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Progress not perfection

Liz's Story

I love going on vacation. It’s my time to escape from the everyday and frolic in the land of freedom without a care in the world. That’s one of the reasons I began to drink so much – to get away from the everyday. Before long, my body needed to drink daily to avoid the   inevitable withdrawal symptoms. That is when my “vacation” became my almost decade-long hell. On August 8, 2016, my inebriated, severely mentally-ill self, drank what would become my final six pack with too many thousands of milligrams of prescribed sedatives and narcotics to count in the desperate effort to kill the beast inside of me once and for all. Without the intervention of my Higher Power and my loving fiancé who I am still with, I could not have been connected to the machines that saved my life when my lungs collapsed in my unconscious body.  Although I awoke in the Intensive Care Unit angry at the world, I eventually started on my road to recovery.

The road I’ve traveled thus far has not been entirely smooth. There were potholes, steep hills, and even road construction where I had to slow down. I spent the first 42 days sober in either an inpatient rehab or a psychiatric ward so when I was finally discharged to my home in late September 2016, I had the sketchy road map for my trip down Recovery Road. I felt strong and ready; so with that sketchy map the trip began.

I’ve started this trip the year prior and went back “out” 72 days later. This time, I was determined to take full advantage of this trip for the better. On average, I attended ten A.A. meetings a week, every week, in my first 90 days. Before long, I took on a coffee commitment in one group and a greeting commitment in another.  I got a sponsor almost immediately and I was reading the Big Book and the Twelve and Twelve as assigned. Oh, and I worked a full-time job. I am also in professional therapy weekly for my mental illnesses. It was slowly all becoming too much to handle because as you can see, I’m not great at doing things in moderation.

Four months sober and I was diagnosed with narcolepsy, a brain disorder that effects sleep. It was no wonder why I was so exhausted all the time. It was time to adapt and not be superwoman.  Almost seven months sober and I was enjoying my trip down Recovery Road. The scenery was nothing I remembered experiencing before; colors were brighter, sounds were clearer, tastes were even better. The Promises were slowly coming to fruition despite my narcolepsy and chronic mental illness which was finally under control, so I took a hiatus from all things A.A. and my therapist. The almost constant work on myself was exhausting, and I felt I had the necessary tools to continue travelling down Recovery Road on my own. I was wrong.

Although I remained sober, I suffered needlessly. Asking for help is also not my strong suit. Once again, my HP came to the rescue.

My past crimes came to the surface while 11 months sober and I panicked. No obsession returned, nor did I want it to, but I needed another alcoholic for support and realized I vanished from most them. It took that crisis and the continued love of the women in A.A. to bring me back to the rooms where I am now, one year sober.

This trip down Recovery Road has not been an easy one. I was attacked while on a 12 step call alone (now I know NOT to go on 12 step calls alone) and diagnosed with a brain disorder that effects my sleep making this road challenging. I still have deep symptoms from chronic PTSD to work on in therapy, and I still have to work on the Steps with a sponsor. I’m exhausted just thinking about the road ahead, but I’m slowly making modifications to successfully travel.

It makes me feel good that there’s no end location. I will be on this road for the rest of my life, enjoying the scenery and the comradery of the fellowship. I do not have a sponsor currently but I am keeping my eyes and ears open for one that can work with my modifications. I’m working more meetings into my life, now going to three to four meetings a week. I’m keeping in touch with a few alcoholics every day. I’m doing my best and I refuse to compare my travel to the travel of others. Everyone’s trip is wonderfully unique; there’s no minimum or maximum speed limit so we can go at our own pace.

I’m thoroughly enjoying this ride and I have no desire to return to that dark, dangerous road I once was on. I am no longer a prisoner of my own mind. I am no longer a slave to the drink. I am no longer dwelling over that beast inside of me that wants me done. I wake up every day grateful. I go to bed every night grateful. I am incredibly thankful to the mounds of people who played a part in my recovery and who continue to do so. Because of their belief in me, their support, and my hard work, I can continue my journey down my personal Road of Recovery… happily.