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.
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.