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I Think I’m An Alcoholic

“I think I’m an alcoholic”

Those words came out of my mouth in 2015 when speaking to a close friend of mine. I came to her afraid that I had a problem with drinking. I knew I was abusing alcohol to cope with anxiety/depression/sadness/anger. It took a few more years between the thoughts like, “maybe there’s a problem with how I drink” to “I can’t drink because I don’t know how to stop”. I was not exempt from addiction just because I was high functioning.

I am grateful my rock bottom wasn’t so low

I drank to celebrate happy times… I drank to celebrate holidays… I drank when I had hard days at work… I drank when mothering was tiring and felt that I “deserved” that bottle of wine when my daughter went to bed. I gave myself excuses to drink all. the. time.

I cannot tell you where and when the line was crossed with alcohol. I justified how I drank because I didn’t fit the “alcoholic” mold our society underhandedly shoves down our throats. I have a healthy marriage and a beautiful daughter who is loved so much. I didn’t allow my performance at work to be affected (well that one time I called out because I was so hungover).

I had a friend who just celebrated six years of recovery from alcohol and when she spoke at an AA meeting, she said, “I didn’t lose anything from drinking so much… just my soul.” That statement knocked the wind out of me because it was exactly what happened to me! In such a short amount of time, I sabotaged my soul by binge drinking and numbing out from life.

It wasn’t until two years after my realization that I decided to finally throw in the towel and quit drinking. During those two years of still actively drinking and knowing it was making my life worse, I tried to scale back on the booze but failed. I took two week breaks from wine and beer just to make sure I could; however, I was a bear to be around when I took those breaks. I knew deep down I had to stop all together and face the reasons why I wanted to be numb all the time.

Once I understood that I had to quit drinking for good, I quietly put the bottle(s) down. I didn’t make a big announcement to anyone in fear that I wouldn’t be able to succeed in stopping. With each passing week, I became less quiet about quitting and more confident that I could defeat the addiction.

As I approach 6 months in recovery, I am certain that life looks and feels a lot better without booze in it. I still question whether I am really a true alcoholic because I was high functioning and not physically addicted. The more I learn about the recovery world, I think we all have those questions when we piece together enough time without alcohol. When I question my relationship with alcohol, I don’t look to my past for answers. I look at my present life. I look at my relationship with myself, and it is so much healthier. I look at my continuously supportive husband and my daughter and know our connections are thriving because I am being authentic. Everything has changed within me in such a short amount of time. Am I an alcoholic? It doesn’t matter if I am or not. I am not trading in who I am anymore for a bottle of Pinot Noir.

Tools for Recovery

The tools we seek during the healing and recovery process has everything to do with how successful we are in sobriety. In the last few years of my active drinking, I felt unhappy and depressed with where my life was. Self medicating and numbing the feelings became the norm instead of actually dealing with why I felt sad. When I started realizing how unhealthy it was to escape the real world by binge drinking,  I wanted to change but didn’t know how.  I spent time researching what recovering addicts and alcoholics used to stay strong in recovery. More importantly, I wanted to know if life could be fulfilling and fun without booze.

I started to realize people in recovery can cope with the ebb and flow of life by seeking out healthier coping skills and resources. I began to accumulate tools to put in my recovery toolbox prior to quitting, so I could learn how to deal with the inevitable stresses life brings. The first tool I found was in the form of a podcast. I was getting ready for work on Monday morning and having the toxic inner dialog I always had at the start of the week. The weekends were spent binge drinking and by Monday morning, the shame and anxiety I felt came spewing over. While searching for some sort of resolve, I searched “alcoholism” in my podcast app so I could listen to something helpful while getting ready. The first podcast that came up in the search was the Shair (sharing helps addicts in recovery) Podcast. I downloaded and listened. Then I binged on all episodes available. I was hooked! Omar Pinto, the host, has a guest each week who is in the recovery world. The guest talks about how they were introduced to drugs and alcohol and the wreckage it caused, how they hit rock bottom and what their life looks like in recovery today.

One of the first interviews I listened to was a wife/mom who was addicted to alcohol and almost lost her life to the disease. Listening to her talk about her years of being sick then finally getting better, something clicked in me. For years, I have been uncomfortable with how much I drank, yet never felt like there was an option to quit. It was in that moment, I visualized my life without the anxiety and depression that alcohol brings.  In her story, relationships have changed for the better because of sobriety, especially the relationship with herself.

Listening to her story was the first time I realized I can have an even better and more fulfilling life without alcohol. Listening to stories about addiction and recovery became an essential tool in my tool box. The relationships I had with the important people in my life had the chance to grow even deeper. I had the power to change anytime I wanted to. I listened to Omar’s podcasts for over a year before I made the decision to quit drinking. Each episode I devoured was one step closer to joining the sober community.

If you would like to listen to Omar’s show, The Shair Podcast, go to your podcast app and search “Shair”. There is also a private accountability group on Facebook called “SHAIR Podcast – Addiction Recovery Group”. It’s a wonderful online forum for people in recovery or seeking a community of recovery.

The Shair Podcast
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