Lisa S

I just celebrated six years of continuous sobriety. Alcohol was always my main addiction, even when pills or cocaine played a significant role in it as well.

I took my first drink at age eight, and I decided that I liked the taste of it. When I look back, I see that it wasn’t the taste of alcohol that lured me, it was the feeling of escape that drew me in.

When I tell my story today, I sometimes have to leave this part blank or I often start crying: My stepbrother started molesting me when I was in elementary school. He was 18 years old at the time. It continued for a couple years until I told my mom about it, then it stopped. He also raped a woman. I found the knife he used in that rape and had to testify against him, and he was sentenced to jail. On top of those traumatic experiences, I also didn’t feel good about myself, got bullied in school, had no self-esteem or sense of self-worth, so I started to numb myself.

I have only recently begun to deal with all of those events that happened in my early life. I have to remind myself that I might help someone else to find her way out and into recovery if I share my story.
It is my story, but my past doesn’t make me who I am today. I don’t have to be that victim or that broken girl anymore. Today, I can be the beautiful, powerful woman that God wants me to be. By telling my story, I can hopefully help someone who has been through a similar experience, who gets what I have been through, who has experienced similar. There are a lot of us.

For a long time, I thought that I was to blame for one sexual assault experience that happened to me during the days I used to use drugs and alcohol. Today I know that it is not true– I didn’t say “yes”; I didn’t deserve that. Today I know that I deserve to be treated with kindness. Learning to love myself has changed everything. I’m better than this. This knowledge was freeing. My urge to numb myself went away. At the present time I enjoy the beauty of the ocean, see incredible beauty in nature, trees and flowers. All those things that I didn’t allow myself to see before. I feel blessed today to see beauty today.

I continued to drink heavily through high school, yet somehow I remained very active in sports—I was a diver, I played soccer and I was a swimmer. I was never especially great at anything, but enjoyed a variety of things. I never stayed long enough at one particular activity to become great, the party always took priority.

During my teen and young adult years, I was okay with being a party girl. It was okay to give a speech at school wearing two different shoes in the morning, or write a paper at 7 am and turn it in, smashed, a few hours later. It is a miracle that I actually got my degree. I took me seven years, and I have actually no idea how I managed it, but I graduated.

When I got out of college, I lost all kinds of jobs and sabotaged everything that was important to me. None of the consequences ever stopped me—I seemed to recover the majority of things I lost over time. I lost my license, so I drove a bike for a while. I lost relationships just to find other dysfunctional relationships to replace the lost ones. My negative self-talk was always at the forefront– it was all about being not good enough in my life. I was never okay with who I was, where I was, or the way I felt.

My relationship with my mother required a lot of work from me. It was toxic for a long time. She put a lot of her own personal shame onto me, which I absorbed. I spent many years of my life hating her because of that. I was eventually able to understand that she is who she is, and was able to turn things around for the better relationship I have with her today. I love her for the person she is and there is no reason to let my resentments and my shame keep us from having a good relationship. I love my father, too. He did the best he could. There were times that he was my hero; at other times I felt he was completely absent. But he always did the best he could and loved me to the best of his ability.

I appreciate my parents today for who they are and the way they love me. I’m rekindling my relationship to my sister, who is a beautiful woman that I love.
My stepbrother served his time in jail for raping that woman. He was released from jail, and I made peace with him and the situation. He died six months after his release from jail due to silent heart failure at age 38. I believe my mother and sister never forgave him, not necessarily for what he had done to me, but for what he had done to the family. I no longer have anger toward him.

I was 38 years old when I finally lost my soul and wanted to die. Since then, the 12 steps have done wonders for me and my recovery. By the time I reached my rock bottom, I was a school teacher with two DUI arrests. After that second DUI, I had to spend several hours in jail. They gave me my mugshot and as I looked at this picture in jail, I had a moment of clarity, my moment of truth. I knew then that if I don’t change I would die.

That day, I made the decision to change my life and stop drinking. I still drank heavily for the next six months after that. I made a decision to stop, but I can’t recall exactly how, when, or where. I went to treatment and decided to live.
I relapsed once and picked up a white chip after treatment; I never gave up wanting to live. I consider myself to have been ‘dry’ for the first year in the 12-Step fellowship– I was white-knuckling it. I was fearful; I was in misery and depression. I was of no use to myself or others. Then, one day, I saw a woman that was happy to not drink, she was happy with her life. I was wondering what she did differently from me. I finally decided to try truly working the steps and my life changed. I know today that I have to keep myself in balance to be of use.

It hasn’t been all easy: After about four years of recovery, the road narrowed for me, and I realized that I needed to have some additional therapy to regain my life and happiness. I took action more quickly that time, and it helped.

Today I work for a company located in Florida that I truly believe in. It makes me passionate for my own recovery and passionate to help others. I always lived in Florida, and I even went to college in Florida.

I love working for charity projects today. I help others with substance use disorders, participate in women empowerment organizations, and more. When I retire, I would love to have a cat rescue.
I realize that I still have to do more work on myself—I need to find more balance when it comes to picking up new hobbies. I love the beach and I love the outdoors. I would love to try yoga and go to the gym. There are many things that I would love to do, and I do need to do more for myself. For instance, I haven’t been to a movie in a while, and I haven’t just spent time on the beach with a good novel recently. There are many exciting things around the corner and I look forward to what God has planned for me.

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