Drinking coffee by the pool on the island of Roatan, Honduras. Not going to lie, these are the moments I REALLY miss drinking. A few years ago I would have had a mimosa in my hand and a nice buzz going already. It's 10 am. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and I acknowledge that I am where I am today, right now, because I decided that champagne for breakfast was no longer acceptable for me.
I didn't do anything miraculous, I just made a choice.
I feel like I got off easy with my addiction. I know it's not so simple for some people. I haven't struggled like some of my friends. I haven't had any real desire to go back out. I haven't relapsed or needed a hospitalization or treatment or a DUI to hit my bottom. I knew I was never going to be the person I wanted to be if I kept using. I knew I as never going to meet my fitness, financial, travel or relationship goals if I stayed the same.
So I made a choice to change.
Look on the internet and there are many websites that tell you addiction is a choice.
In my past life I was a Drug and Alcohol Counselor and was taught that addiction is a disease, that we don't have a choice. I was taught that addiction could not be stopped without some sort of medical intervention, like detox and inpatient treatment. If you were a true addict or alcoholic, you needed treatment and total abstinence, as well as AA, a sponsor, meetings and lots of coffee. Relapses were normalized as 'part of the process' and something that you'd learn from and then move on.
None of this has been my experience with MY addiction and MY recovery.
I didn't go to treatment to get sober, although I probably should have as a 16 year old meth user. I have some serious Guardian Angels with me because looking back, I don't know how I got out of that lifestyle relatively unscathed. I am so grateful to the Mama Goddess, the Head Honcho, the Universe, my Higher Power, whoever is out there looking out for me, for getting me out alive, healthy, and with a good head on my shoulders, despite my attempt to sabotage everything that was good in my life.
I didn't go to treatment when I got fired from my job for dealing drugs. I didn't go to treatment when a boyfriend tried to have an intervention with me (while I was high on ecstasy, mind you) and I laughed in his face, told him he was a dick and I was just having some fun. I didn't go to treatment when I passed out on the bus and woke up miles from my stop. I didn't go to treatment when I was 33 and passed out on the sidewalk, at the bus stop. I didn't even make it onto the damn bus that time!!
I didn't hit one big bottom. My bottom came in stages and lasted ten years.
The way I was going, I can't even imagine what a big bottom would have looked like. Driving drunk and high could have cost me not only my life, but the lives of my friends and strangers, and yet I was never in an accident or arrested. The amount of pills I was taking in one night could have killed me, not to mention the mixing of uppers and downers, combined with alcohol. How my body never gave out, I have no idea. But in the back of my head, I knew it was only a matter of time. I knew I was rolling the dice. Towards the end, every time I used, I knew it could be my last. What a way to start your night, thinking you could die. And yet, I still took all 10 pills that I had brought with me to the club.
Was this a choice? Or the disease of addiction?
Am I less of an addict because I didn't go to treatment? Am I less of an alcoholic because I didn't use AA to get sober, I haven't had the urge to go back out, and I don't need meetings? Am I less of an addict because this hasn't been a complete and total struggle for me? I have immense feelings of guilt when I see my friends go in and out of jail and treatment. How did I get off so easy? Maybe I'm not an addict after all! Maybe I could have a glass of wine with dinner and be ok! (Addict thinking.)
And now it is about choice. Daily, I am making a choice to stay sober. I am making the choice to stay healthy, to ask for help when I need it, to seek out sober friendships. I made the choice to remove people from my life that were still in that lifestyle, friendships that I thought would last a lifetime. I choose to drink juice and water when all I want is to slam a few shots to forget my shitty day. I choose to talk about my feelings and fears and goals, and I choose to open up to people who encourage me and support me. I choose to focus on my travel/business/relationship goals, knowing their success depends on my sobriety.
What are you choosing today?