The thing I think I hate the most is that I’m always going to be a recovering alcoholic. This disease is not curable- it’s only treatable. I hate that next year I’m still going to be in recovery, and ten years down the road- I’m still going to be fighting alcoholism. My sponsor has nearly 30 years of sobriety, and yet she still attends meetings twice a week- and tonight in our AA meeting she even talked about how careful she has to be when prescribed pain medication.
As an addict, I can’t take one drink and be good. I can’t take one prescribed pill and that be enough. What some may not understand is that this isn’t just a struggle to those new to recovery. Addiction is something that will have to be kept in check my entire life. Being an addict doesn’t just mean I struggle with substance abuse. With the way my mind works- I act in extremes. One of something is never enough, and self sabotaging is all too common. There are character defects that develop, and the majority of all people I have met in the program, myself included, are master manipulators. This isn’t just about alcohol. Not by a long shot. Alcohol starts a chain reaction. I hate that with this addict mind, I don’t view a glass of wine the same way others do. Because it isn’t just a glass of wine. It is an escape- a threshold so exciting to cross over. With each sip, life starts feeling a little less heavy and a little more relaxed. When I am drinking- my world seems to stand still. Boundaries melt away, inhibitions are all but lost, and nothing in all of time seems to matter anymore. Even when I’m on the pavement outside in the dark being delusional, or throwing up for a third time that night- with that fluid coursing through my veins – I simply don’t care. One glass of wine, or even just three glasses, to me, simply feels like a tease. I hate that I can’t enjoy alcohol like everyone else- but then my addict brain counters- “Everyone else’s ‘enough’ is your starting point.” So it brings me right back to the beginning. This disease isn’t going anywhere.
I was petsitting for a family for this past week. Two cats, two dogs, one me, and a big bed everyone piles into each night. It’s always unique pet sitting for different families, because it’s always done a little differently. Well a few nights ago I was in the kitchen eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch when I had the urge to go through the cupboards and look for pills. If you’ve been following my story- in June I relapsed on pills, which then led to a ridiculous amount of alcohol. What scares me is that last time around, I had about two months of sobriety under my belt when I began really fantasizing about going back out and using. I resisted for a month, and then days after I picked up my 90 day chip- I relapsed. So here I am, two months of sobriety, and I find my self searching cabinets again. Fortunately I didn’t find anything- and even if I did, I don’t know if I would have taken the pills. That’s not my point though. My point is that I went searching. I took a step to find something that would probably end up killing me this time around.
So this is why I hate that I’ll always be a recovering alcoholic. I’ll always think a little differently from those who don’t suffer from addiction. I’ll always have to be extra cautious, and for me, I’m going to have to continue to be vulnerable. It’s simply what I’m going to have to keep doing. My mind wanders a lot, and not too long ago I was day dreaming about starting a family eventually. As most women do, I desire a husband. I long to meet a dreamy man who loves Jesus and shares a passion for helping the hurting. I pray that this will be something in my future. I also pray that I experience motherhood, in whatever form that may be. Personally, being a foster mom is a huge desire of mine. So as I was picturing what a “day in the life” would look like- I realized recovery would still be a part of the equation. Calling my sponsor and going to meetings wasn’t going to stop when when I have a family. It can’t stop. My husband and my children will know that “She’s at a meeting,” or “She’s meeting with her sponsor today.” Recovery is something I carry with me into every aspect of life. It’s a central part of me now.
I am not defined by my alcoholism, but I am shaped by my recovery.
The thing I think I love most about being an alcoholic is that through an all-encompassing desire to find healing, I wound up in rooms with hundreds of other people who say, “Me too.” People who lead important, inspirational lives, who also decided they were sick and tired of being sick and tired. People who shared brokenness and pain, and who had allowed addiction to trump relationships. I love that on Tuesdays and Thursdays I walk into my 6:30 meeting and know the name of each person in each chair– and then if I don’t show up, I get a text inquiring of my whereabouts. I love that I’m forced to look deeper within and truly examine myself. Before I sought out treatment for alcoholism, I was addressing other issues, and I was actively seeing a therapist. But I was keeping the shallow end warm. I hadn’t even crossed into the depth of self discovery and healing that needed to happen. So I am thankful that through this disease, I have been able to open up a door to so much goodness. I love that accountability, community, and responsibility are becoming such a vital part of my life. Being in recovery means I don’t have to seek out men, alcohol, or other activities to find wholeness- because that is found in community and in intimacy with my Lord and Savior. Being in recovery means that I get to connect with strangers on an emotional level, and it means that purpose is found in me daily saying, “I am powerless, but God is powerful, and he has gifted me with another day to say ‘No!’ to emptiness, and ‘Yes!’ to His abundant love.”
So while I absolutely hate being a recovering alcoholic …I absolutely love the journey it has put me on. This is my story, and I’m actually proud of it.