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  1. #1
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    Default I hit FIVE years!!

    Hi there, I wanted to share here that I hit FIVE YEARS on November 19!!

    Now I know that sounds impossible and ridiculously far away if you're struggling at the very beginning, but please KNOW that I remember those days VIVIDLY. I had MANY day one's. I had a lot of fits and starts, periods of "moderate" drinking, some abstinence, heartbreaking binges and lapses, long spans of drinking again with a vengeance ... I see myself in practically every post from someone new here, representing one time or another in my life.

    I HOPE with all my heart that people will not take the long, treacherous way that I chose. It was dark and dangerous, and it is truly a miracle that I am alive. The things I try to share are in the hopes of preventing that because honestly I do not want another human being to go through the feelings of misery and self-loathing that I have felt. Dealing with losses I caused entirely myself. Losing practically everything, over and over again. Getting a grip only to fall back with a vengeance.

    So, five years! That is really something! Not one slip, cheat, sip, nada! 100% continuous. It feels very, very good!

    History
    I first came to SMART online ten years ago. I had lost my job (not drinking related), broken up with my bf and father of two of my very small chlidren, and was in the middle of a horrifically vile, crushing custody battle … and knew that something had to change or I would die, my family be irretrievably shatter. I found SMART, and I made huge progress. I threw myself into involvement, and I felt better than I ever had. I also lost custody, and it was a big blow, no lie.

    I knew that relationships were a dicey area for me, but I made some miscalculations there that were highly unfortunate (haha, that is so very mildly put!). And I drank, and I got so very lost for a couple MORE years.

    When I drank heavy, I drank as often as I possibly could, all day long. I would break to work a little bit or go ask a friend for $20 to get through the day, or see my kids for a little bit, but I really didn't want to do anything but drink. My drinking wasn't ALWAYS like that, but it could get that way. Easier and easier. And it could stay that way for weeks, months …

    Even with all the success I'd had here, I really didn't know how to get back. How to stop. How to mean it. I felt doomed. My house was a wreck, relationship insane, kids' relationships damaged, I was a very lonely, miserable, desperate person at that time.

    Five years ago, I bought a bottle of seltzer on my way home, and I got out my favorite plastic cup, and I said, "There. Done." It wasn't that different a day than any other. But I finally stopped.

    I think being here all that time ago helped. I knew it was possible. I had also kept SMART as an open lifeline. Why did it all come together at that one particular point? I don’t know maybe I’d hit my misery meter. I had certainly been working on it in my head for all that time, just without actually DOING anything about it! I just knew, KNEW viscerally, that nothing could possibly get better if I continued. I didn’t have much hope, but I needed things to stop getting worse.

    I was so relieved not to be drinking, though. That hit right away this last time.

    What I did
    I remembered, vigorously, that drinking makes everything in my life misery, and I guarded vigilantly against any thoughts. I reaffirmed my decision actively. SMART’s tool, DISARM, was my best friend. I used to walk around chanting, "I will not drink," all the time. I was not isolated from it at all. My SO was drinking like a fish. But I was very clear in myself. I would hear my friend CDawg say, in my head, "Play the tape to the end," and I would.

    I did not fantasize about romantic drinking moments. I was ruthless about that. I said "NO" loudly in my head. I forced myself to remember how many of those turned into nightmares, later on in the evening, and I associated drinking with a lot of seriously unhappy things. The looks of devastating disappointment and sadness in my children's faces is a hard one to get around. I still conjure up those images occasionally. This is what they would look like again. I can't take back that I did that to them, but I can make sure they never have to worry about me and us in that way again. Now, they actually listen to me from time to time, and I consider that a big compliment.

    Anyway, it was a "no matter what" thing about drinking, at least to get through the immediate future. And I knew, KNEW that I didn't want to go back. I don't have to call it forever to know that it really can't be in my future, IF I am to have a reasonably manageable, meaningful future.
    And then I renewed diligent acquaintance with all the CBT tools here. It was hard. I already knew them, but clearly I hadn’t been using them and I had trouble getting a grip on them for a while. I had to force my way through that some. But gradually, they started to click again. Thank goodness, because they are my pillars!

    Lessons Learned
    I have made a lot of personal breakthroughs in this past five years. I no longer believe that I have to drink/use if I get hurt in a relationship, or if someone goes away, or dies. I no longer believe that I must "fall apart" in some highly dramatic fashion -- family weeping, sirens wailing -- when I am overwhelmed or stressed or hurt or scared. And I don't need a parade every time I do something "good." I no longer believe that if I do not find my white knight, that life will be AWFUL. I no longer believe that I MUST have a perfect life in order to be really, truly happy. I no longer believe that I am responsible for the ills of the world but somehow not for my own actions.

