I realized today that I haven’t posted in almost 2 months. Eeeek! I can’t believe it has been that long! Sometimes, I feel like I have nothing new to say, or I wonder if anyone is even out there listening, and then I have to remind myself that I started this blog as a testament to my recovery journey. To help keep me honest, and to hopefully help others along the way.
It’s easy to forget just how far I’ve come on this journey. I cannot allow myself to forget – that could be dangerous for an addict like me. So, I am going to make a conscious effort to post more regularly from now on. In 2019, I pledge to focus a little bit more on self-care and daily gratitude.
I was recently reflecting on what my first 30 days in recovery were like. Gosh, they weren’t pretty. I vividly remember crying myself to sleep almost every night because I wanted to drink so badly. At first, I just wanted to drink away my withdrawal symptoms, but as the days went on and the fog began to lift, I wanted to drink away my feelings too. I had never hated myself more than I did in those first 30 days without alcohol. I thought, “Surely, I must be a horrible person to deserve to suffer like this.” Over time, I came to understand that my desire to drink had a simple explanation – my brain was telling me I needed alcohol to survive.
Alcohol had become my oxygen, and it felt as if someone had taken away my air.
I had made so many mistakes in active addiction, none more significant than the ones I made as a mother. The despair and shame hit me so hard I became paralyzed with the unbearable sting of regret. I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to live with that sort of pain.
As I aged through important stages of life, I never learned any other healthy coping mechanisms. I didn’t even know that there were healthy ways to survive uncomfortable feelings. I had no clue what a healthy coping mechanism even looked like.
How, at 30 years old, was I supposed to learn now?
This meant I had to be an active and willing participant in my growth. This meant putting in the work, even when I didn’t want to – even on those days where I felt like I wanted to die. I had to grow up, and it was hard work. It took honesty and humility. It took guts. It took effort.
I started by simply waking up each morning and putting one foot in front of the other. I went to meetings, got a sponsor and started talking openly about the things that hurt me, the things I was afraid of and the things I felt I could never be forgiven for.
There is something so powerful about speaking to a room full of recovering addicts – people who think and act just as you do. I was so afraid that the people in those rooms wouldn’t love me if they found out who I really was – if I told them the horrible things I had said and done, if I mentioned all of the people I had hurt along the way. I thought I would be met with judgment, ridicule, anger even! Instead, I was met with hugs, nods of agreement and cries of “me too!”
My life got better when I stopped drinking, but it flourished when I got honest.
These beautiful people, addicts and alcoholics, loved me until I learned to love myself. They held me up when I couldn’t stand on my own.
Despite all of my best efforts to convince them I am too flawed to be loved unconditionally, they continue to love me today.
I was very isolated and alone in my addiction, but I have never had to do this thing called recovery alone. NEVER!
So on days like today (see below), where I find myself complaining about how cold it is outside (it was -25 degrees in Milwaukee the past 2 days – 15 degrees today! Heat Wave!), and how busy my schedule is or how frustrated I feel about finances, or my job, or unexpected home repairs, I need to step back and remind myself that the problems I have today are “luxury problems” compared to the problems I had back then.
With recovery comes responsibility. Today, I get to wake up sober in a warm home that I own, next to my husband – a man who had once lost all hope that he would ever get his wife back. I get to wake my daughter up each morning and put her to bed each night. I get to go to work because I am employable today. I get to make repairs on my home because I am a responsible homeowner today and I take pride in my surroundings. I get to have a full-calendar because I am dependable today.
I can be trusted to do the right thing, even when no one is watching.
I don’t go to bed crying anymore. I don’t wake up full of regret and fear. I rarely think of drinking alcohol at all, and when I do, I know what steps to take to keep myself healthy.
A little over 4 years ago (10/16/14), I fell to my knees and asked God to take my life. Well, God did take my life that day, and then He gave me the courage to build a new one.
I am truly grateful for all of it!
No matter what you are struggling with, or recovering from – whether it’s drugs/alcohol, codependency, eating disorders, gambling, the loss of a loved one, etc. – it gets better. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. When you are walking through the pain, no matter what it is, it’s hard to see the light. When you find yourself on the other side, you will be amazed! You will know your strength. You will find freedom.
Thank you for supporting this page, and thank you so much for allowing me to share my journey with you!
Free to be V