Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Drinking, PTSD, and Milestones


**Submitted by MN

I remember one of the toughest ideas to digest in my first weeks of sobriety was that I wouldn’t be able to drink when I got married. Mind you, at this stage marriage was nowhere on the horizon, but I was the type of alcoholic who liked to be prepared and worry about things that weren’t current problems. However, at my wedding this past June 30, I’ve gotta say that drinking was the last thing on my mind. In an ironic twist, I ended up marrying a fellow whose family operates a winery in France, but my higher power has always had a sense of humor.


I’ve been part of this community since my first month of sobriety and in almost 3 years I have commented on and have been moved by many stories, however i've never written a post. I suppose I was waiting for that perfect moment when I would be able to reflect on my experience and say something truly wise, but I figured a story from the heart would be more authentic and would come way earlier than any wisdom :)

My 3 year sober birthday is less than a month away and when I think about what has changed the most, I’ve got to go with hope. I was utterly hopeless when I finally had the willingness to stop drinking. I had tried for 4 years and figured if I with all my brains, support networks, and what I felt was a true desire to quit had failed me, what could any lame recovery program serve to teach me. Also, the idea of going to meetings and having to talk about my problems with anyone was too scary to face. 

I suffer from PTSD related to trauma and alcohol was both an integral part of my problem and what I thought was my solution. I drank because terrible things had happened to me and when I drank to excess, more terrible would happen. It was a vicious cycle of self-destruction. Like any perfectionist, as the inside continued to deteriorate, I felt the need to make it look like I was only improving on the outside. I kept up this charade for a few years, but like any unhealthy behavior, cracks began to form in my guise and those cracks only got bigger over time. By the end, I had lost jobs, friends, had a DUI, was drinking in the morning, entered into unhealthy and destructive relationships, and so on. 

I started drinking heavily at 18 and in 5 years had gone from only drinking with friends on weekends, to struggling every day to try and resist a drink because once I started, I couldn’t stop. I wanted to drink myself to that place where I didn’t feel and only then did I feel like I could act “normal”.Thankfully I hit a bottom where my family told me it was get sober through the help of other people or leave. I was still convinced that if I could heal the wounds of trauma that normal drinking would be restored to me. I had a brilliant doctor who suggested I try AA and just see what I thought about it, what did I have to loose? 

While I initially thought AA was a scary place where old white men talked about Jesus, when I showed up and listened, my world changed. I remember hearing the story of a girl, not much older than me, and I saw this look in her eyes and I knew that it was sincere happiness. I had long thought I was too broken and damaged to ever have such a thing, but after hearing her story, I was just hopeful enough to give the program a try.

I’ve had ups and downs during my (almost) 3 years in AA. I’ve seen beautiful miracles as well as lost loved ones to the disease. I’ve had words in the rooms move me to tears or irritate me with its structure. Recovery, much like life, is a journey that we really have very little control over. I just show up and do the work every day whether I like it or not and little by little, the program has helped me reconnect with myself and the world around me in a way that has led me to exactly where I need to be at each moment, whether I know it or not (and I often don’t)

Since choosing sobriety, I have met, dated and married the most amazing man in the entire world. I never saw it coming and never thought I would be loved this deeply by someone who knew both the good and bad about me. I also love that he’s never seen me take a drink. I’m in graduate school and am building a long-term career in a field that I didn’t even know I could do. I’m in therapy and have finally faced my fears and been able to treat the PTSD. I’ve restored the relationships I had challenged during my addiction and have moved on from the ones that were unhealthy. 

Finally, I’m sincerely happy. 

Life isn’t always easy, but I begin and end each day with this overwhelming peace that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be and that if I keep doing what I’m doing, this bliss will only continue. 

I am so thankful for the strong beautiful women in recovery that help me have the courage each day to be my most authentic self, and to live life one day at a time. 

8 comments:

  1. What a great tale of successful sobriety; Congratulations, may your future be as rosy as the last three years have turned out to be. Roll on, you're doing so well.

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  2. How amazing, you've been brave and you've traveled to this new great place. you are an inspiration :)

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  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your beautiful story of hope. I woke up in a little bit of fear this morning and this was just what I needed to read. Funny how my higher power always puts what I need in front of me. You so eloquently described how my drinking was for me too. How blessed are we that we get to recover? I used to think of it as, "I don't get to drink". Now I think of it as, "I get to live sober". What a beautiful gift we've been given. Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. Just lovely. xo

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  4. I I love the line " Life isn't always easy, but we begin and end each day with an overwhelming peace that we are exactly where we are supposed to be".
    I live this feeling, now that I'm sober. Only on Day 16 and I know I have a lot of work ahead of me but I do feel calmer in my life at this moment!
    Congratulations on nearly 3 years. I know after hearing your story that it will be worth it in the end!
    Xo. Jen

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  5. Struggling to surrenderAugust 1, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    What a great journey you've had. You are inspiring! I have yet to attend a meeting which I know I need to. I am only 4 days sober and it has been a struggle everyday so far. It touched me when you referred to yourself as a perfectionist because that is what I struggle with everyday..... Perfectionism. When anxiety builds I want that drink, and then another and another.... Thank you for the words of wisdom for me to reflect upon to help me along my journey of sobriety.

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  6. Beautiful. You did all this work yourself.

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  7. Thank you for sharing your story. There is a solution. Congratulations!
    Marjie

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