I originally got sober in 2016 after moving to Fort Lauderdale. I was doing everything that was suggested which included going to daily AA meetings and working the 12-steps. Sobriety was a piece of cake for the first 6 months. I was on a pink cloud of pure sober joy. Seven months into my bliss, I decided to drink alone in my room. I drank 3 airplane bottles of Ciroc Coconut and called it a night. That was the extent of my “relapse.” I didn’t continue on a bender and certainly didn’t drink myself into oblivion. The following morning, I woke up, went to work and then an AA meeting the following night.
I convinced myself that I could occasionally indulge in a drinking session without completely destroying my life. I started anticipating those nights where I could “let loose.” The idea of these sessions consumed me. The anticipation was intoxicating. I craved the escape. Within a year, I was drinking more often and it was affecting my work. But honestly, I didn’t care. I didn’t love my job as a waitress because it felt disposable. I had no sense of purpose and no legitimate goals. This mindset was keeping me sick. I was still in a foxhole.
Fast forward to 2018. I ejected myself from the South Florida rat race and moved to NJ. Even though I had a degree in advertising, my resume begged to differ. Instead of convincing myself that waitressing was my only capability, I went out on a limb and applied to every receptionist/office job available. What was the worst that could happen? I don’t get hired? OK, then I seize the next opportunity for an interview. With absolutely no experience in healthcare, I landed a position as an optometric assistant. While my boyfriend was busting his ass, I was rapidly learning my new field. We started acquiring things that seemed impossible back in South Florida. We saved money and worked endlessly.
I stopped relying on external stimuli to keep me sober and started exploring my internal talk. I asked myself, why do I avoid alcohol? Sobriety keeps my life in check; it is the reason why I have a happy relationship, fulfilling job, and stable life. I used to abstain because I knew I was an alcoholic and alcohol was forbidden. Now, I abstain because I fear losing everything that I worked so hard to obtain. I don’t want to go back to that place of instability where alcohol was the only antidote. The key to sobriety is not to simply exist without alcohol. The key to sobriety is to thrive in a life that seemed impossible while drinking. Every day I fear relapsing. Just one sip can bring me back to that place of darkness. I have worked too hard to lose my relationship, my stability, and my career. And that is my secret to sobriety.
This picture was taken a week before I relapsed for the first time after moving to Fort Lauderdale. I was working in a restaurant and had just accepted a job in a phone room baiting unsuspecting addicts into treatment. I was convinced that I would be “helping” people who were sick and suffering. My only priority was a fancy job title in the treatment field; I wanted to be respected in the recovery community. I boasted about step-work and seized every opportunity to share my story at AA meetings. I was trying to convince myself that I was “living a life beyond my wildest dreams.” I was under the assumption that picking up that six-month chip would be the ultimate success. I yearned to be the stereotypical success story. I sought external validation. After surpassing this milestone, I still felt lost. I was facing interior challenges which I tried to resolve with a valiant exterior. It was a facade.
Behind the smile is a girl who feels inadequate and trapped in a cycle of disappointment. Despite her perfect exterior, she lacks confidence and motivation to strive for goals that seem “unreachable.” Feeling complacent and unfulfilled, she relapses one week later.