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What it means to be a grateful alcoholic

Just about a year ago, I had a guest blogger who happens to be a nurse in Maine. She published two honest pieces as an active alcoholic who struggled long and hard to get sober and embrace recovery. What a difference a year makes! Here’s her latest essay:


I’ve been sober almost a year now, and my life has changed immeasurably. This morning as I dressed to get to my early AA meeting, I stopped mid toothbrushing and smiled. I started down the steps to the coffee pot and giggled at the sight of two horrendously happy retrievers lazing over furniture. Delightful contentment.  My heart is filled with joy.

A year ago I was asked to write about what I expected to get from sobriety.  I chose to write instead about what I wished for because I had long given up on getting anything.   The list included the ability to take care of my children, to pay my bills, and to get to work in good shape every day.  The frivolous in me wanted a garden and the desire to weed it.

A year later I can tell you that I have all of these things and much, much more.

What I got was my mind back:  a brain that not only takes me through daily tasks but ponders things, like the prevalence of anxiety in the geriatric population and ways to make my work atmosphere better. Critical thinking. I am so incredibly thankful to have this ability return.

A year ago I was preoccupied with strategies for buying, consuming, and hiding the alcohol. Every day. Every hour of every day.  That was pretty much it. Oh, and staying physically away from anyone, so that they could not see me or smell me.  I was hiding shame, exhaustion, incompetence, and physical wasting.

Never mind that I have children that can now be with me today,  I can actively parent.  I am learning by doing, how to have hard conversations with teenagers about surviving peer relationships.  I stopped being afraid of them not liking me and started sharing what I’ve learned about life.

I have a distinct memory of a day in February a year ago when I started drinking to oblivion at 9 am with two young teens in the house.  It ended about 4 pm with me calling their father in another town and asking him to take them, possibly forever, because I was desperately ill.  A few hours prior I  had called someone in recovery who I had just met. She said to me, “Look what I have now. I retired early, I have a ton of friends, the freedom to pursue my hobbies, and an ass-kicking boyfriend.  You can have this too.”  Yeah, right.  A life second to none, they promise.

The beauty of today is seeing it come true. I am so grateful to be free of the horrid suffering that defined my life as an alcoholic, suffering of both my children and myself. It’s not the big stuff, but the deep inside stuff that I value so. I look forward to every day, days that have nothing to do with consumption, but are about people, sharing, appreciation, service, and love.

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