of a sudden you put a little bit more in your drink and you're putting a little bit less soda water, and all of a sudden it's just a rocks pour. And then all of a sudden it's just out of a flask and a jacket. And at least that was my story. But so I, I totally get that. And then all of a sudden, you're like, how the hell am I going to get better? What the hell did I do?
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (19m 13s):
And, you know, the thing was, I don't know if you felt this way, but I felt like I was the only one in the world doing this. Cause I was a home drinker, you know, I was out, I was a home drinker and then I became a morning drinker, you know? And, and I I'm like, how did this happen? You know, I put myself through college. I breezy like I did I in my mind, you know, I thought I had done everything. Right. Of course we all do. And then all of a sudden you're loading up on all this back and you're, you're like, Holy crap, it's scary.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (19m 49s):
It is scary. I wasn't a morning drinker. I was, I used to do cocaine in the morning. I would hit that in the morning. And then I would hit that all day until it was what I thought a reasonable time to start drinking without getting glances. And then I would, what I would do is ladder down from the Coke, with all the alcohol. And I would drink until, you know, from five, until the kids went to bed, the kids went to bed, then I really hit it hard. So I think that, you know, whatever people are doing or whatever they're abusing, they have those traits where you all of a sudden find yourself in a spot where you can't believe it. And I like you thought when it got to the point where, why I ended up in the hospital. So there were some other things that had happened. But for me, I'm like, I would have those moments of drunken clarity.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (20m 32s):
I'll call it when I started to have the pains of regret and what am I doing? My life's in the shitter, of course you don't care. Right. You just look for the next bottle or drink or shot or rip. And I would do that. But then I would think like, how did I get here? Am I the only one doing this? I have to be the only one doing this. You realize that it doesn't, you have to save yourself it, but you do feel all alone. It's really strange. And I was, I was a social drinker for a very long time. And then I took a hard left turn where I was almost exclusively. I wasn't going out because I couldn't drink enough out to justice to get drunk. So I would stay home and drink. So I could feel good about it. So strange to say that, but that's the dark turn that I took.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (21m 9s):
Yeah. Well, and it's, you know, I, I always call it living in a bleed crawlspace of inhumanity because it it's like you're not human anymore. I can't possibly, you know, and then like, for me as I'm drinking, drinking, drinking, I'm like getting vindictive about my life. Like my parents made me move when I was almost 17 and I had eye surgery when I was two. And I don't really, this eye's not very good. And Mr. Karsky, kurski locked me in the coat room when I was six years old. I mean, I mean, I developed and all of that stuff is true, but boy did it grow, right?
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (21m 46s):
I totally get it. Your narrative, your self-inflicting narrative gets really ugly and you start to try to cross justify everything. If this happened, therefore I can justify this, what I'm going through. I did the same thing in for a very long time. I blamed my father unfairly. Yes, he was an alcoholic and yes, he had issues of his own. But those, the choices that I made were my own. And then when I came to terms with that, finally, I was able to get sober and put things down, but I had to love and forgive him in order for that to happen. If no one's lived through that, it's hard to describe. It's hard to explain because he was my crutch of alcoholism and drug addiction for so long. And so in order to put that down, I had to forgive him and he deserved to be forgiven.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (22m 28s):
He didn't make me who I was. He didn't. I mean, it's just crap people. The one thing that I'll tell people listening is you have to take ownership for everything. I even tried to go a little further in my, in my recovery in try to put every issue in my life, into a problem of my own so that therefore I can then try to solve it. That'd be a problem is solvable, but I make it that way so that I own the issue. I don't blame other people. So I try to make every, and I'm not sure if that's even a good strategy or not, but I try to do that because it gives me at least the strength to face it. Then instead of pointing at it, there's a big difference in my head for that kind of, I don't like to justify or accept the blame.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (23m 14s):
I like to own the problem. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but that's, that's, that's how I try to handle things. I have to say that it's worked pretty well for me. I don't know if that's a good strategy or not, but it's worth, it's worked well.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (23m 26s):
Well, you know, I remember, you know, doing step four and then five with my sponsor and, and talking about the move and how I felt like those students didn't accept me. And they didn't, you know, I was very different from them. Detroit was very different from Cincinnati and I, and I know I had, I was a different kind of girl that they were used to, but, and I blamed them all and they wouldn't accept me. And they made fun of my ex and all that stuff. And my sponsors like, well, you know, you know, when you write down, what role did you play? And she's like, well, did you try to be friends with them? Did you like put yourself? No, I was like, immediately, my door's shut down the minute they started, you know, talk it or not accepting me as much, or I didn't even give him a chance.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (24m 10s):
