Meet Recovery Rockstar, Sarah B
Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m an alcoholic. “I am an alcoholic.” Four simple words that hold such profound meaning. I have been sober since 4/5/15 and today, I can say with abundant relief that I am so grateful to be an alcoholic. I am grateful because I now understand the symptoms of my alcoholism and the freedom of letting go that which was destroying me.
I was sexually abused for the first time at the age of three. From ages nine to twelve I was sexually abused by several men. At the age of nine I was diagnosed with manic depression. I was put on antidepressants at the age of twelve. When I was fifteen I decided I was done with the crazy side effects of my medication, so I flushed them down the toilet. At this time I was living with a physically and verbally abusive step dad. After flushing my medication, I immediately began self medicating with weed (and various other mind altering substances), which was a habitual addiction until the age of 19 when I fell in love with alcohol.
Because my father, who was absent during my childhood, is an alcoholic (now in recovery, yay!) I didn’t start drinking until I was nineteen because I was terrified of going down the same path. From ages 19 to 22 I drank every single day to the point of blackouts. I manipulated everyone around me in order to get to the next drink. I put myself in dangerous situations for the sole reason of being able to drink. I entered into relationships with destructive people so that I didn’t have to focus on myself. I developed deep-seeded emotions of shame and self-hatred. I felt demonized by my alcoholism. It had complete control of every aspect of my life. I felt like I could not escape my obsession with the numbness of self-medication that I used as an alternative to valid spiritual fulfillment.
In 2013 I moved to New Orleans to live with my best friend in order to escape troubles I had gotten myself into at home. At this time my body began shutting down due to the excessive drinking, to the point that I would black out after one drink. During the three months I lived there I completely destroyed my most coveted friendship. I’m told I even tried to fight her one night during a blackout. I was working at a mall there and went into work still drunk from the night before almost every day (I self sabotaged every job I had while I was drinking). One morning I was so hungover/still drunk that I had to leave within only thirty minutes of being there. The next day, one of my coworkers told me that security had to help me leave the mall after I threw up in front of a Bath & Body Works haha (I’m glad I can laugh at that now). I had no memory of this and felt so much shame.
When I moved back home in July 2013 I was ready for a change. I asked my mom to go to an AA meeting with me. All I could do during that first meeting was sob. I listened to everyone’s stories and while I could relate to them and admit that I had a problem, I was turned off by the organized spiritual structure that reminded me of resentments that I had with religious institutions. I thought that if I just bought the Big Book I could do my own program at home without having to make myself vulnerable to a group of strangers who I assumed would judge me or try to compare their pain with mine which I thought was unique (I’m finally starting to get over myself). At this time I also entered a relationship with the man who I’m currently still dating. In the beginning I was co-dependent on him to help me stay sober. During that first year I drank several times but never told anyone about it. In fact, the following July my family threw me a one-year sobriety birthday party because I was lying to them.
In September 2014 I picked up my drinking where I had left off in New Orleans, but still hid it as best I could from everyone because I didn’t want to disappoint them. My sexual addiction during my adulthood has been synonymous with my alcoholism. I had internalized all of the sexual abuse from my childhood, and never knew any self worth regarding sex. My philosophy was that I would use men before they had a chance to use me. I also used sex the same way I used alcoholism, to fill a spiritual void. During this relapse I began to cheat on my boyfriend. He never found out, but broke up with me anyway after I got drunk and made a fool of myself at his friend’s Halloween party.
After this, I felt like I had no reason to hide my relapse any more so it got exponentially worse. I was fired from my job, aggressive toward those I lived with, put myself in dangerous situations with men I met on “dating” apps, my most important relationships with family and friends were slipping away from me, etc. My self esteem was at its lowest point during this time.
