7 Reasons To Come Out Of the Addiction Closet

come out of the addiction closet

I guess it’s not any secret that I am not anonymous when it comes to talking about my addiction and paths I’ve taken to recovery. Sometimes it’s not all sunshine and rainbows and putting yourself out there can invite hurtful comments or questions. Despite this, I’m a big advocate for breaking the stigma of addiction, living your truth, and coming out of the addiction closet. I am loud and proud about my struggles and it has given me freedom. Below is a list of 7 reasons why you may want to break your anonymity and come out of the addiction closet.

1. You will know a new freedom

A relief is lifted off your shoulders once you come to terms with who you really are. You will finally feel like you are not weighed down by the shackles of your secrets. Your friends, family, and most importantly yourself will learn to love you for who you really are.

2. You can be honest with yourself & others

It’s exhausting trying to be someone you’re not. Putting on a face everywhere you go, making mindless small talk with people to pretend you’re one person, when on the inside you’re someone else. Stop the madness! Be true to yourself and live your truth! Don’t be afraid of who you really are.

3. You will gain inner peace

After being truthful to yourself and others, you will find inner peace. Admitting you have alcohol issues is one more secret that can’t keep you sick anymore once you release it.

4. You’ll help break the stigma

We all know the bad stigma the words ‘addict’ and ‘alcoholic’ carry. People can look at you differently, assume you’re a bad person, or that you aren’t worth much. Many people imagine addicts as immoral criminals, but this is just not true. Keeping your addiction a secret may continue the feelings of guilt and shame that accompany it. By sharing your story, you will open people’s eyes to the fact that addiction can effect anyone regardless of age, skin color, or economic status.

5. You will inspire others

You could literally save a life. By sharing with someone else who is suffering, you may inspire change in them. Many blog readers message or email me and ask me how I got sober, or why, and that they are thinking of doing the same. Just by talking to them I can help plant the seeds of change. You never know whose life you can impact by being honest and telling your own story.

6. If not you, then who?

It’s easy to sit around and say, ok great idea, I’m sure someone else will do it. Sometimes you have to come out of your comfort zone and take action to make a change. Just assuming someone else will do it doesn’t make an impact. Why not you? Why not now? If not you, then who?

7. Meet new people, make new friendships

Personally, by sharing my story I have made friends online and around the globe that I would have never known had I not decided to speak out about my struggle with alcohol. Through these friends I have been introduced to new programs, classes, and other things I probably never would have tried if I didn’t meet these people.

Coming out of the addiction closet has benefits not only for you, but for the people around you; some you may not even know yet! Break the stigma, strive for inner peace, and be honest with yourself! We all have our demons. We all have our issues.  Do what you can to stop the shaming and live in the light.

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Alcoholism, A Spiritual Sickness

spiritual journey buddhism

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my spirituality. The concept of spirituality is new to me. I didn’t grow up in any type of church or religion and most of the time I consider myself to be borderline atheist. I guess I always associate religion with God and those two things have caused so much fighting and heartache in the world, I never understood people’s deep connection to it. Spirituality wasn’t something I ever thought about in the past or even considered for myself. I assumed it wasn’t for me.

After I became sober, I realized I was still searching for something, still trying to find myself. Something was missing, it still is. When I met my friend Shannon and she got me to go to meditation classes, I started reading and learning a lot about buddhism and its teachings. The classes are actually discussions about practical ways to solve problems in your own life using Buddha’s teachings. There is no talk of God or praying, just listening and learning, and some meditation. Meditation is new to me and so far I really like it. It’s just the process of relaxing the mind and letting your stress and worries melt away. After attending AA the first few times, this also got me thinking about spirituality. As most of you know, AA believes that alcoholism is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. How true that is. But what sticks with me the most is that alcoholism is a sickness of the spirit and I feel like this part is overwhelmingly true for me.

