Voice of Recovery: Jess

Name: Jess
Age: 32
Location: South Africa
Recovery Date: November 2, 2016
Recovering From: Alcohol
About Jess: I am a stay at home Mom. I really don’t have any complaints – I have a fantastic, patient husband, the quirkiest 8 year old daughter and I live in a beautiful coastal town. I do panic very easily, and I tend to worry too much about friends, family and the little things in life.

Q. Before you entered recovery, what did you think the “thing” you were addicted to gave you, did for you, etc.?

A. I thought chardonnay was my go to fix to escape reality. I enjoyed the buzz and the trip it took me to fantasy world far away from my worries. 

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

A. It is NOT the answer. If anything it just made my feelings of anxiety & despair much worse.

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

A. On my own.

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

A. I have found alternative escape routes. When I am home I turn feeling fidgety into a positive action. There is always a cupboard that needs decluttering / rearranging. I attack my poor plants with the shears – but if I don’t feel too edgy I just potter around with my daughter admiring the plants & flowers I haven’t yet chopped to an oblivion! If I am in a situation / place where I can’t keep myself busy, I excuse myself, take a few deep breaths and remind myself that I got through yesterday, the day before that and so on. I don’t like dwelling on past mistakes or the negative, but I also remind myself of embarrassing situations I got myself into as a result of my drinking. And then lastly, I look in the mirror at my fresh faced new me, and recite this encouraging quote I saw on your Facebook page: “I’m so grateful for the chance to meet and get to know the person I kept trying to drown in booze. I’m starting to really like her, a lot. 

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

A. When I got drunk, I stuttered…so much so that I couldn’t string a sentence together. One night I was lying in bed with my daughter…I couldn’t say the prayer we say together every night. My daughter said, “You stutter like that time when auntie Heidel came to visit.” (I can hardly remember anything about that weekend…)

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

A. Accepting the fact that I will never be able to enjoy a glass of wine with my girlfriends again or ringing in the New Year with a glass of Pongraz.  And chastising myself for allowing myself to get to the point where my drinking became a problem. Lastly, but most importantly, making it up to my friends and family.

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

A. In the beginning I thought (actually convinced myself) that this was going to be a hell of a journey, and worried how I would get through a difficult day without a tipple. Stressful times won’t kill you – but alcohol will.

Q. What has helped you the most in recovery? 

A. Inspiring quotes, articles and blogs. I stumbled upon an article a few weeks back where the author wrote, “If Eric Clapton could process the grief of losing a son to suicide without relapsing, then so can anyone.”

Q. Who has helped you the most in recovery?

A. God – for listening to my cries for help during the withdrawal process, sending subtle signs & warnings on my path and for keeping me strong. My nearest and dearest – my husband, daughter, parents and my sister…even my miniature Yorkie!

Q. What has been the biggest surprise about recovery?

A. It’s been almost 7 months…and I’m still here. Not institutionalized as I thought I would be! I have formed strong friendships and find myself paying it forward with joy.

Q. What role has family played in your recovery?

A. A huge one. They are there to listen, give advice or just sit with me in silence. And taking the little one off our hands for sleepovers every weekend!

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

A. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. You are beautiful, inside and out. It WILL be difficult; some days will be extremely hard – you will find yourself reaching for the car keys to dash to the liquor store. But the pleasure, sense of achievement and pride will override the difficult. And you are going to have gorgeous looking skin again!

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

A. First off, give yourself a HUGE pat on the back. If you are thinking about recovery, then you have taken the most difficult step of the process. Thinking about recovery means you have accepted that there is a problem. Secondly, make sure you have a support system in place…warn that person / persons that the journey ahead will be difficult…but thank them in advance (and every day) for having your back. If you don’t have anyone to turn to, then try the internet (blogs, chat forums, newsletters, etc.) and of course AA meetings if that is something you would feel comfortable with. There will be a huge empty void. So fill that void with something else that will give you joy – taking up a new hobby, yoga, gardening even visiting old age homes and having a long chats with lonely folk.

Q. If there is anything else you want to add, please do …

A. Thank you for putting yourself out there. I enjoy your blogs so much. It’s truly inspiring and comforting to know I am not the only one in this journey.


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