The following account of addiction and recovery was shared with us as part of our initiative to help people share their stories. If you would like to use your voice to help others, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was standing outside of a liquor store just before 10 am. It was minutes before they would open, and my flesh was crawling. I was nauseous and sad; in pain and broken. In that moment, I heard a voice, clear as day, though no one else was around, “This was not who you were supposed to be.”
That was eight years, four months, and 29 days ago. At the time, I lived on the beach with the man of my dreams, I had the new puppy that I had waited five years for, and I owned a restaurant. In the previous 15 years, I had actively pursued and achieved all of my goals. I should have been full of joy and gratitude. Mostly I was just full of angst and Southern Comfort.
Through college and early in my culinary career, I was a blast. I could work a fifteen-hour shift and party all night and get up and do it all over again. I thought that I was indestructible. Maybe for a little while, I was.
I was a highly functioning alcoholic. Until I wasn’t. Looking back on it, what seemed like a plunge off of a cliff was actually a painfully slow slide that I didn’t, or wouldn’t, recognize. It was easy to keep the blinders on because I was achieving what I wanted to achieve and succeeding where I needed to succeed. I had a lot of help. It is incredible what people will allow you to get away with really.
In addition to being an alcoholic, I was a workaholic. I was smart and fast, and my work made people money. Because of that, being late now and again, or having a bad day here and there was overlooked. My family accepted that I missed important events because of my work. When I did show up, drunk as usual, it was because my job was so stressful, and they understood.
The people that loved or needed me, enabling me did not help. Realizing that all of my successes and achievements meant nothing and entering a medical detox saved my life. Today, I’m filled with joy and gratitude. Because of sobriety, my life is bigger and better than my drinking mind ever could have imagined.