If alcoholism is indeed a sickness of the spirit, it’s no surprise then that spiritual healing is necessary for recovery. As I learn and accept AA with an open mind, I am faced with understanding the concept of a higher power. I’m not to the point where I am willing to turn everything over to him/her/it/them, but I am definitely feeling more spiritual. I have always been fascinated with spirits, energy, tarot cards, and the connectedness of the Earth. I’m seeing that this may serve as a higher power in my life. Last Saturday I went to a psychic here in Cape Coral and got a tarot card reading. She told me many fascinating things, one of which was that deep down I am a very spiritual person, but I have never found the way to get in touch with my spirituality. She told me my spirit guides have been trying hard to get in touch with me. She said because I’m a water sign I should go to a large body of water at least twice a month and sit with a amethyst or quartz in my hand and breathe out the bad energy, and breathe in the good. I was stunned she could tell how spiritually confused I was and that I needed guidance. That session confirmed to me that I am now on the correct path to spirituality.

In my life prior to becoming sober, I assumed spirituality was stupid, that it was synonymous with religion, and that it wasn’t for me. I used drugs and alcohol to hide from emotional and physical pain, and other types of trauma I endured during my life. These substances deadened my spirit. Joy, peace, and true connections with others were foreign to me. If my own spirit is what connects me to my higher power, the universe, spirit guides, energies, etc, I was unable to establish this connection previously. My quest is transitioning from spiritual insanity to spiritual freedom. Although I have been sober for a year and a half, I was still feeling lost, and what I’ve realized is being sober is the easy part. It takes courage and time to address an underlying spiritual issue. Much more effort is required to sort through my feelings, to restore inner peace, experience joy of living, and know serenity, and I believe this happens through a spiritual connection.

Should You Drink Non-Alcoholic Beers?

alcoholics drinking na beer

This is an interesting topic. As alcoholics or alcohol abusers, should we be drinking non-alcoholic beers? I’ve heard mixed messages from different people on this subject and here is what I’ve learned:

Non-alcoholic beer, also known as low beer, near beer, low alcohol beer, NA beer, or small beer, actually does contain alcohol. To be considered “non-alcoholic”, these beers must contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. The alcohol is either boiled or filtered from the beer during the brewing process. Most states in the USA permit sales of non-alcoholic beer to minors. To get drunk from them or to have them affect you physically, it would take drinking quite a number of them. Psychologically, some believe non-alcoholic beer can dangerously give a placebo effect, making you feel like you’re drunk, possibly bringing back old feelings and habits.

From what I’ve heard and read online, most 12-step programs advise against consuming non-alcoholic brews. They say it’s a slippery slope. Just the smell of something similar to alcohol could be enough to trigger a craving and lead to a relapse. Some people suggest that pretending you are drinking alcohol is  “romanticizing the drink” and can be dangerous. Romanticizing the drink is when a person in recovery remembers the times when alcohol appeared to work for them, when they had good times being drunk. If an alcoholic is drinking a non-alcoholic beer in an attempt to bring back their glory days – this is known as romanticizing the drink.  These same people say that if you are determined to build a good life away from addiction, pretend beers won’t be needed.

From my point of view, I definitely understand the view that fake beer that still has a teeny weenie bit of alcohol in it, can be dangerous. It may open the flood gates for some people. Technically, I guess it could make you want to go out and get blasted and throw your sobriety away. Personally, it doesn’t do that for me. I have the occasional non-alcoholic beer and I also drink mocktails. There is nothing more fun than getting sparkling water and putting it in a wine glass with a lime, like a real normal drinker. I have done this since early sobriety. I believe the decision to indulge in “fake drinks” is a personal one. For myself I think non-alcoholic beer is a blessing. I can indulge when I am at a social gathering, out to dinner, or after work on a long day. It helps me feel not left out, it gives me the momentary feeling that I am not different, and yes it acts maybe as an alcoholic drink would for normal people – it takes the edge off. The best part is – it’s not an alcoholic beverage and I don’t have to worry about controlling my drinking, getting myself in trouble, being hungover, and all the other bad behaviors that went right along with my drinking.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not binge drinking non-alcoholic beer like I did with regular beer and it does not make me want to go out and get trashed for real. If I wanted to take up the real booze again, I would head straight to the tequila and skip the non-alcoholic beers.

About triggers…well as a person who has an addictive personality, triggers are all around me every day. They are something that will be a part of my life forever. That’s the nature of who I am, sometimes on a pretty day out of the clear blue sky for no particular reason at all, I will think to myself, you know what would be good right now? A cocktail. That is a craving people, and only alcoholics get those weird feelings & cravings! I also can’t stand a glass that still has liquid in it – alcohol, coffee, tea, water – finish that thing! It’s only now that I am learning about myself and about alcoholism that I can identify these traits.

