Living Beyond my wildest dreams….
At almost 8 years sober, I have everything I’ve ever dreamed of in my life. I’m married to an amazing man, we have a beautiful home in a safe family neighborhood, and we’re getting ready to welcome our first baby into the world anyday now! I will have the amazing blessing of staying home with our little girl for a while to embrace all the joy and soak her up! Life couldn’t be more exciting right now. Almost 8 years ago, I longed for these dreams to come true in my life. I was raised in a loving family with parents who provided everything we needed, yet, I was born with the disease of alcoholism. As I became a teen, drinking and using drugs became one of my coping strategies. As did acting out with men and obsessively trying to control my weight and food addiction. After years of partying and crazy adventures, the fun slowly got replaced with misery, self hate and loneliness. The life I so desperately wanted, seemed far from my reach. I wanted more than anything to “drink like a lady,” maintain a healthy body weight without obsessing about food and exercise, love myself, and most of all, I wanted a family. I couldn’t understand why I was unable to accomplish these goals. Day after day, I did the same thing over and over, driving me down further into insanity. I thought I was doing things differently. I would come up with a new idea to try and control the alcohol, food addiction and acting out with men but by the end of the day, I’d always end up in a pit of despair having a achieved the same miserable results. As many of my friends got married and started families, I began to feel more and more isolated and depressed. My big fun party life had turned into a few select people who still drank like I did. We rarely had the money to go out so many nights were spent sitting on my back porch getting drunk with a small group of people. Most of the time I was concocting schemes to improve my life while sitting there getting drunk like “I need to train for a marathon!” That’ll help me lose weight, control my food, meet the right kind of men in a training group and I won’t be able to drink like this. Then a Saturday morning training run will have come and went that I was too hungover to attend.
Or I thought “I should start Internet dating!” Then I’ll meet the right guy which will encourage me to maintain my weight and drink less. All of these ideas would fail quickly and I’d be right back to where I started….depressed and alone. My life felt out of control. I had no idea there was another way to live.
In September of 2008, I went to the beach with some girlfriends. We went out partying and I had the excitement and anticipation I always had when we left the house. “Tonight I’ll meet the right guy and we’ll live happily ever after and all my problems will be solved!” As always, I very quickly got so intoxicated that I could barely walk. When it was time to leave the bar, I found two men to walk me home with my friends. One guy was on each side of me attempting to hold me up as we walked. I tripped over my own feet and fell face first into the sidewalk. My arms were behind me wrapped around the guys arms and I landed directly on my face. As I picked up my head and saw all the pieces of my front teeth all over the sidewalk, I knew “this had to stop.” Step zero.
I had no idea how drastically life would change after that moment. I asked my parents to find me a rehab and I was admitted 5 days later. In the meantime, my mom took me to my first AA meetings. I was amazed at how openly people talked about their struggles and as I read the big book for the first time, I realized this was a disease and I had it bad!
I spent 30 days in rehab and that was a real eye opener. I consider myself very lucky to have had this experience because it got me away from my old drinking buddies and gave me a chance to learn more about myself. While I was in there, the counselors warned me that my sex and love addiction would be a big hurdle for me and that if I didn’t get help in that area too, I’d end up using again.
When I was in rehab, I watched people “graduate” and leave feeling hopeful and ready to do this recovery but then within a few days, some of them would return looking like they had been beaten down. I developed a healthy fear of this disease and realized that if I didn’t follow the directions others gave me, I wouldn’t make it. So I made some big changes right when I came out. I asked my best friend to move out of my house because while we had been friends since middle school, she was also my drinking buddy and I knew I couldn’t stay sober with her around. I also told all my drinking friends that I needed some time apart from them. I immediately started therapy, went to several meetings a day and found a sponsor and started working the steps. Having no friends around really encouraged me to embrace AA fully. When people went out after meetings for dinner or coffee, I went even though I was terrified. I shared how I was feeling and I also joined a therapy group and participated in an aftercare program at my rehab.
I started trying to pray and see what this God thing was all about. I quickly found comfort in prayer and knowing that God was with me always. I was also amazed at how I would pray about a situation that I didn’t know how to handle and God would make the right decision clear to me at the right time. I was and still am amazed at how God works!
Working with my sponsor and working the steps helped a ton too because I got to know myself better. I realized how dependent I was on men, alcohol and drugs. I also started attending Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meetings and working the steps in that program which helped me learn more about sex and love addiction. It also helped me connect with other women who were recovering from the same disease. Again, sponsorship and stepwork in the SLAA program helped me learn about my patterns and the illness and start to love a different way.
My life grew more and more as I kept at this recovery. I made lots of friends and improved my relationships with my family. Being sober was scary and new for a long time but it was also so comforting and exciting to be living a new way of life. I knew God had big plans for me and I was right!
I had the awesome opportunity to go back to school and get my masters degree in early childhood special education. I was then finally able to become a teacher like I had always wanted to do. It was hard work and I know I wouldn’t have gotten through it if I hadn’t been sober.
When I was almost 1 year sober, I quit smoking and quickly saw my food addiction get out of control yet again so I sought help in Overeaters Anonymous. Thank God there are so many 12 step programs out there because I need a lot of help! Recovery from food addiction was yet another amazing and challenging adventure.
What I have found is that there is one solution to my problems. It’s spiritual in nature, it’s self discovery and it’s being in community with others. After finding some recovery, I started to sponsor other women in these programs and that continues to be a huge gift in itself. There is nothing like giving back what was so freely given to me and watching someone else change and grow. It’s an awesome experience to give to others and watch God work in their lives like he has in mine.
After school I got my dream job as a special educator. It’s the hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I feel like my career is finally in line with God’s will for me which is an awesome feeling.
After 2.5 years of recovery in sex and love addicts anonymous, I decided to start dating and I quickly met my wonderful husband. He is a spiritual person and he is also dedicated to working on himself and continuing to grow. We have an awesome marriage now and we are so excited to welcome our new baby girl any day now!
The adventures keep coming and life keeps happening but through it all, I know I need to stay sober and abstinent to experience all the ups and downs. Life can be hard at times and there are certainly challenges that come up but the help I continue to find from my friends, family and my God, will never fail me. I can’t wait to be a sober Mommy and experience this next adventure that God has in store for me. Today, I am truly living a life beyond my wildest dreams!