Twenty-five years ago I went to my first Al-Anon meeting in the basement of a small office building in my home town. A few weeks later I attended my first Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, because alcoholism is prevalent in my family. Very few people knew that, fewer still knew the pain and suffering I experienced along the way. (Thank God my sister was with me through it all!)
At that time, I was a mom with two children under the age of three married to an alcoholic and, I liked to drink, too. Before pregnancy, I was a "party girl". In fact, I remember being proud that I could drink any man under the table. (Something I had watched family members do over and over again.) Alcoholism is a disease that “runs in families”. It is a disease that can be treated, long term.
Twenty-five years ago I made a decision and never looked back. My children needed a sober parent, they needed to see that life can be amazing without the use of substances. I removed all alcohol from my life and many of the people that collaborated with me when I was “using”. And I began getting help; help for what triggered me to want to drink and help for ways to recognize when I was being codependent. My tools are exercise, clean eating and, most of all many, many types of meditation, with mindfulness and shamanic work at the core. (Click HERE for launch details on a new meditation series I have created with my friend/teacher/colleague and soul sister, Lori Lipten.)
Encouraged by friends, I recently watched an interview with ABC Anchor Elizabeth Vargas, where she talks about her new book, Between Breaths, and she shares some of her journey living as an alcoholic. I was reminded how devastating addiction can be, how difficult it can be to seek help, and how easy it can be to reach for the drink, the drug, or whatever it is that we think may ease the pain and anxiety. She talked about the fact that she would have done anything for her children, even killed for them, yet she couldn’t stop drinking until something nearly cost her a life with her family.
Every day I wake up grateful that I am on this path of sobriety and enlightenment. I am far from perfect. My children have suffered immensely because of the choices I have made and the choices their father made. My deepest prayer is that they find within themselves the keys to self-empowerment to lead a life that never stops them from asking for help when they need it and that they can work through this messy thing called life with grace and ease.
Elizabeth was asked what she would like to hear from her children. She replied, “That my mom fought for us and fought for herself. That she stared into the abyss and pulled herself back out. That's what I would like them to say.” I hope mine will see that in their own mother and that they will fight for their own children, that they will fight for their own lives!
You can read her memoir, Between Breaths, or watch the Elizabeth Vargas interview in full at ABC.com. Whatever path you are on, it’s worth it.