I've spent a lot of time thinking about this lately. When do I get to tell my recovery story? It's a little bit like being a cancer survivor. Are you one from the first day? Do I consider myself a recovery hero today? Do I consider myself a recovery hero from the day I first decided to be one?
This is my story. These things are true for me. Maybe they are not true for you or for the people you know or know about, but they are my truths.
At some point in my life I learned to use alcohol to an extent that was not healthy for me. It was important for me to figure out the reasons but they aren't central to the story. From time to time, alcohol was a problem for me and I always recovered. It has been more of a problem for me in the last couple years and now I am recovering from that.
I'm lucky that in between these periods of over-drinking, I had long periods of time when I didn't. I have built a rich, full life. I have many friends and I have a husband who loves me. I had a rewarding career, raised up some fine kids, and have a cozy home.
As I have read about addictive behavior, and believe me, I have read a lot, I have had to challenge my old ways of thinking.
There are as many ways into addictive behavior as there are ways out of addiction. Not everybody goes to AA and not everybody goes to treatment. Many people recover, as I have, on their own, with support from an online group. Many people give up addictive behaviors without any of that.
I do not have a disease. My addictive behavior is something that developed and it is something from which I can recover. I have the skills and resources to recover nicely. I do not need an ideology, a religion, a supreme being, or an expensive treatment center. I will not always have this addictive behavior. Some people may think differently about their addictions and that's ok. Whatever works.
One drink, or one night of drinking does not make me go back to the beginning. Just because I have had some drinking days in the months since I began this journey, does not mean I am doomed to failure. It means I am learning. It means I am human.
Only I have the right to name my addictive behavior. Nobody else has the right to label me or my behavior and I don't need to be called an alcoholic or shamed for my drinking. Nobody besides me knows the reasons for my behavior and therefore, they can't dictate the way for me to recover.
There is a terrible stigma that comes along with addictive behaviors and many people are quick to label others and recommend what these people should do to get better. Unfortunately, they are not always right and sometimes their blaming, shaming, and recommending does more harm than good.
I decided if I wanted to do something about the stigma of addiction, I needed to be more honest and open about it on a personal level.
So, there it is. I have suffered from an addictive behavior. Now I am recovered.
I am stepping back into my rich full life. I am reclaiming my health and well-being.