If I’ve learned anything in this life, it’s that you have to get in enough pain to change. That’s what happened to me two years ago today.
I spent the majority of my existence feeling like something was missing. Something was always off with me. I never felt good enough and I was always reaching outside of myself to fill the aching pain in my soul.
When I was 13 years old, that changed for me. That feeling of uselessness and emptiness vanished because I found what would become my best friend. My first drink was a shot of whiskey. I remember like it was yesterday. I felt the poisonous liquid burn it’s way down my throat and soon enough that became my favorite feeling because I knew all of the bad would soon be gone.
After that first shot of whiskey, I had another and spent the rest of the night obsessing about how I was going to get another and another and another. Alcohol was the first thing that allowed me to breath. It clouded my mind and all the monkey chatter disappeared and it made me feel like life was worth living because I didn’t have to be me anymore.
I didn’t know that how I drank was alcoholic for a long time. I never have been tipsy in my life because when I drank it’s not just to take the edge off. I drank to get fucked up– to get obliterated. I drank to exit reality.
When I was 18 years old I moved to San Francisco and I shortly realized that my drinking was going to be a problem but I didn’t care. I became so disconnected from myself I barely remember two years of my life. There started to be consequences to my drinking and I started doing things my kid self swore I would never do. My life became a mess and although I was functioning, I was actually dying.
Towards the end of my drinking days, I literally couldn’t face the day without getting intoxicated. When my alarm would ring for to me to get up for work, I would lay there and stare at the ceiling and try to come up with one reason worthy enough for me to suit up and show up for life. The only reason that could get me out of bed was to get loaded. I cannot describe how miserable that felt.
The last night I drank, I whole heartily planned on not drinking that night. I knew my drinking was getting so bad that I didn’t even want to do it in public anymore. But shortly into that night, I got offered a shot of vodka and didn’t have any defense against that first drink.
I ended up having over 30 shots of hard liquor that night. I blacked out and shockingly was alive. I woke up the next morning and could barely make my way to the bathroom. Once I got there, I looked in the mirror and had no idea who that girl was. I started to cry at the sight of who I had become and I heard a voice in my head say “If you don’t get sober, you’re going to die”
That day I reached out and got help. I can’t fully explain how I’ve managed to stay sober from then until now. The only explanation I have is divine intervention. Something bigger than me got me to where I am today.
I wanted to clean up my life, to have a chance at happiness and to somehow to do that sober. So in order to get something I never had, I had to do a lot of things I had never done. I was in so much pain emotionally that I was willing to do whatever it took to not feel that way anymore. I thought maybe I could find some quick fix to all this madness but what I’ve learned is that being an alcoholic demands me to work on myself everyday for the rest of my life. I have a disease of the mind and of the body. I have a reaction to alcohol that causes me to crave it and with that then comes a mental obsession. It’s fatal and I have to treat it that way.
What got me sober and what keeps sober is enlarging my spiritual life. I had to accept that I was powerless over alcohol. I had to become willing to turn my life over to a higher power of my understanding. I had to take responsibility for the wrongs I had done in my life and to forgive the wrongs that were done to me. I had to look closely at my defeats of character and put work and effort into improving those faults. I had to make my wrongs right with the people I hurt. I had to learn how to meditate and pray and find that connection with my higher power and lastly, I had to continue to pass what was freely given to me onto the next person who was suffering. These simple concepts truly changed my life and through a spiritual awakening, my alcoholism remains in remission and my obsession to drink is lifted for today.
Sobriety didn’t and doesn’t solve all of my problems but it’s allowed me to develop tools and relationships that help me face life without killing myself through my disease. Sometimes, during painful times, being sober feels like going into surgery without any anesthesia– you feel everything and it hurts like a bitch. I lost an uncle in sobriety, I’ve watched my fellows nearly die of this disease in sobriety, my best friend Oliver passed away in sobriety , I got my heart broken in sobriety and there have been days where I have been so defeated and depressed that I sleep my life away in sobriety. But I got through all of that without a single drop of substance.
Two years. I cannot believe that I’ve been sober for two years. I am truly humbled by the gift that my fatal disease has given me. I have amazing people who surround me on a daily basis, I have a job that makes my life worth something, I live in one of the coolest cities in the world, I am getting an education in the field of helping others, and everyday I have more than a million things to feel grateful for. Everyday isn’t perfect and I am certainly not perfect but I have so much. I am overwhelmed with what these two years have brought me and even in the darkest times, I have my sobriety.
If you’re suffering from substance abuse, I want you to know that you’re not alone and that I understand the vacancy you feel throughout your entire being. I know what it feels like to want to die and to have your faith in life shattered on a daily basis by those mean voices in your head. I know what it’s like to want to give up and to reach the darkest bottoms of life. What I discovered is that my rock bottom was a beautiful start to my life today.