When I put the bottle down for the last time in December 2015, I never expected how much my life would improve.
Yes, I had heard all those “you’ll feel better” comments, but I was skeptical, and I was embarrassed to walk into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous again after so many failed attempts.
But this time was different. I knew it was time to end my relationship with alcohol, once and for all, and get rid of all the garbage that came with it.
I no longer had room for chaos in my life and it was time for me to learn how to live, without having to rely on such a powerful crutch.
At first, the thought of living the rest of my life without being able to have another drink SCARED me.
In fact, it was terrifying.
I honestly thought I was losing something – almost like losing a friend.
Here’s what I actually ended up losing when I gave up alcohol:
- Excess weight
- Feelings of doom
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Impaired judgement
- Unhealthy eating habits
And here’s what I GAINED when I gave up alcohol:
- Better outlook on life
- Improved sex life
- Improved health
- Time to do other things
- Extra money to spend on other things
Looking back, it seems like such a “no-brainer”, but keep in mind, for those who struggle with alcoholism, this is NOT an easy feat.
The Stigma of Alcoholism in Women
For some reason, society in general seems to accept alcoholism in men more than it does in women. This is a stigma that prevents most women who struggle with alcoholism from reaching out, and getting the help that they need.
Women are ashamed to admit when they are struggling with addiction. How do I know this? Because I was one of them.
And I’ve spoken to countless women who are alcoholics. Women just like me – women who struggle with addiction.
I’ve spoken to women who hold high positions of authority. I’ve spoken to mothers. I’ve spoken to young female university students. I’ve spoken to women of ALL CLASSES.
Alcohol does not discriminate based on age, gender, education, profession or income.
It can affect ANYONE.
So why do women feel so ashamed and embarrassed to ask for help?
Because of women’s so-called “place” in society as the ones who are responsible for having children and raising children.
We are generally viewed as the homemakers, the ones who instill morals, values and spirituality within the family unit.
In other words, we feel as though we are supposed to be the “glue that holds everything together”.
Generally, if a man suffers from alcoholism, he is viewed as “being under a lot of stress at work”.
However, a woman who suffers from alcoholism is viewed as someone who can’t deal with her problems. She is ridiculed and shunned because she is not living up to her “womanly duties” of being the homemaker and the nurturer.
Think about it. A drunk man at a party is almost always viewed as a guy who’s having a good time. The life of the party. “He deserves a break because he works so hard.”
Now picture a drunk woman at a party. Most people will look at her as weak woman who can’t control herself. “She should be ashamed of herself for acting like that.”
The stigma of alcoholism in women is not easily explained. In fact, some people may not even agree with me and that’s ok.
But I feel this stigma. And I know other women do.
It is the reason that I started blogging about alcoholism because I feel it’s important that women support one another during difficult times.
I want other women who struggle with alcoholism to NOT FEEL ASHAMED ANYMORE.
I want women to know that it’s OK TO ASK FOR HELP.
I want women to know that there IS LIFE AFTER THE BOTTLE.
Getting Sober Is Harder Than Staying Sober
When I started going to AA meetings, I barely spoke – I mostly listened. One day, I heard someone say “Getting sober is harder than staying sober”. For some reason, that hit me like a ton of bricks and I’ll never forget it.
Admitting that you have a problem and walking into those rooms is probably the hardest thing that you will ever do. Most people who come in for the first time are broken souls – broken, into millions of pieces. There’s really no other way to describe it.
It’s so easy for “normal people” to judge someone who is struggling with any type of addiction, whether it be alcohol, drugs, food, sex or gambling (to name a few).
For instance, you can look at someone who is addicted to gambling and wonder “Why doesn’t he stop gambling? He is wasting so much money”.
Personally, I don’t understand gambling and it would be so easy for me to say that this person is selfish.
But as an addict myself, I do understand addiction and I understand that this person has no control.
And let me be clear about something else: addicts ARE NOT selfish.
People who say this have clearly not taken the time to educate themselves on the subject of addiction, and unless you’ve experienced it yourself, you really shouldn’t be passing any judgement.
Addiction is compulsive behavior that is difficult to control – it has nothing to do with being selfish.
It’s over. Goodbye.
Getting sober is the best thing that I have ever done in my life, aside from marrying my husband and giving birth to our two beautiful daughters.
Every day, I discover something new about myself. I have my self-worth back. I have my confidence back.
I have my life back.
I’m able to enjoy life more than I ever have – every day is a gift.
I actually look forward to waking up in the morning and doing something productive.
I am more active with my kids. I’m planning a new kitchen. I’m redecorating. I’m getting back into houseplants. I’m keeping up with daily chores. I’m cooking healthier meals.
I’m more on top of things – I’m thinking CLEARLY.
I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been, and there is absolutely nothing that anyone can say or do to ever change that. NOTHING.
I love my kids harder, I love my husband harder and I love myself harder.
We are a happy family unit again now that liquor is no longer part of the equation.
Honestly, maintaining my sobriety has been easy. I get my strength from my kids. I get my strength from my husband. I get my strength from my family. I get my strength from my friends. I get my strength from my colleagues.
My marriage is stronger than ever, and it has been transformed into a meaningful, loving and respectful relationship again.
Over the last few months or so, we have both been learning about the effects of alcoholism on our marriage and it truly has been an amazing journey of self-discovery.
Resentments have been addressed and we have rediscovered the love that we’ve always had for one another.
We both understand the disease of alcoholism much more than we ever did, and have forgiven each other for past mistakes.
My husband and I have recommitted our hearts and souls to our marriage – this is a brand new start for us because we are getting to know one another again, without any outside influence.
We just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary on September 19th and this was, by far, the most important and significant anniversary EVER.
Now that I’m sober, my husband and I will watch our daughters grow up together.
Together we will watch them graduate and go off to university. We will be there together when they get married and have families of their own. We will become grand-parents together. We will grow old together.
We will live the rest of our lives together.
My family is EVERYTHING to me and there’s no way in hell that I will ever pick up another bottle again, because life is too good.
Now, I finally know what “normal” feels like…and it’s the best feeling in the world! I. AM. HAPPY.
So here is my last message to alcohol and the shit storm that came with it: