Sobriety Is Not Synonymous With Recovery

By Kenzi RomeAugust 20, 2015

Six years ago today I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. That day I also happened to be celebrating 30 days sober. I was terrified. I never really intended to stay sober. I intended to prove to those around me – and myself – that I was in control, that I could go without alcohol or other substances. Somewhere in my mind, I figured that I would get to go back to my old life after some short-lived sobriety. Don’t get me wrong – I wanted help, but I always felt the addiction would win out.

I loved kids, was a nanny in fact, and wanted them sooner than later. But I knew I had to be sober before I could be a mom. I was torn between excitement for motherhood and absolute fear that I couldn’t be the mother my baby needed. That fear propelled me to continue my sobriety throughout my pregnancy. When I gave birth, I was grateful that I could deliver a beautiful baby boy who had never been exposed to drugs or alcohol.

I didn’t realize at the time that sobriety was not synonymous with recovery. Over the years, I white-knuckled my sobriety, continuing to refrain from alcohol while still living a life of chaos. I later learned I was what many call a “dry drunk,” someone still living a chaotic life while maintaining technical abstinence from chemicals.

Eventually, the emotional pain was too overwhelming, and I was sure I was going to drink. One day I found myself in a grocery store, holding a bottle of alcohol and crying, as I debated whether I wanted the escape from my pain. The year before I had experienced a one-time drug slip, something I was sure would never happen, and the alcohol cravings were coming with an intensity I couldn’t deny much longer. I was scared.

I had adamantly refused to become part of Alcoholics Anonymous, so sure that I was different. I thought I could do it on my own, and I scoffed at the program’s belief in a higher power that actually cared. Finally, despite the years of sobriety, I had nowhere else to turn. So I became one of them; I joined AA.

The slow process of working the steps and trusting my Sponsor has been more cathartic than anything I have ever experienced. I am slowly learning that I can ask for help and that I have a whole community willing to be there for me, people who truly do understand exactly what I am going through. I am uncovering things that I never realized contributed to my destructive patterns and am gradually healing from so many terrible things in the past.

When I stopped drinking and using, I was still unable to cope with the deep pain inside that had driven me to use. Without a chemical outlet, I continued to engage in self-harm, using it as my escape when life was more than I could handle. After beginning my recovery journey, I realized that self-injury could be just as much an addiction as drugs and alcohol, and that, in order to truly recover, I needed to end the cycle of self-destruction.

Utilizing the steps and the community I have found has enabled me to start feeling and experiencing emotions without catastrophic effects. Yesterday was eight months since my last incident of self-injury; it was the longest stretch in 13 years, something I never thought I would achieve. I am slowly mending the deep-seated pain I have felt for most of my life. I am learning when to forgive, when to let go, and when to make amends.

I work hard at my recovery. I chart my mood daily, take my medications, exercise appropriately, get adequate sleep, attend counseling, participate in AA, and connect with my Sponsor almost daily. I still experience the sadness, the guilt, and the shame regularly, but now it doesn’t overtake me. Now I know where I can go. I look at my little boy, whose conception was the impetus for my sobriety, and I know someday I can tell him that, through the gift of his life, I have mended the tears in mine. I am proud to be free from alcohol, drugs, and self-harm. Even if it’s one day at a time.

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Comments (16)

  1. Lei Lani Lucero

    It was the title of this article that caught my attention. I have no personal experience with addiction, but I do love quite a few people who live with their addictions, and are in various stages of recovery and sobriety and healing. Thank you for your perspective, your words, and your courage.

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  2. Brown

    Good for you!!! Super hard to do and glad you were able to get help and are starting to feel better stay strong

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  3. Bonnie

    I started going to recovery seven years ago, I’ve never had any chemical addiction so I didn’t think recovery was for me, but three celebrate recovery I found freedom from hurts hangups and habits, I’m not self harmed in four years and eight months, and I was recently able to share with over 3000 people but God has done in my life through celebrate recovery

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    1. margaret

      bonnie – i am part of the music team for a CR. this is the biggest motivation for continuing that i have seen. thank you for sharing your story.

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  4. Maggie

    Loved reading your story. 20 years ago I knew I could not sober up without help and joined AA…one of best choices I made in my life. They say at end of meetings to keep coming back it works if u work it. This is so true and I say to u…life continues to get better even now…20 years later. Keep it up and know it is worth it.

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  5. Sydney

    I’m 22 days sober as I read this and am in tears. This is a huge inspiration to me, I’m so glad I came across it. I joined AA right away because my outpatient treatment required it and now I’m a regular and I’m slowly starting to find hope again. I’m so glad I came across this, stay strong! Thank you for sharing 🙂

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  6. Stacie

    ? You have done some amazing, hard things. I’m so glad you have found people to help and have let them. When I think of heroes, no capes come to mind, it’s day to day heroes like you.

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  7. B

    Beautiful. I’m learning that recovery from anything: drugs, alcohol, eating disorder, self harm etc…is one step at a time. It also is a harder & longer journey than I expected. Thanks for sharing your story & for the hope.

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  8. Mike

    That’s an amazing story, proud of you

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  9. Heidi

    I am 46 days sober. I have been a train wreck since my divorce 4 years ago. While with him I stayed clean and sober 7 years. One day at a time, love. I have added naltrexone to my meds and it has been miraculous. Best of luck,love and light. Heidi

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  10. crystal nelson

    This was a fantastic story. Its a great gift to be blessed with an unexpected motivation we a given if we are able to see it as a sign that we ARE ready to accept recovery is possible. That we don’t have to suffer anymore. Help is always there if we are ready.

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  11. Kacee

    This inspired me so much. I’m going through much of the same thing right now and I like how you worded how you felt when you went to AA. Thank you for sharing this, it’s always so comforting to hear someone else speak about what I’m going through <3

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  12. Meggie

    You are so strong and such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your journey.

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  13. cor

    I’ve been “sober” – not counting a few hiccups – for over 7 years. But I guess the condition of my fingers (torn and bleeding) and the muscle spasms that make me double over while hiding in the bathroom, clenching my teeth when it all gets to be too much might not speak for a successful recovery. I’ve just found less obvious ways to cope.
    This article got me because of the title, and I’ve been made to re-think my concept of sobriety.

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  14. Rieve

    Thank you

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  15. No

    Thanks 🥲

    Reply  |  
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