11-23-2014, 08:13 PM
Join Date: May 2008
My Story - colagirl (part 2, after)
After telling my friend and realizing the world didn’t end, I felt free for the first time in many years. I finally had real-life support from someone very close to me who didn’t hate me or judge me for how damaged I was. I never realized how much I needed that until that moment.
I decided against following a specific recovery program and decided to follow parts of all the different programs that I knew about. First and foremost, I got an addiction counselor. The first few months were really about learning how to live with feelings and emotions without immediately needing a drink. I was at the point where ANYTHING could trigger me. I mean excitement, fear, irritation, boredom, just being alive basically. I had no idea how to have a thought without following it with a drink or a plan to drink.
One of the most valuable tools I learned was “play the tape through”. I thought I had been doing that all along, but my counselor helped me see that I wasn’t going far enough. Anyone can play through to the next day and see the hangover and accept those consequences, but it’s really about playing it through a week, a month, etc, and seeing that I would end up in exactly the same place I started from, and probably much worse. At about six months in, we started developing a long-term relapse prevention plan. This involved me identifying situations I thought would trip me up (ie, my mom dying, being accidentally served an alcoholic drink, etc). From there I developed specific actions I could take in each of those situations, and I carry that around with me for anytime I need it. She also really taught me how to identify “addict thinking” vs. “recovery thinking” (I realized that I didn’t know the difference and it was creating fear that I would relapse), and to externalize the addict voice as a separate person (not really me) who I could tell to shut up.
Accountability has been key for me. Since I was a lone drinker who hid it like it was my full-time job, just knowing that I would have to explain a relapse to other people in my life is very motivating.
I attend AA meetings very occasionally and primarily when I really want to hear other people’s stories, because really we all have the same story with different details. Since I don’t have a lot of addict friends in my life, it’s helpful for me to be around that sometimes to recognize how far I’ve come and that I really am not “terminally unique”.
Because I really liked my counselor’s idea of externalizing the addict voice, I read the Rational Recovery book, and I actually reread it occasionally to keep it fresh in my mind. I have a very sneaky psychological addiction, so I want to stay prepared for whatever it might throw at me. And I read a lot of recovery memoirs because I find it helpful to hear how other people have quit drinking and, more importantly, stayed stopped.
SR has also been very important to me. I don’t post as much as I used to, but I read here every day, and find that when I’m having a moment of weakness it helps to read newcomers threads and offer some of my experience.
Even after a year, I still feel a “connection” to my addict, I know it’s there, and sometimes more than others, I hear its voice loud and clear. It’s not always talking to me about alcohol – it could be cigarettes, or food, or being too involved in someone else’s problems. Last July, I was traveling in the middle of nowhere and got a phone call that my mom had 30 minutes to live. I never wanted to be wasted so badly in my whole life. Thankfully, my friend was with me and I knew I couldn’t drink. That gave me time to think through the situation and “play the tape through” before I had a really bad relapse. I am so grateful for getting through that sober.
I have learned that there will always be things that are out of my control, and I will never like that, but I can deal with it. I take situations as they come up and try to apply the tools I’ve learned in recovery. When I’m struggling with something, I bring it to my counselor and we work through it. It’s like learning the coping mechanisms I never learned as a younger person.
I never thought there was any hope for me, I thought I would become a street gutter drunk, and worse, I thought that’s what I wanted. Now I am able to see that it was my addiction telling me that, wanting me to die young without realizing any of my potential. I can focus on things now – I don’t think anyone at work has noticed a difference, but I am 100% more engaged than I ever was when I was just slogging through the days waiting to go home and get drunk. I can drive after 5pm and not worry about getting pulled over. I can be available if there’s an emergency because I know I won’t be too drunk to drive or to pay attention to what’s going on. I can help my friends with their problems because I live in the moment and listen to them instead of just living drink to drink. It didn’t happen overnight, but I can look back and see that my life is immeasurably better without alcohol in it.
Thanks for reading my story. I NEVER thought I would be sober long enough to post it here! To anyone reading who is still struggling, you can do it too, believe me.
"I hope you never let this get you as bad as I have." ~ SoosieQ (RIP)
Sober since November 18, 2013
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