Addiction leaves little room for anything

When I thought about getting sober, I would have in the back of my mind the thought that it wasn’t the last time I would be drinking.

Before rehab, I thought I could control my urge to drink. I thought I was apart from it. I was different.

I couldn’t ever see myself taking a step toward what it meant to be sober and alive. To be sober and alive was a beautiful thing that I would never achieve again. I was too far gone in the hole that depression and addiction dug for me.

Addiction is horrible, it’s absolutely a disease. It’s a way of living that doesn’t leave room for anything else. Addiction made my life shrouded in secrecy.

It was shameful. Something you don’t want people to know about you. Once you start, you can’t stop. I used to crack jokes about the straight edge. We all have.

It’s what we do, right?

Addiction is like riding a bucking bronco down a pathway instead of simply walking. You’re getting tossed all around, hitting the ground over and over again, not knowing what it’s like to live life the other way. Like, whoa. You know you can participate in life without riding this clearly dangerous ride, right?

Ego gets in the way, saying “I have something to prove to someone.”

I don’t know who this someone is, only that I have to prove I can drink like a normal person.

But I can’t drink like a normal person. I know that now. It took years of my family pleading with me, knowing I was in the depths of the drink. It took four stints in short term treatment and a 28 day program to get me to that realization and even then it took one final mountain to climb out of the hole.

I used to rationalize my drinking, but it was my choice. Every single time I pressed that bottle to my lips, it was over.

So I ask what is the real point of it? Drinking? We glorify it. The media portrays it as something that EVERYBODY should be able to do. Why am I so different? Because I’m an alcoholic. It’s in my genes and it’s in my environment. But alcohol doesn’t matter anymore. I’m sober. I know that I can never look back, and I don’t want to.

To be sober is beautiful in ways it would be hard to describe. I would go to meetings and wish for the spiritual awakening that is promised. Then I had one.

It enveloped me. I cried. I could feel wave after wave of emotion and I moved past it. I felt the weight come off my chest, I could breathe again. I remember looking up at my husband in joy and overwhelming gratitude. It took me realizing I was fighting something nasty to shake me. To wake me up. To break the cycle. The vicious circle I was in.

Knowing that I don’t ever have to fight with those demons again is enough to keep me dancing. It feels like I’m in a dream. This reality feels surreal to me. I just can’t believe how lucky and blessed I truly am to be living a life of sobriety. I have my life back. I have myself back.

Seymour resident Kate Ragan, who is living a life of sobriety after years of alcoholism, writes about addiction and how it grips and stays a hold of people. Send comments to awoods@aim