After a slew of horrible drinking experiences, I finally starting going back to AA meetings in February 2015. During my second attempt at the program I heard a man say in one of the meetings that being an alcoholic was his most cherished blessing. This completely perplexed and infuriated me. I thought that he was just spewing bullshit to make himself look good in the program. My view of the program at this point was that it was just free therapy. I thought I would go to this place in order to tell others how crappy I felt and hopefully get some stories that were worse than mine so that I could feel better about myself. In my mind there was no way that someone could genuinely feel blessed about having such a destructive, self sabotaging disease. The only emotions I felt about my alcoholism were negative. I could not have imagined at that point how I could possibly see my disease in a positive light.
I also started dating my boyfriend again in February 2015. Things seemed to be getting better until I decided to go to a wedding with who I thought was a friend in April 2015. I relapsed at the wedding and cheated on my boyfriend again that night. I awoke the next morning, April 5th 2015 to over 20 missed calls from my boyfriend. The amount of shame I felt that morning was finally enough to break me. I came clean to my boyfriend about my “closet relapse” and cheating on him when we last dated. It broke his heart and I thought I had lost him for good. That was also the day that I stopped drinking, hopefully for good.
My alcohol withdrawals that last time ended up putting me in the hospital and made me feel like I was going to die. I spent about a month laying in bed, only leaving to go to work. Slowly my boyfriend and I started working on our relationship again. He gave me the courage to walk back into AA, because my shame of another relapse felt too much to bear alone. That first meeting that I walked into I met my sponsor. It was such a “God” thing because I had been praying for a sponsor to be sent to me because I was too scared to initiate that relationship. I was given the “gift of desperation” as they say, as I was at rock bottom. My rock bottom meant that I had no fight left in me, so the only thing left I could do was give into the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and keep an open mind as my sponsor guided me through the twelve steps.
I still vividly remember driving home after that meeting crying so hard that I shouldn’t have been driving. Except, this was the first time in a long time that I was crying because I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for the mercy that was given to me. It’s hard for me to explain how I knew that I didn’t want to drink anymore. This was the first attempt at getting sober that instead of being afraid that I couldn’t do it, I felt an amazing calm surround me that made me feel like I COULD be sober. Though I was exhausted thinking about how much work was ahead of me, I somehow knew that it wasn’t really going to be me doing the work but my higher power doing the work through me.
Doing the steps was simultaneously the hardest and most rewarding journey I ever embarked on. The process hasn’t always been pretty, but man is it worth it! Through the guidance of Alcoholics Anonymous my obsession with alcohol has been removed. I get goosebumps just typing that sentence. I have found a personal higher power who guides every aspect of my life with love. The spiritual fulfillment I have received from my higher power has allowed me to daily overcome the destructive patterns that I created with my alcoholism. Because my destructive old belief system controlled my life for so long, I have to remain diligent in my recovery by continuously doing spiritual maintenance with my sponsor.
Today I am able to deal with life on life’s terms. I am able to balance a great job, going to school, starting my own recovery blog, and maintaining healthy relationships which is a lifestyle that I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish on my own with my disease. All of the great things I have going for me now would not be possible if I didn’t continue to put my sobriety as my top priority. Today I am grateful for my alcoholism because it allows me to have a perspective that is beneficial in helping others who are still suffering with their disease.
To all of you who are still suffering, please know that I love you. I know your pain and I also know that you CAN feel better. I know it seems like so much effort to change your lifestyle for the better. I know what it feels like to have so much shame that it makes me physically ill to even think about asking for help. I know that sometimes giving up feels so much easier than trying to get better. I know all of these things, which is why my recovery is my greatest accomplishment. No matter what you’re going through, there is always hope. Please don’t roll your eyes at me. I know it sounds cliche but I am speaking from experience. I hope that everyone out there who is still suffering can find enough strength to ask for help and have an open mind toward the help that is offered to you. Because once you do, every day becomes so much easier to get through and life becomes exponentially better as long as you stay willing. Thank you for letting me share my story with you all! Please know that I’m here to be of any help that I can be to anyone suffering.