It shut down. I isolated my senior year. That was it. Yeah. So I was part of the problem.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (24m 17s):
Oh yeah, definitely get that. So then you are struggling, right? You're drinking all day. Every day, not to put words in your mouth, but I'm just kind of, and then w what was the, was there a moment that made you say, all right, that this is I've had enough? W what was the turning point for you? Okay.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (24m 35s):
Okay. So it, it it'll go like this. First of all, like about four months prior to me surrendering, I had put my car in the garage and I sat in the car for over an hour with the key in the ignition. Cause I knew, I, I knew I was in a bad place. Couldn't imagine living with out it, but couldn't, couldn't live with it anymore. By the grace of God. I did not turn that key. So I knew, you know, by that point I'm not showering. I mean, my husband has tried everything, several interventions. Once when my boys came home, I mean, we had been through a lot of stuff. He was pretty much just, just living there with me.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (25m 16s):
And that was it. So then there was this weekend. It was a Friday. Can't even tell you how much I drank. I don't know. I passed out. Never heard him come home, woke up Saturday. I probably should've went to the hospital. I was, my, my, our son was living with us. He was about 24 at the time he came in and he's like, mom, you're so sick. He get, he got me water. They got me water. I slept for 36 hours at Sunday morning. I was finally feeling better crawled out of that bed and found my backup bottle and drank it. Then I went to the liquor store, bought some more, drank that. And then there was the family vodka, which I found drank that, put water in it.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (25m 59s):
So they wouldn't know, quote wouldn't know, passed out. So then Monday comes, my husband goes to work. Apparently he had called my sister that morning. This is the weirdest thing and said, I, I don't know what to do anymore. This is getting really bad. My son came home from work early. He said, mom, dad. And I know you put the water in the vodka bottle. What, you know? And he's like, so upset. Something is wrong with you mom. Oh my gosh. And of course I argued with them, went outside and had a cigarette, went in the garage and he came out and he's like, mom, mom. And I just looked at him. I started sobbing and I said, Nick, call dad. I'm already drunk.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (26m 40s):
I have to go to rehab. And that was it. That my bottom was my son telling me that I did that because it would have been the opposite way. The mother would have said to the son, you put water in the vodka bottle. And I don't know. I always, I guess, had prided myself on being a good mom and trying to be the best mom. And here it turns out my son has to tell me, and it was just awful.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (27m 7s):
That's a rough bot, I guess I didn't, I'm not a 12 stepper. And I try to make that clear on the show. I love people's path, whatever their path is. And the concept of surrender is such an important one, because you do have to, the only term that works is surrendering. If they're pretty sobriety, meaning they're actively using that moment of surrender. It's so important because you put it all down. You, you, you make the choice to say I've had enough of this shit. I can't fight this and win on my own. I need help. I am sick. And then you, you begin the cleansing and the healing process. And it's, you know, I'm not here to paint pictures.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (27m 48s):
I mean, it's pretty, it can get fucking ugly and rough and it's scary and it hurts. And it it's a constant battle, but you, you feel so good and bad that moment because usually you're bouncing. At least I bounced off the bottom. When I, when I surrendered, I was bouncing for years along the bottom. I think that whatever that moment is, I've had other guests that, you know, were didn't quite hit the bottom and they, they, they surrendered and good for them. That is wonderful. But like you, I had a rough bottom. I had a rough bottom.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (28m 19s):
Yeah, yeah. You know, I, I almost, you know, sometimes at first I would feel embarrassed, like, okay, so your kids said you put water, you know? Cause I heard of all these horrible bottoms where like people lost everything and you know, that whole, their jobs, their homes, their families, you know, but I, my counselor, I went to the bridge of Ohio and my counselor there said, Pam, everybody's bottom is everybody's bottom. We're not comparing here for me. It was devastating. So
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (28m 49s):
Sure, absolutely. Because the reason I know how hard it must've hurt is because you opened with how proud you were as mama bear. And I know that if your son telling you the reality of things, how much, how, how that must've hurt. So like it that's soul wrenching pain, I would think. And I get it, my son one time, I always get upset. So I'm gonna try and get through this. But he, my wife still does. And she serves at a restaurant in a bar and she a couple of days a week. And it's wonderful because she gets out and gets to meet with adults, which is nice. And she makes it's great. But my son would sit upstairs by himself on the couch, watching movies I would put on.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (29m 31s):
