This blog begins with events which propelled me into recovey. At the time I thought my life was over. Little did it know it was just beginning…..
What it Was Like
I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Till the landslide brought me down
Fleetwood Mac, Lyrics to Landslide
It wasn’t any one event….more like an accumulation of many.
I’d experienced yet another relationship breakup. My son Cole was 12-years old and beginning to get into a lot of trouble. I lost my job and rarely left the apartment anymore except to get basics. Like cigarettes, milk, and booze. And life was spinning out of control.
For ten years or so we settled in an apartment on the west coast where the walls were thin. This is also where Cole went to elementary school and then proceeded to get kicked out of almost every high school in the city.
The pounding of someone on an adjoining wall woke me up. Probably tired of listening to Morrison which I had left on an endless loop. My head was on the wooden kitchen table where I’d passed out the night before. The same set mom and dad gave me before dad died and it felt like the world should have stopped. But it kept on. Leaving me alone to sob in my cups with Janis Joplin—“Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!”
The smell of cigarette butts and empties lying scattered on the table made my stomach churn. I cradled my head trying to make the throbbing stop. It hurt to breathe. It felt as though the beast was sitting on my chest trying to squeeze the life out of me.
It was the usual kind of awful reserved for the morning after. But this was much worse. Eerie. As though I had crossed over into another line of crazy during the night. And in the hollow of my stomach was an overwhelming sense of impending doom.
I was suddenly frantic.
“WHERE WAS COLE? WHAT WAS HE DOING?? DID HE COME HOME LAST NIGHT? WAS HE OK???”
Then I heard my little man stir.
“Thank you, God!” I mustered up under my breath.
“If I don’t smarten up someone’s going to come and take him away from me,” I whispered out loud my biggest fear, but quietly as if by doing so would make it not real.
When I lifted my head, Cole was standing there staring at me. He was all ready for school. He had grown so much lately, all tall and gangly. His baggy jeans hung off his skinny hips like a scarecrow. I resisted the urge to cinch up his belt as though he were still a little boy. He left without a word or a kiss, the door slamming behind him.
I had a flashback into the night before. I had been on my knees sobbing for mercy. I felt the depth of my sorrow—deep, raw and exposed. The memory of it jumped into my skin and made me want to die all over again.
I will never forget that morning.
I have never felt as desperate or hopeless. Nor wanted a drink so badly in all my life.
Then it hit me.
Lightning bolt strength.
The strongest intuitive message I have ever had.
“If you don’t stop you will die. And without you so will Cole. And it will be soon.” At that same moment, a story flashed through my mind from the local news. It was about a man who’d shot his family and then turned the gun on himself.
I remember thinking, “I know how a person can do that.”
It was my dark night of the soul.
I couldn’t imagine life without alcohol.
But damn it!
My son needed me.
Plus, I’d been on my hands and knees for it. Gone cold turkey for it. Been in the gutter. Humiliated myself, lied, and cheated for it.
I wasn’t willing to die for it!!
That was the day I reached out for help.
That was twenty-five years ago.
10 Ways to Rock Your Recovery
I threw myself into recovery. Some of the changes were immediate. Others have happened over time. Each success builds upon the last.
This is empowerment warrior soul food.
- If you can relate, get help today. This shit called addiction is progressive. Don’t let it take you to the bottom like I did. Save yourself years of torment. It’s all a lie. If I can do it, so can you.
- Perhaps the hardest part is making the decision. Once you do, make it non-negotiable. Instead of drinking, when life knocks you down you get back up. And you get back up. And you get back up, again. Until it becomes a way of life.
- Skin, hair, teeth, and of course breath (like I thought nobody noticed) immediately began to improve. Not drinking or smoking is my fountain of youth.
- Always, always, always surround yourself with mentors and other trusted people who have experienced what you are going through.
- Remain grateful that you no longer suffer from hangovers, blackouts, and cravings. Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write down three things you are grateful for.
- Develop structure and maintain balance throughout the day. Take care of all aspects of your being. Emotional, physical, and spiritual. Find a practice that works for you. Practice. Practice. Practice.
- Never forget what it was like. Live in the grace that you’re granted a second chance.
- Remain open-minded. This allows evolutionary change to take place. The only thing that changes with active addiction is it gets worse. In recovery, the learning never stops. In the beginning, it was about mad, sad, glad. Today, it’s about collective consciousness and being of service. No need to force things to happen. Change is a guarantee.
- Recovery is not defined by an individual’s worldly possessions or successes. These are merely by-products. It’s about moving from a life of self-destruction to one of purpose. Keep moving forward.
- I always wanted to be a good parent, now I am one. And grandparent. The healing ripples into the family and out into the community. In recovery life becomes meaningful through our choices, actions, and significant relationships. Become purposeful in all that you do.
A Gradual Feeling of Coming to Your Senses
The very last thing I expected was a miracle.
When I woke up the next morning I felt lighter in spirit, as though an improved version of me had slipped into my skin. It was wonderful not to have a hangover.
I kept waiting for the craving and mental obsession to return, prepared myself for it. But it did not. It was lifted from me. I know this isn’t everyone’s experience. I am fortunate. In retrospect, there would be other things to deal with.
The first weekend passed. Then a week. A month.
I did not drink.
Despite how crazy things were at home, I was in a state of awe this was happening to me.
The chains were broken.
I no longer felt haunted.
It felt like a miracle.
It felt like divine intervention.
It felt like grace.
Amazing, amazing grace.
Janet Christie is an Addiction Recovery Coach, blogger, educator, and intuit. Janet loves to facilitate positive change which empowers women, mothers, and families. In her spare time, she likes to…haha! Spare time. You are adorable. What is Addiction Recovery Coaching? Book your FREE 30-minute consultation.
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