Today I am confident in who I am. I am able to be fully present as a wife, mother of two amazing teenagers, daughter, sponsor, friend, leader in my fellowship and Peer Counselor.
As far back as I can remember, I struggled with my identity and self-confidence. I was raised by my grandparents because my mom and dad separated when I was still an infant. Although I received love, attention, and material comforts from my grandparents, I often felt isolated and insecure. My grandmother could be volatile one moment and loving the next. I never knew what to expect from her. My grandfather was the calm in the storm and never took her temper tantrums seriously. I was caught in the middle, so I usually stayed in my room with the door closed and my headphones on, to avoid her unpredictable moods. My parents were an inconsistent presence in my life. My dad was the fun, “weekend dad,” while my mom was mostly serious and unengaged. I experienced a lot of confusing thoughts and emotions because of my complicated relationship with them.
I was always a shy child. When depression and anxiety began to creep in, I thought those were just the side effects of being introverted. I saw my shyness as a character flaw. I was always subconsciously searching for ways to feel more comfortable in my own skin, but nothing seemed to relieve the dis-ease I felt within myself. As an adolescent, I developed an unhealthy relationship with food. Food was a reward and comfort. My food addiction led to an eating disorder in my teens and 20’s. That was followed by over a decade of substance misuse. Alcohol became my preferred strategy to help alleviate the inner voice that told me I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough. Initially, alcohol helped me navigate anxiety-producing social situations by providing me with false confidence. However, it became an all-consuming necessity for coping with daily life. My life became increasingly unmanageable, and my addiction was taking its toll on me mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Eventually, the pain (guilt and powerlessness) of drinking became bigger than any perceived payoff. At that point, I was ready to reach out for help. I walked into my first 12 Step fellowship on a cold December night in 2014, full of fear and 4 days sober. I have not had another drink since! With the wisdom of the 12 Steps and the support of other wonderful, recovered addicts, I have embarked on a path of discovery. I realized it’s not what we do, it’s why we do what we do! I’ve spent many years working to identify and unravel the coping mechanisms that no longer serve me, so that my true identity and purpose could be revealed. Today I am more confident in who I am. I am able to be fully present as a wife, mother of two amazing teenagers, daughter, sponsor, friend, leader in my fellowship and Peer Counselor. I continue to learn about and implement various recovery modalities in my life. I have come to accept that I am a work in progress, and I will never be perfect. If I choose a spirit of gratitude and live in the present moment, then I can appreciate the beauty and joy in my messy life! Step 12 asks us to serve others by sharing our experience, strength and hope to a hurting world. I feel like it is my mission to help light the way for the next person. At MHAET, I can offer an empathetic ear, some words of encouragement and resources to folks who may be ready to begin their recovery/discovery journey!