The Inspirationals #8: 4 Years Sober
It is my belief that alcoholism is a disease that tells you you do not have a disease. If you think you might have a drinking problem, you probably do. If you are trying to control your drinking, you might be an alcoholic. When you realize you can’t control your drinking, ask for help.
Welcome to the eighth installment of BeFreeMySheeple.com’s The Inspirationals where I interview people who inspire me and will probably inspire you.
This week I had a chance to interview Kate, a dear friend of mine who just celebrated her four year anniversary of sobriety. Understanding how huge of a milestone this is, I was inspired by her dedication to living her best life. With addiction typically being a taboo topic, she was kind enough to open up for us to help neutralize the stigmas often associated with addiction and create awareness of some of the possible warning signs of alcoholism. Studies suggest that almost 25% of adults in America meet the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism.
It is very easy to fall into a dangerous relationship with alcohol, especially in cities like New York City where it is an integral part of the social fabric. Drinks with colleagues, clients, friends and dates can happen in succession giving you an opportunity (and an excuse) to drink almost every day and night of the week. When this type of behavior is normalized, it can be very difficult to identify a problem (I spoke a little about the psychology of addiction as well as my relationship with alcohol here). I applaud anyone who has the self-awareness to acknowledge potentially destructive patterns of behavior.
Before we get into the interview, I wanted to share an important infographic from TheRecoveryVillage.com. This chart helps you identify 10 warning signs of alcoholism.
Exclusive BeFreeMySheeple.com Interview With Kate, 4 Years Sober
Adam Francisco: Kate, congratulations on 4 years sober. What an amazing accomplishment. What was the moment that made you realize that you needed to seek help?
Kate: The afternoon that I realized I needed to stop drinking wasn’t that different from any other Sunday. I was hungover and had to go in to the office to catch up with some work. My roommate told me, via text, that I couldn’t get black-out-drunk and keep her awake all night with my night terrors anymore (I regularly had night terrors). I responded to her asking if she was going to plan an intervention for me, in a passive-aggressive way, as if to say “how are you going to stop me?” I went to work, inappropriately dressed for the weather, wanting to die, and I had the thought that I probably shouldn’t drink anymore and I shared that thought with someone. I found myself in an AA meeting that evening.
Adam: What are night terrors?
Kate: I would kick and scream in my sleep as if I’m being attacked. Sometimes they were tied together with nightmares, but that wasn’t usually the case with me.
Adam: That sounds scary for you as well as anyone witnessing it. What is an incident that jumps out in your mind involving alcohol?
Kate: Since I started drinking at around 14 years old, there have been very few “incidents” NOT involving alcohol. The stories are endless, some are fun, some are boring, sad, painful, promiscuous, etc. I’ve been saved from death and an endless number of horrible things that could’ve happened. Today I prefer to share stories about things I’ve managed to get through without alcohol or stories about how I got here…
Adam: Whatever you want to share, this is your stage.
Kate: One day, during college, I was hungover at work (not an uncommon occurrence apparently). At the time, I worked at Purity Diner in Park Slope in Brooklyn. I was going through a breakup on top of everything else, so I was a complete mess. My life was totally unmanageable. An acquaintance of mine came in for brunch with a couple of other women who I didn’t recognize. She said “Hey Kate! What’s wrong?!” because I was clearly unwell. I said “Oh, I don’t know, Mark and I broke up, I’m an alcoholic, I’m hungover and I have to work.” She responded “I’m an alcoholic,” her friends looked up at me one at a time “I’m an alcoholic,” “I’m an alcoholic.” As I passed them menus I said, “we should hang out.”
Adam: We sometimes meet friends when we least expect it.
Kate: These women and I did not hang out at a bar, but shortly after being introduced they took me to my first and second AA meetings. I was 21 years old at the time, I was not ready. That introduction to AA, and the people in AA, I did not take lightly. For the next 10 years I avoided the program and everyone in it, bad-mouthed it, and went against everything I believed that it stood for. I would say things like “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunk, alcoholics go to meetings.” I thought I was so funny, but I was right. 10 years later, when I really needed it, I knew where to go, and AA was there and welcomed me with open arms. Now I’m not a drunk anymore, I’m an alcoholic in recovery.