So, and I would say in the garage and drink, smoke and do cocaine. And I asked him one day, if he wanted to see, I can't even remember the name of the movie. I've tried to block it out, but it was a Disney movie. And I said, Oh, you want to watch that together? He's like that. I've, I've watched that many times when you were drinking in the garage. You know, if people haven't experienced that pain of what I just described, their son telling you that it's hard to understand what, think about how that makes being sober, being recovered now, how hard that hits me. And I keep it fresh in my mind as a strength now where I, I, that is no longer the case for me, like we're active and we watch movies and we hang out.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (30m 13s):
But that pain hits hard, really hard. And it's very sharp and, and the edges never, they never dull in that, in that regard. So yeah, I, I get what you're saying.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (30m 24s):
Parenting is anguishing enough as a sober person. And then for us, it's that much more bigger because of what we were also doing. You know what I mean?
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (30m 38s):
Definitely. And I often wonder if I've ruined them at this point. I, I hope not. I like, I, I feel like I have time. I have enough runway to make it right. So, and I work hard to make it right every day. And the one thing too, that's funny, Pamela, is I, I struggle with some anger issues where just a lack of control or things not being in order or things out of, out of sequence, kind of drive me nuts, little things like dad, I didn't do my homework. And I, I, it just, I have to work really hard to not get really pissed off. And it's from what I've learned through recovery is that it's just part of the process where you fly off.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (31m 18s):
Well, not everybody, but for me, it's, I'm, it's an outward release of pressure and that's how I do it. And it's not fair. It's not okay. And I need to get better at it, but it sucks. You know? And the reality of that sucks. It sucks. I struggle with it every day, every damn day. And it's hard. It's, it's as hard to learn how to control that is to not pick up and use again. It's, it's harder. I feel yeah. In some ways. Yeah.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (31m 50s):
But you know what? I, you know, the one hope is kids are resilient. You know, your, your kids are younger and they saw some stuff, but I do think kids are resilient. And I think if you're, you know, I asked my boys forgiveness and you know, and all of that, we talked things through. They just wanted me to get better. So they were really easy than me that way. Thank God. But there they are. And you know, what, guess what? Regular parents get crazy and mad too.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (32m 17s):
Right. Totally true. That's, that's true. And we're hard on ourselves and we should be, but, but, but I, I get that. So you go to recovery and what, what was that process like? Did you, you go to an inpatient?
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (32m 32s):
Yes. I went, I went to a place that only had 14 people and it was a big old house. Out's a little outside of Cincinnati. The Ridge I'll tell you, I'll tell you what happened there. So, you know, you're, I was afraid. I don't know about you, but like here, I just surrendered, but man, there's a lot of fear. There's I don't know what's going to happen. You know, my husband was just like, you know, he was tired of me. I mean, he was angry and I get it. The great thing about this place was they did family sessions and they explained like what our disease was and, you know, cause our, our family thinks we're just weak or rotten.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (33m 12s):
Definitely. You know what I mean? And they, and he really learned that this was a disease and this is what, what happens and all of that. So thank God for that. But here's, I just, I really want to say one thing about going into rehab day one, this is another like God moment or, or higher power moment, whatever you want to use. I use God. So, you know, I get there and, you know, pack my stuff, whatever, and they give you this binder of it's going to be your worksheet stuff. And the first page was his, these 50 things happened when you were drinking. And I remember looking at it and I thought, Oh my God, I can not check all of these boxes.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (33m 57s):
I mean, if I check all of these boxes, I mean, this is who I am. I was, I was, I wanted to throw up. I was like, Oh my God, how did this happen? I mean, it was, but do you know what? I don't know what happened, but I just, I just sat back for a moment. And I told myself if I don't, if I'm not honest and I don't check this off, I am never going to get better. And I did. And from there on, in, I was honest about everything because I had to, I had to get away out of the darkness. And if I wasn't going to say everything, then I wasn't going to make it. I really believed that. And so I really worked hard for those 28 days.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (34m 38s):
I mean, I did everything. They asked me to, you know, wrote all the stuff, went to every session. I mean, everything I thought I got to get better. So
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (34m 47s):
Got us tear it down. I couldn't agree more. You have to own it. You have to admit it. You have to be transparent about it. You have to be open with the people that you love so that you can work through it. Cause if you keep this a guest on another episode said the alcohol wasn't killing me, but my secrets about alcoholism and killing the secrets over the, where the sharp edges lie. And I agree with that. I think because that's where you can manipulate in bullshit and continue the bad habits because you're hiding and all those things. And I agree. I think you have to face the ugly that you have to stare it down and fight the fight every day in it. Yes. The first month is brutal, but it's really hard.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (35m 27s):
