My first sobriety began August 1, 1993. I call it a “pink lace” sobriety – that is, it was a dainty process. I went to meetings periodically, didn’t have any books or a sponsor, and waited three years to do the first 4 steps because I didn’t know how and didn’t ask. I could manage sobriety because although I had been drinking since age 11 my disease was, apparently, not yet fully consuming. I quit not because I wanted to but because I hurt my 6-year old son and was deeply ashamed and scared for our future together. I remained sober through a second marriage and divorce, and through a third marriage with a sober man. However, 14 years into sobriety my husband disappeared, only to send word through an intermediary that he never loved me but instead had been addicted to me and would thus not be returning.
Any excuse to drink, right? I figured that if sobriety, AA, and a Higher Power couldn’t keep the 10 year marriage together, then there was no reason to be sober anymore. I started drinking, smoking, and drugging because it no longer mattered if I lived or died. And I damn near died 9 months later from a suicide attempt. A friend happened to phone while I was choking on vomit and called 911. Police and paramedics tied me unwillingly to a gurney and trucked me to the local hospital rehab ward. Sixteen medications and 9 days later I emerged from inpatient straight to outpatient treatment, then to counseling and psychiatric drug treatment. It took 4 months to recover from the suicide attempt and get sober; another 6 months to regain my abstract thought skills; and a full year to regain my physical fitness and coordination. I have no brain damage. I didn’t lose my job or my house or my car. I am a child of God, and His Higher Power has a purpose that I have yet to fulfill. I am grateful.
So here I am 5 years later still sober, finished with therapy, no longer on psychiatric drugs, and recreational drug and nicotine free. I have retired my from a well-paying job with a strong annuity in place and have moved to rural Virginia with my boyfriend of 3 years to live as an academic’s partner and run a farm. My family and friends are supportive by phone and social media, and I have found a 12-step group in my new town. It is possible to recover from a relapse when the disease has progressed significantly – but while my first round of getting sober was like pink lace, my second round 5 years ago was a punch-throwing, mud-slinging, crawl-out-of-a-dark-hole scary creepy mess that took 12 months. What keeps me sober is knowing that I will not survive getting sober ever again. I am scared scared scared of relapse so I read the Big Book, the 12 and 12, several spiritual guides, and meditate while walking around the farm. I will find a sponsor. I am not anonymous and my phone is always on to anyone who has a problem, thinks they may have a problem, or would like a new way of life. I am grateful.”