    I have learned that a kind word is an easy thing and can go a long way. I have learned not to take things personally -- as much as is humanly possible for me! I have learned that compassion springs best from having some for myself -- and this is hard; I work on this. I am very conscious of my impact on my circumstances and surroundings. Not necessarily to change the world, but to be fully able to manage how I engage with it, which creates room for change -- sometimes. I am learning to tweak out my perfectionistic, procrastination, control issues. Slowly. And I learn every day that life and people and the world are astonishing and intricate and complex and beautiful AND dark, including me.

    I'm so glad to be a part of all of THIS. Life. And I intend to take full advantage of that from here on in.

    Alcohol?

    ACK! That is a TERRIBLE idea! That would ruin everything!!!!

    There are a million paths out there to get away from this; use any and all. Along the way, there's a piece here or there that touches inside of us, and that's where we start to build and ultimately find strength. I found a lot of pieces like that here. SMART made sense to me as a framework. I had to bring the work and patience.

    No matter what, don't give up, and don't stop trying. And if you can find ways to make it easier on yourself, DO THAT! There is no prize for doing it tough, believe me! I am much further behind than seems "fair" on many of the basics I assumed I would have at this point in my life. BUT, I am alive!!! And that is astonishing and a blessing, and I can enjoy every little thing out there that it is POSSIBLE to wring some enjoyment from. I enjoyed NOTHING when I was drinking. Some mysterious state of being in my head, buzzy, in that just right way. But it was NOTHING. It gave me NOTHING.

    SMART Recovery!
    Ah, SMART, and the people here at SMART have always been beyond kind and warm and encouraging, and this place is just the best thing that ever happened to me! I mean that. I have made innumerable friendships. I have enjoyed helping. And the support for me, myself, here, over time, is … there are no words. I have found it from the place, from random strangers, and from people I've grown to know for a long time. And it makes up a fabric, a network that I can use as an organizing system for my beliefs. I can work on my beliefs. How I want to approach the world. What I want to concentrate on. What is meaningful for me.

    There are so many things that touch the heart in this place based on science. The PEOPLE! It always comes back to that. But there is something very supportive of the types of help and discussion in the organic structure that we have. It produces a depth of discussion that I've never really experienced before. It has been a place where I can sort out my thoughts and practice, and think about how I am acting, and reassure myself and seek input and learn. I get to be reminded of both the strength and the frailty of human beings on a daily basis. It's a good reminder to me. We are both, all the time.

    I am in love with SMART Recovery. It helped me save my life. It gave me a platform and friends and a healthy outlet, and I learned and learned and learned about myself and the way I operate in this world. Life is such an interesting place. I am IRKED that I gave away so many years to alcohol, and I am determined that I am going to live life as fully as I can on as many dimensions as possible from here on out! I still have about a third of a lifetime. That's a long time!

    SMART helped me find life and hope. It continues to give me strength, support, insight. It is such an amazing place here, online and beyond! It is, now, like a fabric, of thousands of individual threads and lives and voices, and together they create, a truly beautiful, living changing community, which continues to unfurl, where people have a good shot at making real change in life.

    What an amazing place. I'm so grateful to be a part of it, and I want to see it grow so it can be available to everyone who needs help.

    Peace, Progress & Perspective, friends.
    And thank you, SMART RECOVERY!

    Dee

  2. #2

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    Hi Dee,
    Thank you for your post. It hits home because I am a mom who has terrified my children with my children. Their sad faces will never leave me. I struggle every day and wish I had five years. You inspired me just enough to give me hope. Thank you

  3. #3
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    Default

    Awesome! Congrats and thank you for the tips.

  4. #4
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    Makamah, there is definitely hope, and the best thing about sobriety is the relationships I've been able to rebuild with my children. (((Hugs)))

    Thank you Kyle!! It is feeling good!

    Dee

  5. #5

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    Great post Dee!!

    5 years is a great achievement. It is amazing how life can completely turn around.

    Congratulations!

    BF

  6. #6
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    Default

    Awesome post, and a huge congratulations to you!

    Mel =)
    I'm not telling you it is going to be easy, I'm telling you it's going to be worth it.

  7. #7
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    Thank you, Mellie and Beachfreak!

    And I just read your TWO YEAR note, Beach!! WOOHOOO! That is just great.

