I'm sharing a story from a former SparkPeople member and she gave me permission to share and I'm so honored to know that I had a part in helping her to get there:
How did I get here?
A lot of the reason behind my almost daily posts this month is to, in my small way, help break down the stigma that surrounds addiction. Rather than posting some link to a no drinking article or an inspirational quote, this will be a bit of sharing on how I got to be here. It’s not a tale of attending rehab or a doctor’s visit with bad test results. Rather, it’s a story of how I reached a point in my life where alcohol was simply no longer “doing it” for me.
Back up about five years: I started a healthy lifestyle of eating well and exercising and losing weight. I was a member of a wonderful site called SparkPeople to help me achieve these weight loss goals. Within this online community were lifestyle subgroups and one was geared towards abstaining from alcohol. I joined that group and I remember being in awe of the people in that group who had cut alcohol out of their life. Even at that time, it was obviously niggling in the back of my mind that it was something I needed to explore a bit further. Hélène (Healthy4Life360) became instrumental in my journey. She was supportive and encouraging, she was the same age as me also with a September birthday, she was Canadian and above all, she wasn’t drinking.
With the help of SparkPeople I reached my weight loss goals so I just kind of carried on with my life: eating well, exercising and drinking alcohol. Fast forward about three years. I was becoming a bit more uncomfortable with my relationship with wine. I just liked it too much and the thought of stopping drinking didn’t seem easy. I recall one day looking at my life as it was at that point and fast forwarded to a few years down the road when I was retired. I didn’t like what I saw. I figured it was time to call it quits before I was indeed getting a DUI or my doctor was telling me about my bad blood test results...or worse.
So I pursued quitting. I wasn’t sure how to do it as I was digging my heels in about attending a 12 step group. I turned back to SparkPeople and that subgroup of no drinking and someone shared about a book they had read called This Naked Mind by Annie Grace. It intrigued me. I read up on her and I downloaded the book to my phone and joined her online community forum. For the first time I had hope that I was on my way to putting alcohol behind me.
I started tracking the days I had wine and the days I didn’t. I started tracking an estimate of the money I potentially saved by not having booze. The days and dollars started adding up. The online community was amazing. It was the first time in my acknowledgement of the struggle with booze that I felt like I wasn’t the only one in the world with this problem. That was the most freeing feeling ever.
So it took about a month or a little more of stops and starts but I reached a point where I just knew in my heart that I had bought my last bottle of wine. I had my last glass on March 20, 2017 and March 21, 2017 was my last Day 1.
My point in this lengthy story is that there is no One Size Fits All when it comes to Substance Use Disorder. It doesn’t matter how much you drink when you reach a point where it no longer serves you; what’s important is acknowledging YOUR unhealthy intake and your desire to quit. It’s okay to quit before we lose our health, our family, our job, our licence.
And knowing that if you choose to walk down the path of sobriety, you are not walking it alone. You have access to thousands of other badass sober people who are walking with you, cheering you along every step of the way.
Best. Feeling. Ever.