And it's, it's hard today, three years in, and I have my moments, but it's a different kind of hard now. And I'm not saying it's easier. I'm just saying it's a different struggle. I'm three years in, but the first is a bitch. It's a bitch. It's, it's, you'll, you'll find parts of yourself. You have to dig deep, but once you put it down and once you commit to digging deep and you've had enough and you've surrendered, you can win the fight and you will win the fight. You just have to fight the fight. That's the most important thing. Don't bullshit yourself, own everything. So I, I can imagine starting on that checklist and you're thinking if I check every one of these boxes, Holy shit. Yeah. But I get it. I totally get that.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (36m 6s):
Well, cause you looking at yourself on paper basically. And you're like that isn't me. How could that possibly be mean? But it is, I mean, the ugliness was steering me in right in my face. So horrific
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (36m 22s):
From the family part of it. Did they get an opportunity to tell you how they felt? Was it an open dialogue or was it really about educating them on where you were coming from?
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (36m 31s):
So yeah, basically we, they would do these program and then, you know, that went on for like an hour or two. I can't remember. You know, the thing I want to say is, you know, our first year our body is healing our brains. I mean, some of it is kind of a, a blur a little bit. Yeah. You know, they explained about relationships and, and that they need to give us time. Like, don't expect everything overnight, you know, and all of that. And then we were able to go out to lunch with them, but it was tense. You know? I mean, my husband was still angry that lot of, you know, all this stuff, you know, it was tense. And we had a family. Then they do a family meeting at the end, just as you're about to lead like suggestions and stuff.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (37m 15s):
And everybody had their opinion and the counselor is basically like, no, this is really up to her. It's not really. You got, I mean, you gotta be there, you got to support, but you can't control it. She's gotta be the one. So they were amazing. I I'm grateful for that, that place. They, they really saved me.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (37m 32s):
How are those moments are created in heaven? I believe like they, they have these people that do this and, and, and literally save lives. I mean, it's, it is truly amazing. And they give you hope. I think that's the biggest thing that they give you hope that you can do it. You can make it and they help you do that because you have to do it yourself, but they give you the tools to do it because that's part of it. I didn't know where the hell to begin. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to start. I didn't know who to talk to. So I muddled through, I should have gone to AA. I did not, but I did an in, in that's the thing I love that it gives you the compass to use, to find you out of the darkness.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (38m 10s):
It is. Yeah. I, you know, I I'm, I'm still very affiliated with them now with my book and helping people in all of that. I do do little talks for them and stuff. And I, every, every year on my, on July 15th. So July 15th, 2014, I got sober. I texted my counselor. Who's still there. My other co I do. I still hold special places in my heart. Definitely. You know, I'm grateful.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (38m 41s):
It's amazing. It truly is. And there's bonds there, the fellowship. And it, it really is. There is a fellowship out there of addicts getting sober, staying sober, helping each other in recovery, and truly as a fellowship and a bond that is unbreakable really, because we went through some shit and we can't bullshit each other. We know what's going on and we've lived through some pretty rough stuff. And that, that, that's amazing. So what, what is what's life like now that you have been? So you've been sober
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (39m 10s):
A little over six years. I was so six years in July. Yeah.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (39m 13s):
That is so wonderful. I love that. I love that. And one of the best things I saw, I was one of the guests came on and, and she'd been sober, gosh, 30 years. And like, it's so impressive. And she still goes and is dedicated to the meetings and going to the rooms. And she says, at this point, yes, I go for myself. But I go to give hope to somebody else's, who's, it's their first day. So that somebody could say in, when she tells her story and shares her story and I could be getting the number of your silver wrong. So forgive me when people hear her story about how bad it was. And they think to themselves quite the opposite of, I couldn't be that bad if I, you know, she's bad, but what, what she's doing quite the opposite saying, this is how bad I was.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (39m 56s):
And I've got, say, 30 years sober your first day, you can do it too. And I love that part of it. I think that's the magic. And that's because this podcast is in the gladiator school. We don't talk about how to do this or to do that. And we try not to spend a lot of time in the, in the trenches of the ugliness, although we touch on it a little bit. So people get an understanding of kind of where things were. But I, my favorite part is coming up and what life is like now and your wonderful book and, and what, what, what is life with your, with your kids and your husband?
