Hi, my name is Katherine, and I am sober today.
I'm sharing my story because I believe it's critical for women to be open, unapologetic, and stand firm in their experience, both to truly recover, and to help others who are still suffering. This is the only way we can educate other women and allow them to know they aren’t alone. My addiction doesn’t make me ashamed. Nor does it hold power over me anymore. It is not my story, but it is a part of it I can use to help others. I own it. I accept it. I stand in it. It is my truth.
When I first gave up alcohol, I wasn’t living sober. I was dry but not in recovery. I was the same person, without the alcohol but with all the same problems.
I didn’t know what to expect when I got sober, but I felt like I was a stranger in my own life. It was as if I had landed on the moon. I experienced an outpouring of grief and a deep knowledge that it was finally over.
It's been three and a half years. Looking back, the fatal error I made in early recovery was keeping this life change a secret rather than asking for the support I needed. I didn’t think I needed help, and I didn’t want people judging me. So, I remained a dry alcoholic.
A dry alcoholic is someone who has given up the alcohol but remains the same in every other aspect of their life. They haven't healed the pathologies that developed as a result of their addiction or resolved the wounds they caused while struggling with it.
I recently interviewed addiction therapist and author Veronica Valli, and she brought up the topic of emotional unmanageability. It had taken me a while, but once I was active in my recovery (two years after giving up booze), I finally accepted that my life before had been unmanageable.
But it took me quite a while to examine my current emotional state. When I did, I realized I was totally out of control—maybe even more than when I drank—because I'd lost my primary coping mechanism.
Beyond anger issues, I was dealing with jealousy, resentment, shame, moodiness, and constant anxiety. My emotions literally controlled me.
Alcohol for me was a symptom of my unease with myself but not the underlying problem. Once I gave up alcohol, I lost my means of numbing my fraught emotions. I was like a volcano, ready to go at any moment.