Heather Sinclair Shares upon The Part Gratitude and Connection Play in Her Sober Journey.
My name is Heather. I'm a 44-year-old single mother of three handsome boys, and I am in recovery from an alcohol use disorder with a sobriety date of May, 13th, 2017. My disease progressed to being an around the clock drinker, which eventually became necessary to quell the debilitating shakes, panic and withdrawal symptoms. I just could never find that happy drunk feeling again, as hard as I tried. Alcohol is actually a chemical depressant and for me, created a terrible soul sickness & depression, in addition to the horrible physical side effects.
Several rock bottoms built the solid and strong foundation that my beautiful, sober life is established on today, so I have no regrets!
Admittance and Acceptance
Sadly, I eventually began pouring vodka in my morning coffee just to start my day and avoid throwing up – so life was unmanageable, to say the least. I was becoming an empty shell. But, it was all that I needed to learn the truth. The truth is that I can never drink safely again. I decided to get off the "down" elevator, heading towards the ground floor of self-destruction … and ask for help.
The help arrived in forms of family & friends guiding me towards detoxes and treatment centers, which were the catalysts for my life in recovery today. We cannot do it alone!
Those environments helped me find other sober women that I could relate to – those places introduced me to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the 12 steps of AA. In those rooms were women and moms just like me … Good women with a bad disease! Many of those sober women had something I wanted – happiness and self-respect! I accepted the only way to have what they had was to surrender, wave my white flag, and stay sober one day at a time.
During all the hardships of divorce, custody battles, arrests & jail for DUI arrests, total heartbreak and loss of hope, I was unknowingly flexing my muscles and developing the strength I needed to eventually stay well. The insanity and devastation from my drinking problem were part of the admittance and acceptance that I needed to change. I wanted to change!
There are always stressors to achieving your best in life and in recovery. Life on Earth is not easy – so many different emotions as new scenarios arise each day. I believe addiction is the "disease of the feelings," which is why it's necessary to learn coping mechanisms in early recovery to deal with feelings. Recovery mentoring with professionals and peers, the meetings Alcoholics Anonymous, having a sponsor, and experiencing healthy relationships with people are vital ingredients to sober success.
Gratitude, Fear, and Faith
I developed one of the most significant coping mechanisms of all time to deal with stressors – GRATITUDE. There is always something to be grateful for, and our attitude is a choice. I also have faith in a higher power, which enables me to turn over my negative thoughts to HIM and realize that I am not in control. I choose to call my higher power God, but you don't have to. Your higher power can be whatever you want it to be, as long it's not you! Active addiction is being alone and trapped in our insane thinking … and often alone physically. Having faith in something means that you are NEVER alone (and wow, that is comforting!)
I have learned to let go of FEAR in exchange for FAITH. Faith that whatever comes is meant to be and that I do not want to drink over it. I want to FEEL it and go THROUGH it because then I LEARN from it, developing strength and resilience, which ultimately provides one of the other vital ingredients for us in sobriety – self-respect! We are survivors!
When my kids are difficult with teenage attitudes, schedules are amiss, work is knocking with daily stressors, financial insecurities arise, people, I know and love pass away, relationships end, my children experience hardships, the health of someone I love takes a turn …. And on and on … I don't have to numb the pain. I know it's temporary. I have confidence I can get through it because of all I've overcome. My mental muscles are STRONG because I've worked them out - HARD – which is another gift of this disease!
Silver Linings, Peer Support, and Integrity
Today, I realize that feelings aren't facts, and they will always pass like the clouds on a windy day. You just have to wait it out. A cloud with the silver lining eventually emerges with its beauty & light. That light ends up shining its beauty onto others. It is in this light when recovery works.
One person instilling hope and faith into the next person - and then all of a sudden you have the most fantastic group of people that you could imagine ... Real friends with integrity, respect, honesty, gratitude, and compassion. A group of people that I couldn't be more proud to have as my fellow teammates in life that are fighting the fight to battle addiction and live in the LIGHT of recovery - true warriors.
Sober living and recovery.
As a mother in recovery today, I feel that I'm a great role model for my 3 boys. They see that I overcame a challenging obstacle - I didn't give up! Unfortunately, addiction is like a tidal wave and overtakes everyone. My children have experienced resilience, character, integrity, gratitude, compassion, honesty – all gifts of what sobriety teaches them because it's observed, endured, and learned …, and it's how recovery works! I perform daily amends to all of my family and friends, just trying to be the best I can be, which varies depending on the day and situation! But all we can do is our best. I also volunteer in hospitals, treatment centers and remain active in AA because being of service to others helps keep me sober and I enjoy it. I also found a fulfilling career in helping sober living companies with risk management – another way of giving back.
Recovery has helped me realize the importance of the "now," PRESENT moments, which helps me be a better person and Mother. I want the "PRESENT" to be just that. A "GIFT"… and it is the best one that I have received now that I live it SOBER. The PRESENT moment is precious! When we are in active addiction, we are NEVER PRESENT. For those that are struggling, don't give up. It is about finding the LIGHT, which is HOPE … because HOPE HEALS, especially when we ask for HELP.