Nearly 9 years ago, when I arrived at a place in my life when I realized I could never have just 1 drink, I felt ashamed. I told only a few people because I felt like a failure. I did not understand back then that my drinking problem was not a moral failing. I was not a bad person; I was a sick person, and I chose to get better. I chose to do something radical according to societal standards and better my life by abstaining from alcohol forever, one day at a time. It baffled me that I could never have just one drink. I hated the shame I felt.
It had baffled me that I wanted to drink a lot. It baffled me that when I was not actually drinking, I was thinking about when I would be able to drink. In my 12-step program, I learned why I could not have just 1 drink. I learned I was not a failure or a weirdo. I learned that I had alcoholism. People helped me learn how to live a better life, freed from the chains of addiction. But for years, I was still incredibly embarrassed and ashamed and did not want people to know.
But, what if, 9 years ago, I decided to lose weight because I was harming myself with too many calories through sugar of fat? .... Would I have had the same feelings of shame like I did when I quit drinking alcohol? Would I feel like I needed to hide it as a secret? Would I worry that I would make people feel uncomfortable when I said "no, no seconds for me.”? Would people say, just eat less for 6 months and then you can go back to eating sweets/high fatty foods! It will be fine!
I write this NOT to blame any person or group of people. Society has successfully made it perfectly normal to drink a legal drug to excess to cope with the normal realities of life. That is what made it so easy for me to hide my alcohol addiction. My ability to party hard was celebrated. Society cheers us when we wear shirts that say, "drink wine because my baby whines." Do we see shirts that say, "smoke that ciggy because your kids are exhausting you, so take a well-deserved inhale"?
I write this as something simply to think about. Over the past 8 1/2 years, I have watched people die trying to stay sober while facing shame & keeping their efforts a secret.
I dream of a day when we can all comfortably say "good for you!" when people decide alcohol is no longer serving them well.
Today, I choose not to drink because I can never have just one drink. Drinking alcohol became an obsessive behavior and it was not serving me well. It was harming me. I beat myself up mentally because I felt like a failure, incapable of controlling how much I drank. It made me have very low self-confidence because I felt different, weird, and abnormal. But I was slowly killing my insides and my soul.
Today, I proudly recover out loud not to show off or BRAG, but to help end stigmas of alcoholism so that people who decide to quit are not met with shame due to societal narratives. We are not people of moral failings. We are people who have a disease. We do not have an off switch when it comes to drinking. And we CAN & DO RECOVER together. It is possible.
If you are struggling, here is the good news: there are solutions. People want to help you. You will not be judged. I want to help. People who have recovered, WANT to help because they know how it feels to be where you are at. AND we NEVER judge those that are struggling in secret, because some of us ALSO struggled in secret.
You are worth it.
Toggle over picture to be linked to where you can purchase the sweatshirt worn