My name is Britni and I have been sober since November 4, 2011. The day that I got sober was no different than any day that came before it. I didn’t have any clear bottom or any life-changing consequence that forced me to look at my life and look at my choices to make a change. I consider the decision to get sober to be a moment of grace for me– a fleeting realization that not only did I have no idea how to get up and live a functional life every day, but that I’d never known how to do that. Something in me had always felt broken, and while I’d tried everything in my power to fix it, I never could. On that day, I became willing to hand my life over to the unknown, to enter treatment, and to seek recovery.
On the outside, I’m one of the last people that anyone would expect to be an addict. I grew up in a stable, two-parent home. I have a Master’s degree and worked as a substance abuse counselor before getting sober. I was able to present myself as smart, funny, articulate, and capable. I’m a perfect example of the fact that this disease does not discriminate. Alcoholics are everywhere– we are your neighbors, your sisters, your daughters, your teachers, and your counselors. What recovery has given me is the humility to recognize that I am no different than any other alcoholic or addict, regardless of where my disease has or has not taken me.
If you had told me a little over three years ago what my life would look like today, not only would I have not believed you, but I would have scoffed that anyone could have wanted the life which I now have. My life is nothing special, really. I get up every day, I go to work, I take care of my family, and I try to make the world just a little bit better than it was yesterday. When I was drinking and using, the thought of living this life sounded like hell on Earth. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want a boring, predictable life. I lived and thrived in chaos and misery. Today I am so grateful for my quiet, wonderful life. Through recovery I have found peace and that peace has brought contentment. I no longer need to chase a drink or a high or dramatic story to distract myself from my own miserable existence.
All I ever wanted was to be okay. It was the feeling of comfort and the ability to exhale that brought me to a drink every time. The only time I felt relief was when I had a drink or a drug in my system. The only time that my skin felt like it fit was when I was intoxicated. Today I am so happy and comfortable with who I am that I no longer need to escape. I’m not always thrilled with the things that happen in my life but those things no longer rule me. I can handle the things that life sends my way with ease.
If I had known that my life could be this beautiful, maybe I would have gotten sober sooner. But maybe not. We all get here in our own time. One of the greatest gifts I’ve been given is the ability to help other people. Whether it’s reaching out a hand to an alcoholic that still suffers or working to make the world a better place and fight injustice through activism, I’ve discovered the joy of living my life with integrity. When I stopped being the center of my universe, my world (and my heart) grew 10 sizes. I didn’t get sober to become a good person. In fact, that was the last thing I wanted. But a side effect of the recovery process is that I have become someone who wants to do good for the world, and I hope I never lose that.
Getting sober was one of the hardest things I have ever done. This journey has taken me from a life of benders and dive bars to snorting lines of cocaine in the bathroom at work to being someone who is reliable, dependable, and lovable. It took being willing to face hard truths about myself in order to change who I was and how I lived my life. One of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me was to tell me that I was full of crap and tell me the truth about who I was. I see now that it was an act of love and it was the catalyst for me to be willing to make some changes about the way I lived my life. Only when the pain becomes great enough do I become willing to change.
Today I can show up to work every day, pay my bills on time, and I don’t want to die when I get out of bed. To a non-alcoholic person, that doesn’t seem very impressive. But if you’re alcoholic like me, that’s an absolute miracle.