Today, I celebrate eight years of continuous sobriety. I'm happy to be in long-term recovery. Those are statements of pride, not shame.
Some have actually asked me before: why do you keep celebrating each year? If this is your lifestyle now, then why do you observe these anniversaries? And maybe a bigger question is why do we celebrate recovery when maybe we shouldn't have become addicts/alcoholics in the first place? If so many people can drink normally or never use "harder" drugs, then why should we pat ourselves on the back because we failed at doing the former?
BECAUSE WE SAVED OUR LIVES. WE TURNED THEM AROUND. AND NOW WE HELP OTHERS.
In the SinceRightNow podcast episode that the KLENandSOBR guys did with Sarah Hepola, author of Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, Ms. Hepola really struck a chord with me. She alluded to responsibility in addiction; part of which is ours (addicts/alcoholics) in the choices we make, and part of which is out of our control entirely. I, and so many of you/us (although I certainly can't speak for all) have a brain chemical imbalance that gives me a pre-disposition to addictive behavior. Add to that social anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, panic attacks, and I become a walking, talking recipe for disaster. Blackouts/brownouts come a lot easier when you have a predisposition to said behavior, and if you're a woman, have skipped meals, aren't on the tall end of the height spectrum, and have light colored eyes (this is a thing, apparently), then good luck!
I'm not going to tell someone to how to drink. To get sober. To do this or that. It's frankly none of my business. But I *can* be an inspiration to those struggling or living in recovery through my actions, not just words. I celebrate because eight years ago, I could have died. Or been raped. Or gone missing. But instead, for whatever reason, I came out of a harrowing set of circumstances with an honest-to-God resolve to change. Maybe my first hospitalization should have shaken me to the core. And it did. And yes, I said "never again!" And I meant it. And and and. But I just wasn't ready.
I was shaking and sweating and scared out of my mind, but I reached out for help.
Today, I'm a better daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, ME than I was before getting sober. It certainly didn't happen overnight; more like a glacial-watching-a-second-hand-of-a-clock pace of small, baby steps in the right direction.
Recovery isn't for everyone. But for those who are on this path with me, thank you. From the bottom of my heart (and from the top, sides, and middle). I'm grateful to call myself an alcoholic or a substance abuser or whatever you'd describe for someone like me. Because the path I was on led me to where I am today.