This week's Sober Story comes from Patricia (Tricia), a 29-year-old living in South Florida.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Tricia: By the grace of God and the Fellowship, I have 3 years sober this month. June 29,2016.
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Tricia: The last few months of my drinking/drugging were the most despairing, chaotic, lonely, and hopeless months of my life. I couldn’t drink or take any amount of substance to numb the pain. I was using to feel normal and still chasing oblivion, but the relief never came. I was absent of all morality and I had one goal in mind - my next fix. It was self-induced hell.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Tricia: I would love to say that getting arrested and spending 2 days/3 nights detoxing from alcohol, opiates, and a handful of other substances, on the cold floor was it for me, but that wouldn’t be true. It was not until I was faced with the choice to voluntarily check myself into a dual diagnosis rehab or lose custody of my son, that I chose life.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was the most difficult?
Tricia: At first, I was on a pink cloud. After spending a few nights in jail, walking into treatment was like walking into a resort. When I was asked to actually do some internal work and look at the traumas of my past, that’s a different story. The wounds were too deep. My head was too messy and there was no way I was going to let my heart be vulnerable. I was a rebel without a cause. I remember trying to leave (against medical advice) and holding my family emotionally hostage. I knew my father would come to my rescue if I left treatment, so I started to venture down Federal Highway with only a suitcase in hand. I will never forget the Director of Operations calling me into his office and telling me that my son needs a mother - a sober, emotionally healed mother. That was a major turning point for me.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Tricia: Relief. I can’t speak for my family but I can only imagine there was a sense of relief knowing I was in treatment and I was safe. Once I left treatment I remember my family, and my friends, being absolutely supportive and also very cautious when speaking to me. Everyone was extremely encouraging, especially my father. I will never truly comprehend the magnitude of the harm I caused him but now I try to be the daughter he deserves each and every day.
Mrs D: How hard was it getting used to socializing sober?
Tricia: Fortunately for me, I grew up in the deep hospitable south - Georgia. I never really had a problem socially. When it came time for me to be intimate with another woman, that was a different story. I was the friend that was always giving advice to others, mostly propelled by own painful experiences. However, I didn’t want to look inside myself and deal with the guilt, shame, and pain of my own past. When I finally surrendered to letting go of my old ideas - I was freed from my personal hell.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Tricia: I’m surprised to learn that I am capable of being the woman, daughter, mother, and friend I always aspired to be. I truly believed that I would always be a self-centered, inadequate, unworthy addict. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sobriety has opened up the world to me and the opportunities are endless. As long as I continue to ask for God’s help, serve others, stay connected in the fellowship, pursue humility, and operate with grace - I am unstoppable.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Tricia: Recovery actually gave me a life. Prior to getting sober, I wasn’t living - I was inching towards death. I am able to actually live life today. I no longer live in the hopeless isolation that I once preferred. Today, I have real friends. I have mended relationships with my family. I am able to be a mother to my kids and hold the hand of another struggling woman while taking her through the steps and sharing my experience, strength, and hope.
Mrs D: Can you pinpoint any main benefits that have emerged from you from getting sober?
Tricia: I could go on for days about the benefits of getting sober, but I’ll share some of the most important. I am able to feel again. I’m grateful for the ability to be aware, process, and heal painful experiences from my past. I am able to trust and love again. I’ve always been the self-loathing victim, but not anymore. I am falling in love with myself a little more each day. I am able to show up today. I am reliable. I am compassionate and able to put myself into someone else’s shoes. I have put on a new pair of lenses and my entire perspective has changed. Slowly but surely, I am unlearning all of the unhealthy patterns of thinking and changing my less than favorable behaviors. Most importantly, I have had a complete spiritual awakening. I no longer search for substances to fill my spiritual void, but rather I seek God and accept the grace to live another day sober.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Tricia: I am truly grateful for every mistake and progress I’ve made throughout this process because it has brought me to this very moment. However, if I could go back and change anything I would have listened to the suggestions that were given to me when I first came into the Fellowship. I wouldn’t have taken half measures with my steps. I would have not jumped into a relationship so early on in my sobriety. I would’ve poured my heart and soul into this process from the very beginning.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Tricia: Trust the process. Find a Fellowship, get a sponsor, get connected, work the steps, and take the suggestions given. Be vigilant - if you’re not growing, you are dying. Remember that asking for help is never weak, it’s actually courageous. Put the past away - don’t dwell on the past, make amends, and stand boldly in truth in love. Most importantly, help other alcoholics and find gratitude always.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to share?
Tricia: Everyone’s journey through sobriety looks different. Outside of working the 12 Steps, your path is your own. Let go of the idea that you have to be perfect. This is a program of progress rather than perfection. I’ve spent a lot of time, in my sobriety, standing in my own way. After all, I have always been my biggest critic. I truly believed my process had to look like everyone else’s or I was sure to drink again. Today, I try to let go of my old ideas and I surrender to a new Higher Power and a much better way of living today.