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My Secret Almost Killed Me

The word alcoholism is scary and comes with all kinds of labels, stereotypes, and emotions. I hated standing up in front of everyone and having to say, “My name is Amy and I am an alcoholic.” It sent the butterflies in my stomach swirling and my palms sweating.

Early in my sobriety, I found attaching myself to the word “alcoholic” impossible.  I avoided it whenever possible, except when I was in a meeting.  I couldn’t avoid it there.

My first six months of sobriety were shaky.  I thought that I could get by with doing all of the mandatory obligations, like not picking up a drink, without ever having to admit out loud what my problem was.  I was still resisting having to acknowledge my shortcomings, or maybe I was hoping no one would ask me to and all would be forgotten.  This was a whole new concept for me…being present in my life and feeling emotions.  I was not at all used to talking about my problems. The only time I would say my name and alcoholic in the same sentence was when I had to.

Early on, I never raised my hand in meetings.  I sat quietly in the background and listened to all of the other addicts speak their truth.  Not me; I sat ashamed and nervous to assert myself in fear of being judged or disliked.  I thought that there was something wrong with me for not having the courage to speak my truth as freely as everyone else.  It confused and bothered me.  I desperately wanted to be sober but I hadn’t the foggiest idea how to get there. In rehab, I was fine, but alone, on my own, I was not.  I didn’t trust myself or my thoughts.  I lacked the confidence I needed to do the impossible…stay sober.  So, I just kept showing up, I kept going back.

I quickly learned that this was how recovery worked, taking the necessary steps to rebuilding my sanity meant admitting that I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable.  I needed to get over my fear of ridicule and contempt and start taking control over my life.  Recovery is about action.

I have a drinking problem and because I was resistant, I was not getting the support I needed. Accepting my problem, and saying it out loud for everyone to hear, was a demanding first step for me.  For so long, I had been hiding the truth about myself.  I am an alcoholic.  I catered to my ego and hid behind my disease.  All of the sudden I was expected to declare my shameful secret, and to complete strangers! No, I needed time to “come clean” and understand that admitting to other people like myself was all part of the healing in recovery. Confessing that I am an alcoholic meant that I was ready to release the burdens of guilt, shame, and remorse and take comfort in the knowledge that I am not alone in this journey. Allowing another person to witness the dark side of my soul and allow them to identify with what I was feeling was a relief of epic proportion.

Over time I found that I was able to speak my own truth more freely and know that God had a hand in bringing me into recovery; if for no other reason, to give me peace and strength as I move beyond my past and forward in my life.  Eventually, what seemed so impossible became just the opposite.  I learned that in order to heal, I have to share.  I have to stand up, own my affliction, and shift my perception of impossible to mean I’m Possible!  The word alone states just that.

I’m possible!

The fear faded and I began raising my hand. The more I acknowledge that I  am an alcoholic, the easier it gets to live with!

This post was submitted by Amy B.

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