*** Submitted by Chenoa Woods
I knew I had a problem long before I ever admitted it. I would wake up most mornings with feelings of shame and guilt, promising myself that I would not drink that day. Yet, by the afternoon I would find myself with a glass of wine in my hand. I started having stomach problems, but instead of cutting back or stopping drinking all together, I blamed it on the wine and switched to drinking beer instead – another classic sign of alcoholism. I started going out and binge drinking more; spending the following days comatose on the couch, unable to interact with anyone.
On the outside, I looked like I had it all. I went to church, had a nice home, a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. I took care of myself, going to the gym daily and leading a healthy lifestyle (aside from the drinking). However, despite all of this, I was falling apart on the inside. I blamed my problems on everyone else. I was angry, lonely and empty. I was physically there, but I wasn’t present in my life. I rarely felt joy or happiness; I didn’t laugh like I used to. I was going through the motions, but I wasn’t truly living anymore.
I was falling quickly and it was only a matter of time before I hit bottom. After a series of drinking fueled incidents, I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take the lying, deceit, guilt and shame I was putting myself and my family through anymore. One night, while reading on the couch, I felt an overwhelming sense of heaviness on my heart that I had never experienced before. I knew without a doubt that once and for all I needed to be honest with my husband about my drinking. Despite going to church, I had never had a close relationship with God, however, I truly believe that God was speaking to me that night and gave me the courage to finally speak my truth.
As we sat across from each other in our living room that night, my husband asked me once and for all if I was willing to give up alcohol for good. I said I would and admitted to him that I needed help and so began my journey in sobriety. And, it is just that, a journey.
Getting and staying sober is not easy. I have relapsed twice since first getting sober, but God willing I will never take another drink again. I will never be able to be a “normal” drinker therefore alcohol has no place in my life. Before getting sober, I couldn’t imagine a life without alcohol. Would I have fun anymore? Would my friends want to hang out with me? Well, I’m here to say that life goes on and your old way of living gives way to a new “normal.” Getting sober is not a death sentence; it is a second chance at getting to live the life you have always wanted.
Sobriety is a personal journey. I can only speak from my own experience, but, for me, getting sober gave me the freedom to truly be the person I always strived to be. I can now say with total confidence that I am the best mom, wife, daughter and friend I can be. I have been able to delve into my passion of writing again along with discovering new talents and passions. Previously, when I was angry, stressed or lonely I would drink because it’s what I was familiar with. It was the only way I knew how to “escape.” In sobriety, your problems don’t just go away; you find new ways to deal with them. Instead of pouring a glass of wine, I write or try a new recipe or create something. It’s different for everyone; the key is finding what works for you.
When we go through challenging times or hardships, our first question is always “Why?” “Why me God?” I asked this when I struggled with my OCD, when my mom died of cancer and when I admitted to my alcoholism. The thing is, continuing to ask “Why?” prevents us from moving forward and accepting our circumstances. Because, it is those challenges and hardships that end up making us who we are, which is often a much better version of the person we were before.
Perhaps, you’re reading this right now and feeling the same guilt and shame I felt every morning when I woke up after a night of drinking. I am here to tell you there is no shame in admitting to your weaknesses and asking for help. There is no shame in wanting to be a better mom, wife, daughter, sister or friend. Alcoholism is a deadly disease and the longer you wait to get help, the worse it will get. Trust me. I was fortunate to get the help I needed before I lost everything that was important to me. Look in your local phonebook or Google AA meetings in your area. Most AA groups have closed meetings just for women, which provide a safe and comfortable setting. If you don’t feel comfortable going to an AA meeting, reach out to your pastor or clergy at your church. Many churches offer their own recovery groups. The first step is admitting you have a problem and seeking help. From there, things will only continue to get better. I promise.
To see more of my story visit my blog at http://www.lifecorked.com