In conclusion I say, if you are comfortable in your recovery, you have probably restricted yourself from a plethora of bad substances, so I see nothing wrong with having a non-alcoholic beer here and there to treat yourself! Besides if alcoholics aren’t going to drink non-alcoholic beers, who will?

In the words of Tom Haverford ….

parks and rec treat yo self

This Halloween Take Off Your Mask

remove your mask addiction

 

Yesterday I read a beautiful and moving Huffington Post article by a woman named Mary Moss about her struggle with online dating as a woman with an obvious physical disability and as a single mother to a transgender teen. You can read her article here. It touched on many different aspects of this woman’s life, most notably removing your ‘personal mask’ while dating – putting your baggage on the table for the other person to see.

Mary said, “We all wear masks every day. We smile at the boss we would prefer to frown at. We embellish our experience in job interviews. We say we are doing great to passersby who ask how we are even though we may be feeling very sad. We take on that one favor for a friend and act as if it’s no bother even though we are bogged down at work.”

I couldn’t agree more with her and I feel like this applies perfectly to addiction. Addiction is a mask millions of people wear. A mask that comes with shame, embarrassment, regret, and guilt. I was there once, but I got sick and tired of wearing the mask. I got sick and tired of thinking something was wrong with me, that I was a bad person, when in reality I was sick. Coming out of the addiction closet was one of the best decisions I ever made, and trust me it’s not easy. I thought maybe I could get sober and keep it to myself. But I couldn’t keep lying to myself and people around me. I am different and I decided I would celebrate my differences and share my story.

Mary mentioned in her article that we all just want to love and be loved. We are all striving to find that one honest, true love, and friends that know all of our faults and love us anyway. So why do we put on these masks? There is something scary about revealing our true selves. But when we do, a weight is lifted off our shoulders. Don’t we want people to truly love us for who we are? We don’t want them to love us because of the masks we wear.

I receive emails and messages every day from people telling me I have inspired them to quit drinking, or to cut back, or to just know that there IS such a thing as a fun, sober life. I never expected by taking off my mask, I would encourage so many other people to take off theirs. Revealing my true self has not only been therapeutic for me, it has helped me build and take part in more honest, loving relationships. I know when people love me it’s because they know who I really am, flaws and all. I am now able to live an honest, joyous, and free life.

So I propose this to you, my friends, family, and readers. This Halloween take off your masks. Shed those walls that you hold up so tight to protect your true self from being seen. Share your feelings, share your story. Being an alcoholic, an addict, having alcohol abuse issues, whatever you want to call it – is not your whole life, but it’s a part of it and it helps shape who you are. There is no reason to hide it.

Break the stigma. Come out of the addiction closet. Live freely and inspire others. You are beautiful just the way you are.

Happy Halloween!

 

 

My First Face-To-Face AA Meeting

No hell didn’t freeze over!! but… Last night, I finally – after 1 year, 5 months, and 14 days sober – attended my first face-to-face AA meeting. It hasn’t been a secret that my thoughts about AA have been a bit wishy-washy. When I first got sober I attended some online AA meetings and I just felt really out of touch. People in the online rooms always told me that I wouldn’t get or stay sober if I didn’t go to f-2-f meetings, believe in a higher power, work the steps, or get a sponsor. I didn’t want to be told what to do or how to do it and I left the online meetings and email chains and never looked back.

I have to admit I had a bad taste in my mouth about AA. I also consider myself agnostic and couldn’t relate to the faith based mentions of God in AA, as well as surrendering yourself to being powerless against alcohol. Naturally, I avoided AA. I had friends and family tell me I should go and in the back of my mind I thought maybe I will one day, but until yesterday I had never made time for it.

Thanks to one of my blog readers and now my good friend – Shannon – I finally attended AA. She offered to go with me to a meeting without pressuring me. She told me exactly what it would be like and agreed to sit with me and coached me as we went along. The result was phenomenal. I really feel like I owe her! She emailed me out of the blue and asked me on a friend date. And so glad I accepted! She has introduced me to two wonderful things that have taught me so much already – AA & meditation classes. Thank you Shannon, I am so grateful!

