Life is a gift and I was just so tired of wasting this gift on the disease of addiction. I am now blessed with the perk of recovery on top of the gift of life.

My name is Amy and I am a woman in long-term recovery. I am grateful today to be alive and sober. I have been blessed with the gift of sobriety and have been strong enough to not pick up a drink since June 20, 2008. That is a miracle. I was simply sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was no longer living the life I wanted or deserved. I was living the life that addiction wanted me to live. I have won this game with addiction and just for today I will continue battling it.

Being an alcoholic and addict in society can be very misleading. For those who understand it, I am just your average person who cannot drink or use responsibly. I have a disease of the body and mind. To those who do not understand it or look down on this disease, I am just an abnormal woman. What people do not understand is that sobriety is a rare gift and when given it, it shall be embraced. I am capable of living life on life’s term without the help from a substance. I can cope with life as it happens. I am just a human being who walks through life and has experiences like everyone else, but I choose to not deal with it by drinking or using. I tried once to drink responsibly after being “dry” for a little over 2 years. As a result, I went back to drinking for 4 years before returning back to recovery in 2008.  When I say “dry” instead of sober I am referring to being a “dry drunk.” I was not drinking, but I was certainly not emotionally sober either. I was not working any real type of program. I have found that sobriety, though a gift, is a process. There is no ending to it. I will never stop working on myself and I will continue to choose not to pick up a drink or drug one day at a time.

I grew up in a suburban town in Ohio and came from a well-respected family. I was blessed to have two loving parents and given the best opportunities in life. The gene of this disease seemed to never skip a generation in my family. My dad was an alcoholic who, unfortunately, had too much pride to get help. He suddenly died when I was a senior in high school, and that day was when my life really changed. I avoided the grief for many years by active addiction. I stopped living, I stopped trying so hard, I just stopped being who I truly was. I did everything my dad would not have wanted me to do. I felt lost and looked for whatever to help me find my way back.  

When I was active I was miserable. I was not living my life fully and I was dying piece by piece. I was scared of everything, I was afraid to die and I was afraid to live. I was scared to show people who I truly was in fear that I would be misjudged or misunderstood. Therefore, I chose to use drugs and alcohol as a mask and would hide from the world. I was unable to maintain responsibility. My family was always worried about me and I drove my mother sick. I ruined holidays and family gatherings.  I was a disaster.  One thing I remember is that addiction is a family disease. One person may use, but the whole family suffers. I never want to put my family through that pain again.   

After I got really bad into alcohol and drugs, I stopped loving myself. I hated myself for what I had done and what I had failed at. I resented myself for the pain I put my family through for so many years. I just was full of shame and wanted to hide. I did not want to really look at myself or know who I was as a person, it was just too difficult. I was the angry child, no one wanted to be around me, and I ruined many holidays. I would just numb my shame and guilt every time. I wanted to feel good, I wanted to feel normal. There was a point in my life when I wanted to just be with my dad in heaven. Unfortunately, I attempted and thankfully I failed. I will never forget how my mother woke me up and found me half dead on the floor, and how that has affected her.  

I was scared of living, but I was scared of dying too. My fears seemed to have multiplied when I was active in my addiction. I was scared of who I truly was and what I would find out about myself if I sobered up. I was scared of losing everything, but that still did not stop me from using for a long time. I was terrified what others would think about me if I sobered up.

I finally realized that if I wanted to live I had to give up that lifestyle. I had to surrender and ask for help.

When I entered treatment this last time I was asked to leave.  I had 3 choices.  I could go back to my old life of hell; I could go out with my new friend and celebrate Fourth of July; or I could go to another place. I chose option three and took a seven hour cab ride to the next place. That was when I realized that I truly wanted the gift of recovery. I finally realized that if I wanted to live I had to give up that lifestyle. I had to surrender and ask for help. I never realized that asking for help could be so easy. I always thought it was a sign of weakness and so I tried to help myself for so long, and we see where that got me. When I asked for help, I did not realize how much support was waiting for me out there. I had so much love and support coming my way that I did not know ever existed. It was overwhelming, but it was amazing. I finally felt safe again.  

After surrendering and asking for help, I was ready to heal and start the process of forgiveness. I was not only forgiving those who may have hurt me, but I was really starting to forgive myself. I started to let go of so much anger and shame and began to feel alive again. I was honest and willing to do whatever it took to be happy again. I was no longer prisoner to my secrets, mistakes, or lies. I was free to recreate both myself, and my life. I do not regret anything from my past because it has made me the person I am today. I am stronger and wiser because of everything I have done up to this point in my life. I have lived sadness to only know what happiness really is. Life is ironic in that way, you must experience sadness to really know and appreciate happiness.  

I have learned that life happens, sober or not. It is my choice how I live it, how I react to things, and how I move forward. Life is a gift and I was just so tired of wasting this gift on the disease of addiction. I am now blessed with the perk of recovery on top of the gift of life.

My biggest fear today is losing everything I have gained over the past 7 years. I fear relapse more than I fear anything else. I never thought my life would be so amazing like it is today. I have the confidence to achieve the goals I have set. I graduated from college with a BS in Psychology. My family trusts me again. People want to be around me. I am employable. I am responsible. I am a good mother to the best dog, a good friend, daughter, sister, aunt, employee, and just overall a good person.  

How I have remained sober has simply been following suggestions, attending 12 step meetings, working with others, being of service to others, working the 12 steps, having a higher power I choose to call God, and living one day at a time. I have committed myself to something so powerful and special, and it has given me more life than I ever imagined.

My goal is to help those suffering from addiction realize that sobriety is a rare gift and there is a choice in the matter. They no longer have to suffer or allow addiction to control their lives, that they have power over their addiction. I want to inspire them to reach for the moon and grab the stars, and achieve their goals in life. I want to help them realize they are worthy and they are loved no matter what. I hope they will let go of their own shame and misjudgment about themselves, and live a shameless life that I have been blessed with myself.