Recovery Reflections: Long Term Sobriety is Possible

September 10, 2020 by chrysalis

Did you know?

With the prevalence of alcohol abuse and addiction in the U.S. and around the world, the widespread presence of AA is not a surprise. Alcoholics Anonymous has more than 115,000 groups worldwide.5

A large scale survey conducted by AA in 2014 showed that:

  • 32% of people were introduced to the group by another member.
  • An additional 32% were introduced to AA by a treatment facility.
  • 59% of AA members received some form of treatment or counseling prior to entering the program.
  • Of the more than 6,000 members who participated in the study, 27% were sober for less than a year. 24% of the participants were sober 1-5 years. 13% were sober 5-10 years. 14% of the participants were sober 10-20 years, and 22% were sober for 20 or more years.

September is Recovery Month! In honor of this month and the brave souls who’ve forged ahead in their journeys toward recovery, we are featuring anonymous stories from courageous clients who are living life one day at a time in sobriety. Today on the blog, a woman with over a decade of recovery offers her story of hope:

**Trigger Warning: Drug and Alcohol Use**

My journey to recovery began with an apprehensive visit to a 12 step meeting in 2003.  I didn’t go back again until 2007 but I can tell you that things did not get better nor did I “figure out how to manage my drinking” in that timeframe.  I believe that I was born an alcoholic and born predisposed to depression and anxiety.  If you shake my family tree, lots of nuts fall out (including me).  I binge drank alcoholically from the age of 11 and later added in a veritable cornucopia of other substances and addictive behaviors.  I also suffered from body dysmorphia, but I wouldn’t be able to address my eating disorder and dysmorphia until I got sober.

Before sobriety from as young as I can remember I always felt “different” and “less than” and I just didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere.  I lacked the ability to make a true connection with other humans because I was always pretending to be what I thought others would find acceptable or desirable to be around.  I had no idea who I was but who I thought I was was a broken, incomplete and inadequate girl.  In addition to substance I used sex and attention from others to try to fill this vast void of “less than” that was my soul.  This way of living caused me so much emotional pain and physical pain.  I subjected myself to very dangerous and abusive relationships.  I contracted STDs and experienced bouts of physical sickness as a result of the alcohol and drugs.  I could not stand the person I saw in the mirror and I could not come to terms with the person in my head.


I hit my “bottom” in October of 2007 and finally surrendered.  As I mentioned earlier, I’d been dancing around the idea that there was a problem for quite some time but I fully believed to the core of my being that if I could not figure it out on my own, in my own head, that there was just something fundamentally wrong with me as a person.  I’d been in therapy on and off since I was in 3rd grade and that had never helped (I later realized that I had never been honest with another human being about what was going on inside my head, not even all the therapists that I’d seen).  I began to attend 12 step meetings regularly in Oct of 2007.  I was lucky to have other people in my life who were sober and I saw the way they lived.  They never forced me or bullied me into meetings but I could see that they had this lightness about them in the way I had this heavy darkness.  They gave me hope.  I got a sponsor and started working steps and my life started to get exponentially better; I didn’t get a new car or a new house or a new job or even a new husband, I just started to get inner peace and real true joy and connection with other humans in recovery.

Despite my sobriety, I still hated my body and punished myself with my eating disorder and the most hateful internal dialog you can imagine.  I was skinny as a rail, anemic, running compulsively on a daily basis, and significantly restricting my calories; yet I still thought I was fat and ugly.  Here I was working so hard on my sobriety but still treating myself like crap.  A recovery friend suggested I get “outside help” and specifically suggested Chrysalis.  I began going there, not for my body stuff, but for my relationship issues.  The layers began to peel back.  With 12 step and therapy I learned that I could try to change all sorts of things on the outside, even my appearance, but that would not fix the me on the inside.  My therapist said to “befriend myself.”  What a concept.  I’ve always tried to be a good friend to everyone but the girl in my head was so mean to me! How can one get well when the internal dialog is always demeaning, hateful and shaming?

I continued to work the 12 steps and incorporated some new tools as well as medication for my brain (as I mentioned earlier, born an alcoholic and come from a long line of anxious depressive women).  Today, almost 13 years later, I still do these things and more.  I have a life where I do service for people in and out of recovery.  I have a job that is a direct result of my recovery that allows me to give back.  I still go to meetings, do step work, talk to others in recovery, have a sponsor, sponsor people, attend therapy and work on a daily practice of loving myself unconditionally.  From a broken, emotionally bankrupt and wounded person I have found purpose, serenity and peace.  Even on my dark days in sobriety I still experience joy.  I am not special and I am not unique, this path is available to you too.  There is always hope.  Reach out.  You are not alone.





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