The meeting was a wonderful group of ladies full of wisdom, hope, and experience. Just looking around I couldn’t believe these women actually suffered from the same problems I did. They seemed so with it, so together….so normal. It was the first time that I was ever in a room full of other alcoholics. Finally, people just like me. I think for the first time ever – I said out loud with a shaky voice, “Hi I’m Kelly and I’m an alcoholic.” It didn’t seem so bad when everyone else in the room was saying it too. Each meeting has a different topic and last night was a tradition meeting. We discussed tradition 10:  “Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.” Shannon and I looked at each other and whispered that this topic was perfect for my first meeting. There was talk about how even though all the members have outside lives and opinions on other things like politics or other life choices, we all come together at AA to do one thing – to stay sober. If outside opinions were drawn in, we would get in arguments or caught up on those things instead of concentrating on staying sober. They touched on religion being an outside topic as well. Everyone is welcome regardless of what they believe, they only have to want to stop drinking.

It wasn’t scary or weird and I didn’t feel out of place. Everyone was welcoming and supportive. They hugged me and told me I could call them if I needed to. The only nervousness that I felt was from being in a new place around strangers. Shannon has made it clear to me that I only need to work the steps if and when I feel comfortable enough to do so, and that I should only get a sponsor when I feel I am ready. I am glad I kept an open mind and pushed myself to finally attend a meeting. I’m excited to gain tools for dealing with my emotions and to dedicate more attention to my recovery. I’m looking forward to expanding my group of sober friends which is very small at the moment. I already decided I’ll be going back next week.

With AA & in life.. I’ll remember this: “Take what you like and leave the rest.” :)

 

alcoholics anonymous chip

Even though I am over a year sober, I have only received my 24 hour chip since I just started the program.

 

Why Must I Feel Feelings?

why must I feel feelings

I have to admit one of the hardest parts about sobriety is feeling feelings. I think a lot of addicts, myself included, are trying to numb something when they drink or use drugs. They are trying to numb pain or just trying to not feel anything at all. I didn’t even realize I was doing this until I stopped drinking. All of the sudden I was hit with all these emotions and no tools to deal with them.

When I was actively drinking I always had this “I don’t care” attitude and I guess I really didn’t. I didn’t care about myself, my friends or family, and I didn’t care if I hurt someone. For me, I think it worked well for awhile. I deflected pain for many many years. I was the one hurting people before they could hurt me. I was never the one who got attached in relationships or showed feelings first. If someone did something to me, it was easy for me to tell them to fuck off and I would never think about them again. You can’t get hurt if you don’t care, right?

I never connected the way that I acted and my love for alcohol. But now it makes sense. Alcohol allowed me, actually it encouraged me, to not give a fuck. It justified my bad attitude, my bad decisions, and my general acceptance of a mediocre life. Looking back I realize how mean and unpleasant I was. I realize that I thought that type of life was normal. Now I know that I was so wrong.

Being sober is great, but no one ever tells you how many feelings you will feel. I wasn’t ready for all these feelings and I’m still learning how to deal with them. Now that I’m sober I can’t run away from my emotions, I just have to sit there and take them. I thought I was a tough girl, but all these emotions make me feel like a 5 year old who is just learning how to navigate her way through life. I even get mad at myself for being mad or sad about things I think I shouldn’t be. Who knew there were SO many feelings?! WHY! Why are there so many feelings? Sometimes it’s like I am outside of myself watching myself become upset and saying – why are you doing that? Who cares?! This isn’t even a big deal! Save it for the really bad stuff! And I feel defeated.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. What a lie. Words sting. Words stay in your mind for months and years after they have been said. Physical pain is the easy part – that’s why I play soccer.

I just feel like my emotional compass is messed up. What should I get upset about and what shouldn’t I? When do I stand up for yourself and when do I just let things go? When do I figure out if I’m being too sensitive or my feelings actually have validity? I must think about the repercussions of every single thing I do and say… because now I care. I don’t want to hurt anyone and I don’t want to hurt myself. I feel like my heart is on my sleeve and just about anyone can have a poke at it.

