I remember a little over eleven years ago feeling absolutely terrified of getting sober. I had no idea what was going to happen. I was more than willing to admit that my way of blackout drinking wasn’t working. Even though my way was killing me and causing pain to the people I loved – it was the only way I knew. I was used to it.
I know that this kind of thinking sounds absolutely crazy if you’re not a drug addict or alcoholic. Why would anyone continue to do something that has only caused harm to them and their family? Why would a rational human being repeatedly practice a behavior that would eventually kill them?
I had no other coping skills…
If you’ve ever met me you would know that I’m an excellent communicator. That’s because being in recovery has taught me to tell the people around me how I’m feeling. Whether I’m afraid, hurting, or having a bad day – recovery has shown me the right ways to share these feelings with friends and family.
In my active addiction I was utterly incapable of doing this. A drink seemed to be my only relief. I stayed closed off from the world and attempted to handle everything on my own. Just me and my bottle.
I was used to being uncomfortable…
When the only direction that you’ve ever known is down, that is the only direction you’re comfortable headed. Think for a minute about NASCAR. The race cars go 100 mph in one direction over and over again – for hours. Imagine in one moment trying to turn that car around and head 100 mph in the opposite direction. What kind of chaos would ensue?
I was that race car careening around the track. I knew that drinking wasn’t working anymore. I knew that 75% of the time there was going to be some kind of consequence to me picking up a drink or a drug. I also knew that they were consequences I could see coming. But it was the only direction I was letting myself go.
I was terrified it wouldn’t work…
I hadn’t handled an issue or problem in my life since I was a child. From adolescence on, I always used some sort of chemical to cope.
I was now being asked to trust the people and therapists surrounding me to teach me a new way to live. I was going to have to be a little vulnerable and a little less angry. What would happen if I trusted people? What if I let down my walls and it didn’t work? I hated myself enough as it was. If this new way of life didn’t take, if these life skills didn’t get me sober I was going to be letting everyone down. I already felt like complete failure. The question, “What if it doesn’t work?” haunted me.
It worked. I’m 11 years sober because of it.
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I learned that I am not as unique an individual as I would like to think I am and that what worked for the many people who came into treatment before me – worked just as wonderfully – for me.
What happened next was little by little my life began to change for the better. I was shown a new way of life in a loving, compassionate, and caring way. Today when I’m facing a challenge in my life I know what to do. I pick up my phone and talk to another person that understands.
I’m happy to say that because of learning how to use the tools I have been given I no longer feel like a failure. I feel capable and worthy of success. I am a useful member of society. I understand more and more everyday about how to negotiate life in a more productive and stable way. Trusting in recovery was the best gift that I could have ever given myself and my family.
Now, life isn’t always peaches and sunshine but I can cope with ease today. In my heart I know that there is nothing that a drink won’t make worse. Drinking is no longer my solution. Today, my solution to the stresses of life around me is simply a prayer to my higher power.
So anyway, if you are scared like I was – it’s OK. I get it.
I promise that everyone in treatment right now and those who have been sober for years are and were just like you.
Oh yeah – let me introduce myself. My name is Rebecca and if you happen to call our hotline, I just might be the one who takes your call. I thought you might like to know a little bit about the person on the other end of the line.
I’m just like you. Only I’m on the other side. Let me take your hand and walk you through the fire.
It’s beautiful over here.
Don’t be afraid to reach out – you never know how amazing it can be.