Voice of Recovery: Amanda

Name: Amanda
Age: 55
Location: Small Town America
Recovery Date: January 29, 2014
Recovering From: Alcohol
About Amanda: I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, and ex-wife, a significant other, a college graduate, an employee, a Christian. I’m the person no one would think had a problem with alcohol. I don’t look like an alcoholic. I look like a normal person.
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Q. Before you entered recovery, what did you think the “thing” you were addicted to gave you, did for you, etc.?

A. Alcohol gave me freedom and courage, it helped me sleep, I was able to relax and fit in when I was anxious about being around people. It made me feel comfortable, until it didn’t. It was a stupid liar! It was none of those things!

 Q. Now that you are in recovery, what have you learned about that “thing?”

A. Alcohol is fucking poison! It made promises and didn’t deliver. I’m a better person without alcohol in my life. Shit will happen, friends will get cancer and die, your marriage will end and your ex will keep your dog and not let you see her, you will face down fears and have to do things you never thought you could. Guess what? You can do life without alcohol, the crutch you relied on for so long wasn’t helping it was holding you back from living your life with meaning.

 Q. How are you recovering (e.g., 12-step program, rehab, counseling, on your own, etc.)?

A. I quit on my own, no rehab, no AA, no meetings. I actually kept my sobriety a secret for a while from my (then) husband. It was like a precious gift that I didn’t want to share. I read sober blogs, sobriety books, listened to podcasts (The Bubble Hour, Since Right Now), and joined sober groups online.

Q. In recovery, how do you give yourself what you thought that “thing” provided? 

A. I take long walks, I drink LaCroix after work, I have hot tea in the evening, I go to bed early, I sometimes eat ice cream for dinner, I binge watch shows on Netflix, I search the internet for bird call recordings and carrot cake recipes, I work on quilting projects and read. It’s being present with yourself, listening to yourself and giving to yourself. Self care is very, very important to staying sober.

Q. What was your “rock bottom” or “breaking point” when you realized you needed to change?

A. I didn’t quit drinking until 16 months after my rock bottom/breaking point. My rock bottom happened in September 2012. I got so drunk at a wedding. There was drinking before the wedding then more drinks after the wedding. By the time I got to the reception I was so fucked up. My (then) husband who was very pissed off at me took me home and left me sitting passed out in the car in the driveway. I woke up and threw-up in the driveway and managed to walk to the house. I couldn’t climb the one step to the front door and fell down, smashing my face on the deck and pavement. I crawled into the house, blood dripping off my face. When I saw myself in the mirror I was so shocked I actually pissed myself. Fortunately, there was no damage except a few scrapes and bruises and a cut between my lip and nose. I see that scar every time I look in the mirror. I stopped drinking for 17 days and celebrated by … drinking of course.

Q. What has been the hardest part of recovery so far?

A. The hardest part was the first part, to get home from work and not have a glass of wine. To mow the yard and not jump in the pool with a cold beer. So I substituted. Have a seltzer after work. Mow the yard, jump in the pool then jump out. The second hardest part was telling friends you always drank with, “Well you can have just one, right?” No, no I can’t. Not ever. Never. It’s no longer hard for me. It’s my life now.

Q. What about recovery has been easier than you had anticipated?

A. The support I received from people once they realized this was really happening. Everyone appreciates a designated driver, right?

Q. What has helped you the most in recovery?

A. Listening to other people’s stories on podcasts. Reading other people’s stories. Just realizing I’m not the only one going through this. There are so many people that are sharing, it’s not the stigma it was years ago. That has been so cool and helpful!

Q. Who has helped you the most in recovery?

A. My daughter Sarah has been my biggest supporter from the moment I told her. I will never drink again because I know I would disappoint her and I don’t want to do that. Also, anyone who has told their sobriety story. By listening to or reading about someone else overcoming their addiction it helps me tremendously.

Q. What has been the biggest surprise about recovery?

A. Once you get over the hard part it’s like living a normal life.

Q. What role has family played in your recovery?

A. For the most part my family has been very supportive. When I told my oldest daughter I was sober and had been for a few months her words were, “Why? That’s lame.”

Q. Knowing what you do now, what would you tell your pre-recovery self about recovery?

A. Don’t be scared! You will FEEL better! You will LOOK better! And most important: All the cool kids are doing it!

Q. What would you say to someone who is thinking about recovery? 

A. I would tell them that there’s never a “good time” to quit, that there will always be that upcoming party, that class reunion, that incredibly sad thing that will leave you reeling but if you are thinking about recovery you should listen to your thoughts. “Normal” drinkers don’t have thoughts like that. No one can make you do it, you need to do it for yourself.

 
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