My name is Magz Shores and I am a person in long-term recovery, which for me means I have not used alcohol since April 2008. I like to declare that upfront, because at the end of my addiction, I could not imagine that sobriety was ever going to be possible for me.
Every time I share that I am a recovering alcoholic with someone that is not in recovery, it is always in hopes that I may change their perception if they have a negative one, or that I might be the person that they will feel comfortable enough to ask for help if needed. Many people continue to believe that addiction is a character flaw or a weakness in a person. They may believe that the alcoholic simply cannot hold their booze and should just stop, but it is not that simple. A huge part of the disease is the inability to stop using despite the negative consequences.
I struggled for many years to manage my addiction but not knowing that I actually had a disease, it proved to be extremely difficult. Just like "normal" people, I could not comprehend the power of the it, and I found myself puzzled by its controlling nature. I know that if I was not under its influence, I would have never come to a point where my child would end up in foster care because I was an unfit mother. This did not make any sense to me either - how could I have chosen alcohol over my child!? A "normal" person would have never found themselves in this situation, and if they did, they would, at that moment, quit using, cold turkey. But not me. I drank another four years and despite many other, serious consequences, I still could not stop drinking.
Was this my choice? No, it was not! Did I want to quit? Hell yeah! Every. Single. Day. I swore that I would never, ever drink again; and every single day. I drank again.
The idea of possibly being an alcoholic was extremely difficult to accept for me, especially since my biological mom was an alcoholic and my family disowned her when I was only four years old. Not understanding the disease of alcoholism, and confused about what made my mom choose drinking over taking care of me, I held the same stigma toward her as my family did. Her choice did not make sense to me, because as mothers we are supposed to be the rocks of the family - we are the nurturers and the peacekeepers, the tear wipers, and the scrape healers - but we are not supposed to be alcoholics!
Which in turn made the decision to quit drinking a huge challenge, because by getting sober I would be admitting that I had a problem. I was also petrified of the judgement that I thought I would receive, just like my mom did. So I was petrified to ask for help! I was petrified to step my foot in a meeting, I was petrified to go to a rehab, and I was petrified of telling anyone anything pertaining to my alcoholism and/or recovery. In those days I did not feel like getting sober was an amazing decision, instead I felt lots of shame and embarrassment and I did not want to be an alcoholic like my mother. Admitting that I had a problem and needed help was extremely overwhelming.
Early in recovery, I longed for acceptance from my family, friends, and society. I wanted to be able to share my struggles and challenges, as well as the amazing changes in my life that recovery was bringing. Yet, I felt that I was not able to share those moments because I was scared of the negative judgement that I would possibly have to face.
But, I wish I had felt differently back then. I wish that maybe instead of holding on to my shame I could have been looking at this as any other disease and thinking, “I am sick, I need help.” I wish I did not have to feel like I had to hide my recovery too. I wish someone had told me that the journey to sobriety was courageous and empowering! I wish I knew that there were people out there who cared, and would support me, and cheer me on, every step of the way.
Recovery has changed my life dramatically.
Getting sober allowed me to go back to school and complete four IT certifications. It also gave me the opportunity to get a great job with benefits and a bright future. Sobriety also freed me from my dark and lonely apartment, out into the world where I could meet people, make friends, and fall in love. It allowed me to have a sober wedding, and two more beautiful kids and many anniversaries and birthdays to celebrate. Sobriety gave me the ability to regain custody of my daughter, and gave me the opportunity to co-parent her with her father.
My birthdays, holidays and even the normal days are no longer spent locked in my dark apartment, in a depressed and hopeless state! Instead, they are filled with the greatest moments spent with family and friends, bursting with many warm memories that I will cherish forever.
To this day, I believe that every day I do not take a drink is a miracle, because looking back, it is hard to believe that I am sober today. This was a difficult and scary journey, but I do not regret any moment of it. It has shaped me into the person that I am today, and sobriety has given me a second chance at life.
Therefore, I think it is very important to deliver the message that recovery is attainable no matter how far down you have fallen! My hope is that no suffering addict will ever feel alone, hopeless and stigmatized. I would like for people to understand that addiction is a disease and see that recovery is as amazing as running a marathon, or climbing a mountain. And I believe that it definitely comes from all of us people in recovery, not being ashamed and hiding, but instead being proud, bold and loud!
We can and do recover!