26 Years Later

Linda O’Roark, 54, hit rock bottom 26 years ago but has been sober ever since. Linda is a recovering alcoholic and will never be fully recovered because addiction is a disease from which one never truly heals from.

 

When Linda was at rock bottom, she would live in what she calls ‘black outs’ where she would only remember the night as if it were a dream only it was reality.

 

One night, Linda was going out with some friends and a man who had just been released from prison. She was nervous about the interaction so she stole a high powered rifle from her brother-in-law and hid it under her trench coat. When she got into the car with the man released from prison, she shoved the barrel of the gun in the man’s face and warned him not to try anything.

 

After the night was over, she stashed the gun in the trunk of her car and then drove home and went to bed. It was 3 days later when she heard her brother-in-law complaining that someone stole his gun and “when [he] find[s] that gun whoever stole it is dead” that Linda remembered she was the one who stole the gun in a black out. It took her years to muster up the courage to return the gun to its rightful owner.

 

After 5-6 years, Linda returned the gun and made amends with the person(s) she wronged that night. Making amends is one of the pillars of Alcoholics Anonymous. Linda is passionate about AA and how it saved her life.

Notes fill almost every blank space in Linda O'Roark's Alcoholic Anonymous Big Book.
Notes fill almost every blank space in Linda O’Roark’s Alcoholic Anonymous Big Book.

 

She was reluctant to join AA but a voice, which she now calls “the god of my understanding”, showed her what rock bottom looks like one night when she was driving down a road with a six pack at her side and she thought to herself, “What am I doing here?”

 

After that night, she reached out to some friends who had been trying to help her but she had shrugged them away because she did not believe she needed help. Her friend Judy inspired her with a card in which she talked about the paralyzed man Jesus healed and how scared he must have been to take those first steps.

 

Linda was the paralyzed man.

 

When she first joined AA, Linda acted like she owned the place and like she was going to go into the meetings, run them from the very beginning and change all the traditions of the organization. She now says that if someone came into the meetings the way she did when she was younger, everyone at the table would burst out laughing because they realize how ignorant that new person is.

 

Linda gives credit to AA and her friend Robin for saving her life and making her who she is today.

Linda O'Roark (left) and Robin Conrad (left) pose for a portrait outside a Circle K store in Alliance, Ohio. The store used to be a Dairy Mart and it is where Linda worked for Robin and where they became close.
Linda O’Roark (left) and Robin Conrad (right) pose for a portrait outside a Circle K store in Alliance, Ohio. The store used to be a Dairy Mart and it is where Linda worked for Robin and where they became close.

 

Robin was the manager at a Dairy Mart Linda worked at. She would come into work drunk some days and other days she would come into work with a massive hangover. Instead of firing Linda, Robin decided to taker her under her wing and mentor and guide Linda to recovery.

 

The Dairy Mart has since been turned into a Circle K and the relationship between Robin and Linda has been turned into something magical. They both have agreed, through AA, that the moment before Linda takes a sip of alcohol, she is to call Robin and tell her so she can come help.

Linda has a small handful of powerful things in her life that help keep her sober. She has AA, Robin, her goddaughter and the memory of her sister Lori.

Linda O'Roark, 54, (back) pushes Adrianna, 7, on her walker on the way to the car on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016 in Alliance, Ohio
Linda O’Roark, 54, (back) pushes Adrianna, 7, on her walker on the way to the car on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016 in Alliance, Ohio

 

Linda and her six siblings were emotionally and sexually abused for years by her stepfather. Her sister Lori claimed that she was never abused by him, and because of that, Lori never learned to hate the stepfather like Linda and the rest of her siblings. Linda never believed her sister.

 

When the stepfather died, most people in the family didn’t bat an eye because they had all moved on and learned to cope with the scars. Lori could not move on. She had learned to love the stepfather and she was heart broken when he died.

 

She relapsed back into drinking and drug use to help her cope with the loss and it ended her pain permanently. Whenever Linda wants to take a sip of alcohol, she thinks back to the memory of her sister and how she died in a room full of her family but no one noticed she was dead because she passed out drunk so often that people couldn’t tell the difference.

Linda O'Roark sits with her goddaughter Adrianna in the living room of her apartment. Adrianna plays a huge role in keeping O'Roark sober. Any time O'Roark wants to take a drink, she thinks to herself "would Adrianna approve of me right now?
Linda O’Roark sits with her goddaughter Adrianna in the living room of her apartment. Adrianna plays a huge role in keeping O’Roark sober. Any time O’Roark wants to take a drink, she thinks to herself “would Adrianna approve of me right now?

 

Linda’s 7-year-old goddaughter Adrianna plays a huge role in keeping Linda sober. Even though Adrianna does not make a conscience decision to help her godmother, she does help every day. Every time Linda has the urge to drink, before she calls Robin, she thinks about Adrianna. She wonders if Adrianna would approve. If the answer is no (which it usually is,) then Linda knows it is not worth the alcohol.

Linda O'Roark, 54, (left) and Adrianna, 7, (right) play Old Maid on the floor of O'Roark's apartment in Alliance, Ohio. O’Roark is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for 26 years thanks, in part, to Adrianna. Any time O’Roark thinks she might want to drink, she wonders if Adrianna would approve and that helps her stay sober.
Linda O’Roark, 54, (left) and Adrianna, 7, (right) play Old Maid on the floor of O’Roark’s apartment in Alliance, Ohio. O’Roark is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for 26 years thanks, in part, to Adrianna. Any time O’Roark thinks she might want to drink, she wonders if Adrianna would approve and that helps her stay sober.

 

People in AA have sponsors, people who help new members through the steps of the program and help to keep them sober. Linda sponsors 26-year-old Savannah Corbitt. Savannah has been sober since June and with Linda’s help she continues to stay sober to this day. Linda and Savannah meet up regularly to go through the steps of AA and as a support for each other.

Linda O'Roark (left) talks with Savannah Corbitt (right) about Alcoholics Anonymous but more specifically, about Corbitt. O'Roark sponsors Corbitt through AA which means she helps Corbitt through all 12 stages of AA and helps her stay sober.
Linda O’Roark (left) talks with Savannah Corbitt (right) about Alcoholics Anonymous but more specifically, about Corbitt. O’Roark sponsors Corbitt through AA which means she helps Corbitt through all 12 stages of AA and helps her stay sober.

 

 

 

One of the most intensive parts of being a sponsor is sitting down and taking your mentee back to rock bottom. They return to rock bottom to pinpoint any amends they may must make in order to move on with their life and continue to be sober and continue to recover.

 

Linda is adamant about staying sober and she will do everything in her power to keep her sobriety. She has a small yet strong friend base, she has the god of her understanding and she has the will power of a thousand men.