I am fortunate enough to say that I have sustained recovery from alcohol addiction since November 30, 2013. It took a lot to find the strength, as small as a mustard seed, and come to the terms that I was an alcoholic, and that I could not do this on my own like I thought I could. Although the pain I had endured was astronomical, I am still amazed that through great suffering, I have become so spiritually in tune with life, love, and faith in all its’ forms.
As a result of my use, my spleen burst due to my pancreas being so inflamed. I had only hours left to live and needed 46 blood transfusions. I spent three weeks in the Intensive Care Unit with doctors saying that the chances of me living were very slim. I made it out only to be back at it again after two weeks of being sober. At that point in my life I had lost all hope. I didn’t care.
I was to move out of my mother’s house into my sister’s house on November 29th 2013. As I was unpacking, my sister had seen a bottle of Vodka. The look on her face was a look I hope I never see again. She was heartbroken. Disappointment doesn’t even give her look justice. She saw right through me. I’ve never felt so ashamed. It was time to make a change. I didn’t know how to stop and I clearly could not do it on my own.
I went into a painful detox at our local hospital. I spent 6 days there. I do not remember much. All I do remember is hallucinating. Still to this day, I don’t know what was real or what was not. I do remember a social worker that was helping me and my family find an inpatient rehabilitation center. After 6 days of detoxing at the hospital, I was able to leave with my father. I was to leave for inpatient rehab for 28 days.
I was sick to my stomach thinking about how I could go without alcohol for that long. I was so terrified of what might happen to me while I was in there. I remember when it was time for my father to say goodbye. Even though I was so sad and afraid and did not want him to leave, I gave him a hug, and said“Thank You.” I didn’t think right away that I was in the right place or that this was a good thing. I thought the worst of it at first. I thought it was not going to last. What will happen when I get out?
After my first 3 days in rehab, I started to realize how sick I actually was. I was in this place with raw emotions. I saw things and heard things that changed me forever. It is amazing what grew between my roommates, my women’s group, and I. We all started to learn about ourselves again. We got down to the stuff we didn’t want ANYONE to know, not even ourselves. The numb feelings that we all had hidden from for years were out.
I started to breathe in a new air. I started to glow and had a fire about me again. I felt it from the inside. The longer I was there the better I became. I felt free. I was finally safe and it was ok to just focus on myself. All issues from the outside world disappeared. It was truly the best thing I had ever done for myself in my life. Getting my certificate at the end of my 28 days and speaking in front of those I’ve lived with for a month was such a revitalizing moment of joy, love, and compassion
I now continue my recovery by sharing my story in meetings, as well as speaking in rehabs where it all started for me. Going to rehabs keeps me humble. It reminds me where I came from and how far I have come. I have a 12’’ scar on my stomach. You can still see where the staples where. I have some on my neck from all the pic lines and holes where they needed access to my main arteries. I see these scars every day and it fills me with pride because I fought for my life and I won. I constantly remind myself of the strength I’ve gained through recovery.
My goal is to reach out and tell my story to give hope to those that are still sick and suffering. I was nearly dead, but I had to dig deep enough to find the smallest amount of faith in myself that I could do this. I let others know that recovery is possible for all who want it. You have to do it for you and no one else. It is a time to be completely selfish and work through some deep-rooted issues. You have to be honest with yourself. You come first.
I am very proud of my achievements in recovery. I will volunteer in humility and tell my story without an ounce of shame. I’ve learned that you can do anything you want to. The pain I went through was worth the happiness that I have today. I can be the aunt to my niece, a daughter to my parents, and the sister to my siblings. Most of all I can be honest with myself and finally look in the mirror and see a bright-eyed happy woman I have become. Before I saw nothing. An empty gaze. Just nothing.
I decided to join I Am Not Anonymous because I wanted to be among some of the strongest people in the world. We have all overcome. It is our job to let others know recovery can be theirs as well. I choose to be open and raw about my recovery. This helps me every day to be honest with myself and to others to keep me on the right path.
My journey from recovery is far from being over. It has only begun. And the people I meet along the way join me in my walk. We help each other in one way or another. Together, we can save lives. I am forever grateful for the life I have been living and I will never regret my past. I am who I am. I am just like you. I have acceptance and peace within me.
I hope that others will find their own strength and rise above. You are all amazing.
I chose the Butterfly for my symbol of strength. Its means a new life, a transition from one form to another. A butterfly must never be helped out of its cocoon; it needs to build strength so it may fly. May we help others find their own strength within to fly free from addiction.