“I didn’t realize you had a problem . . .”
I have heard this countless times since becoming openly sober, even from some of my closest family and friends.
The truth is, there was only one person who knew just how bad it was—and that was me. And that reality filled me with shame, guilt, and fear.
The reality was that in the midst of 2020, the chaos of life had become all too much, and I was drowning myself in wine to cope.
My anxiety was out of control, and I was using alcohol as a crutch to get through.
For most, enjoying a couple of drinks is a safe, enjoyable way to unwind—and it was for me, too, at one point. However, over time, it became much more than a couple of glasses of wine and much more than something I was doing for enjoyment.
For me, the dopamine rush from alcohol was a Band-Aid to some hard-core anxiety. When my brain got that quick fix from a drink, then came down from it after the ethanol effects wore off, anxiety heightened causing my brain to want and need more. Then feel the crash. Then need more.
Up, down, up, down . . .
It became a vicious cycle.
It got scary.
I knew for a long time that I needed help, but I couldn’t admit it—not to myself, let alone anyone else.
For a multitude of reasons, so many of us don’t want to face the reality of addiction. Maybe it’s the stigma of being labeled an “alcoholic,” or the difficulty of imagining our lives sans alcohol when it has become so accepted and even expected at times, or simply not being able to admit that we have a problem.
For me, it was all of the above. And that shame, guilt, and fear would take over and paralyze me, leaving me feeling alone and weak. For this reason, many of us stay in denial and never even admit we are in need of help—sometimes until it’s too late to ever do so.
It was when I started reading stories on addiction and recovery that I realized I wasn’t alone at all. There are SO many who suffer in silence just as I had been. These stories welcomed me into a space of acceptance, understanding, and grace.
I’m eight months sober today.
242 days without a drop of a substance that was slowly dimming my light and drowning my soul. In many ways, thanks to others for sharing their stories.
This is why, now, no matter how uncomfortable it may make me—or even you reading this, for that matter—I shamelessly recover out loud.
So, no, many of you out there may not have known I had a problem . . . but you sure do now.
Originally published on the author’s Facebook page