I am a suburban mom, a nurse, a daughter, a friend, and a recovering alcoholic. Today, I say that with pride! For a long time I was too ashamed to accept all of me and THAT is what kept me sick for far too long.
I came to New Hope Recovery Center some years ago feeling completely broken. I had been sober for 5 years, but relapsed. The first time I got sober felt easy. I experienced far greater consequences after relapsing. It went on for years, seemed I could not find my way back. I could not stand to look at myself in the mirror. I was emotionally and physically sick. I remember thinking...how did I get here?
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, did well in school, and had lots of friends. Went on to finish college, work successfully in my profession, got married and have 2 beautiful children. My drinking started in college, not unlike others. In my 20s I started working as nurse, and loved my job! It was very common for all of us to hit happy hours and drink on weekends. I was living in Lincoln Park, working, had a busy social life and was also attending graduate school. My drinking continued through all of this, though it did not seem problematic. All my friends drank as I did. We often joked about our minor consequences. It did not occur to me that my drinking was abnormal…till later.
My 30s were full...my nursing career advanced, I married, and my drinking progressed. I went from being a moderate social drinker to a daily drinker. It snuck up on me. I really don’t recall the shift occurring. I was sneaking drinks, lying to my friends and family, having regular blackouts. I worked very hard to keep it all together. On the outside I was professional and happy; on the inside I was becoming dark, scared, and sad. Alcohol was beginning to run the show. It got to the point where I awoke every day shaking and nauseous planning when I could drink. I drove intoxicated regularly, and I was finally stopped. The DUI arrest I received in my mid 30s saved my life. (Of course it didn't feel that way at the time). It was the intervention /consequence I needed to change. I went to my first 30 day treatment and began attending AA regularly. Life was good........for 5 years.
I learned sobriety does not guarantee life will be easy. After 5 years, I picked up a drink to cope with life challenges. This began a very rocky road filled with humiliation. My consequences built rapidly. I was drinking alone, and black outs were regular. I was depressed and isolating. I risked losing my children, my home, and my sanity. I felt too ashamed to go back to AA. I made the decision to leave my home and children to stay with New Hope Recovery Center for an extended time. I stayed in their Extended Care apartments in Lincoln Park, attended first the Residential Day Program and then the IOP program. It was life changing. I got sober again attending groups, community AA meetings and living with sober women. I quickly got a new sponsor and completely immersed myself in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I did what my counselor and sponsor said, without question. I became a part of the Chicago-land AA community and learned to like myself again. With the support of New Hope Recovery and the fellowship of AA, I eventually transitioned back home.
Today my life is full again. I have a network of friends in AA, and I work closely with my sponsor and continue to stay connected to New Hope Recovery Center. I know now what it means to be a grateful recovering alcoholic.
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