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (40m 25s):
So, okay. Oh, it's just amazing. You know what, I, I just want to say this before I get into it is people will say, Oh, don't you miss alcohol? Or are you good? We're not good without God. We're not good. People like it does nothing for us. Hello? I, I, it's not even. I mean, it's funny, but it's not. It's like, do you remember what I was like, what I drank? Like, you don't want that. You don't want that person.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (40m 55s):
And, and this, not only do I not miss it, I like myself more. Now. I I'm comfortable in my own skin. I enjoy socializing at different levels. I go to bed at a normal time. I wake up at a normal time. I'm completely active and productive all day. I participate in, in all in the people's lives around me, my children. So, no, not only do I not miss it, I have zero interest in going back on. That's not to say that I could slip it. I take my recovery seriously, but I don't know. I don't miss it. So to those people that wonder don't you miss getting drunk? Hell no, I don't. I, you know, not at all. What? Forget it. I mean, I was no chance.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (41m 35s):
I mean, because all it was was living in the dark voice of our head, 24 hours a day. It wasn't a disco party. Wasn't like, it wasn't any of that.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (41m 49s):
Yeah. It wasn't, it wasn't like a couple of glasses of champagne with some friends for 20 or 30 minutes. We're talking about deep dark runs of alcoholism and they don't, people don't realize. So that's the other part that if I told people how let's say that I'm just talking to a normal person, a civilian that didn't have issues like I did. Right. When they hear my episode, cause I'm episode one, they look at me like, fuck it. You know? Like, and I'm like, listen, that that's just, that's not even the half of it. Like I, because I had to keep it in a, in a concise timeframe. So people could listen in, in, in and participate. But yeah, I mean, no, I don't miss it because they don't know how nasty it gets when you go two weeks without showering, because you're shit faced, you know, in the whole litany of things that go on with that.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (42m 35s):
So, no, I don't miss it. You don't miss it. And there's nothing to miss. I miss nothing of it.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (42m 42s):
Well, I mean, I mean, normal, I always say this normal drinkers, they're not plotting when they're going to drink. They're not drinking after the party. They're not, they're not looking for their bottle in a lacrosse bag. They're not like they don't have any of that. It's like you, people need to jump in our head for a day and see the way we actually live. It's not fun.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (43m 8s):
You're right. The compulsion, isn't there for normal people that don't have an issue. And when you have that compulsion, it's a fucking nightmare and it never ends. It only ends when you completely surrender and submit. And most times it comes with a very hard fall.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (43m 23s):
Yeah. Yeah. I love my life. I do not ever want to drink again. I was immediate the day I got out of rehab, I went to an AA meeting that night that has now become my home group, which was my very first meeting ever. So it's kind of weird how it all worked out. The cool thing is my husband and son went with me to hear everybody and there's yeah. And there's these guys that are my friends to today that took them aside after the meeting and kind of coached them a little bit about how I was going to be a little crazy for a while. And you know, and I was absolutely, but that was just amazing.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (44m 3s):
And I prayed for a, you know, a sponsor and ironically enough, her ex-husband had coached my kids in football and she walks into this meeting and I said, Carol, are you supposed to be here? And she goes, I don't know, Pam are you. And we laughed. And we've been friends. We are been friends ever since the other, the one thing I want to say, cause you know, the promises, I really believe in the promises big and small. I mean, you know, small was I'm drinking coffee in the morning and I'm not throwing up small as the sun is shining and I can see it. You know, I started out with all of that. And one of the, one of the amazing promises in my life is a, my family is repaired and the other one was, I always wanted to get back to Michigan.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (44m 52s):
I always loved Northern Michigan and we closed on this cottage on my one-year silver anniversary.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (44m 57s):
That's amazing. Yeah. I got the chills just from that one. That's awesome. Love that. I love that. I love that. That's the, those are the moments. That's everything that, that your family is in good shape and repaired. You have a wonderful relationship with them. You haven't drank in six years and you have, you, you've gone back to your roots, which I think in, in Northern Michigan. But I think that that's, that's magical.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (45m 23s):
