***Submitted by Shannon
I’m grateful for this website because I never want to forget what life used to be like. Like I ever really could… I still have moments when I run through those old painful reels in my head and it feels like yesterday. This may sound weird, but that is a blessing in its own way. It helps to keep me sober because I never want to go back.
What was life like? I started as a social drinker… quickly turned into a binge drinker… and then drinking became a necessity to get me through the day. The shame, guilt and the inability to look at myself in the mirror kept me drinking because I just wanted the pain to go away. I was drinking 1+ bottles of wine per day. I was great at hiding my drinking and my pain. From the outside, I looked fine. I had a college education, I had a great job, I had a handsome husband who loved me, and I had a house. But on the inside I was a horrid mess of a person.
I grew up in an alcoholic home. I was driving a car by the age of 14 because someone had to run the errands. I knew what a terrible thing alcohol was because it robbed me of my mother and my childhood. So why did I even start? I started because at first it was fun, it numbed the pain, and it made me social. But the fun soon stopped. I continued because this is disease. I drank heavily for about 11 years.
I had my last drink on May 2, 1997. I woke up the next morning after another horrible night of blackout drinking. As I attempted to look at myself in the mirror I cried. I finally realized that I had become the one person I promised myself that I would never be… I had become my mother. With that realization I knew that I’d never allow myself to have the family I dreamed of because I wasn’t going to put my future children through the same painful childhood that I had. That was my bottom.
What is life like sober? Once the fog cleared and I did the hard worked through the steps of recovery and healing, I could finally look at myself in the mirror and not feel shame or guilt. Then I had an epiphany. I was finally present! I was present for my own life and I was there to experience everything! It’s kind of like relearning how to walk. I had experienced everything for so long while being medicated with alcohol that I had to get past the fear and just FEEL it – feel the happiness, joy, love, loss, pain, sorrow, gratitude, kindness – I get to feel it and experience ALL of it… and it is wonderful! The happy times, like the birth of my daughter and the adoption of my other daughter, are truly filled with unbridled emotions because there is no sense of shame hiding beneath the layers. The sad times, like the loss of a loved one, are ultimately much easier for me to handle because I get to work through the grieving process and come out the other side as opposed to numbing myself and never fully recovering from the loss.
Going to parties is great because I know for certain that I’m not going to make an a** of myself. If I go out for “drinks” with the girls, I order my cranberry and tonic. No one really cares what I do or don’t drink (… and those that do notice are probably the ones that throw away the cork as soon as they open their wine bottle at home, too.)
What do I like the most about sobriety? I like the fact that I’m proud of myself and who I am as a person, as a wife and especially as a mother. My children have never seen me drink and I love that.
My mother never did get sober. She passed away two years after the birth of my daughter, her first grandchild, at the age of 58. The death certificate listed “failure to thrive” as the main cause of death. A few years earlier she had beaten breast cancer by having a double mastectomy. The irony was that she was willing to cut off parts of her body to save her life, but she was never willing to put down the bottle to do the same. That is definition of utter powerlessness.
The disease of alcohol is cruel, but it can be put into remission. Even at 14 years sober I still consider myself “in recovery” as opposed to “recovered”. I know that if I took a drink today I’d be right back where I left off 14 years ago. I will never let myself forget where I have been, but I now live for today!
Living life on life’s terms and loving it!