- Friends & Family
Like many I have listened to in the last year and a half or so, I never, ever thought I would have any degree of appreciation for being an alcoholic, ever! Yet, today I cannot express how much gratitude I hold for what I have learned through taking the steps in recovery.
On October 30, 2013 it took me almost three weeks of using a walker for assistance in my mobility before I had the strength to walk on my own. My shakes from the DT’s did not stop for over a month after sobering up. Today, I am training for my first full marathon on October 11, 2015 in Chicago at the age of 43. I ran my first half in March in 1:58!
If I were not an alcoholic I would not have been so close to death’s door. If I were not an alcoholic in recovery I would not have the self-awareness and courage to train for something that seemed like an unattainable dream, only happening for someone else. I would not have any idea how to be vulnerable, face my fears, and follow my desires, set boundaries, trust, and love in full. I would not have been challenged in the biggest ways and come out the other side grateful if I was not an alcoholic. I would never have known who I really was, capable of being in a relationship with my Higher Power, if I was not an alcoholic.
I grew up moving a great deal. Not due to any military reason, but because my father was a motivated and driven man who, to this day, is never sedentary for long. Our family was and has been tightly knit, but with the ever present thickness of a controlling environment, emotional limitations, and the strong reinforcement of always seeming “good”, it made for a breeding ground for “-isms”.
I did not learn the magic of drinking until college, really, and from then on it became a go-to. It increasingly filled voids as they presented themselves in my life. When I was unable to emotionally deal with situations, alcohol was there. When I had occupational disappointments, or fell short of my ridiculously high expectations of myself, alcohol was there. Physically, if I had any anxiety or natural nervousness, alcohol was there.
What was not there was a life skills tool belt for me to draw upon when needed. Today the Steps and my support group have provided that for me. It took three different treatment centers, legal and professional repercussions, financial losses, relationship damage, serious health scares (seizures, etc.) and finally an intervention to get me to the point of true surrender. Unbelievable when I think about it, but many “bottoms” had to happen for me.
After being in my last and final treatment center, for 11 months and 1 day, I came to live in a sober living environment in Charlotte, NC. I remained there for a period, implementing my new life skills I had learned in recovery and applying them to my new, everyday lifestyle.
My entire life had to change. This past year, still in Charlotte, I am currently employed full-time, am almost complete with a divorce from my husband of 10 years (very amicable!), attending regular meetings, have a sponsor, am a sponsor, am back in school to be a registered dietician, am training for my first marathon, and almost living independently from my family. I have new friends and mentors. I volunteer my time (and run) with the homeless and with women in treatment centers.
I have new boundaries with my family, which has opened up so many freedoms for all. I am learning to be vulnerable and powerless in ways now that are beyond the bottle. I am working the steps again with my sponsor and simultaneously working them with my sponsee. I still see my therapist, who I adore, for a monthly “tune up”! Life is beyond what I could have ever imagined.
If I find something that moves me, I pursue it. My attitude is, “Why not? It’s never too late to try.” I have been “asleep” for so many years and now that I am awake, in touch with myself, my Higher Power and my tool belt, I do not want to be numb to life. Running for me has mirrored the methodical step by step action I have taken in recovery. Running, like sobriety, has given me such a fulfilling gift mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually with each goal I set for myself. It allows me to be free in ways that compliment my true self.
At times with running, I get excited, scared, complacent, tired, motivated, proud, and many more emotions. I do not drink over those like I would have in the past. I embrace the fluidity of feelings that move me in this way. Today, moving forward in any direction is a healthy pace for me. I have met so many amazing people through running, both in training and in volunteering. Some of my closest friends run, but it is not a prerequisite for sure!
I heard this quote last fall and I carry it on me and periodically share it with others. It says a great deal about so many I have met along my journey and I would like to think it is a reflection of me as well. “If you manage to change the direction your life is headed, you usually succeed in changing the way you see yourself as a person. It sounds simple, but it is one of the most intimidating things in life to accomplish. Just the thought of it is paralyzing. Those that govern this fear are true heroes who can stand proud to share their stories with others.”