It was no secret that I drank alcoholically from the time I had my first drink. By age 15, an ambulance rushed me to the hospital with a BAL of 0.42. Doctors told me that I was lucky to be alive. I was extremely disconnected from the severity of my disease in that short time; like when doctors told me that I was lucky to be alive. The was no fear for my own life and no regard for the pain and suffering I continued to spread to others.
When I discharged my parents took me directly to my first treatment center. Less than a year later I was admitted to another facility where I remained in treatment for 4 months. Needless to say, it did not take a professional to determine that I was unable to control my drinking once I started, even at such a young age. For me it was not necessarily about feeling intoxicated, but I instantly developed this obsession with the escape I got from myself when I put alcohol and substances into my body. For the next 15 years, I remained in a vicious cycle of self-destruction and self-sabotage. I found comfort in the chaos and toxicity I created and had no regard for anyone that got in the way of MY plan.
In 2017, I was given the opportunity to get help, not because I wanted to or thought I needed it, but because rehab sounded much nicer than the county jail I had woken up in. At first, I was not receptive to what treatment had to offer and it was suggested to me to pray for willingness. Prayer was so foreign to me and I had many questions about how this whole higher power thing worked. For instance, was it still praying if you said it in your head or did it need to be said out loud?! I had a basic conception of what I believed to be my higher power and for the life of me I cannot explain what happened once I started regularly talking to the God of my understanding, but something changed within me. For the first time in my life, I wanted to be sober just a tiny bit more than I wanted to continue using.
I prayed regularly for the willingness to want to be sober. I started to slowly (and by slowly, I mean very slowly) get honest with myself and others. I started calling my sponsor regularly and reaching out to the network of sober woman I was connecting with. Most importantly, I started taking the suggestions I received from others who knew more than me about how to stay sober. In early recovery it was suggested I stay in treatment 60 days even though I found 30 to be sufficient; but I stayed anyway. When I left treatment, it was suggested I go to sober living. I couldn’t understand at the time why this was necessary as I had my own home, but I did it anyway and ended up living in a halfway house for over a year. It surely was not easy, and I often put up a fight but when I was given a suggestion, I realized the importance of me needing to act on it. If I am not actively working towards my recovery, my disease is surely working against me.
I haven’t done recovery perfect, and there are still times I overreact, overthink, makes things more complicated for myself but I’m learning that is all part of the journey. Today I am just shy of 3 ½ years clean and sober which is an absolute miracle. I never believed this was something I was capable of or even deserved and I definitely did not do it alone. I have regular conscious contact with a God of my understanding, I have a sponsor and network I process with often, I go to meetings, I’ve worked the 12-steps and continue to incorporate those principles into my everyday life. In the time I’ve had sober, it certainly has not been easy and I haven’t done it perfectly, but no matter what, I haven’t used. There have been times I am so uncomfortable, but my experience has shown me that’s where my growth happens.
Over these past few years, I’ve been able to earn back material things, but nothing compares to the qualities I’ve obtained by continuing my sobriety. I am able to be present and engaged with my children, I am capable of showing my love for them and they no longer fear what may happen to me. My friends and family can trust and depend on me. I no longer have to lie or manipulate. There are times I get down on myself, but I’ve learned my feelings aren’t forever. I truly believe I never have to use or drink again so long as I continue taking actions towards the things that GOT me sober; working the 12-steps with my sponsor, attending meetings, reading recovery literature, being available and sharing my experience with the newcomer, and most importantly, maintaining my conscious contact with my higher power. When I am doing these things and staying out of self-will, my life flows in a positive direction. It’s when I take my will and start making my own plans that my disease gains power.
This is life and no one said it would be easy, but by building a solid foundation and working a program of recovery, I no longer desire to escape myself. Today I love myself, I am hopeful, and content, I am able to love others, and I am equip to face life challenges without a drink or a drug. If you struggle with addiction, you are not alone. The is a stigma associated with addiction, but in my eyes, asking for help and admitting defeat is the most courageous thing a person could do. It’s not easy but it’s so worth it, and when you do, expect miracles.