Paying It Forward as an Alcoholic
It was no secret that I had a problem with alcohol. Everybody knew I drank a lot. My friends from college have drunk Allison stories. My friends from when I lived in Boston have drunk Allison stories. My friends in San Francisco most definitely have drunk Allison stories. Complete strangers have drunk girl at the bar stories, I am sure. My family has a lot of “Allison’s drinking’ memories. And the list goes on…
My drinking was no secret. So, I didn’t see any reason to keep my recovery a secret. A lot of people choose to remain anonymous in recovery. They don’t talk about that part of their life with people outside of recovery groups other than close family and friends. Not me, though. No sir. I tell everyone. For me, I can’t imagine not being open about it. It’s who I am. I’m proud of my recovery. I love the person that I am today. But that’s today…almost one year in recovery. A year ago, I hated the person I was. I hated everything about me.
You see, there is so much shame associated with disease of alcoholism/addiction. That shame is what keeps many alcoholics tied to the chains of addiction. That shame is a large part of what kept my brother from getting the help he needed. When Will died, I would tell people all the time that I wished he would have come to us for help. Wished he wouldn't have been ashamed or embarrassed. I wish he knew that we wouldn't be mad at him or embarrassed. That is wasn't his fault. But there I was…being such a hypocrite and hiding my alcoholism because I was ashamed.
I was ashamed of the way I was living. I was making poor decisions. I wasn't a good daughter, sister, aunt, friend or employee. I was angry at everyone. I was depressed and anxious. I hated waking up in the morning. Sleep was the only time I could fully escape reality. When awake, I would drink to escape. Everyday was just me trying to avoid life. I mean, how miserable is that? I was so sick and was in such denial for so long. It became this viscous cycle where I would drink and then wake up feeling horrible the next day…ashamed of what I may have done or said. So, I would just start drinking again to numb the pain from the shame. Day after day…week after week and month after month. It was exhausting and a miserable way to exist. Because that is all I was doing…just existing.
When I got back from rehab, and having a little over 30 days sober, I already felt like the beginnings of a new person. While away, I started to sober up and start feeling better physically. Mentally, I became healthier. And Spiritually, I was found. And I have to say, with a lot of work…it has gotten better with each new day.
So, why would I want to keep this new amazing life I have a secret, like it’s something to be ashamed of. I want everyone that suffers from alcoholism/addiction to be sober! I want everyone to know that life can be good again. Everyone knew all the stupid stuff I did...by all means, I'm going to tell you about my life sober! A life that I am proud of.
I have had a lot of people applaud me on my openness and honesty with my struggles of alcoholism. But to me…it’s just who I am. A part of my story. If it helps just one person get the help they need…gives one person a glimpse of hope…then it’s worth it. I hope it inspires many. Maybe if I would have had the courage to get help before my brother died, he would still be around today. But I think it’s all part of God’s plan. It took Will’s death to make me realize my problem and get help. Now…it’s my turn to help others. So, it’s really just paying it forward.
I can honestly say that I am proud to be an alcoholic.