I am here to serve as an educator, to be a beacon of light and hope for those that struggle with this disease.

Today I have come to accept that for a variety of different reasons perhaps both fortunate and unfortunate I have a disease called addiction. I can say that with my head held high today but that was not the case 12 years ago.

Active addiction tore me down to a shell of a person. I was filled with guilt and shame but recovery has released me from the bondage and blessed me with the opportunity to be a beautiful, dignified sober woman just as God intended me to be.

Initially, I felt as if I was an outsider looking in…. I watched from a distance as the people around me were moving forward with their life. My friends and colleagues had either learned how to live life without the influence of drugs or alcohol or did not have a problem.  That was not my life. I always felt different than others…. I felt like I must be a bad person and throughout my active addiction I was completely paralyzed by the fear of asking for help. I was too embarrassed to admit that I was alcoholic. How could I live with that label??? How could I live with the stigma???

I knew as far back as college that I had a problem with drinking. I was a blackout drinker and once I started I could not stop. I lost sight of any and all moral values I had when I drank. I would engage in shameful behavior that crushed my spirit day after day, which left me with an enormous hole in my soul that I could not fill. As my disease progressed I started to hurt the people I loved and cared about the most until I could not live with the person I had become.  On October 15, 2003 I knew that I could not continue living like this and by the grace of God, the right people surrounded me and offered me the support I needed. I entered treatment that day and risked stepping into the guilt, shame and fear that had held me hostage for so long and I surrendered.  I will never forget the powerful words that were shared with me that day “you never have to feel this way again”

Today, I understand that I was not a bad person but instead a good person with a disease. Today, I love the person I am and I know that I have a purpose.  I am here to serve as an educator, to be a beacon of light and hope for those that struggle with this disease.  I work in the field and help those that need to get help to find their way by working with their families. There are 23 million people living in recovery and each and every person that struggles with this disease deserves that opportunity. Each and every person afflicted with this disease is someone’s mother, father, son, daughter, wife or husband and they are worth it!!  We need to come out of the shadows and look at addiction for what it is…. a DISEASE not a moral failing or a reflection of one’s will or choice.

I am Holly Carroll, I am a person in long term recovery and I am NOT anonymous.