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  1. #1

    Default A Globe-Trotting, European-Travelling, Life-Totally-Changed, Success Story - TWO YEARS SOBER!

    It's been awhile since I've been to the SMART website, but this time of year, I guess it all comes back to mind. There are the regular SMART holiday emails that start to come in, and of course, there's the drinking. The bars are full, the staff parties are raging, and working around the hotel & restaurant industry, there is drinking and revelry at the functions and parties nearly nightly.


    January is my two-year sober anniversary, but I first started trying to quit eight years ago - which is when I first found SMART. I was on-again, off-again with drinking (mostly on-again), but I got pretty serious in 2015, and finally was able to quit for good. I was struggling in more ways than one. I was in an unhealthy, co-dependent, alcoholic marriage. My parents were conditionally supportive - there for me, as long as I lived up to their expectations. I was too sick from drinking to work, let alone save or plan for the future. Every day was a cycle - watching the clock until it was a suitable time to get drunk, then drink until I passed out. I spent at least two days a week too ill to get out of bed. I was overweight, depressed and anxious, so much more unhealthy than I even realized.


    There are the obvious physical changes since I quit, which could be a major motivation on their own. I lost about 50 lbs (over 3.5 stone). I look younger, happier, and healthier than I did ten years ago (I spent about 10 years in major, drunk-every-single-day addiction). I sleep at night. I don't have the drastic up-and-down moods that contributed to my bipolar diagnosis (I have yet to determine how much of that was alcohol related). I am not so tired, so careless, so afraid of people or the outside world. But more than that - the changes to my life, my circumstances, and my outlook are nearly unbelievable.


    Every day I spent successfully sober, I was growing stronger. I didn't know it, I didn't see it for a long time. But I started making small decisions, becoming braver in little ways, that ultimately added up to a complete life change. I separated from my husband, taking some space to get away from the alcohol. I spent more time focusing on what was barely even a hobby at the time - my online sales business. I built friendships and connections with people from SMART, and through SMART. One of those people - a certain English SMART alumni - has become the most important person in my life. I didn't meet him on SMART, but he had used SMART himself and gotten sober awhile before I did. A mutual friend introduced the two of us in a separate chat group, and the rest is history. (I am in no way advocating using SMART as a dating tool - it's a good idea to wait until you are long sober and very stable before trying a new relationship. But we often find connections with those who understand our struggles and have been there themselves, and that's what happened for us.)


    My new life was forming and taking shape, but it was hard to see my path. I often felt like - and honestly still do! - I was taking steps in the half-dark, trusting that the destination would be a good one. I could never see much further than a few feet in front of me, but I kept moving forward. Like I said - I still feel that way. Maybe that's just life - we draw up a plan, put ourselves on the right path, and then feel our way through the dim light. But I want to tell you - the destination IS a good one - it's a great one. It's probably better than you can imagine.


    Not everyone will have the same story as me. My life has completely changed. I moved from a small, sad town in Alabama, to London. I've gotten to travel around England, seeing things I've dreamed of since I was a kid. Stonehenge, the architecture, Liverpool - home of The Beatles! (I am slightly obsessed). I've established relationships with long-lost family members - visiting my half-sister in Sweden, meeting her wonderful kids - my nieces and nephews. I'm going to be meeting my other half-sister and half-brother and their children in Florida in a few weeks.


    Don't get me wrong - I've lost people too. Most sadly, my own parents. They aren't happy I moved away, they don't approve of my choices since I've gotten sober. You'll discover some strange things as you get sober - including the fact that some people in your life, for strange and sad reasons, prefer you drunk or high, weak and depressed. But the things I've gained outweigh what I've lost dramatically.


    I have a future now. With some money I was owed (that I only was able to pursue with the clarity and motivation that comes with getting sober), I invested and purchased my first house. It has a tenant, and I plan on turning that property into more properties. My business income has grown by (get this) over 1300%. It's expanded to include marketing for other companies - and I've even worked in other trades in the process. I went from someone who was living in more or less filth and squalor, surviving on fast food, paper plates, furniture picked up from dumpsters, and handouts from others - to a landlady, a sous-chef, a marketing and design expert, and a small business owner. The things I thought I never wanted - the things I despised others for having - careers, families, "normal" lives - I now realize I wanted all along. I was just afraid to admit it to myself, because I thought I'd never be able to break free and have them.


