Alexandra has been sober for 2.5 years

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Addiction has been a part of my life, in one way or another, since I can remember. I grew up in an alcoholic home and my earliest memories are ones of fear and anxiety. My mother would drink every night in the office, my father was traveling for work to support his family, my younger brother was still a toddler, and my older sister was dying from bone cancer. I remember vowing to never be like my mother and hated everything about her and her drinking.

Melissa died when I was 11, and it was at her funeral that I remember taking my very first drink in an attempt to fill that gaping hole in my chest. My cycle of trying to fix emotions and feelings with substances continued for another 15 years. Eventually, I found drugs and I thought I'd never love anything more than I loved cocaine, alcohol, and xanax. Perhaps the most baffling thing about addiction, is the addict's complete lack of logic in situations that are so clearly insane to everyone else.

Before I was 25 years old, I had gone through two total nasal reconstruction surgeries because of all the drugs and was hospitalized with pancreatitis as a result of my alcohol consumption. At 5'9" I got down to 100 pounds, I had hardly consumed anything but poison for years. Every morning I would wake up and tell myself that I wasn't going to drink or use that day. Every night I told myself I'd try again tomorrow. I didn't want to drink. I didn't want to use... I had to.
After an intervention, I agreed to residential rehab. I truly wanted to be done. I truly wanted to be clean and sober. I just wasn't ready.

A few months after rehab, I "woke up" from a blackout one night crying in my mother's arms and screaming, "I'm so sick. I'm so sick. I'm so sick," over and over again. The next morning, on August 3rd, 2014 I drove my car to a meeting in Los Angeles where I'd promised I'd give my mother her 11th sober birthday cake. When I parked in front of the meeting, I walked to the front of my car only to find it completely smashed in. I had absolutely no memory of when or how it happened. It was in that moment that I became more terrified of myself and my disease than I ever had been before. I finally surrendered and knew that I would do absolutely anything to never feel that way again. 

I went to Thelma McMillian, an incredible 9 month outpatient treatment program in Torrance, California. I went to 90 AA meetings in 90 days. I got a sponsor and I started working the steps. I did what was suggested because I was too terrified to find out what would happen if I didn't. A funny thing happened when I got sober... I got everything I always wanted from the drugs and alcohol. I made real, true, deep friendships. I was able to connect with people and feel a part of something. I became more confident in myself and learned that my darkest, most shameful experiences can benefit others. Even more amazing, I started to believe what people had been telling me all along; that I was enough, I was worthy of love, and I wasn't a bad person.

Recovery isn't easy, especially in the beginning. I just took it one day at a time. Staying clean and sober takes work, but it's work I will gladly do if it means keeping what I have today and never feeling that inexplicable pain only addicts can understand. I know that although my demons are quiet, they are are never quite silenced. Calm as they may be, they patiently wait for a reason to wake, take an overdue breath, and crawl back into my ear. It is because of this that I do at least one action a day toward maintaining my recovery. 

Today I have been clean and sober for two and a half years. I got the courage to leave all the people and things that no longer serve me. With the help of my sponsor, I have cleaned up the wreckage of my past, and now sponsor women to trudge with them on the road to recovery. I will graduate with a Master's degree in Education in May and I've been blessed to attend meetings all over the world. I compete in pageants and made my platform "Addiction Awareness" in attempt to educate others and break the stigma. 

And if you can believe it, by the grace of God, today I am exactly like that mother I hated so much. I am a sober woman of strength and dignity. We even have the same sobriety date, just 11 years apart. A life in recovery is an incredible gift, and I am so grateful to be relieved from the mental obsession, physical craving, and spiritual malady that controlled my life for so long- even if it's just for today.