I once heard somebody say, “the chains of addiction are too weak to feel until they are too strong to break.” In my opinion, this summarizes the difficulty with alcoholism in a nutshell. However, there’s so much more to it than that. And, for the lucky ones, the chains do get broken. This is my story – this is what it is really like to battle and recover from alcoholism.
My loss of control and a haunting obsession
Although I didn’t become an alcoholic over night, I remember how the first time being drunk made me feel. It took away the constant anxiety I suffered from and provided me with a new found confidence. When I found that alcohol was the solution to my anxiety and insecurity, I ran with it. In the beginning, I would only drink in social settings. Over the next few years, alcohol began to play an increasingly important role in my life.
Drinking in social settings quickly transitioned into drinking alone on the weekends. The weekends began to get longer. Soon, drinking was an every day thing.
When alcohol became a daily neccessity I was in complete denial that I had a problem. In retrospect, I remember all of the days I would promise myself to only have one drink. When I had that one drink, I would justify myself into having another. After the second, I would keep going and lose count. I remember looking around the bar and seeing people leaving with their glass still half full, and thinking to myself, “what a waste of alcohol.” I didn’t drink like other people, and I didn’t think like them either.
When I was in college, I had a group of friends who I thought drank like I drank. However, at the end of the night, they would all return to their dorm rooms. They would wake up on time and make it to class the next day. On the other hand, I would be the last one to leave. I would be scrounging up every last drop of alcohol I could find, because there was never enough. Sometimes I would stumble back to my room, sleep through my classes, and start drinking shortly after waking up.
I was different from others because I couldn’t control my drinking and I didn’t drink like other people.
My social and work life came with a multitude of excuses. If I was sick from not drinking enough or from drinking too much, I would fake medical issues to get out of my obligations. When I had been faking an illness too much, I would drink just enough to make it through the day without becoming sick. I would take a shot every hour or so, simply to maintain, while my brain was obsessing over how much longer I had to be at work until I could drink the way I wanted to drink.
When I begrudgingly controlled my drinking, I wasn’t enjoying it. I was enveloped in the mental obsession over getting the next drink. If I was enjoying my drinking, I was completely out of control.
I spent years chasing the delusion that I could control and enjoy my drinking at the same time. This proved to be impossible
Why I decided to get help
Towards the end of my drinking, it had become so bad that I was unable to maintain a steady job. My friends and family quickly began to realize that I needed help, and I was reaching a point where I was exhausted of living the way I had been.
When the external factors in my life began to fall apart, such as loosing jobs, catching legal charges, and loosing college scholarships, my family begged me to go to rehab. I spent two more years trying to control and enjoy my drinking, but it became progressively worse. It wasn’t until I reached a place of internal misery that I became willing to get help.
I had never admitted to my family that I had a problem, and I definitely had never asked them for help before. So, when I reached a place of desperation and called my mom, she knew I meant business. I was in detox the next morning, and then headed down to Florida for four months of rehab.
In order to recover from the alcoholism, treatment was only the beginning of the work I had to put in to stay sober.
What it feels like to recover from alcoholism
Recovery is simple – but it’s not easy. The thing that makes recovery so difficult is that sobriety is so much more than just abstaining from alcohol.
Imagine giving up the one thing that has always been by your side- the one thing that you could always turn to that made you happy. Now, try and imagine life without it.
When I got sober, I didn’t just stop drinking. I had to reinvent my entire life- my thoughts, my actions, the way I looked at the world and the way I coped with everyday life.
I had to entirely give up my old self and become a new person. To top it all off, while doing this I had to deal with the incessant voice in my head, the voice that I call alcoholism, trying to sneak into every part of my life and tell me to drink.
My alcoholism still talks to me today. It tells me it is okay to skip that meeting and that it’s okay to ignore that 2 AM phone call of a person who might desperately need my help.
The difference today, however, is that I am able to identify that voice as something that is false. It wants to strip away every ounce of joy in my life and sink me into hopeless oblivion.
I have to fight back against this voice. I have to go to that meeting I don’t want to attend, even when I would rather stay at home and relax.
Despite the way my alcoholism speaks to me, recovery is still a thousand times better than drinking.
For the first time in my life, I have a purpose. I have the opportunity to help other women recover from alcoholism, a seemingly hopeless situation, and watch the light come back in their eyes. I have my family in my life again, which is a greater blessing than I could have ever imagined. And I am a person who people can rely on and trust today.
Most importantly, I get to wake up each day without being bound to an obsession that drives me to hurt myself. To me, recovery means knowing true freedom.
Cassidy Webb is a recovered alcoholic and avid writer. After suffering from alcoholism and addiction for many years, she believes that her purpose today is to help others recover. She works with JourneyPure Clarksville to spread awareness around the disease of addiction and help others get treatment. You can find her on Twitter.