A few years ago, I decided I was tired of living a lie. From the outside things looked pretty good. I was busy "having it all" – career, marriage, kids, an active lifestyle that others seemed to admire – but deep down I knew I was a fraud, and every moment of every day I was waiting, almost hoping, for everything to fall apart. I was a wife, mother, lawyer, athlete, and an active alcoholic.
I was also tired of spending all of my time and energy maintaining my addiction. I was, as they say, sick and tired of being sick and tired. Getting sober wasn't an easy process, and it certainly didn't happen overnight, but I can tell you that it was worth it, and I can tell you that it is possible, and I can honestly say that I don't believe I would have experienced one moment of true peace in my life without it. And yet, my recovery is not something I openly share with everybody I meet. My relationship with alcohol is still my biggest secret, whether it's my addiction to it or my hard-fought freedom from it. Once again, lately I have been feeling tired of living a lie. I'm a person living in recovery, and I want you to know that.
I recently watched a documentary about recovery that was recommended by a friend. It's called The Anonymous People, and you should watch it too. Everyone should. It's what ultimately moved me to start this blog and put myself out there as a face and voice of recovery. Recovery is something I think about and work on every day; it shapes every part of me and every aspect of my life; it's something that I and my family and friends celebrate and something for which I am deeply grateful. It's not something I take for granted, and it's not something for which I feel shame. So why do I continue to hide it? There is the stigma perhaps, but it's more that I hesitate to share for fear of making others feel uncomfortable. When they feel uncomfortable, it makes me uncomfortable, and then we're all uncomfortable. But why shouldn't I make us all uncomfortable? As with almost everything in life, outside of our comfort zones is where most growth and change takes place.
A few weeks ago, I ran the Boston Marathon, and a friend approached me after an AA meeting and told me that she had relayed that fact to her daughter. Her daughter's response was an incredulous, "Someone in AA ran the Boston Marathon?" Uhhh, yeah. We laughed at her daughter's obvious misunderstanding of how driven and determined a person in recovery can be. After all, I spent 20+ years being obsessively driven and determined to get a drink at all costs. Not surprisingly those same qualities can be redirected to accomplish amazing things. I am certain I wasn't the only person in recovery who ran in Boston, although I didn't see anyone wearing a shirt announcing them as such. We are runners and mothers and wives and lawyers and everything else under the sun. We are productive citizens, and we are everywhere. I can't help but feel a responsibility to share my experience in the hope that it may help someone understand what recovery means to a person living it and what it could mean to a person who can't access it.
I believe there are many paths to recovery; that there is no one right way. I choose to attend AA, but I don't follow the program to the letter. I do believe that being of service to others – sharing experience, strength, and hope – is a key ingredient, and I often find myself struggling, not feeling as if I'm doing my part. I attend AA meetings regularly, but I never share. I get so much out of what others share, but an intensely introverted nature and a crippling fear of public speaking keep me silent, which brings me to the written word. I'm coming late to the blog game, but I feel compelled to do it, to share my experiences in recovery and encourage others to do the same. Let's get uncomfortable . . .
What this blog IS:
- The experiences and musings of one person happily living an imperfect life in recovery.
What this blog IS NOT:
- An instructional guide on how to work a recovery program.
- A scientific explanation of addiction.
- An attempt to convince anyone else that they are an addict or alcoholic.
- A place to judge me - you may, of course, but I probably don't really care if you do.