    When I was in addiction, driving past peoples' houses, I remember seeing them in their yards, through their windows, wondering how on earth they could be living those lives. Lives without getting drunk or high. How could they live, night to night, watching t.v., worrying about their credit scores, planning holidays, having kids. Now, I'm on the other side, and I'm telling you - it's awesome here.


    Your story won't be exactly like mine. Maybe you won't move to another continent, or travel Europe, or find a real-life fairy-tale love story. Maybe you won't lose some of your family or friends, or gain other family and friends, maybe you won't run your own business. Maybe you will. Whatever happens, you WILL be the hero of your own story, because you do get stronger every single day you overcome addiction. You are psychologically and emotionally proving your strength and ability to yourself - and the more you see how strong and able you are, the braver you are. And before you know it, you are making the choices you need to make to change your life.


    So that's my story - stick with it. Get yourself on the other side of the white picket fence and lacy curtains, whatever that means to you - I promise you it's worth it.
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  2. #2

    Default

    That's an amazing story. Gives me hope. Good luck and stay sober

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    South Florida
    Posts
    9

    Default Thanks

    I was tempted to go have a few beers at lunch hour today.

    I decided to check out the Smart website instead. I'm glad I did. I just read this post and it gave me the encouragement I need to persevere. Thanks!




    Quote Originally Posted by klmichelle View Post
    It's been awhile since I've been to the SMART website, but this time of year, I guess it all comes back to mind. There are the regular SMART holiday emails that start to come in, and of course, there's the drinking. The bars are full, the staff parties are raging, and working around the hotel & restaurant industry, there is drinking and revelry at the functions and parties nearly nightly.


    January is my two-year sober anniversary, but I first started trying to quit eight years ago - which is when I first found SMART. I was on-again, off-again with drinking (mostly on-again), but I got pretty serious in 2015, and finally was able to quit for good. I was struggling in more ways than one. I was in an unhealthy, co-dependent, alcoholic marriage. My parents were conditionally supportive - there for me, as long as I lived up to their expectations. I was too sick from drinking to work, let alone save or plan for the future. Every day was a cycle - watching the clock until it was a suitable time to get drunk, then drink until I passed out. I spent at least two days a week too ill to get out of bed. I was overweight, depressed and anxious, so much more unhealthy than I even realized.


    There are the obvious physical changes since I quit, which could be a major motivation on their own. I lost about 50 lbs (over 3.5 stone). I look younger, happier, and healthier than I did ten years ago (I spent about 10 years in major, drunk-every-single-day addiction). I sleep at night. I don't have the drastic up-and-down moods that contributed to my bipolar diagnosis (I have yet to determine how much of that was alcohol related). I am not so tired, so careless, so afraid of people or the outside world. But more than that - the changes to my life, my circumstances, and my outlook are nearly unbelievable.


    Every day I spent successfully sober, I was growing stronger. I didn't know it, I didn't see it for a long time. But I started making small decisions, becoming braver in little ways, that ultimately added up to a complete life change. I separated from my husband, taking some space to get away from the alcohol. I spent more time focusing on what was barely even a hobby at the time - my online sales business. I built friendships and connections with people from SMART, and through SMART. One of those people - a certain English SMART alumni - has become the most important person in my life. I didn't meet him on SMART, but he had used SMART himself and gotten sober awhile before I did. A mutual friend introduced the two of us in a separate chat group, and the rest is history. (I am in no way advocating using SMART as a dating tool - it's a good idea to wait until you are long sober and very stable before trying a new relationship. But we often find connections with those who understand our struggles and have been there themselves, and that's what happened for us.)


    My new life was forming and taking shape, but it was hard to see my path. I often felt like - and honestly still do! - I was taking steps in the half-dark, trusting that the destination would be a good one. I could never see much further than a few feet in front of me, but I kept moving forward. Like I said - I still feel that way. Maybe that's just life - we draw up a plan, put ourselves on the right path, and then feel our way through the dim light. But I want to tell you - the destination IS a good one - it's a great one. It's probably better than you can imagine.


