Becoming: Growing Into Myself in Sobriety

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

God having a plan for me is evidenced in reflection of the events throughout my life. As a child, I had struggles that I remember and can feel, but no longer identify with. The growth that comes with age, brain maturation, experiences and learning shape who we are at different times. I think of that struggling little girl, and want to give her the knowledge, resources, and insight I have now. It’s scary being young, not knowing you are capable, and that your story continues.

I often felt trapped in a body paralyzed by fear and anxiety, and boy was it my cross to bear! I shared recently at a meeting how I prayed every night during my formative years for God to lift this burden. I was discouraged that I did not get an answer to my prayers, my young self not knowing how God “answers” prayers. I kept on praying, mostly out of superstition. What if things got even worse if I stopped praying? Because of the anxiety, I fought to keep attention away from me—No, please pick someone else to play Vanna White in the eighth-grade talent show! I have to present in front of the class? God help me do a cartwheel in front of the entire fifth-grade gym class! These things caused me great stress, headaches, and lost sleep. I felt I couldn’t navigate through them as a normal person. God lift this burden from me. Let me feel normal. I felt the burden was lifted when I was introduced to alcohol, and then alcohol became my God.

“…And then alcohol became my god.”

My growth was largely stunted during the next period of active addiction, but “it worked” for a long while. In hindsight, I see that I achieved “despite of” my alcoholism, not because of the perceived benefits. I got through that presentation to the entire department of communications disorders…they didn’t see me be sick in the public bathroom stall afterwards. I was free of nerves before my big date…he had to carry me up a flight of stairs, to get me to the hospital, because he didn’t know what was wrong with me. When I first started taking benzodiazepines, my now husband thought I had had a stroke. Was it working? That voice in my head asked that question for another decade. I had children and tried to survive motherhood. It was a morning years ago, as I sat defeatedly on the bathroom floor trying to start my day with a pledge not to drink, that I fully conceded that this “was not working.”

With 6+ years of sobriety, I feel I am living my best life as an actualization of self and by working the program. The Steps have shown me how to live honestly, and most importantly “live my truth.” By living my truth, I am, by default, honest with others. How liberating is it walk through life as I am intended! I recently read that the two most important days of a person’s life are the day you were born, and the day you realize why you are born. It took the descent into addiction and hitting my bottom, and the rising up from that, to get to the newest chapter of spiritual growth. God has a plan for me which includes struggles and not knowing. I get to now live each day excited about what’s next for me, and what I can contribute to my loved ones and society.

“God has a plan for me which includes struggles and not knowing.”

I am reminded of a spring day at the height of my addiction when I was visiting my mother with my toddler son. She insisted I come out with the two of them to help water the flowers. “It’s beautiful outside.”

Is it? I didn’t know or care. I was stuck in the misery of that particular circumstance of addiction meeting the demands of real life—the sun was too bright, I couldn’t feign interest and enthusiasm, I felt the burden of having to care for a small child, my head hurt and my mind was spiraling, and I resented my mom who was acting as my child’s mother when I couldn’t.

My spring days of this coronavirus quarantine involve my now 11-year-old son “waiting” for me to finish up my work so we can go for a walk—three times a day. And it is a gift. My oldest daughter calls out, “You can walk by yourself you know!” But he waits. He rides on his scooter while I walk the dog, and I actually see the memories forming in real time because it is just so special.


Please send your 1st Person story to phoenix@thephoenixspirit.com. We’ll connect with you if we choose to publish your piece in a future issue. Thank you.

Last Updated on May 16, 2020

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