Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Living Sober

***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!

15 comments:

  1. You are such an inspiration!! This is so wonderful to read, it will help so many. Thank you!

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  2. Fantastic post, Shannon!! Thank you for the beautiful reminders of the life sobriety brings.

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  3. This is such a beautiful post. It is so inspirational to read about a person thriving in sobriety. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. I am so sorry for the loss of your Mother, even before she died. But good for you for breaking the family cycle!

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  5. Thank you for taking the time to post this. It will remind many to be careful and not let anything (especially alcohol) to get the best of them. :)

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  6. Beautifully written. Congrats to YOU!!!

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  7. LOVE THIS! I wish it were open to contact you! I relate SO MUCH...except for the recovery part =/

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  8. Shannon - this is so timely for me. Thank you for helping to keep me on track. I just passed my week 9 'anniversary' of sobriety and it was my first hellish one after floating on my pink cloud. You remind me of all there is to lose by going back to the shame that my drinking created and all there is to gain by not medicating my life away. Bless you and yours!

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  9. You give me hope. I too grew up in an alcoholic home and watched alcohol cause pain and fear my whole life. I too started as a social drinker and "fun party girl." That then turned to binge drinking, alone, trying to hide it and my shame. Unfortunately for me my kids have seen me drink, sometimes to oblivion. I turned into my mom. I don't want to be her anymore. I am finished. I am only at day 6 but it's only the beginning. My mom never stopped drinking and we never really talked about it as a problem - it just was. I have changed that pattern. I've talked to my kids about my problem. I tell them it's ok to be angry. I will show them that people can stop and change and that will be the difference between me and my mom. They will be able to look back and say - my mom USED to drink but not anymore!!!!! Thanks for your post...it gives us hope.

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  10. My dad was a dry drunk - he was proud of being called a workaholic - and wrought devastating pain upon his children.

    It is without doubt a cruel irony that I ended up a stumbling drunk in my 30's - such shame!

    Now, sober, life is what it could be and I urge you to join us! Go Sobriety!

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  11. Shannon,

    Thank you so much for sharing and showing us that sobriety can be a beautiful way to live. To truly live in the present and not wallow in the past or be afraid for the future...to embrace life without drinking and trying to numb everyone and everything out. I am just trying to take it one day at a time and thank you again.

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  12. " I know that if I took a drink today I’d be right back where I left off 14 years ago." EXACTLY

    I am only 25 days sober after so many tries that I can't even count, but this is what keeps me going. It clicked this time. I think about a drink, and it became so bad that I NEVER want to go back to that. It's just now worth it for a drink. Why? Because it will not be normal. It won't be two. It will instantly pick up where I left off, with my head over the toilet and my 1.5 year old patting my back. Never again.

    Thanks for your post. 14 years! So encouraging.

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  13. Great post. I, too, struggle with memories and flashbacks I so badly wish I could forget. It's a good reminder that those memories keep me on the right path today. Thanks!

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  14. Beautifully written! I am 2 years, 2 months sober and and so grateful for every day. Sobriety rocks!

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  15. Shannon, thank you for sharing. Your drinking and story completely mirror mine. I am 32 days sober. I have a three-year old son. The last think in the world I want is for him to grow up the way I did, with alcoholic parents. 32 Days ago I had the same experience when I looked in the mirror after drinking 20 years (I'm 35). I'm disgusted, but with each day that passes, I am growing in my sobriety.

    Thank you for the reassurance of what the future holds.

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