by Carl Towns
Overcoming alcoholism after so many years was the hardest thing I’ve ever been able to do in my life. Dealing with an addiction to a substance that is legal made things a lot more difficult for me. My family was obviously the first to point out that I was having a problem. I started drinking when I was 12 and I was already binge drinking when I was 14. To be honest it never tasted good. No matter what I was having I never got to enjoy its taste, but the feeling of somehow being able to escape reality to some extent was what did it for my young self.
I had to deal on a daily basis with very authoritative and dominant figures at home that made me feel like no matter what I did or how I did it, it was never enough. When I finally decided to leave my drinking behind and start a rehabilitation program, those figures that played a big role in my addiction, were even bigger contributors to my sobriety. During my process, I met amazing people in our group talks where I didn’t feel ashamed anymore and felt like I was being able to open my heart and not be judged by my mistakes. Group therapy had such a massive effect on my life that I’d like to share its biggest benefits during that hard time.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
Living with an addiction was hard, but having to deal with it yourself makes things harder. Attending group therapy was my first step in a journey that took me to a much better place in life. I realized that all the fears and reasons why I was so ashamed of myself were shared by people of all ages, genders and races. It was good to feel company around me. We became a genuine emotional support for each other. Up to this day, I’m still very good friends with most of them, and we all know that going through an experience like that created a unique bond that lasts forever. Trust developed with each session and my self-esteem improved at the same pace. Knowing that it was fine if I had made mistakes and having the courage to forgive myself was one of the things that made me proud. And most importantly I didn’t feel like I was carrying the burden alone.
IT’S O.K. TO TALK
Normally when you live with an addiction, it’s very hard to find the right people to talk to because not everybody understands what it is to be in such situation. Realizing that you have a problem, as cliché as it sounds, is indeed the most important and difficult thing in the process. Knowing why I needed to stop, was the next. When I went to group therapy I found it rather easier to talk about how I felt than with people who had lived with me and loved me their whole lives. This was because I found peace in the fact that just as I, they had also walked down that path no one is proud of. Being able to talk and relate to so many stories and cases made me feel less self-conscious and more open to making changes in my life. It made me acknowledge that even though I caused harm to my loved ones and myself; I still deserved a chance at a new happy life. Being able to feel and think like that, while surrounded by people in the same situation and mindset, meant the world to my recovery.
YOU GAIN PERSPECTIVE
Most times, even nowadays, when I face a problem I can’t solve it always helps to have someone else look at it with a different perspective. Addiction is no different. When I opened my life-like a book for the whole group to read, I gained insights I never thought of. I was completely blocked in my own mind-frame and this, of course, lead to a limited amount of conclusions, analysis and ideas. When everyone knew of these, they were not only able to understand due to their own situation, but were also able to contribute with genuine outside-of-the-box thinking. To put it in more simple terms, the saying: “Can’t see the forest for the trees” took its meaning to a whole new level.
STRENGTH THROUGH UNITY
Perhaps one of the things that helped me the most was the fact that we felt like we supported each other and we wanted nothing but the best for the group. Though we all started with fear, shame, guilt and doubts, we all were able to eventually move past that and go forward. The sense of a new family was developed within and we felt responsible for each other’s progress. We knew at some point that if we were in it together, we had to get better together.
When I was an alcoholic, I thought I was completely alone and that no one would ever be able to understand how I felt. Feeling the support of what became a second family, plus the support of my parents, friends and loved ones was what gave me the strength to keep going. Accepting who I was and reinventing myself for the best would have never been possible without them. I will never be able to thank them enough for the impact they had in me, and I can proudly say that we got through it together. Despite our past now we have peace, love, happiness and health in our lives.
If you’d like to ask a question or simply share other benefits that group therapy brought into your life, leave a comment below.
I’m Carl Towns a 28-year-old wanna-be writer; I am also a recovering addict in the path of self-discovery. My goal is to learn as many things as possible and to seize every single moment I live, pretty much trying to make up for all that I missed on the years I was lost in drugs and alcohol (among other things). I’m in love with tech, cars and pretty much anything that can be found online.
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