Hi everyone, my name is Betsy and I am a woman living in long term recovery. My last drink and drug were on November 15th, 1991. Looking at that date can be overwhelming for me. I am in awe that I have not had to take a drink or drug in over 25 years. On one hand it seems like yesterday that I was living the life of an addict and alcoholic, on the other hand it feels like a lifetime ago. I don’t let myself forget what my active addiction was like, it’s not worth risking the chance that I could forget how horrible it was. I certainly don’t obsess over it but I keep it “green” in my memory.
My life was great growing up until I was 13. My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was 13 and she died slowly and painfully at home when I was 14. From 14 to 16 I truly felt like I was hanging upside down, bouncing through life on my head. I felt fear, anxiety, depression, hopelessness and helplessness on a daily basis. When I was 16 I had my first drink, my friends and I got a few six packs of beer and set off to get drunk for the first time. I finished my 6 pack and I drank the extra beers my friends did not want. They wanted to go home, I wanted to find more beer, lots more beer. Now I could stop here with my “active using” story because every drink or drug in between and up until the last….that was how I used. There was never enough for me. I never wanted to stop. I eventually put drugs and alcohol as my top priority for each day. It literally became a 24/7, 365 day a year job, actually worse. I was arrested twice, I stole from everyone I loved, strangers, employers and even my drug dealers. I had a DUI and I went to court, handed my license to the judge, left the courthouse got in my car and drove for the next four years with no license, registration or insurance. I put myself in situations that I easily could have been killed, raped or kidnapped all in search of drugs and alcohol. I had opportunities in my life that alcohol and drugs convinced me not to take. I never went to college even though my father offered to pay for it. I was an equestrian who could have had an amazing career as a professional but my disease of addiction had other plans for me. I know today that my disease made all of my life choices from age 16 until I went into rehab at age 31.
What I understand today is that alcohol and drugs are basically anesthetics and what they did for me was relieve my anxiety, depression, hopelessness and helplessness. Crossing the line into full blown addiction is when I had no sense of right or wrong, no feelings of guilt, shame or remorse. I could rob you blind and not think for one second about the fact that is was wrong on many levels and that intuitively I knew better. As much as I did NOT want to go to rehab, I am forever grateful that I did. I stayed for 30 days and I received an amazing education on the disease of addiction. I was able to “connect the dots” as to why I could not and can not drink or drug successfully. I’m not going to lie to you, my first year, year and a half in recovery were hell. It was really hard for me to deal with all the damage and wreckage I had caused. I felt like someone dropped me off from another planet at 31 years old. All of those feelings came back ten fold but I learned how to go through them, grow and learn from them….not run like I had for so long.
Today, my life is completely different and has been for a long time. My daughter was 6 months old when I got sober and she will be 26 at the end of this month. I had a son in recovery who is 22 yrs old. Neither of my children have seen me drink or drug. I have done all the “cool” mom things that have brought such joy to my heart and amazing healing. I could truly fill pages with the beautiful things I have experienced in recovery. I have also gone through, worked through some very difficult times. I have had the “obsession” to drink and drug tap on my should or should I say bang on my shoulder a handful of times but I am active in a 12 step program and I have learned what I need to do to stay sober.
I attend five 12 step meetings a week, just as I did in the very beginning. Why change something that works right !!!!! I have recently joined an advocacy group and am working my way towards my goal of public speaking. I honestly have been excited for life just about every day for the last 20 years. Being an active addict and alcoholic was a million times harder than
LIVING in recovery….Living in recovery is joy………….Everyone can get sober……We do it together 🙂