May 14 - An Act of Bravery

She was the first person on the call. She was ready to talk, and I could hear the courage in her quivering voice as she whispered, “Hello.”

“How are you, sweetie?” I asked.

Her tears started spilling forth as she recounted drinking the previous night. “I think I am an alcoholic,” she sobbed. “I used to think it was just a bad habit, but now I think I probably am an alcoholic.”

Each time she uttered the word “alcoholic” she sounded overcome with emotion. She seemed distraught on the one hand but full of hope on the other. It was if she felt caught between two worlds, but fortunately her wisdom was leading her away from her addiction. Truth had broken through the bonds of denial at last.

How did this happen? How did she have this miraculous peek into the truth? The answer is courage...both hers and her significant other’s. Last night he had dared to speak of the “elephant in the living room.” He had dared to talk about what neither of them ever mentioned. He told her that she didn’t need to get so “hammered, that she didn’t need to drink so much.” He loved her enough to risk her not liking him so much for a while.

There is a moment in all addicted peoples’ lives when they can hear with clarity. This was one of those sacred, magical moments. She had come to eClubSoda to tackle some addictive habits, one of which was working too much. I was waiting as patiently as I could for her to identify this one. I had heard her speak of alcohol enough to be able to hear the problem with it. Social drinkers don’t ever think about how they drink. It is just not an issue.

Her courage to join eClubSoda and listen to the conversation each night had contributed to her being able to hear her loved one when he found the courage to speak. She is brave, and she could be proud of herself. Instead tonight she felt embarrassed and somewhat ashamed. She was afraid her admission would disappoint her mother and her significant other. Isn’t that amazing? When we keep our secret “hidden” from ourselves and we hope from others, we believe we are doing okay. But when we take responsibility for our actions and make a commitment to do it differently, we think others will be disappointed in us!

Why do we fear this? How are we trained to feel this way? I believe it is the veil of secrecy around addiction that creates the illusion that we should be ashamed, hide our problems, and keep them to ourselves. In order to make recovery the norm rather than the exception I believe we actually need to make addiction a household word, to create an atmosphere where we are free to talk about it anywhere, anytime, and to support each other in our recovery process.

We should celebrate the discovery of our addictive behaviors; for when we do, for the first time, we are now capable of replacing the addictive cycle with a healthy and rewarding lifestyle.

My hat is off to our brave and committed friend as she begins her journey to sobriety. She inspired us all with her commitment to sobriety. We are behind you one hundred percent. You are well on your way home to yourself.

What step do you need to take to break the silence of one of your addictive habits? What fears might stand in your way of doing this? Can you picture yourself reaching out for help? Can you break the need to keep your secrets secret? Can you trust in the goodness of others, long enough to ask for help? Do you know that we are here to help, that you are no longer alone? Will you lean on us until you are strong enough to offer your shoulder to others?

Congratulations to my friend, Diane, who gave me permission to use her name and her words, “I never want to be in hiding again!” She has experienced continuous sobriety ever since this night which took place in 2004!

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