"It is a unique opportunity to have the chance to live a healthy life."
Writer and homemaker
Sober since March 2001
Currently living in Charlotte, NC
I never thought I could love anything as much as I loved drinking. I decided at a very young age that alcohol could help me define who I was, before I really had a chance to figure out what that meant.
Once drugs and I were introduced, getting wasted became even more special. I chose to love both of these companions. They suited me well, and we were inseparable for many years.
By the time things had gotten to where the three of us were no longer happy together, where the speed and the booze weren't working anymore, I was too scared to stop doing what I was doing. I felt like I had never been an adult without these guiding influences. And I was already 37 years old.
Because I saw my addiction as such a huge investment, I re-committed myself to the relationship. I tore into it even harder, until I was high and loaded around the clock. I seldom slept. I lied when I spoke. I was officially miserable and felt half crazy.
Clearly, a shift had occurred in my chemical dependency. The tolerance I'd built up over the years was breaking down. I was using just to feel normal, but things weren't normal for as far back as I could remember. I was sad and paranoid and exhausted. My behavior was making an already difficult existence completely unmanageable.
For so many years, I drank and got wrecked without thinking. Sure, I'd accumulated a host of problems, but I never once considered these difficulties to be the direct result of the habits I'd developed. I convinced myself that all my drinking, snorting and pill-popping was just an enjoyable leisurely pastime. The way it was for the rest of the world, or so I thought.
For me, dope and booze were simply habits that became compulsions. I could not control my urge to drink or use the drugs I took when I drank. So I could drink more. And do drugs. Drink. Drugs. Drink. Where was I? It's not clear.
It was impossible to entertain the idea of not having these driving forces in my life. Drugs and alcohol were my life. Everything that wasn't directly involved in putting a drink in my hand and drugs in my system just kept getting in the way.
At my tipping point, that moment where I finally grabbed hold of the rope and pulled myself toward sobriety, I was scared of the simplest things. I was afraid to eat. Listen to music. Wear certain clothes. If I went to sleep, I thought I'd never wake up. I was terrified that I wouldn't have the desire to be alive without getting high, which is remarkable considering my life had turned to garbage.
Initially, admitting that I couldn't drink or use anymore made me feel like a weakling. Like I'd failed an important assignment, the privilege of being eternally inebriated. And more than anything, I was petrified of my feelings. I hadn't felt them for so long, I didn't know what I'd find in my crowded conscience, in my banged-up heart. Or worse yet, what would come looking for me from the shadows.
Today, everything about my life in recovery is different from the way I used to think and act. Of course, I always need to remind myself that things can still get tricky. Some days, my memories feel so distant, like they may even have happened to someone else. Other times, I wonder if maybe it's been so long since I've used, I might be cured. I recognize that this is just my disease, trying to get us back together again. I readily admit that there is nothing normal about my relationship with drugs and alcohol. If I am not respectful of this absolute fact, I run the risk of picking up again. It's that simple.
I am proud to be in long term recovery. For me, the miracle presented itself in the form of detox and therapy. Total surrender enabled me to scrape together one full day. Then another and a few more.
I strengthen my daily commitment with the help of my Higher Power, a sober community and valuable support systems. I swear to God, I wake up happy every day. It is a unique opportunity to have the chance to live a healthy life. To know freedom from obsession. To make smart decisions. To exercise caution and weigh the consequences of my actions before I do stuff. I turned 52 years old in September. I like being a grown-up. I never dreamed I could live the life I know and enjoy. Not in a million years.
Most importantly, I want to share what I've learned with others who are familiar with the intimate struggles of addiction. Folks who are working hard to figure themselves out and those who long for the promise of a better way. I am very forthcoming about my history and journey. I want people to know the Real Me. To trust that even though I've seen and done some sketchy things, I have great potential. I love that people depend on me and consider me a friend. I'm grateful to contribute some goodness to the world.
I'm just a regular person. I'm not rich or super smart. But thanks to a unique combination of simultaneous efforts, I've been able to find recovery and sustain it for fourteen years. I have become a strong and hopeful girl. And I sure do feel like the luckiest person in town. Why would I not want to share what I know?
Would you like to be featured in our Recovery Hero of the Week series? Send in your story (500–1000 words) to [email protected] and you might just be selected as our next featured hero. Thank you for spreading the message!