Today on my TLC meeting, Vanessa spoke of her journey. She mentioned the feeling of finally finding the perfect buzz at work making a cocktail and looking in the mirror at work. She thought to herself, this is the best feeling. But it was 2pm. She also then thought, but how is this sustainable? I have absolutely had that EXACT same thought. It's not sustainable. I couldn't keep drinking like I was. But the question I keep wondering as I embark on my 53rd day of whatever, is am I in recovery? Or am I sober?
Vanessa is such a light and has such a beautiful heart. She has been so wonderfully encouraging as the mentor in our newcomer groups. It took her 12 years in and out of rehab and detox programs to get where she is now. She is so strong and grounded in her sobriety and has become such a leader. She talked about how she was scared that her life would be defined by her drinking, her shame and all the bad things she had done. And that is when she realized it was time to stop. She finally realized that she wasn't a bad person. Today, she knows that. She has come out on the other side. She was a newcomer for so long, in recovery for so long. Eventually, she said, you need to learn how to love yourself.
What scared me about Vanessa's story is that she was in recovery and had gone to rehab for many years, had many DUI's, got married and had a child in the middle of all of it. She had so many good times and bad times. But her brain was hi-jacked. You can be so good for so long and then suddenly you can fall back into old habits. Vanessa was suddenly ordering up vodka deliveries when she kissed her husband goodbye a few years down the road into recovery with her two year old daughter in her arms. Many people stay sober because of being scared of the consequences not because they actually want to be sober. Vanessa kept the wine glasses around because deep down she still wanted to drink. People still hang onto notions that they won't be able to travel, or drink at their child's wedding, silly reasons. All of those things don't matter though. Vanessa spoke about the idea that life will eventually be better, and it isn't possible to experience the best life with drinking.
This problem is chronic and it's deadly. And it's progressive. That is something I have come to realize. How progressively alcohol took over my life. It wasn't always such a force, but it slowly became one. I need to hear Vanessa's story. Because I am so early into recovery, often what I call sobriety. But am I sober? Or am I just in recovery? If this is only the early steps of sobriety, early recovery, when does it change? I think it depends on who you ask, and it is all relative and up to each individual.
Here is the reading from Vanessa's meeting:
And another video on the brain and alcohol: