By the grace of God and the Fellowship, I have 3 years sober this month. June 29,2016. The last few months of my drinking/drugging were the most despairing, chaotic, lonely, and hopeless months of my life. I couldn’t drink or take any amount of substance to numb the pain. I was using to feel normal and still chasing oblivion, but the relief never came. I was absent of all morality and I had one goal in mind – my next fix. It was self-induced hell. I would love to say that getting arrested and spending 2 days/3 nights detoxing from alcohol, opiates, and a handful of other substances, on the cold floor was it for me, but that wouldn’t be true. It was not until I was faced with the choice to voluntarily check myself into a dual diagnosis rehab or lose custody of my son, that I chose life. At first, I was on a pink cloud. After spending a few nights in jail, walking into treatment was like walking into a resort. When I was asked to actually do some internal work and look at the traumas of my past, that’s a different story. The wounds were too deep. My head was too messy and there was no way I was going to let my heart be vulnerable. I was a rebel without a cause. I remember trying to leave (against medical advice) and holding my family emotionally hostage. I knew my father would come to my rescue if I left treatment, so I started to venture down Federal Highway with only a suitcase in hand. I will never forget the Director of Operations calling me into his office and telling me that my son needs a mother – a sober, emotionally healed mother. That was a major turning point for me, Relief. I can’t speak for my family but I can only imagine there was a sense of relief knowing I was in treatment and I was safe. Once I left treatment I remember my family, and my friends, being absolutely supportive and also very cautious when speaking to me. Everyone was extremely encouraging, especially my father. I will never truly comprehend the magnitude of the harm I caused him but now I try to be the daughter he deserves each and every day. Fortunately for me, I never really had a problem socially. When it came time for me to be intimate with another woman, that was a different story. I was the friend that was always giving advice to others, mostly propelled by own painful experiences. However, I didn’t want to look inside myself and deal with the guilt, shame, and pain of my own past. When I finally surrendered to letting go of my old ideas – I was freed from my personal hell. I’m surprised to learn that I am capable of being the woman, daughter, mother, and friend I always aspired to be. I truly believed that I would always be a self-centered, inadequate, unworthy addict. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sobriety has opened up the world to me and the opportunities are endless. As long as I continue to ask for God’s help, serve others, stay connected in the fellowship, pursue humility, and operate with grace – I am unstoppable. Recovery actually gave me a life. Prior to getting sober, I wasn’t living – I was inching towards death. I am able to actually live life today. I no longer live in the hopeless isolation that I once preferred. Today, I have real friends. I have mended relationships with my family. I am able to be a mother to my kids and hold the hand of another struggling woman while taking her through the steps and sharing my experience, strength, and hope. Can you pinpoint any main benefits that have emerged from you from getting sober? I could go on for days about the benefits of getting sober, but I’ll share some of the most important. I am able to feel again. I’m grateful for the ability to be aware, process, and heal painful experiences from my past. I am able to trust and love again. I’ve always been the self-loathing victim, but not anymore. I am falling in love with myself a little more each day. I am able to show up today. I am reliable. I am compassionate and able to put myself into someone else’s shoes. I have put on a new pair of lenses and my entire perspective has changed. Slowly but surely, I am unlearning all of the unhealthy patterns of thinking and changing my less than favorable behaviors. Most importantly, I have had a complete spiritual awakening. I no longer search for substances to fill my spiritual void, but rather I seek God and accept the grace to live another day sober. I am truly grateful for every mistake and progress I’ve made throughout this process because it has brought me to this very moment. However, if I could go back and change anything I would have listened to the suggestions that were given to me when I first came into the Fellowship. I wouldn’t have taken half measures with my steps. I would have not jumped into a relationship so early on in my sobriety. I would’ve poured my heart and soul into this process from the very beginning.Trust the process. Find a Fellowship, get a sponsor, get connected, work the steps, and take the suggestions given. Be vigilant – if you’re not growing, you are dying. Remember that asking for help is never weak, it’s actually courageous. Put the past away – don’t dwell on the past, make amends, and stand boldly in truth in love. Most importantly, help other alcoholics and find gratitude always. Everyone’s journey through sobriety looks different. Outside of working the 12 Steps, your path is your own. Let go of the idea that you have to be perfect. This is a program of progress rather than perfection. I’ve spent a lot of time, in my sobriety, standing in my own way. After all, I have always been my biggest critic. I truly believed my process had to look like everyone else’s or I was sure to drink again. Today, I try to let go of my old ideas and I surrender to a new Higher Power and a much better way of living today.