Hello, I'm Paul and I've come to the realization that me and alcohol no longer get along. When I start drinking, I cannot stop, despite how many times I tell myself I'm only going out for just a couple. I've lost that battle 99 out of 100 times. I've tried to set boundaries on my drinking like never drink alone, and not before 5pm but several times found myself drinking alone well before 5pm. When I'm not drinking, I feel fidgety, contentious and anxious which eventually leads me back to the bottle. After grappling with alcohol for over a decade and a summer from hell in 2014, I decided on September 7th 2014, I HAVE to stop drinking. The Recovery Elevator Podcast is a medium to help keep me sober in addition to helping others struggling with alcohol quit drinking and maintain a healthy recovery. Don't make the same mistakes I did in early recovery. Hear from guests who are successfully navigating early sobriety. It won't be easy, but you can do this.
Tamara, with 88 days since her last drink, shares her story…
“There is only one line we can cross that we can’t come back from”
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255
[4:20] Paul Introduces Tamara, and she recaps her experience with relapse and suicidal thoughts.
Tamara had a relapse after 48 days of sobriety. She just moved to a new apartment. She started the day running errands, then had a conversation with her sponsor. She was alone, felt lonely and bought vodka. She started to drink by herself. She felt guilty because she is aware of the support structures that are in place, but she still witnessed herself resorting to alcohol to try to soothe her emotional pain. She thought she had exhausted all of her options. She began to have suicidal thoughts. She recorded a goodbye message to her family. She cut her wrist and sent the message. Her parents received it and tracked her down. They got in tough with her roommate. Her roommate and her mother stopped her bleeding. She went to the ER, and a mental hospital. She realized she didn’t want to die, and that she had to change something. She found a treatment center. She stayed there for 4 weeks. Reliving it, she is reminded that she isn’t broken. She realizes how powerful alcohol is and it will take you if you let it. She didn’t know what she was living for. In the treatment center, she worked through her life experience. She didn’t consider herself a trauma victim, but then realized that she had just been ignoring some things from her past. Her pride crumbled. She was able to see just how loved she was. She was able to see the role of God in her life. She finally saw her love and worth. She felt like she came out of hiding. She doesn’t have to hide parts of herself that she struggles with. There are people in her life that accept her exactly as she is. She had to rebuild her self-image and identity. She wants to come out of her shell and live her life out in the open. She didn’t know who she was anymore. The emotional rawness from her experience enabled her to open. She realized that she is not the orchestrator of everything in her life and that there are parts of her life that she can not control. She began to focus on the present moment and not worry beyond that.
[29:45] Talk to us about the letter you received from your employer right before you left.
She had been feeling a bit out of place at her job. She took on and internalized expectations and pressure. She was open to changing everything else but she wanted to try and apply herself at her job. She received a package from her employer, and it turned out to be a letter of termination. She felt hurt. She cried but realized that she had to rebuild completely from scratch and feels like it was a gift from god.
[36:30] Tell us about what you found that can never be taken away.
She realized that no matter what is happening around her, it doesn’t have to wreck her world internally. She’s still standing, and losing her job is now empowering. She has an opportunity to rebuild her life in a way that is more authentic and meaningful to her. She wants to do the next right thing. She built her life around things that are true to her. She realized that she’s had it the entire time. She realized that she’s been loved the entire time. She feels God’s love now. She believes that we all have a purpose. She saw something in the people around her and she felt like she didn’t have it, or couldn’t grab it. After treatment, she feels more in touch with it.
[39:19] Am I right in saying that you had a full spiritual awakening?
Yes. Giving herself and life over to God has been the most liberating experience. She has faith that after the first step, the next step will present itself.
[40:53] Does one have to be religious to be spiritual?
Not at all. It’s all about one’s own personal relationship with God. Previously she felt that God’s love was punitive and based on how good or bad she had been. She was trying to achieve her way into earning love. Religion is an outward expression of the internal spiritual relationship. Religion is a practice. She loves encouraging people, cooking for people, and sharing what she’s been through. What’s changed is her feeling of spirituality.
[44:00] What advice would you have for someone that’s struggling?
It starts with openness. She thought she was open, but she was frustrated. Look at the people in your life who have something that you think you want or need. Be open to hearing what they’re doing and what they’ve been through. Humble yourself enough to be open to the idea that things are bigger than you. Be open to exploring those ideas. We’re all bonded by the desire to be loved. Tunnel vision leads to the path of pain in addiction. Open your mind to the fact that you may not see the whole picture. It’s not your fault if you can’t, but at least be open to the possibility of more.
[46:44] With 88 days in sobriety, what’s next for you?
She has no idea what’s next and that’s ok. She has some short term plans. She will continue to embrace her spirituality and be excited about her future.
[47:25] Is there anything else you’d like to add?
She believes that people are the best thing about God’s creation. If you are struggling, reach out to people. Some not conversations may not take you to anywhere but listen to people. Ask the meaningful questions and don’t fear judgement.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”