When I first knew I had to get help with alcohol, I was scared to death.
My doctor and I agreed that I would try “dry January” and give my anxiety meds a chance to work. We had a follow-up appointment scheduled for exactly four weeks.
I couldn’t make it three days.
I remember pouring the glass of wine, almost in tears because I did not want to drink it. I did not want to drink; I had to drink. I knew exactly what that mechanism was, and I was terrified. I was terrified because I felt alone.
Who else in my life could understand this or believe it for that matter?
Who could I tell?
Who would take me seriously?
I did not have anyone I could share those dark feelings with—not even my husband. I felt like he would just talk me down off the ledge like he had done so many times before. Out of love, he would do his best to calm my fears, tell me I wasn’t “that” bad, compare me to other friends who drank like I did, and comfort me back to denial aiding me to avoid the reality that I knew in my gut was true: I was addicted to alcohol.
The very first thing that my doctor did was put me in touch with another mom my age, who had quit drinking a year before. He mentioned that we had similar stories. He gave me her number and told me to call her. It took me four days to pick up the phone.
What I learned on that call was that “shame dies when you tell your story in safe places.”
When we shine a light on our experience and we share our truth with someone who understands, it feels like the weight of the world comes off our back.
I felt like I loved this woman after I got off the phone with her. Its almost like she knew what I was going to say before I said it. She knew exactly what I was feeling. She let me cry and I felt a sense of relief that I will never forget.
We made plans to meet up and go to an all women’s AA meeting together three days later. I was still scared, but now I was a little excited too.
I couldn’t wait to meet her and see what she was like in person. Turned out she looked just like me—like another 43-year-old mom. The only difference was, I knew that she was sober. That day, I met my first sober friend.
The “we” in recovery is so incredibly important. It is the reason I created my Facebook page and love running it. It’s a place for me to be what my first sober friend was to me: daily inspiration and support within a pro-sobriety community.
Alcohol is everywhere, and people drinking are always around me. Sometimes it can feel like I am an orange in a basket full of apples. Nothing wrong with apples; I just need to be with other oranges sometimes. Oranges are my people.
There is no better feeling than to describe a craving and have someone else nod and say, “Yup, I know exactly how you feel!” Even my own mother can have empathy for me, but she will never know what it feels like to have a craving for alcohol that feels as if you’re going to come out of your own skin and scream.
“The opposite of addiction,” as Johann Hari says in his TED Talk, “is not sobriety; it is connection.”
We are all different ages and come from all walks of life. Our stories are different, our recovery paths are unique to us, but we are all connected by an invisible string.
That connection gives me strength and confidence that I get to take with me wherever I go. I am never alone.
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