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[ Short Form & Affirmations ]

END THE SILENCE #VOICESINRECOVERY

Although getting sober is a hard task at first, it isn’t nearly as hard as keeping up with our lives when we are out there drinking or using. It’s incredibly amazing how different I am today, nearly five years later.

Today, I am a sober thirty-two year old woman who looks forward to her future. What matters most today is my sobriety. I try my best to do all I can to work towards keeping my sobriety one day at a time. I care for the people around me, and most importantly, I care for myself. I remember how miserable I was when I was using and drinking. It literally drained the life out of me. I’m grateful that what I am able to do today is stay sober and be of service. I am so grateful for my life.

I was raised in a very loving family. Both of my parents have always been there for me, and loved me no matter what the circumstances may have been or will be. They are both very strong, and I have the utmost respect and love for them. The first memories were of my Mom, Dad, and I playing outside in my little swimming pool in the back yard. My dog, Misty and my cat, Kit were always right beside me as well. They were my sidekicks. I was maybe two at the time of these first recollection of memories. I had a wonderful childhood with lots of memories of being with my Grandma and Papa, a handful of aunts and uncles, my Memow, along with all of my cousins. I always loved shelling peas with my Memow. She was a hoot, and so was my great grandfather. I used to sneak over and visit him a couple apartments down, and sit under his big, fluffy pine tree in the front yard. Memow always knew where to find me!

I guess I’d say my next big memory is sitting in the living room floor on my blanket, listening to my Mom and Dad were bickering back and forth. I recall my Mom gathering up her things, explaining to me we had to go. My Dad was crushed. And so was I. I didn’t want to go. Why was I leaving, and my Dad wasn’t? I didn’t understand. Then again, how could I understand at three years old?

My Mom moved into an apartment not far from my Dad. It was a two bedroom apartment. It was just big enough for the two of us. I had a few friends I would play with on the playground at the apartment complex. My Mom starting dating a man with a daughter that became my world. I adored her, and thought she was the coolest thing since sliced bread. We were big buddies. At the time, I visited my Dad every other weekend. I always looked forward to Friday afternoons when he would pull in the driveway to pick me up. I’d run into his arms, and off we’d go. I could always count on him to take me to the convenience store to grab some candy! I decided in the fourth grade to move in with my Dad, which required me to change schools. That was my first recollection of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of change, and fear of not being accepted. I really didn’t open up to many people, or try to make many new friends. In the fifth grade, I was diagnosed with Alopecia. Alopecia is a condition that causes patches of hair loss, bald spots throughout the scalp, and can lead to complete baldness. I was definitely fearful then. I hated it. I hated myself. I was scared and embarrassed. It was impossible to hide. I tried hiding it by wearing my hair in a ponytail nearly every day that school year. Eventually the hair grew back in patches, and I was gaining my so called self-confidence back.

My first drink, from what I recall, was my ninth grade summer. I was hanging out with the older crowd by then, and I thought the greatest part was the alcohol. I went with my cousin and his friends to the beach. I got drunk on Jell-O shots, Jack Daniels’ coolers, Bud Light, and a lot of Vodka. I was plastered and loved it. I remember finding out my boyfriend cheated on me with my best friend while I was there. Sad, but hey, now I had a reason to drink harder! I handled the hurt with a lot of alcohol. It seems that pattern was my favorite. The next few years of school consisted of partying on the weekends in hayfields with kegs of beer and jamming to loud music. I lived in a very small town, so we were easily entertained to say the least. I moved out the summer after my senior year. I was attending college and working full time at a department store. I loved my job and my boss. Yes, the same boss that sent me home one day for smelling like alcohol. I had stayed up until all hours of the night partying, and still smelled of it the next day. I hope she knows how grateful I actually am today for her sending me home.

I started taking opiates to get me through hangovers. I started buying them anyway I could. I got my first DUI at the age of twenty. It got dropped after spending tons of money on credit cards to hire a lawyer. I began using opiates more frequently, and was drinking more and more. I was prescribed Klonopin by my family doctor. What started as taking as prescribed, ended with me buying extra when I ran out. School and work became less interesting, which sparked my interested in other areas. I met a guy that loved to drink and take pills. He told me his family issues, and I felt sorry for the way he was treated. I thought I could help, and I knew I could drink with him. We basically threw each other pity parties daily. I lived with him, and soon I was engaged to him. He was an angry and abusive man. I shut out my family, friends, and quit my job, as well as my student teaching gig. The only way I thought I could escape reality, and his emotional and/or physical outbursts, was to drink and swallow a pill. I left him a couple times, and moved back in with my Dad. I always went back though.

Memorial Day weekend  I ended up in the hospital with Pancreatitis. I was admitted that night, and he never showed back up after dropping me off at the Emergency Room. I was lifeless. I was twenty seven years old, and diagnosed with Pancreatitis, dehydration, and a urinary tract infection. I weighed eighty eight pounds. I forgot what it was like to smile, laugh, or cry. My nurses and doctors were amazing. One nurse in particular was, in my eyes, an angel. She asked me how I prayed. She prayed with me. Oh wow, someone actually cared about me! I could feel it. I felt again. Life may be turning around. I was in the hospital for eleven days. After leaving the hospital, I lived with my Mom and step-Dad for the next six months. I didn’t drink, until that sixth month on a beach trip. It was just me, the bartender, and a shot of Jaigermeister. Mom was so disappointed, and I was too. A couple months later, as my drinking was spiraling out of control, I was talking to that same pity party guy from my past. Before I knew it, I was in the Emergency Room again with a totaled car. He came to see me in the hospital, and off to the liquor store we went the next morning when I was released. I tried to hide it from my parents. I knew I needed help. I searched online about alcohol recovery centers. I also asked a few friends on Facebook what their experience was like that I knew had gone. On December 30th, I went to Bradford Health Services. That place saved my life. God had answered my prayers. It wasn’t that easy there. I had a seizure, was fearful, vulnerable, lonely, and scared. Most of all, I was getting sober and I was grateful. I went to a halfway house for three months called Focus on Recovery. When I left there, I lived with my Mom for a while continuing to work my Alcoholics Anonymous Program. I applied to a job in Birmingham, was offered the job, moved into an apartment one weekend, and started working the next Monday. I took a risk, but I was sober, and living. I have AA, God, my sponsor, family, and friends to thank. Absolutely none of this would have been possible without their love and support. I now own my own home, work at the same treatment center that saved my life, and this upcoming New Year’s Eve, God willing-I will have five years of continuous sobriety. I plan to live a purposeful life in which God has planned, not me.