Ashley, with 192 days of sobriety, shares her story.
Paul talks about how alcohol is the invitation. What is this invitation? It’s called addiction. Depending on how you RSVP you could have a life filled with infinite joy. The fact that you are listening to this podcast right now is a good clue as to how you’re going to RSVP. At first the invitations may not show up with enough frequency to connect the dots. But, sooner or later, these invitations will start to show up more frequently, once a year, once every 6 months, once a week, once a day in every aspect of our lives. For many that struggle with addiction they ignore this invitation their entire lives and it is not pretty. If we stick to this long enough it will become clear that our addiction is the best thing that has happened for us.
For those of you listening, you have earned your invitation. Keep in mind the pain and suffering required to initiate this positive change in behind you. This thing called life, if it hasn’t already, is about to get good. So how will you RSVP to this invitation?
[12:30] Paul Introduces Ashley.
Ashley lives in Chicago, IL with her sister and their 2 dogs. She is single and is 31 years old. She recently finished cosmetology school and is currently an apprentice to become a hair stylist at a salon in the city. For fun Ashley likes to cook, enjoys music and going to concerts, power lifting, meditation, and is back playing soccer.
[14:30] Give us a little background about your drinking.
She was 13/14 years old the first time she got drunk, in her neighbors’ basement. She remembers going home and telling her mom that she had been drinking, and that she got sick. During high school she hung out with a lot of different crowds so went to, and drank at, a lot of parties. She says she knew right away that she had a problem. From the moment she would start drinking she would fixate on how she could drink more.
When she got into college, she hit the ground running with partying. She did a lot of partying and blacking out, had a lot of fun and didn’t get into any sever trouble, which she says, she thinks is why she continued to drink like she did. In the back of her mind she was telling herself that once she was done with college things would change and she would grow up.
After college she moved to Chicago and continued to drink on the weekends (Thursday-Sunday), which felt normal to her. When she was 25, she woke up one morning, grabbed her phone, and Googled “what is an alcoholic?”.
At 27, after a relationship that ended badly, she found herself in a super dark place. She was depressed, having panic attacks, eating disorder flair ups, drinking, and drugging. She managed to pull herself out of that dark place, and to prove to herself that she didn’t have a problem she didn’t drink for 30 days.
[22:15] What was it like when you did prove it to yourself and not drink for 30 days?
She felt she had it under control, although she continued to do drugs. Then she slowly started drinking again until she was drinking more than she was before the 30 days. She started blacking out every time she drank.
After a really bad incident with her ex she walked into AA. She made it 65 days before she went back out for another year and ½. That year and ½ it got even worse, she was drinking hard and using a lot of drugs.
On July 23, 2018 she came clean with her doctor and walked back into AA where she found an amazing group of women and her home group.
[28:37] Comment a little more about honesty.
Because of her issues with depression and anxiety her whole life she had been in/out of going to therapists. She said she always lied to them about her alcohol/drug use. After also being diagnosed bi-polar she knew she had to come clean with her doctors.
[32:15] Why do you think you drank?
She said that to begin with, alcoholism runs in her family. She wanted to escape from the feeling of having to micromanage her up/down feelings all the time and that unfortunately she thinks she was just made for it.
[36:00] How did you do it? You talked about AA, what else did you do to get sober?
She stopped going to the places where she always drank, like concerts and bars. She sought out a higher power. She started running. She made sure she got to her AA meetings and listened to the podcast, of course.
[38:00] Tell us how you got through your week-long family reunion during the early days of your sobriety.
With about a week of sobriety she tried to look at the trip as a way to take advantage of the beautiful nature, instead of a big party. She listened to podcasts and hiked. With only a week of sobriety she wasn’t comfortable telling her family yet, and she was terrified of failing if she did.
[42:15] After burning the ships on FB you mentioned you got reactions you didn’t expect, what kind of reactions did you expect??
She thought that people really wouldn’t care, or that they would think that it would change who she is. She didn’t expect all the positive response.
[43:30] Talk to us about some wins in sobriety.
She can fly with out hitting the airport bar first. She can go to concerts and remember everything. She can go out with friends and have fun without drinking.
[44:50] What is something you learned about yourself during this journey?
She is super sensitive and can feel others emotions which used to be scary, but now that she is sober, she has learned how to use it to help other people.
[46:38] Rapid Fire Round
- What was your absolute worst memory from drinking?
My mom had surgery one time and we were in the recovery room and I was so hungover, and probably still drunk, from the night before that I threw up all over the hospital room.
- What was your ‘oh-shit’ moment, indicating that alcohol had to go?
The morning I woke up and just knew I couldn’t keep doing this.
- What is your plan in sobriety moving forward?
To keep building a network. Keep working the steps and stay in AA. To keep on doing what I’m doing, one day at a time.
- In regards to sobriety what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
To take everything one day at a time.
- What parting piece of guidance can you give to listeners?
Avoid things that are triggering to you and strive to do things that are healthy and look for self-care.
- You might be an alcoholic if…
You constantly find yourself keeping tabs on other peoples’ drinking.
Bozeman Retreat – August 14-18, 2019
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“Recovery Elevator – It all starts from the inside-out.”