Testimony #6

Please note that some of the material may be graphic and/or vulgar in nature. Student’s names are kept confidential.

A whirlwind of factors set me up for failure as a young teen, including abuse and addiction throughout my family. I began smoking pot at age 13, followed by an expulsion from school for possession. By the age of 15, I was regularly using various pills and alcohol. My addict tendencies were there from the start.  Alcohol was my first love. It was the solution, or I had thought, to all of my problems in my life. It made me strong, confident, brave, beautiful, but as time progressed, all of the promises that alcohol made began to slowly turn to lies.

At 17, the drugs had gotten heavier and the freedom I once got from alcohol was gone. At one point I was placed in honors classes, a gold medal athlete, and a trained musician, but I made the decision to no longer attend high school. I left midway through my sophomore year. I was sleeping on random couches, and had nothing of my own. I was a stranger to not only my family, but to myself. In the following months, I continued to go downhill, and fast. I couldn’t make it through a day without suicidal thoughts and crippling anxiety. I had begun to regularly experience alcohol withdrawal. I had even moved to different states in hopes of starting over. After several suicide attempts and stays in psych wards, at age 18 things began to click. I didn’t like where the last years had gone and didn’t recognize who I was. My future was bleak. No education, no real ambitions. No hope. I decided to quit using drugs and spent about a year trying various ways to control my alcohol use, drinking only on the weekends, just beer, only on special occasions, etc. I drove to a couple AA meetings, but never had the nerve to go inside.

On November 12, 2014 I started drinking and partying with some friends. What was supposed to be a light evening, turned into a 4 day blacked out binge…again. I had thoroughly embarrassed myself, my oldest and dearest friend had arrived from Colorado to see me and I had no recollection of his visit. I lost my keys, spent what money I had left, and lost yet another job. I woke up that morning, and decided I was done. I had had enough.

I have been clean and sober since November 16, 2014. I couldn’t have done it without attending AA. I feel stable and secure in my recovery. Everyone has their days, but most days, being a nondrinker has become second nature and I have not only accepted, but embraced that sobriety is part of my day to day life. I had never realized that alcohol was the source of my depression, and many of my problems until I had gone without. My depression has lifted, and my anxiety is manageable. The majority of my problems have resolved themselves. I look forward to what the future has instore for me and I’m no longer a stranger to myself and my family. I couldn’t be more of a classic example of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.

School had never been a priority for me until I quit drinking.  I only spent a few months in college before I had gotten sober, but my grades suffered. I struggled and didn’t apply myself. I wasn’t really there. The clarity that I’ve gained from sobriety allows me to balance recovery, school, and work. I have a new found confidence in myself allowing me to take on various obstacles, whereas before I would have given up without a fight.  With a clear vision, and set goals, my education has become a top priority in my life. With the exception of a day here or there, I look forward to attending my classes and studying. To be where I am today is a miracle, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I never would have believed that I would have the dedication and ambition that I do now.

Attending UNO has only strengthened my love for learning and reminds me why I got sober. I immediately found myself a part of the recovery community on campus, and what a help that has been. Having that immediate support from my peers reminds me that I’m not going through this alone. It keeps me humble, and pushes me to continue to try my best. Regarding the recovery community, it means the world to me to be able to extend a helping hand whenever possible, by just committing my time or showing my support in whatever way I can. There have been so many people along my journey who’ve been by my side and I am honored to be able to be that person for someone else.  I haven’t been able to attend many of the on campus AA meetings, but just knowing they’re here is a comfort. I believe that the recovery community on campus is essential to my success throughout college. The resources, the people, the environment, the only way that the recovery community on campus could support my recovery more is by providing housing for sober students specifically.  

My mother likes to say that I’ve finally returned to the person I was when I was a child; caring, happy, responsible, bright, but I don’t like to say that I’ve returned to who I was before my sobriety, rather I’ve become a whole new person, a person I never thought I could become. I have never fought for anything like I have my recovery.  It means everything to me, without it I’d have nothing, including my education and my future.

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