Recently, I had a pleasure to share my story with a large group of people in recovery. A friend that I had met during my four years of trying to stay sober (but often relapsing), had asked me to share my story at her twenty-six year soberversary! I felt truly honored and humbled, and of course petrified but I could not say no, for it is people like her that have paved the way to recovery for me, and countless others.
I remember in the early days sitting on the other side of the podium at one of these meetings. Sobbing and thinking that I was just incapable of getting sober. I was wondering why this amazing life was not happening to me and questioning why it was so hard for me to stay sober. Yet, I listened for that hope, that glimpse of something that I could hold on to just for another day. I never know how my story will come across; I just hope that it reaches that one person that needs that glimpse of hope today!
There is something so very surreal for me about standing in front of a recovery group and sharing my story. It is so very personal, and intimate, and frightening, and freeing – all at the same time.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. –Page 83-84 Alcoholics Anonymous
As I started speaking, my thoughts and feelings filled my heart as I progressed down the memory lane of how it used to be, what happened, and how it is now. I shared about my twenty-first birthday and drinking two wine coolers and then thinking that I needed to stop before I got too drunk. Yet, by my mid-twenties I was drinking almost every single day. At thirty-one, I was arrested for a DUI, and having BAC (blood alcohol content) over three times the legal limit, I was court ordered to spend five days in jail. However, I did not quit drinking, instead I sold my car.
What followed was numerous visits to the local detox center, and the hospital, the mental ward and the rehab. There were jobs lost, relationships broken, and lots of self-loathing and despair. In between all of this chaos, I had a few short-lived periods of sobriety, which filled me up with some hope, but not enough to sustain me and once again I would return to the only way I knew how to live. Then at thirty-eight, one Monday morning in April, I found myself lying face down on the kitchen floor, and realizing that I just had spent the entire weekend in a blackout.
That was my bottom.
At this turning point, I slowly started emerging from the devastation of it all and I plunged wholeheartedly into the 12-step program and its fellowship. The fog was gradually lifting and the doors of a new life were opening. I finally got a job and was able to get my own place to live. I had then decided to go back to school, which lead me to an awesome job that I continue to have today. All this has been far more than I have ever imagined in of my wildest dreams!
I still have some moments when my mind says that life would be easier with a drink in hand. Then I think about it all and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. It has been an extraordinary journey and it is not over yet.
Life seems to flow like the ocean waves; there are highs and the lows, and the calm times in between. Sometimes the highs seem too short and the lows too long without any calm period in between. Sometimes I anticipate the changes and get ready for them. Sometimes I get sidestepped and all I can do is just try to get through it all. During these trying times, I hold on to my sobriety like my precious security blanket. Because I know that if I hold on just a bit tighter, and just a bit longer, I will find the strength to hold on sober one more day.
And you can too!
*** The images used in this post are from the Mandalas Coloring Books for adults that have been instrumental in managing stress and anxiety during my difficult times. I have discovered these at the She Recovers Facebook page, which you can find HERE.
There are many books available and you can buy them at Amazon.com.
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