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Recovery vs. Living NOT to drink

“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying NOT to drink.” -Valeria in the fall of 2020

When I started to consistently go to 12 step meetings, I noticed everyone talking about how many meetings they went to a week (and sometimes even a day) the service work they did, the conferences and meetings related specifically to learning about 12 step literature they planned ongoing to, learning the history about the founders of these fellowships, and I remember being so turned off. If I stopped drinking and continued these 12 step meetings, I didn’t want my whole life to revolve around a 12-step fellowship. There is more to my life than alcohol, I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life trying NOT to drink.

And with those thoughts, I continued to drink.

By the fall of 2020, I was drinking becauseI had to. I physically couldn’t go a day without a drink.When I drank, it was never just one. This was part of my daily routine. I planned when I would be at a point in my work day when I could start drinking, when I needed to stop drinking to tend to the household, and when I could start again to get through the rest of the night.

I never wanted my experience drinking to define who I am.

When I was in high school, you would’ve defined me as an athlete. I played volleyball, basketball and ran track. In college, I was a high jumper. During this part of my life, sports was all I talked about. My day revolved around practice ,strengthening training, and visiting the athletic trainer after practice.In the winter and spring, every weekend was consumed with a track meet.I hung around other athletes. I went to study hall with other athletes. I had courses with other athletes.

After I finished my undergraduate degree and completed four years of track and field, I was just a graduate student. As a graduate student, I hung around at the Medical School. I hung out at the library. I worked and studied with other graduate students. We talked about public health. We read articles, for school and for fun, about public health.

When I had my daughter, you would’ve defined me as a new mom. I nursed,I made home made baby food. I joined “Mommy and Me” groups. I was the first of all my friends to have a child. I sought out other new moms. I tried to make mom friends. I talked about all the cute baby things my baby did.

I’m realizing now, back then, I was only thinking about NOT drinking. I didn’t know about recovery and the other areas of my life I needed to examine once I removed alcohol. I didn’t realize I had to shape my life into what I wanted it to look like. I needed to surround myself with others who are thriving and building a life without alcohol. Where can I find people like this? I found some in my original circle. I found others within 12-step fellowships. I found others in the online sober community. I gained so much once I removed alcohol from my life.

Sometimes, your experiences will define a phase of your life. Just remember, these definitions are fluid.

Who you are can and will evolve.

You are allowed to develop and grow into whomever you want to be.I am no longer spending my life trying NOT to drink.

I am in recovery!

What areas of your life have evolved over the past five years? How have you defined your life journey thus far?

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