Susan’s Story

I’m happy to say that as of the launch of this website (December 2023), I haven’t had a drink for three years and three months. That’s more than 1,175 days, which is astonishing to me when I think back to the times when going just a few hours without a shot of vodka felt impossible.

I’m truly proud of this time. But I’m also aware that for me, addiction is more about my thinking than my drinking. I’ve had stretches of sobriety before — periods when I was sure I’d never touch a drink again. I even wrote a column about my recovery at one point, absolutely certain that I had reached my bottom and that I would never go back.

I was wrong.

I’ve also gone through times when I convinced myself I could drink like a regular person. Just a couple of beers here, a glass of wine there, one martini and call it a night.

That didn’t work, either. It took every ounce of willpower I had to practice moderation — and it felt like torture the entire time. So I was never really drinking “like a regular person,” even when I managed to curb my intake.

And then there was a long stretch of time — the worst stretch of time — when my drinking was my dirtiest secret. Something I took extreme measures to hide because I truly believed I could not live without it. This period taught me about the crushing power of shame and how addiction thrives on it. The more bottles I hid, the louder the self-defeating voice in my head became, telling me I was beyond help, beyond hope, and unworthy of healing.

Fortunately, I was given the gift of desperation on a warm September night in 2020. It wasn’t a dramatic scene like some of my other “bottoms” — I didn’t wake up in a psych ward or out myself as an alcoholic in a blog post like I had in the past. Instead, I was all alone, lying on the floor of my bedroom feeling completely and utterly defeated, realizing that I could no longer trick myself into thinking I had control over this thing. I wasn’t going to outsmart addiction — ever. It was always going to outsmart me.

That moment of clarity gave me enough resolve to get back on my feet (literally and figuratively) and reach out for help once again. Since I had been in recovery before, I knew exactly what to do: Call people. Reconnect with my support groups. Become willing to admit that I was in serious trouble and needed to start living my life in a new way. That’s really all it took this last time around — no chaos, no drama. Just a sudden shift in perception and a willingness to accept it.

I don’t say this to minimize my suffering or make getting sober sound easy. I say it because it tells me that sobriety is possible for anyone and everyone — even people who’ve relapsed multiple times, even people who feel like they’ve tried everything and are ready to give up.

I did a million things wrong on my meandering paths to recovery, but the one thing I did right was keep trying.



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