On January 17th, 2018, I voluntarily checked myself into an inpatient detox facility in Fort Wayne, Indiana. My drinking had once again become out of control. Actually, that’s an exaggeration. My drinking had become necessary for me to function. My body and brain were both screaming for help. I was trapped. Alcohol was killing me and I knew it, but at the same time, I HAD to drink to survive. If I went more than a few hours without drinking I would literally go crazy. My mind would race but at the same time couldn’t form a rational thought. My body would start reacting. Tightness in my chest. Unable to get air in Tingling in my hands and feet. Sweating like crazy. Shaking so bad I couldn’t even walk. Every time I made a desperate attempt to stop drinking on my own I would end up in the emergency room needing sedatives. I’ve hallucinated, had seizures and attempted to harm myself in withdrawing from alcohol. I couldn’t live with it and couldn’t live without it. I was tired of battling it. I didn’t want to drink. I hadn’t wanted to drink in quite some time. Ever since I first went to a rehab facility in East Chicago in December of 2014. That was a 30-day program which I successfully completed and then managed to remain sober for over 5 months before a pretty epic relapse that landed me in the Marion County Jail in Indianapolis, Indiana. But that’s a story for another time. I have so many stories for another time. I’ll get to all of them in future posts but for now, let’s focus on the present.
Presently, I am 199 days sober. Yes, I still count the days. Actually, there’s an app for that. I use NOMO Sobriety Clock. A constant reminder on my phone of how far I’ve come. A little over six and a half months. The longest I’ve been sober since I started drinking at the age of 16. I’m 34 years old, I’ll turn 35 later this month. That’s over half of my life that alcohol has been a part of. It wasn’t always a problem though. I’m not sure exactly when it became a problem, I’d say somewhere in my mid 20’s. The point is when they say alcoholism is a progressive disease, they’re right in my case. And yes, I said disease. But again, that’s a story for another time. You’ll get used to that. My thoughts are often fast and sporadic. I’ll go off on tangents. I’m learning to embrace it. Just acknowledge the flaw and fix it, right? In fact, that’s the concept behind the name OWN Sobriety. There’s no fancy acronym for OWN, it literally just means own it. Acknowledge it, embrace it, make it a lifestyle. The level of anonymity is up to you. I get that not everyone is like me and willing to throw it out there and talk about it publicly. There’s a stigma, there always will be. But for me, it’s so much more important to share my story and my journey in hopes that it can be of help to someone else. I’m very introverted so this isn’t easy for me at all. But it matters to me. Addiction is hell. It will take everything from you. It will kill you. And that is why I’m so passionate about recovery. So passionate that I plan to make it my new career. I start classes at the beginning of next year for a degree in Addiction Counseling from Indiana Wesleyan University.
So back to this present thing. As I said, I am currently 199 days sober from alcohol. That’s also how long it’s been since I’ve smoked a cigarette but that wasn’t intentional, it just kind of happened. How does one unintentionally quit smoking? Well, I just never started back up again after I got out of that 8-day inpatient detox I mentioned at the beginning. I’m weird though, I never really had an issue with smoking. I could always start and stop fairly easily. Recovery from any unhealthy addiction is hard. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It sucks. Dealing with life without some sort of escape or numbing agent straight up blows. But it is sooooo worth it. Life is so much better without relying on a substance. There’s adventure and potential and happiness. I try to avoid the typical cliches but my worst day sober is way better than my best day drinking. I was given a life and up to this point, it hasn’t turned out even close to how I imagined it. I never thought I’d be a couple weeks away from turning 35 years old and working my ass off to resist the urge to drink a poison. And that’s not even the hardest part. What really sucks is trying to build a life basically from scratch while trying to figure out who the hell I really am at the same time. I covered up my feelings with booze and pills for so long that I lost who I am. I never gave myself a chance to truly find myself as an adult. Anxiety has always existed for me. Way before I ever took a drink I was always a shy and reserved and introverted kid. I’ve never directly faced it head on, I found alcohol and pills to cover it up and have hid behind that all of my adult life. So this journey has been very complicated. The final straw that led to entering the detox facility this time was seeing a specialist for my anxiety and tremors. The doctor said I needed to get clean before he would treat me so we had a real baseline to work from. Two days later I checked myself in. My life had become so unmanageable, I could barely walk across the street to the bar that I went to every single night without having a panic attack. I was sick of being weak and I was desperate to fix it. So I listened to that doctor and got clean. And for the most part, I’ve been listening to everything that professionals have told me since. I just finished a 16-week relapse prevention group at a local treatment center. During that 16 weeks, I didn’t miss or wasn’t late to a single meeting. I also currently meet with a substance abuse counselor and/or case manager weekly at that same treatment center. Again, I haven’t missed or been late to a single appointment in six months. The way I was doing things wasn’t working so I’m willing to at the very least listen to what they have to say. And usually, it’s what is best for me. It’s being an adult and figuring out my problems. I’ve had a lot of bumps in the road in the past 6-plus months but life is exciting again. Freedom is amazing. I feel like I’m actually living life for the first time in a long time. I still have a lot, and I really mean a LOT, of work to do but the challenges are exciting and I’m eager to find out what I’m going to learn about myself as I take them on. There’s just a fresh perspective and I feel the most grounded I have ever felt. That’s what I want anyone reading this to take away from this first post. If there’s something you’re not happy about in your life, take responsibility for it…OWN IT (always in all caps, you can’t own it in lower case)…and work your ass off to change it. I always thought amazing transformations were something that happened to other people until I started putting the work it and seeing results myself.
I have a million ideas of what I want to talk about and what I want this blog to be. I’ve been stuck on how to start off so I thought I’d just start typing and get the first post out there. I didn’t necessarily think it would be this long and there’s a lot of editing I want to do but I’ve decided I’m not going to…this is me. This is how I think and write. Like everything, I’ll get better at this as I go but not starting because I want everything to be perfect is something I’m learning to overcome. I hope people will read and respond and help me find my groove as I go. Feel free to send me a message via social media or e-mail or the contact page about anything at all.
Much more to come. Love y’all.