I had self-diagnosed myself as an alcoholic and been exposed to 12-step recovery programs from a young age. My family began attending Alanon, with me as their qualifier, when I was 17. I had been in 12-step communities regarding my addiction prior to that.
I always knew sobriety was on the horizon, just a few steps ahead of me but never within my grasp. I made countless vain attempts at moderation but ultimately was met with the same outcome: loneliness, despair and self-pity. This continued for about 12 years.
The last 3 years of my drinking were miserable. “Half measures availed us nothing”, I would hear over and over again. Somehow, I still understood the saying as “Half measures availed me half”. I had never lived in Action, therefore I didn’t know what it meant. I wasn’t fully bought into the idea of the 12-steps so those words meant little to me anyhow.
After my final spree, I knew something had to change. I could no longer continue my life the way I had been living it. I was constantly treading, just trying to keep my head above water. My friends were growing in their careers, getting married, and having families. Meanwhile, I had become a shell of the person I wanted to be.
From that point, I checked myself into a residential program. My experience is that I needed complete separation from the substances I had been using to stop the cycle of addiction. I needed time to build a foundation, to heal wounds and maladaptive behaviors. I had learned what the word “trauma” meant, and in turn, was able to treat it.
The definition of trauma, as I understand it is:
“Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away.”
Prior to this, my assumption of trauma was a violent event that ended in death, permantent physical harm, or crude sexual violence. It has never occurred to me that the accumulation of events that shattered my sense of security could take such a significant toll on my wellbeing.
My stay in residential treatment led to a full continuum of care: residential, PHP, IOP and sober living at Grace Recovery ATX. I was able to treat the trauma I had experienced through various therapeutic modalities, including ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). I began to experience life sanely and normally, no longer having to pick up coping skills that no longer served me.
This, combined with a rigorous program of action through the 12-steps left me in self-exploration, in which no stone was left unturned. During that time I met a Higher Power of my understanding and learned what a life of Usefulness meant. I began growing into the woman I wanted to be.
Today, I am able to face life successfully. Life is not perfect, but it is easy. I now live with a host of friends and family to lean on, and have been able to build a life that one would only dream. I never want to get sober again, but I am so grateful to maintain my sobriety and share a message that there is Hope. We do Recover.