Adam: I’ve heard people joke about that. I’m happy that they were there for you. Do you think that more of us are alcoholics then we want to admit?
Kate: It is my belief that alcoholism is a disease that tells you you do not have a disease. If you think you might have a drinking problem, you probably do. If you are trying to control your drinking, you might be an alcoholic. When you realize you can’t control your drinking, ask for help.
Adam: Obviously weekends are a big time to consume alcohol. What do you do on the weekends now since you’ve removed alcohol from your life?
Kate: Weekend nights were tough at first, but in a city like New York, there are endless things to do. I go to the movies and out to dinner and dessert a lot. Coffee shops are open late and there are nearby AA meetings around the clock, so those were my go-to’s in early sobriety. Now I can dance, and party (if I want to) and no one would be able to tell the difference between me and someone who had been drinking responsibly. I’m the energetic, loud, fun, girl (woman) I have always been, without the liability and with more self-confidence then ever. I’ve been to weddings and on vacations with non-sober people and those have been some of the best times of my life. When I was drinking, I would either ruin those things, or not remember them at all.
Adam: That is an awesome adjustment!! I still lack the confidence to dance sober [laughter].
Kate: Yesterday, a Friday that I had off, I went to brunch with non-sober friends, went food shopping, took a nap, and had dinner and watched a movie with my parents. Today is Saturday and I stayed in bed all day, and I have no negative feelings about it at all because it was a conscious choice that I made… I might work out still. Tonight I will go to a late AA meeting. It’s an “anniversary meeting” so we celebrate the anniversaries of the current month and everyone says a few words for a few minutes. November 9th, 2015 is my anniversary. Then I will hang out with other sober alcoholics, eating food, drinking coffee and tea until rather late at night, probably 1 or 2am. Then I will come home rather fulfilled from the day I’ve had and the people I chose to surround myself with.
Adam: The one thing I love about sober nights are hangover and regret-free mornings. It sounds like you’ve completely adjusted to your new life.
Kate: I was lucky that my non-sober friends are not alcoholics or problem drinkers, to my knowledge. They have been supportive every step of the way. However, I did have old “hobbies” (excuses to drink) and things that I had to stop doing… at first. I don’t typically go into a bar unless I have a reason for being there or another sober person with me for support. I have gone out to play darts with a few sober friends on a couple of occasions, and we’ve stayed sober and had a good time. Darts was something I did all the time when I was drinking and I had to mostly give it up.
Adam: I love darts! I would love to play you in a game one day. Do you have any advice for someone else who wants to become sober?
Kate: My advice for someone who wants to become sober is to ask for help. Find a meeting, go, and talk to someone. As we are all learning, the opposite of addiction is connection, and no one that I know that is sober does it alone. I certainly don’t do it alone, and I know a solution that works for me that I am willing to share with anyone who needs it. Most people in AA feel this way. We do not go out looking for you, you have to want it, and ask for help.
Adam: Great advice. How do you define happiness and how has your definition of happiness changed since you’ve become sober?
Kate: When I was drinking, I remember people asking me what I wanted from life, and I would say “I just want to be happy.” I feel so far from that now I don’t think I can tell you what I thought happiness even meant then. My guess is that I wanted a partner who drank like me so that we could drink together and breed and look like some bullshit picture perfect life on Instagram. Knowing myself and how I was I wouldn’t be fooling too many people.
I found happiness, self-worth and-self love when I realized that I am useful and I can help others, and now I seek to do that. I also reach out for help from others because I need help too (all the help I can get) and in turn those people will feel useful too. It’s how my life is run. It’s an incredible gift.
The #ChairChallenge is real!
Try it with a friend and tag me!
1) place both feet against a wall
2) take 2 steps back
3) bend over 90 degrees
4) place chair underneath you
5) bring chair to your chest
6) try to stand up
Women can do this. Men can not! Crazy!!!
Do you know somebody who battled addiction and overcame it?
Leave a comment or you can e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.
Be Free My Sheeple!