Submitted by: Margaret Phillips
I got sober on December 8, 2011. I was at a point where I so desperately needed to do something different and I entered treatment before New Year’s Day!
I was at work in early December of that year and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could not endure one more night of waking up in the early morning hours with that sense of doom and gloom. I kept thinking, “today is the day where something really bad is actually going to happen.” It was a feeling of being so at-risk of potentially awful things that may have happened to me and my family. This had been going on for months, every single morning.
One day, I took my lunch away from work and headed to a 12-step meeting at a recovery house in the downtown area of where I live. I remember the woman who chaired the meeting read the chapter entitled “More About Alcoholism” in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
As she read, I could feel the weight of all of the words in those first few pages. Specifically, the line that explained the process that “led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.”
I can’t recall the personal experience she was sharing relative to that particular line but as she shared, her gaze was directly at me– straight into my eyes. The last words of what she was sharing were “and you will never have to drink again.”
I immediately felt this horse kick in the gut. Tears started coming and I just knew that I wanted what she had. I believed her. I didn’t ever want to drink again, or give up on myself again. After that meeting I didn’t really do anything for a few more days. Then, on December 8, 2011, I had my last drink. I found an early morning 12-step meeting on the way in to work and have been going to that one ever since.
It was through those meetings that I developed long-lasting friendships. I learned I can participate in life now, no matter what the situation is. I can attend the weddings, the funerals, and the parties at friends’ homes where I may not know everyone. I’m OK with that. I don’t feel panic when I am in a room or at an event with people I don’t know anymore! I just don’t have those same insecurities anymore. All of that and more has everything to do with sobriety and working the twelve steps.
Being able to receive love from my family has been such a blessing. It was tiresome to listen to the noise that used to play in my head. I no longer have fears and obsessions over when I might get the next drink. It was that noise that would take me out of enjoying the moments with my family.
The hardest thing for me to do in recovery has been to just play the role of another cog in the wheel (so to speak) at work. I’ve found balance between the feeling of superiority and inferiority. I’m in situations where I may have a better idea or insight, but choose not to share because I can be OK with the outcome regardless. I don’t always have to improve on something. Some days it is just about going about your work doing the best you can.
If I had to give some advice to anyone that thinks they may want to stop drinking, it is this: When it starts to hurt, you will find a way to do whatever it takes to stop. I was too proud to ask for help—I thought I was smart enough to figure this out on my own. That thinking kept me sick for a long time. Although I had entered an intensive outpatient treatment program back in 2001 I was not ready to change. What I did gain from that experience was confirmation that I was a classic alcoholic who assumed that nothing would happen to me. But there I was. I hated knowing that! From then on, my drinking was forever changed because deep down I knew I was, in fact, an alcoholic.
Throughout my drinking, I used running as a release so when I got sober I thought there must be something that can combine running and recovery. That’s when I found the first Heroes 6K race in Leiper’s Fork, TN. Since then, I hit a race whenever I get the urge. Because of my job, I travel quite a bit so I’ve run several Heroes 6k races, including California, Colorado, and the Tennessee races in Memphis and Leiper’s Fork.
I’m all about enjoying the recovery journey today!