    Not everyone will have the same story as me. My life has completely changed. I moved from a small, sad town in Alabama, to London. I've gotten to travel around England, seeing things I've dreamed of since I was a kid. Stonehenge, the architecture, Liverpool - home of The Beatles! (I am slightly obsessed). I've established relationships with long-lost family members - visiting my half-sister in Sweden, meeting her wonderful kids - my nieces and nephews. I'm going to be meeting my other half-sister and half-brother and their children in Florida in a few weeks.


    Don't get me wrong - I've lost people too. Most sadly, my own parents. They aren't happy I moved away, they don't approve of my choices since I've gotten sober. You'll discover some strange things as you get sober - including the fact that some people in your life, for strange and sad reasons, prefer you drunk or high, weak and depressed. But the things I've gained outweigh what I've lost dramatically.


    I have a future now. With some money I was owed (that I only was able to pursue with the clarity and motivation that comes with getting sober), I invested and purchased my first house. It has a tenant, and I plan on turning that property into more properties. My business income has grown by (get this) over 1300%. It's expanded to include marketing for other companies - and I've even worked in other trades in the process. I went from someone who was living in more or less filth and squalor, surviving on fast food, paper plates, furniture picked up from dumpsters, and handouts from others - to a landlady, a sous-chef, a marketing and design expert, and a small business owner. The things I thought I never wanted - the things I despised others for having - careers, families, "normal" lives - I now realize I wanted all along. I was just afraid to admit it to myself, because I thought I'd never be able to break free and have them.


    When I was in addiction, driving past peoples' houses, I remember seeing them in their yards, through their windows, wondering how on earth they could be living those lives. Lives without getting drunk or high. How could they live, night to night, watching t.v., worrying about their credit scores, planning holidays, having kids. Now, I'm on the other side, and I'm telling you - it's awesome here.


    Your story won't be exactly like mine. Maybe you won't move to another continent, or travel Europe, or find a real-life fairy-tale love story. Maybe you won't lose some of your family or friends, or gain other family and friends, maybe you won't run your own business. Maybe you will. Whatever happens, you WILL be the hero of your own story, because you do get stronger every single day you overcome addiction. You are psychologically and emotionally proving your strength and ability to yourself - and the more you see how strong and able you are, the braver you are. And before you know it, you are making the choices you need to make to change your life.


    So that's my story - stick with it. Get yourself on the other side of the white picket fence and lacy curtains, whatever that means to you - I promise you it's worth it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    950

    Default

    Beautiful, inspiring story. A huge congratulations to you on your success!
    "You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice." - Bob Marley

  5. #5

    Default

    Congrats on your success. you are spot on with the unhealthy relationships. we need positive people around us who support us and give us the drive to be better.

  6. #6
    Gordon1's Avatar
    Gordon1 is offline Former Online Facilitator
    Former Face to Face Facilitator
    Former Online Meeting Liaison
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    4,632

    Default

    Wonderful

    Thankyou very much for sharing your previous choices, your new choices, growth and triumphs!
    What got me sober was trying to get sober. Every time I lapsed, picked up, drank, I was thoroughly beaten. I thought at those times "there is no hope for me" Yet, when I had recovered from those thoughts just a little, I thought "have another go!" It was a lot of little sparks, rather than a flame, that got me here.

  7. #7

    Default

    thank you so much klmichelle for posting your amazing story, it has given me much hope tonight and is truly a bright light in the darkness--there is so much promise and hope in sobriety, it feels like all things are possible!

  8. #8
    LMR555's Avatar
    LMR555 is offline SMART MB Co-Liaison
    SMART Online Facilitator
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Southwest Fl
    Posts
    24,076

    Default

    Fantastic way with words!! and I can tell how proud you are with the choices you are making. I can tell how happy you are in your life.


    Best to you!! Thank you for sharing.

    LMR
    "Discover the Power of Choice!"

    “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

    Join the team as a SMART Message Board Volunteer!! It can encourage growth and joy. Or support with a donation http://bit.ly/passthehat

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