I wish people only knew that the only way to recover is to embrace, love and forgive every aspect of yourself, and that this doesn’t need to be done alone.

There is an entire chapter of writing dedicated to people like me called “They stopped in time.”  I am not someone who fits the typical alcoholic/addict profile.  I am a scholar athlete, a hard worker, a positive person, take great care of my health and never have engaged in confrontation nor been involved in an altercation.

I grew up in a loving household, my parents got divorced when I was young, but nonetheless my brother and I were loved and given the attention we needed.  My parents always did the best they could and I still consider my parents my best friends.  My dad taught me everything he could to prepare me for my future and inspires me still today.  I excelled in sports and academics in high school and college.  I also graduated college with honors.

So how could a person with no significant trauma, excuse or symptoms become an alcoholic?  I have the genetics for this disease.  My grandmother was an alcoholic and died an alcoholic death, her body was found with four loco bottles surrounding it.  My mother is an active alcoholic but she too maintains a job and is a loving, selfless woman.

When my grandmother died I knew that was the end of my drinking.  It had to be because I did not want to end up like her.  I promised on my grandmother that I would never touch another drink.  I saw what socializing in college and drinking had already done to me.

My drinking led me to dating a very verbally and physically abusive woman for two years.  Being exposed to such negativity led me into depression and ultimately hating and questioning my life.

My grandmother’s death was an awakening for me to start a new beginning.  Soon after her death I ended my unhealthy relationship, put my focus on my interests such as golf, started attending church again, and started volunteer coaching the Special Olympics.

I got sober by keeping busy with work, hobbies, God and helping others.  I was two years sober when I met my now fiancé off a dating website.  This woman I will soon call my wife introduced me to a 12-step fellowship, where she got sober and introduced me to others like us.

Her story and my story are complete opposites.  I never got into trouble because of my drinking.  I never hit an extremely low bottom and never had to experience the pain many others have had to on their journey.  I learned early from fear.  Fear of becoming like some of my family members.

We are all different. We all took different paths to get to where we are today.

Today, I live a beautiful life and I am proof that stigma’s don’t apply to many people in recovery.  We are all different.  We all took different paths to get to where we are today.  It is our journey’s that make us unique and the lessons we take that determine our future.  I am blessed to be on the path I am today and think many people use this stigma as an excuse to keep using.

People often think just by admitting they are an alcoholic or addict means that they are a bad person, and if people are going to judge them that way, they might as well just keep using.  I think that stigma’s are ridiculous and are used for many as a crutch.

I wish people knew the only way to recover is to embrace love and forgive every aspect of yourself, and this doesn’t need to be done alone.  We all were on separate paths, but now we all come together to build a better future.