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[ Opinion ] [ Personal Narratives ]

Stop drowning & reach out for help.

I began my recovery journey free from alcohol nearly four years ago.

I took my first magical drink of liquid courage my ninth grade summer. The alcohol was flowing through my bloodstream like a vicious cycle of raging vengeance that gave me a fearless feeling of confidence and strength. I just didn’t realize how strong the vicious cycle was then. I’ll never forget feeling so alone and hopeless. I struggled to make every effort to avoid getting honest with myself. I’d silently whisper to myself, “I’ll quit tomorrow.” I was just ready to feel the burn of another shot make its way down my throat to my empty stomach to relieve the anxiety and worry.

I received my first DUI at the age of 20. Several years later, I was diagnosed with Acute Pancreatitis. I spent eleven days in the hospital, and I still wasn’t done testing life. The doctors told me if I drank again I could die. Last I checked, I wasn’t a cat with nine lives or some invincible superhero. I had to face my fears and the reality of my drinking problem in order to reach out my trembling hand for the necessary help and support I needed. I didn’t want to admit my drinking was out of control to myself, much less to someone else. I thought I could never face reality, and that all the positive posts on social media were just a bunch of crap- “How could they really be happy sober?” My pride and delusional thinking always wanted to overpower the reality. My alcohol use was numbing my pain and drowning my thoughts. When the alcohol isn’t present, the reality sets in for us. We become sad, depressed and fucking hopeless. We feel like we’re never going to heal. The reality is that they we can be happy and sober.

I’m not trying to lead anyone to believe that the last three and a half clean and sober years of my life have been all sunshine and rainbows. The truth is that the struggle is real, denial is huge, and acceptance is key. Luckily, we are never alone in this fight. Those positive social media posts from friends, loved ones and strangers are true. They do care, and they do want to hear from us. Even that stranger we just followed on Instagram that posts all those quotes about life and positivity-yea, they care. The one thing I know from experience is that the most depressingly scary and painful times where all hope was seemingly faded, there was someone somewhere out there struggling much worse than I was. At the same time, there was also someone somewhere out there that loved me much more than I loved myself.

The pain we think will never go away will heal. We will begin a miraculous new journey of a life we never knew we could have. The first step for us to heal and recover is to admit that we have a problem. There comes a time when we must let ourselves be raw and vulnerable to ask for the help we so desperately need. Asking for that help doesn’t mean we failed at life, or lack willpower. It gives us a clear understanding that the helplessness and suffering will not just go away. Alcoholism and addiction is a disease that we can’t fight alone. It’s a wickedly dangerous cycle of insanity. That shitty gut wrenching pain we’re feeling is temporary, and with each new day our beautiful souls are blessed with, we have the power to make it a better day than the day before.

We can avoid feeling pressured to believe we should follow the status quo, or the group that checks in to the same trendy night club every weekend. Let go of the thought that there is some rock star wizard of sorts out there judging our cool points based on whether or not we drink or do drugs. The idea that there is some cool point detector dictating your life, or a rock star driving your crazy train is a bit insane. Life is not a contest. We all breathe the same air. Sometimes we have to make decisions that won’t meet with acceptance from those around us. Besides, you already are a rockstar, so wake the hell up and rock this world like the rockstar that you were meant to be. Get your shit together and create your new self-confidence to radiate along whatever path you choose. Yes, we can still have hard nights and lazy days. Nightclub, or no nightclub, I’ll bet you will be much happier the next morning waking up without a hangover, drunken texts, a mascara stained pillowcase, and filled with much more serenity. Before the beastly gripping disease or illness buries you in a cold, dark coffin-reach out and ask for help from that loved one or stranger. Stay strong, and beat that fucking disease’s ass with wisdom and courage. Lastly, anticipate the wondrous surprises to come in the new life you never imagined was possible.