This week’s Sober Story is from Crystal, a 37-year-old from South Florida.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Crystal: I have been clean a little over three years now. I have been in and out of recovery for the last 6 years though.
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Crystal: The last few months of my drinking were the darkest time of my life. I was so lost in my addiction, and in life. My anxiety and depression were the worst they had ever been. I was lost in emotional, spiritual, and physical pain and didn’t know how to ask for help. I was in and out hospitals and psych wards several times, and had pushed all of my family and friends away. I was very sick, and very alone by my own doing. I couldn’t stop drinking on my own and that’s when I attempted to take my own life. I thank God everyday that I was not successful and am alive today. My parents helped me get into treatment where I stayed for two months. When I got out I dove head first into AA and working my steps with a sponsor.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Crystal: The final straw for me is when I tried to commit suicide and realized how many people I was hurting, and how selfish I had been. This was definitely my emotional bottom that brought me to my knees, and I just could not continue living the way I was.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Crystal: I am not going to lie, my first ninety days of sobriety were very difficult for me. I had isolated myself so much for so long in my active addiction that I did not know how to live life sober. I had a lot of guilt and shame over the things I had done and it took a long time for me to forgive myself. Being in treatment for two months there was a lot of intense work that was done but I was removed from the outside world. When I got out of treatment it was a huge adjustment – moving into a halfway house, connecting with others in the program and getting plugged in, and starting a new job. It was definitely an adjustment but it got easier every day.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Crystal: The reaction I had from my family and friends when I first got sober was supportive, but cautious. I had attempted to get sober many times before, and actually had two and a half years clean at one point. I had told them many times before that I was done and promised them over and over I would stay clean, and didn’t. They wanted to believe me but they needed to see the action behind my words.
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Crystal: Relapse is a huge part in my recovery process! The first time I got sober I stayed clean for two and a half years and was convinced I was a “white chip wonder”. This means you have only picked up one white chip in your life, have long term sobriety, and have never relapsed. Unfortunately I was disillusioned and thought that after a year of sobriety and working a program I was “cured” and didn’t have to continue doing much but attend a few meetings a week. After about eight months of this I stopped going to meetings completely or being around my sober support. I hung on for about another six months but was completely miserable and inevitably relapsed. For the next three years I struggled to get sober and could not get more than sixty days clean.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Crystal: It took about ninety days for me to start feeling emotionally and physically stable. At this time I returned to working full time, and going to the gym. After about a year clean was really when I felt like things had calmed down for me emotionally and physically.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socialising sober?
Crystal: When you are new in recovery they say you have to change people, places, and things. It was really important for me to form new friendships and relationships with other people in recovery. I had to give up my “using buddies” and stay away from places that I had used. Avoiding bars or places where there was drinking was really important for me in early recovery. After about a year I was able to go to but always took sober support with me. I also always make sure I bring my own car or make sure I have a way to leave if I am in a position that jeopardises my sobriety. Socialising in sobriety is amazing, and the best part is you will remember everything that happened the next morning!
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Crystal: I learned that I am really funny! My true self and personality started to emerge the longer I stayed sober. I was surprised to learn how silly and funny I was!
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Crystal: My life has changed in so many ways! I have a great relationship with my family and friends. I have been in a loving and supportive relationship with a man who is also in recovery. I am now able to help others in recovery with my experience, strength and hope. That has the greatest gift and privilege I have ever had in my life!
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Crystal: The main benefits that have emerged from me getting sober are the peace I have in mind, body, and spirit. I am able to show up for others, and extend a hand to other addicts and alcoholics. I have saved myself and everyone in my life from the pain I caused in my in my addictive addiction and am able to make a living amends to them every day I am sober.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Crystal: At this point I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and that everything that has happened led me to where I am today. I wouldn’t change any of it!
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Crystal: Make sure your home or where you are living is a safe environment free from any mood or mind altering substances. To give yourself a chance! Relapse is a huge part of my story, and you can never give up! Be good to yourself in early recovery. It is not easy, but it so worth it!
Mrs D: Anything else you’d like to share?
Never give up on yourself no matter how many times you fall down! Brush yourself off and continue fighting for your life! Be good to yourself and I promise it will get easier!