Sober. 22 Years. Today.

Today I am celebrating 22 years of continuous sobriety.

No one could be more amazed by this than I.

First of all, I’m not even supposed to be an alcoholic.

I come from a long line of them, and, while most little girls dreamt of riding ponies or the latest hair style, I was thinking, and planning – very seriously – how NOT to be an alcoholic. In fact, I had my first strategic plan to avoid the disease by the time I was 9 or 10. Unfortunately, my plan included my alcoholic father so I had to revise it, just one year later, when he died from our disease at the age of 34.

My sober friends say this, “We plan. God laughs.” Alcoholism had its own plans, and, in the face of the power of the disease, my own strategic ideas were a folly.

 

I cannot emphasize this next point enough —

If you are an alcoholic, the ONLY choice you have is whether you are going

to LIVE or DIE from the disease.

 

THAT’S IT!

 

And, even then, the window of opportunity to embrace sobriety opens for just brief moments at a time.  If  you have a problem with alcohol, I hope this moment — this ONE RIGHT HERE – is such a time for you.  If so, PLEASE grab it, and reach out for help.

I have never written about my alcoholism in a public way. But it is time. My disease can’t hurt me any longer, but maybe, just maybe it can help you! If you are an alcoholic I hope that, by writing this, I have opened the window of sobriety for you.

If you are reading this, there is at least a one in ten shot that you are silently suffering from alcoholism. You may think no one knows, but, trust me, we ALL do! And, if you won’t admit that for yourself, please admit it for the children, the loved ones, coworkers, and neighbors you are taking down with you. Because alcoholism, apart from any other disease, takes out a whole village with it.

My father wasn’t the only one who died on January 2nd, 1974. The version of who I might have been died as well that day. I will NEVER be the version of Jenny that I should have been had I not been abandoned by an alcoholic parent and left to languish for years pretending like I was like all the other little girls.

I will never have what should be the birthright of EVERY child – an opportunity to grow up safe and loved and free of adult worries. This is not a slam against my parents. My father left. My mother picked up the slack. I didn’t get the childhood I should have had. But my mother was there. She was NEVER not there.

I’m an adult now and I am now responsible for my own children. As a sober parent, I can AND DO provide a sober home for my family. My children have NEVER seen their mother take a drink. In fact, MY CHILDREN are the FIRST sober babies in THE HISTORY OF OUR FAMILY who have not grown up with active alcoholism!

Their Christmas season memories don’t include running to the mailbox every day after school looking for the acknowledgement that never came from one of their parents. They have not been shamed by being the only little girl with no one to take her to the Father-Daughter dance. (Who thought of that bullshit excuse for an event anyway?)

 

If you have the disease of alcoholism and you are not treating it, you are likely – very likely — to DIE from it. Alcoholism doesn’t care if you acknowledge it. It will happily kill you without your permission.

So, if you won’t get well for yourself, get well for the little girl that is going to attend her father’s funeral today. The one who didn’t have a daddy to walk her down the aisle, or teach her how to deal with abusive people. Get well for that little girl. You don’t have to know her, but you could honor the loss she feels by taking care of your own family.

 

IT’S ONLY TOO LATE IF YOU DON’T START NOW!

 

Today, one day at a time, I embrace a commitment toward my sobriety. I fully intend to die with my disease, not from it.

Let it begin with me.

Love, Jennifer

Flickr, bachmont

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35 Responses to Sober. 22 Years. Today.

  1. Kesha Brown says:

    Very powerful and well articulated message Jenny!

    “We plan. God laughs” – I’ve always loved that phrase :-)

    Congrats on 22 years chica and here’s to many more!

    ~Kesha

  2. Dianne Jones says:

    Hi Jenny first of all Well Done! I lost a very dear friend to Alcoholism infact it was me who found her dead something i don’t think i’ll ever get over. I tried so hard to get her to stop drinking and for a long time blamed myself for not doing enough.It a long time before i relised that only she could’ve done it herself i guess she just didn’t want to live. Once again Well Done!