    Dee

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Minneapolis
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    Default

    Excellent, Dee! Wonderful!
    Because we're worth it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Dee, a belated warmest congrats from me too! You've always been inspiring to me and I also particularly admire your volunteer work. Hugs.

  10. #10
    Gordon1's Avatar
    Gordon1 is offline SMART Online Facilitator
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    Along the way, there's a piece here or there that touches inside of us, and that's where we start to build and ultimately find strength.
    That is GOLD Dee!
    Thankyou VERY much for all that you do and congratulations on 5 years!
    WooHoo!!!!
    You are an inspirational person and this post cements that in place.
    All the best always,
    Hugh
    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.

  11. #11
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    What a nice surprise to see these notes today! Thank you so much, Hugh, Tara and mctj!! It's going to be a good year. I plan to work as hard as I can to make it so. - Happy Holidays all! - Dee

  12. #12

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    Congratulations, Dee!!! I am just seeing this post now but wanted to say congrats I like that you also included things you've learned along the way, as I think that will help a lot of people. Happy Holidays!!!

  13. #13

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    So many congratulations Dee. I was around a lot between 2004 and 2006 and remember your struggles and challenges. I will make 10 years this July so everything you say here resonates with me, and I was so happy to read your story.
    You are where you are and what you are because of what you believe yourself to be. Change your beliefs and change your reality.

  14. #14
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    May 2004
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    Well hey there! Hi Hazeleyes!! I remember you too. It is so nice to hear from you and to hear of your success! So nice to see your name. It sounds like things are well for you, and that is a treat to hear. (((Hugs))) - Dee

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    You go Ms. Dee!

  16. #16
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    gpowers!! Thank you!!!! ((((Hugs)))) - Dee

  17. #17

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    Dee you're Perfect !!!!

  18. #18
    Sam29's Avatar
    Sam29 is offline Distance Training Team
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    I thought I had already responded to this thread, Dee. Ooops. Well I know I was thinking about your accomplishment. 5 yrs. is awesome and especially the amount of courage it took for you to get through those years. A lot on your plate, young lady but you persevered. That's what I like about you. You do not give up and you give it back to everyone you meet. A big thank you for that. See you in the next 5, Dee.

    Love,
    Sam

  19. #19
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    Aloha Dee, Congratulations!!! Thank you for all your kind, wise and thoughtful words you share with this community. Loved reading your story!! :-)

  20. #20
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    Goodness! This thread is living WAY beyond what I anticipated! Thank you Sam, Hop, I missed you when you posted earlier, Shelly, you are a sweetheart, and I'm so glad to see YOU doing so well. tainguyen, definitely NOT perfect, just working away at stuff, but thank you. This is very, very doable (and I know it seems impossible earlier on; sure did for me). It takes some focus, work, and the support is so helpful. Tools, tools, tools! I am a big advocate.

    I hope EVERYONE who is struggling can find what works best for them so they can get back to LIVING LIFE!!!

    Love to all,
    Dee

  21. #21

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    Congratulations Dee! This means more to me than you know. I'm just beginning my flight in to health. ...scary at the start, but you prove it can be done!
    Thank you!!

  22. #22
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    Well thank you, bbuddy! I am so glad. It is scary at first, but you DEFINITELY can do this. I'm so happy that you're here, and don't ever hesitate to reach out if you need help. A BIG welcome to SMART!!

    Dee

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Dee, the Delight

    Ever so many congratulations on sharing your life and recovery. You are one of those people who prove " you can't keep it until you give it away .." I am grateful for that part of your life.

    Thank you for your encouragement on the forums and in Ohio as well..what a life with the Power of Choice..no pill is worth giving that up today..

  24. #24

    Default

    Wow....truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing!

  25. #25

    Default Words

    Dee, super excited for you! It is a great accomplishment that I am sure came with some very good work on your part. Congratulations.

    PS ~ I wish there were "Like" buttons for posts like these.
    Last edited by CAETimlin32; March 13, 2015 at 6:05 AM. Reason: Adding words

  26. #26
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    Thank you so much everyone!! Buglady, you are a dear and hugely inspirational to me!! ChaozAngel46 and CAETimlin32, thank you so much. It gives me a real lift to know that my words touch someone else. I DID work hard at it!! it was good work, though, you know?

    Hey, the invite in my signature line is for an event that is FREE and open to the public!! Check it out. We'd love to see you there. Everyone!

    Best,
    Dee

  27. #27

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    Good job! Congrats on your success and best wished moving forward.

  28. #28

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    This is such an inspiring post. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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