I want to say though, because family repair, it doesn't happen overnight. I really want to make sure people know this. It took a year, like some things were like a year or two. Like it it's like a lot of people think, Oh, they're going to magically love me again. And we're going to have this kumbaya moment. It wasn't, it was hard work.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (45m 44s):
You got to fight the fight in a, and you have to stay dedicated and focused on it. And you have to be, I had to learn that just as much as I was an alcoholic, she was married to an alcoholic and there are some different issues and struggles there. And my children were the children of an alcoholic and there's some different things. And it taught me patience at different levels to understand and hear them and appreciate and respect where they're coming from and not take things personally, but look at where it's taking us. So for people listening, the one thing that's important, I think in recovery is to accept what's being what, what you're being told from the people take it from a good place. Even if they're yelling or screaming or crying or blaming, it's all good.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (46m 28s):
Take it, own it, take responsibility for it. And then look to where it's going to take you for the next step. I think that's such a big deal because it helps you get through those moments when you are frustrated, embarrassed, angry, humiliated, cause all that stuff doesn't go away where people and it sticks and you have to learn, you have to take ownership of that. And I think that that that's been very eye-opening for me as well, because being an alcoholic, I was an egomaniac narcissistic, lied, hid all that bullshit. And I probably still am all of those things, except I take ownership for that stuff now. And I don't let it get in the way, which, which is a flip of the script. So to speak where before I screw it, I'll do what I want.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (47m 11s):
And you know, and it didn't give a shit about what the fallout of that was right now. I take ownership and I had to, you know, I had some issues of my own, where I had relationship struggles, where I was codependent. And I hate to sometimes say that because it's kind of a buzz word and everybody says it. But, but I had some, I had some issues where I had to be liked and loved by everyone. Even if I didn't know who the hell they were. If I worked with them, stuff like that, I, it really mattered to me. And it took a long time to get used to the fact to say, I don't give a shit what you think. I don't have to be an asshole about it. And, and you can not like me. You can be mean to me. I don't care. I just know I'm a good person. I'm not being mean or rude to you.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (47m 51s):
And if you don't like me then fine, I'm okay with that. And it took a long time to get there. And that was a big step for me, Pamela, where we're to be okay with people, either like me or not. And just moving on with my life where I would just dig holes and struggle to figure out why don't they like me? What did I do wrong? What did I say? And come to find out that that's, you know, dealing, living with an alcoholic as a child of one and you blame yourself and there's some other issues there. Again, I'm not blaming my father, but that was some of the fallout, unfortunately, that I had to that's some of the baggage I had to put down and figure out how to unpack on my own. And I thankfully in the process now in a good way to do that.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (48m 29s):
Well, the beautiful, the beautiful thing about recovery. I really believe this is we get to discover who we really are. Finally, finally, after all that time that we go on this journey and we discover who we are, we transform, we find our gifts. I was always telling myself what a bad person I was. Well now I know what some of my gifts are now. And I can say, I could never say that before. So, you know, we grow and we discover and it's, it's amazing, but it's hard work, but it's amazing. Yeah,
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (49m 4s):
It is hard work. And I, I like to say that people in recovery that's, their superpower is fighting the fight every day and winning the fight every day. Even though you might not take a step forward, we don't take steps back. Right. And that's a big deal. That's a huge deal. And I, what I mean by step back is yes, people slip sometimes. And what I'm saying is you, you, you still have that thread of power that you've given yourself because you've surrendered and things. And, and I love that. I refer, refer to it all the time when the show is a superpower and when I'm very proud of. So just as in, in closing, I love to hear more about your book. If you don't mind, maybe share a little bit of detail about your bullshit.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (49m 42s):