Sometimes I just don’t want to feel feelings anymore. It’s hard feeling helpless. Controlling my emotions will obviously take time. Not every part of sobriety is glamorous and crying your eyes out for no good reason is one of those parts.

9 Thoughts A Sober Girl Has At The Club

This past weekend I was in Atlantic City, NJ (the Vegas of the east coast) for my sister’s bachelorette party. Because I am the maid of honor, it was up to me to plan the best shindig possible for my bestie. I knew we would be hitting the club and dropping it like it’s hot to some sweet house music because I know that’s what my sis likes. There wasn’t much mental preparation for me going into this sober because I am getting used to the fact that I will never be drinking again. I was excited to get dressed up, hear good music, dance, and have a great time with my sister.

We went to a few different clubs and bars, and I had quite a few funny thoughts along the way. From these thoughts I complied a list of 9 thoughts a sober girl has at the club.

1. $25 to get into the club, you must have lost your damn mind.

hell no gif

Holy moly I don’t miss spending money like that to get into a nightclub, not to mention the price of drinks. It was great that the only thing I bought all night was one sugar free red bull. Life is much more enjoyable when you don’t spend money on a night out.

2. I’m so glad I’m not drinking because leaving the dance floor to get a drink every 10 minutes is such a hassle.

frustrated taylor swift gif

Nobody likes a hassle! And that’s what getting a drink is at a big nightclub. I watched my sister and her friends leave the dance floor several times to walk to the bar and get their drinks, while I just held down the fort because  dealing with the hassle wasn’t worth it.

3. There aren’t many good looking people here.

katt williams gif

Was I wearing beer goggles for the last 9 years of my life!? Ok in all fairness, maybe it’s because we were in Atlantic City and the beautiful people weren’t out this weekend? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because the crowd is getting younger and dumber.

4. This music makes me want to blow my brains out.

eye roll gif

When you’re sober at the club, music is everything! Am I right? When you’re drunk you will be singing every song – you don’t care what it is. When you’re sober you want to hear the good jams. At the first club we went to on Saturday Samantha Ronson was playing, so we were like yea of course it’ll be great music, she’s a famous DJ woohoo! Oh how wrong we were. She played weird 70’s, 80’s, old school hip hop smash up weirdness. Cool if you like that I guess, but it was definitely not what we wanted to hear or what we expected. I even had to tweet her and tell her how bad it was AND she wrote me back. Haha. Luckily, we went to a different club afterwards and found a great house DJ trio spinning so we were happy.

5. You’re gonna feel like shit tomorrow and I’m not.

laughing gif

Oh man, when you see that one struggling friend that’s already losing touch with reality at 12am, or the drunk girl dropping her drink. I find comfort in the fact that the only way I’m going to feel tomorrow is happy and tired.

6. Yes I’m judging your drinking habits.

judging you gif

YES – that thing that all drunks are paranoid about. “Your sober friend is silently judging me.” Yes, yes I am. I can’t help it. Other sober people know what I’m talking about. You watch others’ habits and you know which people are probably problem drinkers and which are not.

7. Not having to wait in the bathroom line is awesome.

win gif

I think I went to the bathroom twice the entire night and that is freaking amazing. Not having to wait in those long hellish bathroom lines is a blessing. Go me, go me.

8. Is that what I looked like?

drunk girl gif

Drunk girl doing shit she doesn’t remember. Drunk girl falling. Drunk girl with puke on her dress. Shudder. Ugh, was that me? Is that what I used to look like? Unfortunately, yes.

9. Guys are creepy.

boy dancing at the club

Not all of them, but there are a good amount of creepers at the club. I swear at several points in the night there was a circle of stage 4 creepers closing in on my circle of friends, just watching us dance or trying to talk to us. Ew! Back up dudes. Go do your own thing, we’re trying to dance..alone. When I commented about the creepers my friend Ashley said, “They’ve always been there, you’re just now noticing because you’re sober.” Touché.

The best part about club hopping this weekend was that it brought me back to all the good parts about my old party life. I got to dress up, hang out with my friends, listen to great music, and dance. The icing on the cake was that I remembered everything, spent less money, and there was no hangover involved. A successful bachelorette party for my sister and just another sober weekend for me!