Thank You for the Good Day

I have felt as if my 1000 days of sobriety were 1000 days of solitude.

As I so hoped, my life did change on October 4.

I listened via live stream – wearing sobriety togs – to all 5 hours of the rally to end the silence about addictions recovery in Washington, D.C. on October 4, 2015. Thanks to UNITE to Face Addiction‘s organizers and participants – including the President via a pre-taped message and the Surgeon General and his staff in full uniform – I feel relieved of an enormous burden.

I’ll stand up for recovery with you.
Vivek Murthy, M.D., U.S. Surgeon General

Selfie Watching UNITE to Face AddictionThe reason I keep my secrets is because I’m afraid I’ll lose you if I tell. I am afraid you will judge what I have done as so shameful that I deserve disconnection. I spent over a year hiding, even from my family, that I had taken the drive of shame to a support group because I couldn’t stop drinking alcohol.

And now the secret is out. I am no longer alone. Everybody knows, or can know, that addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a treatable illness, not a moral failing. I’m not naïve enough to think that stigma is gone. But a D.C. station covered the event, as did The Washington Post. People like Scott Stevens will start to make meaning of the rally and write about it. I do believe social and political change for the better has begun.

Patrick Kennedy: I am an addict. I’ll always be an addict. But I’m an addict in recovery. I count my days. It’s one day at a time.

Lesley Stahl: Is it hard?

Patrick Kennedy: Oh, yeah.

Lesley Stahl: Every day?

Patrick Kennedy: Every day. Some days more than others. But today’s a good day.

60 Minutes interview, 10/4/15

So we’ve had a rally and lots of people in recovery from addictions have shown their faces and they’re smiling so it’s all okay, right?

Even though I felt moved and uplifted during my 5 hours of rally-watching, and even though one would consider me a person in recovery because I have not had a glass of wine or any other alcohol for over 1000 days, tonight, around 5:00 PM, I will long for a drink.

I don’t get off on alcohol. It’s not a pleasure thing for me. It’s not social. I drink alone.

When I drink alcohol, I feel filled with caring warmth that completely eases my sore heart, my tired mind, my hurting body. Nothing, nothing, nothing else in my life today does what alcohol did.

I remember watching my sister lying curled around my nephew when he was a toddler. He scrooched back closer into her body and she shifted to encircle him more closely. I imagine the calm and comfort he felt, the absolute trust he felt in her radiating love and her presence. That’s the only example I can think to offer from within my addiction-changed self that in any way is near what a glass of wine would mean to me tonight.

So I’ve been 1000 days without that. Why wouldn’t the next 1000 day be the same? I so appreciate Patrick Kennedy, who has several thousand days more than I without, not being rah-rah about addictions recovery. A one-day rally in Washington is lovely, but then it’s back to the reality of day after day of the push-pull of want-don’t.

No one should ever have to overcome addiction alone.
– UNITE to Face Addiction

I am one of over 15,000 people in my locale with alcohol and other drug problems. For this all-day, every-day illness, especially for those of us in early recovery, we need all-day, every-day – not one-day, even if it’s a very, very good day – care and support. Because, whether we show our faces or keep silent, not drinking and not using is just hard.

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What We Can Do

Comments

  1. Congratulations.

    I hope that this is the first of many more such milestones – 1,500 days, 2,00 days etc. I am so glad that you’ve decided to do this. You needed to make that decision and commitment – no judgemental comments from anyone else can possibly help. Its a personal, solo commitment to what *you* want. I’m glad you’re there.

  2. Anne, I so appreciate the nuance in your writing today! I am with you. Yes, it was a fabulous and heart-warming event, and I hope that it sends a real message to policy-makers. Yet you do not and cannot lose sight of the every day fight of every person in recovery, and I love that above all, you emphasize that people in recovery cannot be forgotten. UNITE must be the beginning only, of a long movement to redress policies regarding addiction in America.

  3. I am so proud of your courage and dedication–it helps to see the issue when it’s presented by a gifted writer! The image of your sister was the first time I have seen a face for what liquor does. My dad was an alcoholic, sober the last 20 plus years of his life. He never spoke of it and your writing helps me to understand him in a way I never did. Blessings to you, as always. Terry