Okay. How would I describe it? So basically my counselor in the Ridge knew that I was a writer and she told me, just write stuff down. When you get home, you want to have a drink, whatever. And I just was writing like all this stuff down. I just, Oh, like when I would get the cold shoulder, when I was screaming to God about, you know, help me. And, and then I kind of started calming down and I started writing about the little triumphs and I never planned on a book. And all of a sudden this one day, I'm like 90 meetings, 90 days, these are 90 pieces of paper. I'm going to put it together. And I, I titled it letting go of the thief because the beginning of the book was a letter to my family on Christmas Eve, the Polish people do.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (50m 27s):
But, and we ask for forgiveness and I read it out loud to them. And it was trying to explain what happened. And then I decided, well, I'm going to put that at the beginning because the thief comes to kill and destroy. And we now have life and we can throw the thief away. It, there was all these God moments, but it, it came along. This was the very first picture I found. And I was like, this is it. Everybody wanted a bottle or something. I said, no, everybody does the bottle. So basically it's just about our chattering mind, both sober. And no, I never read a book on that. I'm like, why isn't anybody talking about all this crazy mind stuff?
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (51m 8s):
So it's doing really good. Twitter has served me well. I love it. I it's selling over in England and Ireland and Canada. And, and I'm really grateful. And I, and I will tell you the one quick thing and then I'll be done. So I, I was, I hate promoting hate it. It's not my gig. And when lockdown started, I decided I'm not going to promote it on Twitter. I'm just going to help people put the book down, got all these followers was trying to help everybody. And do you know that within a month it was selling, I wasn't doing any promotion.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (51m 50s):
And a friend of mine said attraction rather than promotion. I love that. And I love my Twitter family. I love them. They mean a whole lot to me. They they've encouraged me and supported me. And I'm really grateful. That's how I met you.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (52m 5s):
Definitely. Yeah. That's how we crossed personally. I am not, I don't like promotion either. I agree with you. It's about attraction, but the one thing just to steal a term, because I think it's amazing, but one thing I will say, I wasn't a fan of social media. I didn't, I hated it. I, it just, it presented everything ugly in my mind about what role does come to, but what I have found, and I will say in fairness, the family that I have found, and I will say family of, of sober friends and family on Twitter and other places that I have found have been so wonderful and supportive part of my day, every single day is to go give a little sunshine to people that need it because you always get the people I'm struggling today, or today's my first day, or I slipped and I give them a little love and sunshine.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (52m 46s):
And I love that because it helps those little moments, those things just taking that extra second for somebody else and giving to them is wonderful. And people have been so supportive of me in my struggling days and helping not only find guests, but make connections like you, Pamela, which I've been so grateful for in all this, because everyone's helping one another, get in, stay healthy, which in sober and it's, it's truly been amazing.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (53m 9s):
And I believe, I believe out of anything, my book or whatever, whatever outside success, I I'm all about saving that next person. And I always had a hope that this book would do that and keep that for the alcoholic. But what I find is the families love it. Cause now they get it. It's helping a lot of people get it. They're like, wow, I didn't know. You thought like that. So, you know, I, I want healing for, I really do. I want healing for everyone. That's my main thing.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (53m 39s):
Isn't it great. It's been so wonderful. Pamela getting to know you.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (53m 43s):
Yeah, you are. I felt so comfortable. I was a little nervous. I'm like, well, but you've been amazing. I feel like we've been friends for years. I was like,
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (53m 56s):
I love it. And when I am in Cincinnati, I will look you up and we will go out and get a little, a little skyline if we can make it happen.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (54m 2s):
Absolutely. I would love that though. And with your family and I wish you much success. I'll be re-tweeting your podcast. So you I'll help promote.
Anthony Capozzoli of Dismantled Life (54m 14s):
Thank you so much. Thank you so very much. Have a wonderful week.
Pamela Pesta of Letting Go of the Thief (54m 17s):
You too. Goodnight.