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The main problem I faced was a distorted belief system. I felt that love came with accomplishments and accolades. I didn't believe that I was good enough to love as is. When love is missing, a lot of negative stuff comes out of the woodwork: anger, resentment, fear, jealousy.
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Guilt and regret are the ugly Hyde to the Jekyll of sobriety, even years in. With new awareness, we relive past experiences---or in many cases bemoan what might have been. Pain and sorrow previously numbed by a drug or drink of choice is glaringly present, and strikes unpredictably---in the midst of a family gathering; alone, late at night; smack in the middle of an important work presentation, or during a particularly deep yoga class.
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A startup based in British Columbia is offering Canadians a new, and effective, way to combat alcoholism. It flies in the face of Alcoholics Anonymous' "cold turkey" method, which has been shown to have a sucess rate between 5 and 10 per cent. There's just one catch: You need to keep drinking.
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I may not be popular for saying this, but guess what -- people relapse; that's a reality on the path to recovery. And if anything, over the years, I've discovered that the more people who know I'm in recovery, the more support I'm exposed to when I might be struggling and prone for a relapse.
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If anyone you care about is struggling, it's so important to let them know you care and are there for them. These conversations aren't easy, but if you need to determine if you or a loved one has an alcohol addiction, the 20-questions assessment from Johns Hopkins University is a strong indication of a drinking problem.
Within the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, the word "recovered" comes up at lot, and come to think of it, why wouldn't it? Many an addict latches on to that idea as a desperate lifeline of hope. I, on the other hand, have grown to embrace the fact that until the day I die, I will be a recovering alcoholic. I long ago decided to make peace with this disease, but that in no way makes me immune to feeling frustrated and angry by the circumstances surrounding my relationship with the addiction.
Giving up drinking for nine months was easy. It was a no brainer. Plus I was so nauseous I don't think I could have had a drink even if I had wanted to. But here's the kicker. I've officially given up alcohol. For good. My son is almost one year old and I'm coming up to two years sober.
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I celebrated a year of sobriety in February. That first year is selfish in many ways--and necessarily so. After all, without sobriety, I am no good to anyone--to my child, my family, even strangers. In fact, I'm the flat out opposite of good, without sobriety. But now, almost 14 months in, there is space in my life to help others.
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What I do not regret is this: my struggle shaped me, and changed me, and helped me become the person I am now. That is, a woman that seeks progress, not perfection. A woman who knows that no matter how far down you go, you can come back, a mother that has earned her way back into this precious boy's life, and learns every day how to parent better.
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I don't want to tell you the story of my drunkenness. You've heard it before, or seen it before, or a version of it. It is not unique. I don't have a tale to weave for you of bizarre miracles and angels and heavenly choirs. I want to tell you of simple amazement. I fell, upwards. I fell into a life, once I stopped shaking and twitching and seeing things and vomiting. This has not just been a sobriety lesson, but a life one. At school, with loved ones, even (perhaps especially and most simply) on my writing journey -- honesty, being open and willing to accept some guidance goes a long way.
Dad's recent bout with sobriety was four or five years ago, and lasted over a year. During that time, he was very good to his family. Dad's wellness certainly did not last long though, and within just over a year, he had determined he 'didn't need help anymore' and was back inside the cycle of pills and alcohol. At this point in my life, my father is still an alcoholic and an addict, and he has survived tremendous odds. He is a good man. Addiction is nasty company.
Marie Hopps was the first person I ever met who thought I was lovely, just because I existed. Every few days, I would stumble into Marie's apartment from one of my escapades, looking like a tomcat with a missing eye or a torn ear. She would patiently make a pot of tea and offer me chocolate digestive cookies, seemingly unfazed by the sight of my bloodshot eyes. I miss her.