  3. Kris says:

    Very powerful Jenny, thank you for sharing such a personal story. It resonates with me and my upbringing.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi, Kris. I’m sorry for your losses, then. How cool that you work in the space around health now. Keep coming back! Love, J

  4. Congratulations, Jenny! I, like you, come from a long line of alcoholics. And, yes, I made the vow to not be like “them”. So when I started drinking, I “had control” over it. I am currently sober. And yes I know that with an alcoholic, how much you drink is not the issue, it’s WHY you drink. We can say
    that it’s just because we want to and we are in control, but we know it is not true. God bless you!

    • Jenny says:

      Exactly. De-nial is not that damned river in Egypt! At some point, the WHY didn’t even matter. Now I’m really interested in the “What Next?” Hence, Courage to Change. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your truth, love. J

  5. AM says:

    Very powerful. Thank you for posting this.

  6. Melinda says:

    Excellent., courageous post. Thanks.

  7. Laura says:

    Hey gal – What depth of knowledge and such an eloquent way of sharing it. I’m glad I know you! Keep on keeping on.
    Love to you.

  8. You’ve brought me to tears, Jenny. Two phrases stopped my reading and gave me shivers:

    “… the window of opportunity to embrace sobriety opens for just brief moments at a time.”

    and

    ” Alcoholism doesn’t care if you acknowledge it. It will happily kill you without your permission.”

    Your call to action for all of us – to notice and address alcohol addiction – is powerful. (that’s too small of a word) Thank you.

    • Jenny says:

      It’s such a mean-spirited disease. But the fellowship afterwards — what an amazing gift. Thank you for your kindness. Please let me know if I can be of service. Love, J

      • I have to tell you, Jenny – my husband has been leading a 10 person group through a study the last 8 weeks. (a leadership course) The final meeting was this morning. They were finishing up by beginning the process to define what a meaningful life would look like to each one.

        My husband shared your post with the group – and used it as an example of how to lead a meaningful life by effecting the future through harnessing a disease. The past is broken, because an individual decides to act differently.

        You words made an impact on the group.

  9. Cynthia says:

    Thank you for speaking out so bolding and honestly. Congratulations on your sobriety and condolences for all you have lost on the journey. How wonderful that you were able to break the links in the chain of alcoholism for your children so that they do not have to experience it and pass it down!

  10. Congratulations Jenny, both for your sobriety and for having the courage to share your story.

  11. sharlene says:

    Thank you for sharing. Very inspiring. Congrats!

  12. Jamie says:

    A friend of mine once offered me the following quote… “You are in a very powerful place right now.” Seems fitting here. You have focus, you have potential, you have your finger on the pulse that moves and motivates your life. Keep keeping on!

  13. Congratulations Jenny! It takes discipline and commitment to over come any addiction. It takes courage to talk it. You are an inspiration and will help many others through your own story. All the best Jenny!

  14. Sandra Ahten says:

    Big WOO HOO to you! “No one could be more amazed by this than I.” Love that line and many more through out the post. Brave sharing. Thanks!

  15. Sandy Bolivar says:

    I am very happy for your sobriety and your growth. Especially knowing that your kids are growing up in a world different from yours. Alcoholism has been a major player in the lives of many generations in my family, and along with it came all the pain, self-doubt, fear, loathing….

    It’s such a long story; but you know it already.

    Sandy

  16. Noeleen says:

    Wow, Jenny, so honest – so honest. I did this MEME thing and was clicking on the links of other participants. Can’t remember who I clicked on, but it let me to you. Only this morning I read on the internet Campral and Revia to try and remind myself why I’m taking it because I drank a bottle of spirits on the weekend and the pills obviously aren’t working – or I’m expecting too much from them.

    Jenny your honest, amazing honest post is just what I needed today. I’ve got online obviously to catch up on emails and then write more on my book, but I found your post here and I’ve got to say thanks. What a great name for a blogger. You’re probably way over 22 years sober now. Congratulations to you. I wonder if you had family support? I don’t have anyone I am a very single, single mother. I’ve moved to a new part of Australia and don’t know many people at all. Did you have family? Or if I could ask you just one question: what was the main main thing to get you thought it? Really was it just to not be like your dad? Noeleen

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi, Noleen. Thank you for writing. I hope that you will go see your medical professional and let them know what is going on. I’m sorry, but I am not qualified to give out medical advice, but I feel confident that, if you look, you will find support in your community. I’m pulling for you! J

  17. Pingback: When Compassion Hurts. Clarity Before Charity. | Life After Tampons

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