I’m so passionate about stories. I want to hear the stories that have shaped people, inspired people, and challenged people. I believe we can learn so much about others and truly love them better if we just understood them. Their past, their pains, their accomplishments - all of these things help us know them better. For the next few weeks I’m sharing the stories of women who have changed their world and the world around them, whether that be through food, self care, lifestyle change, or through emotional healing. I want to share your personal successes, your dreams and goals, your passions, and your stories of strength in adversity. I want you to be heard and celebrated.
Today I’m sharing the story of Becca who has found immeasurable strength in recovery. I hope it inspires you and challenges how you look at addiction.
Hello, my name is Becca and I am an addict and alcoholic. I am equally both and find importance in identifying as such. With this being said, I am grateful to say that I am sober today and have been since July 7th, 2013. My journey may not sound like one that comes to mind when thinking of an addict or alcoholic. My story does not include childhood trauma, lack of proper instillation of morals and values, an extensive resume of criminal charges and incarcerations, intravenous use while living homeless under a bridge, or walking the street corner with a bottle in a brown bag while holding a sign explaining my well thought-out plan to manipulate money out of you. In fact, my story does not include any of these things.
I was raised in a home filled with love, rules, support, encouragement, and consistency. My parents offered nothing less than a perfect childhood for me where hard work, accountability, and integrity were valued. Despite these idealistic early life experiences, I still found myself attracted to the lifestyle involving alcohol and drug use while entering into high school. My story does not include peer pressure or being offered a substance by a friend for my first-time use. In fact, it is quite opposite. My first time drinking alcohol and experimentation with all substances involved me activity seeking it. I will never forget the instant relief and comfort that was experienced in those instances.
See, I could have never articulate this back then, but my reality is that I never felt comfortable in my own skin. Never did I feel good enough, accepted, or that I was meeting expectations; however, all of this changed once I took that first drink, hit, etc. The internal turmoil of my mind would be silenced and I would experience a peace that was never before felt. This is what I would chase for the next seven years of my life. From the ages of 15 through 22, the comforting bliss that was experienced early on quickly diminished and my use was no longer a luxury, but a necessity.
From the outside looking in, many would have not known that there was a problem. I managed to graduate high school, obtain my bachelors degree in three years, and graduate with employment in my desired field. I was the definition of a functioning addict/alcoholic, and this is what kept me sick for a very long time. It reinforced a delusion that what I was not as bad as the people who I knew used and weren’t functioning as well as I was. I can tell you though that I don’t remember very much from what I learned in college, that I cheated and manipulated in order to graduate, that I simply quit jobs before they fired me, and that I often manipulated any situation that I could in order to maintain the persona that I so highly valued.
On the inside I was a lying, cheating, stealing, broken individual. I was aggressive or passive, depressed, consumed with anxiety, and downright miserable. I had broken relationships, couldn’t trust a single person that I identified as friend, was dishonest in every way to my family, and was ashamed of myself. Toward the tail-end of my use, I was suicidal with all of the qualifications required to be admitted into a behavioral health unit for suicide watch.
It was Spring 2013 and I didn’t know where to go for help. At the time, I was drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, and I honestly did not think that people went to rehab for just using these substances. I had this weird conception that my use was not bad enough, but I didn’t know where to start for recovery. How to do you go to your parents, who raised you to be a healthy member of society, and explain to them that the past seven years have been anything but that. I just simply did not know what to do, so the contemplation of ending my life continued.
Fortunately, I did not follow through with these acts because I had an unborn nephew on the way. I couldn’t imagine putting my sister-in- law through the pain of my death while still being pregnant and then having a new life enter this world.
My nephew was born on June 13th, 2013. You may notice that my sobriety date is just weeks after this, I believe that God used my nephew to keep me alive long enough to be introduced to a new way of living. That same week that he was born, a previous relationship was rekindled with someone who had become sober since we last spoke a year earlier. I had no intention of reaching out to them for help nor did I even tell him that I needed it. However, the time that I spent with him involved being around other individuals who were my age and sober. They were happy, had a light in their eye, and did not need a substance to enjoy their time spent with one another.
I felt accepted by these people and realized I didn’t feel uneasy or inadequate while in their company. I was intrigued and attracted to what they had in life. I found myself asking questions about how they did it and what worked for them. I soon attended a convention for young people who were in recovery where I was surrounded by thousands of others just like them. I didn’t go to this event to work towards maintaining sobriety; I simply wanted to spend my time with them. What I instead discovered was a message of hope that was life altering.
Some of those same friends are still in my life today and the actions to maintain their sobriety are same ones that I have taken myself. It is through honesty, willingness, and an open mind that I am able to wake up in the morning without feeling the need to use; but above all else, it is by the grace of God that my nephew does not have to see me intoxicated or be a part of the whirlwind which is my addiction. The steps that were taught to me and that I take today aren’t always easy, but they work for me. I have amended the wrongs of my past and have walked through immense fear in going back to those who I have harmed. I am able to help others today who have walked a similar path and are seeking redemption.
Those feelings of inadequacy and discomfort are still present in my life when I don’t continuously practice the skills that I have learned, but I am no longer compelled to put a substance in my body to alter my experience. There have been times in my recovery that depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts have returned but I have learned to find balance in both my emotional, mental, and physical well being to identify and correct concerns causing that pain.
I have found that successful sobriety, for me, includes a connection with a higher power that I choose to call God. Through this relationship, I am able to watch for and properly address anger, selfishness, resentment, fear, and dishonesty. I am able to be the person that I aspire to be, I am able to have healthy relationships with others, I am welcomed into my parents’ home, I am trusted to watch my niece and nephew and am allowed to be a part of their lives.
In addition to all of this, more days than not, I am able to experience peace within my mind and soul. I could have never imagined the life that I have today when I entered into this journey 45 months ago, but I can tell you that I am grateful there were forces greater than me working through others to bring me to a place of serenity.
I am so grateful to share Becca’s story. Addiction comes in many forms and affects many people. In Becca’s experience, she didn’t fit the “mold” of an addict that society believes in. I hope her story inspires you to see addiction differently and to love those who struggle. If you’re battling addiction, please seek help. Just like Becca, you're worth it.