This morning the Today show aired an interview with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor about moms who use alcohol to cope with stress and anxiety. I had a lump in my throat as I watched the piece, knowing the impact it would have had on me back when I was starting to notice a terrifying momentum in my nightly wine ritual. It was becoming clear to me that I was losing control as one red flag after another waved – rotating stores because I felt ashamed of how much alcohol I bought; uneasiness about the recycling bin; stashing bottles out of view; cancelling plans so I could spend more time alone (sipping); vowing I’d cut back or quit and failing time after time.
If you are seeking today, I welcome you to this blog and to the online recovery community. My story is one of quitting while I was ahead, before anyone even knew that I had developed an addiction to alcohol. I saw I was losing control and realized that if I continued, things would get worse, then embarrassing, then downright bad. Soon there would be no hiding it. Soon it would not be my choice any more. I had heard that alcoholics have to hit rock bottom before they can get sober, and I did not want to find out what rock bottom might look like for me. Suddenly that whole concept seems utterly ridiculous, like saying “You can’t go on a diet unless you have become morbidly obese.” Screw rock bottom – I just quit, very quietly and very much on my own.
Now, three years later I am still gratefully sober and recovery is still a surprising amount of work. I thought that by now I would be “fixed” and possibly could even start to moderate (that is, drink a little now and then – I don’t, by the way). I originally thought that 12 step programs that say “alcoholism is forever” were playing it a little heavyhandedly but I was way wrong about that. I also thought it would suck and be awfully boring to never drink again but really I feel great and pleased with my life now. Alcohol addiction alters the brain permanently – the neurological changes can’t be reversed so we live with the condition by avoiding alcohol for life. Recovery consists of more than just “not drinking” – it involves a lot of introspection to uncover and change the reasons WHY we drank in the first place. And now THAT is a big job, and a worthwhile change to pursue.
If you read through my blog entries, you will learn my story. But that is just the beginning. Please, please read the comments – they are an amazing resource and so insightful (except for the weird guy that recently comment “Bullshit” on a few posts – not sure what his deal was).
I don’t have all the answers, and don’t pretend to have them. I am a little further on the road, waving you forward and (hopefully!) welcoming you to the start of your journey.
There are many pathways to recovery – many people “self-manage” recovery as I have done, without joining a program or attending meetings. Many go traditional routes with great success, and more an more alternative programs are available. Pick a path, any path, and start walking. If you realize it’s not for you, try a different way. Many of us become accustomed to isolating and hiding while we are drinking, and fear reaching out for help to get sober. I urge you to reach out – start with a comment here or on a discussion board like the BFB (above). Go to a meeting and just observe. Call someone you know is sober and ask if they are glad they quit drinking, if they might share about their journey.
The relief you feel will blow you away and you will never meet a kinder, less judgmental group than your fellow recoverees.