I awoke underneath a thick, checkered duvet drenched in sweat. The alcohol-induced nightmares were taking an enormous toll on me. My overhead light was glaring foul white light—my fan blasting freezing air into my wet, scrawny body. To my white childhood twin bed’s side were countless empty, shattered bottles of my parent’s alcohol. The bright red numbers on my digital alarm clock reminded me of my reality. The time was three in the morning. In four hours, my classmates would flock to high school to learn and socialize. I would not be attending. I would be drunk. Knowing this, I burst into tears.
“How did I end up here?” I asked myself.
I felt incarcerated. Alcohol locked me up and threw away the key. For years I had been content failing everyone who ever cared. Something felt different that night. And it was.
Finally, I had failed myself.
I never enjoyed drinking again. In that short second of clarity, my road to recovery had begun. I had a terrible drinking problem. I was powerless, and I knew it.
I was ready for battle. I agreed to travel interstate to an in-patient treatment facility. I felt like a young, excited Spartan on the way to a vicious war. I was ready to kill. And alcohol was my victim.
I arrived at treatment. The sun had set, and cold wintery rain was pouring on the metallic roof of my room. It was thunderous. I sat on the unusually warm carpet floor. The room was particularly spacious but had nothing more than two low-lying wooden beds, a metal guarded window, and a desk that I would certainly not use. I stared ahead at the bittersweet window: the rusted bars reminded me of my confinement, but those same rods could never imprison me in the way alcohol had done. I spent no longer than two weeks in treatment. I raged, I cried, and I isolated. I faced myself. As unstable as I was, I liked myself sober. Towards the end of my stay, I miraculously began to be proud of the person I saw in the mirror. And with that, I healed.
At last, alcohol and I were no longer one and the same. I was sober.
With alcohol no longer in the mix, life became one big, daunting task. As phrased by those with lengthy sobriety, a task that I must break down into “one day at a time.” I could handle that. As I learned to seize the day, I developed hobbies that I had once looked down upon. I felt feelings without alcohol. I felt stimulated playing chess, a game I had once adored. I felt alive from the scorching temperatures in a hot yoga studio. I felt serene meditating atop the same twin bed that survived my alcoholism. These hobbies cultivated my mind, body, and spirit. I became a healthy, balanced person. I no longer needed a substance to find my substance.
Alcohol tightly wrapped me up in its cocoon—sobriety released me, and I flew. I truly recreated myself.
In the depths of darkness on that fateful night, I never considered happiness in my future. I felt lost in an underground cave full of rocks and icicles, with no light guiding me out. I was frightened. Then I decided to get sober. I cannot explain why or how, but instantly a gorgeous, shining white light guided me out. The icicles and rocks had disappeared. I found a way out. And that was recovery. I quickly sprinted up the simple steps, and there I was. I looked around. With clear eyes, I saw the world.
The view was nothing spectacular. The world had not changed—but I had changed. Sobriety had transformed me. I noticed the stunning colors of the trees. The light blue sky had never been so blue. I looked up; I saw small birds that flew with confidence. I aspired to have that same confidence one day. The world was so beautiful. Now appreciating this, I burst into tears. I was happy. I was free. And I was sober.
“How did I end up here?” I wondered.
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