Name: April Duncan
Location: Chicago, IL, but I travel A LOT for work.
Recovery Date: June 8, 2016
Recovering From: Overdrinking Alcohol and Xanax Use, escaping reality
About April: I am a laugher, lover, and crier. I love to travel and eat new foods. I have goals in life like having children and a healthy marriage. I speak out about sobriety because I want people to know that life can be great without alcohol. #TEETOTALLYawesome is what I like to call my alcohol free life.
Website: Sober Up Buttercup
Q. Before you entered recovery, what did you think the “thing” you were addicted to gave you, did for you, etc.?
A. I have anxiety, socially and non-socially. Alcohol minimized the attacks…until it exacerbated them. I thought alcohol gave me class and culture. I imagined that classy people drank a glass of wine when in Europe. So I drank. I thought alcohol relaxed me after long days at work. So I drank. I thought alcohol made me socially lubricated. So I drank. I thought it helped me in every situation…So I drank in every situation.
Q. Now that you are in recovery, what have you learned about that “thing?”
A. I’ve learned that alcohol keeps you complacent and stagnant in life. I’ve learned that I do not need it for any reason. I’ve learned that anyone who uses the word NEED and A DRINK is wrong. I’ve learned that growth is glorious and presence is powerful.
Q. How are you recovering (e.g., 12-step program, rehab, counseling, on your own, etc.)?
A. I had to try everything. I am a contrarian and have to argue my way into believing in a system. I went to AA, Inpatient rehab, Outpatient, SMART recovery, counseling, psychiatry, yoga, meditation, books, blogs…you name it, I am trying it. And, guess what? IT ALL HELPS!
Q. In recovery, how do you give yourself what you thought that “thing” provided?
A. I practice mindfulness. I feel my feelings. I absorb them and I use them to learn how to properly address the situation. I exercise, meditate, take time outs, pray, keep a strict work/life balance, say no to people, sleep properly, take showers, cry it out, go to meetings, say what I mean and mean what I say, garden…I do a lot of things that I stopped doing in addiction. The biggest difference is that I reach for support. I never did that before.
Q. What was your “rock bottom” or “breaking point” when you realized you needed to change?
A. I had many rock bottoms, I rode a roller-coaster of ups and downs for at least 15 years. My last turning point was after an afternoon nap. I blacked out midday from sparkling wine and Xanax. I grabbed a bag full of shoes. I drove to the wrong house (my ex’s house and my house for many many years,) I let myself in through the garage, I left my car door wide open and my dog outside, I Goldilocks-d it into my old bed and I slept off the black out. That wasn’t the rock bottom. The rock bottom came when I woke up from the nap. I suddenly realized that this was who I had become. I was this Goldilocks. My ex had come home and made me a pizza and left the house with his current partner. No fight. No pity. No “you need help.” No loading me up and dropping me at the hospital or a meeting. He just made me a pizza and let me sleep it off. I realized that he had accepted that I was that person now-that Goldilocks he tried to help for a decade. I told myself I did not want to be Goldilocks anymore, checked myself into rehab and never looked back.
Q. What has been the hardest part of recovery so far?
A. Feeling everything.
Q. What about recovery has been easier than you had anticipated?
A. Physically not drinking. After the initial 2 weeks of weaning myself off of Xanax and Alcohol with Valium, actual abstinence has been easy. I just don’t drink. Easy. It is the process of dealing with why I drank that is difficult.
Q. What has helped you the most in recovery?
A. Support. I never realized how unlovable I had become in my drinking. I never thought that people would hug me when I didn’t think I deserved it. But, they did. I never thought I could be there for others. But, I am. I am so grateful.
Q. Who has helped you the most in recovery?
A. My man. He stopped drinking. He was there every step of the way even when we were not in a good relationship. He says he is lucky to be with me. I am still trying to believt is true. I am the lucky one.
Q. What has been the surprise about recovery?
A. The amount of people that contact me daily who have fallen into the “alcohol trap.” I love that people reach out to me. I love that people read my blog and that it helps them in an odd way. I love that I am not alone in this world. And, for as many people that tell me I help them, there are a thousand more that have helped me.
Q. What role has family played in your recovery?
A. My family plays a huge role but in a weird way. I am very independent. When I first started recovery, I did not want anyone to know. I was doing it on my own. I was anonymous. But, when I got out of the initial stupor of embarrassment, I realized that me being independent and separating myself is just isolating. Isolating was my past life. I love my family so hard it is embarrassing now. And, I am so thankful I can. My family drinks, but it isn’t about how family supports you in your sobriety. It is about how you live for them that changes your mindset. I am there now. I wasn’t before.
Q. Knowing what you do now, what would you tell your pre-recovery self about recovery?
A. She wouldn’t listen. But, I would say. “Jump. It’ll be ok without a glass of wine in hand.”
Q. What would you say to someone who is thinking about recovery?
A. If you’re thinking about it, it is time. I thought about it, then didn’t, then slipped, then crashed, then plummeted. If you have an inkling of a thought that your life would be better without alcohol, you’re right. No doubt.
If there is anything else you want to add, please do …
hank you, Laura, for everything you do. I have followed you on Instagram since the beginning of my recovery and am glad you offer your level-headed advice to those of us who don’t feel so level-headed. I appreciate you.
Laura’s Note to April: Thank YOU, April. Thank you for recovering out loud. For what you write on your blog. For what you share with our recovery community. For participating in this special project. I appreciate you, too. So much love for you. XOXO