((Read Part 1 here))
I sent a text on the night of July 11th, 2020 that changed my life forever. It read: “Hey, I think I have a problem and I need help.”
A huge range of emotions coursed through me after I hit “send,” but the main feeling was relief. I finally did it. I finally asked for help. I could finally stop fighting this battle alone.
I spent years suffering in silence and tried to quit drinking on my own. Herbal teas. Limiting my drinking to weekends. Only drinking beer. So many self-help books, videos, and articles. Nothing worked.
I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
But soon I began to worry. What did I just do? What will people think of me? Do I have to quit forever? That’s a long time to go without a drink.
Despite the apprehension, I began receiving the phone numbers of other women who had been in my shoes and understood what I was going through. They invited me to a 12-step meeting.
I didn’t think it would work. I didn’t think I was “bad” enough to be there. I didn’t understand how sitting in meetings and reading literature could help me… but I went.
Turns out, going was the best decision I have ever made.
Sitting in that first meeting, I felt super uncomfortable. People looked happy. They were laughing. They were hugging. They said “I love you” to one another and looked like they meant it. I remember thinking: What the heck did I just sign up for?
I can’t remember many details of that first meeting but I do know that I felt love. I finally felt like I belonged. They told me “Easy does it” and “keep coming back.”
So I did. Again. And again. And again.
When I tell you that a 12-step program was the last thing I tried but the first thing that worked, I’m not lying.
I achieved what I thought was unattainable: I racked up some time without picking up a drink. A few days, a week, then a month!
Meanwhile, I had just started writing these blogs for Central Penn and August was my first deadline.
I took a chance and wrote the piece I had once dreamed of writing: Being Sober in a “Wine-Mom” Culture.
I hesitated to send that first submission, but I did. Truth be told, I didn’t know if I would stay sober. On top of that, I was publicly “outing” myself. I had encouragement from friends and the people I met in those meetings to write that first piece and I knew if I was struggling, someone else might be too.
Fast forward to today. I am clocking in at 1 year, 9 months. I am not just clean and sober, I am recovering. And I say that with a smile and no shame.
During that time, I’ve made deep and meaningful connections. I’ve experienced wonderful wins, and terrible losses all the while learning invaluable lessons. Like how to stay sober while watching my kids lose two of their grandmothers within three months of each other. Or what it really means to feel the feelings.
All life is a process and this part is not easy. Life continues to be complex and messy and beautiful and sweet. There are a lot of things that can happen in a day but picking up a drink (or anything else) is not going change them.
Today I can live a truly authentic life. I feel that I’m aligned with who I am at the core.
I wake up clear minded with no hangovers and get better sleep.
I’ve gone to concerts and danced!
I’ve done inner healing work and learned more about myself.
Facebook memories are now sober ones.
I rarely think about having a drink and even if I do, my first thought is that it wouldn’t help.
I’m happy with being present. A good portion of my day is spent in the now.
I have meaningful friendships, ones that I’ve always dreamed of. We share vulnerability, love, empathy, and laughs.
I am a better human. I practice integrity, patience and acting honorably.
I can have fun.
I can sit and be still.
But the most impactful change has been the ability to have a deeper connection to my kids. I’m still learning how my drinking affected them, but my daily amends to them is to continue down this path. While I can’t promise them forever, I can promise them: Just for today, I choose to stay clean and sober.
I can say so many positive things about life today but the most of all – I am grateful for the gift of recovery.
All of this wouldn’t have been possible without my gift of desperation, opening up about my struggle, and being willing to accept help.
I’ve received countless messages of encouragement and congratulations from friends, family, and readers (thank you!) I’ve also heard from people who are still in the grip of addiction.
If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone. There’s help out there. All you have to do is ask. Even if it’s in a simple text that reads: “Hey, I think I have a problem and I need help.”