April is Alcohol Awareness Month. According to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, it was established in 1987 to increase awareness and understanding of alcoholism, its causes, effective treatment and recovery.
Often, the best way to raise awareness and inspire others is by sharing a personal story, which is what Mary, a former patient at Memorial Hermann’s Prevention and Recovery Center has agreed to do. She’s opening up about her personal struggles in the hope of helping someone else who may be experiencing the same journey.
In her own words
I’m Mary and I’m an addict/alcoholic. Those words are very hard for me to say out loud. I still have tremendous shame around this disease I have. And, yes, I DO believe it’s a disease. If it was at all about willpower, I’d have this thing beat. But this “thing” has kicked my rear!
Looking at me, you’d never know I struggle with drugs and alcohol. I don’t look the part.
Before, my concept of an alcoholic was the homeless man living under the freeway scrounging for money to buy his next drink. Now I can tell you that this disease called alcoholism has many faces. I’m a highly successful woman in all other areas of my life. I didn’t lose any of my material things, like my home or car. And, I’m very grateful and blessed to say my family is still intact. However, one crucial element I did lose was my dignity.
The ONLY way I’ve learned to stay sober is by going to meetings, working the “steps,” praying, and talking to others just like me. Every time I sit in a meeting, I feel as though I’m with “my people.” They speak my language.
Let me tell you, this disease of alcoholism does not discriminate and it’s a hard road to travel. I have an incredible sponsor who is taking me through the 12 steps. I pray a lot to my God. But the “reaching out” has been my most difficult task because of the shame I have draped around my disease.
Why? My facade has always been trying to do it all. To be perfect. To be SUPERWOMAN. Asking others for help has been so very hard for me. “Help” was my dirtiest four-letter word. I was brought up to think being vulnerable was weak. I’m learning it’s actually strong to be vulnerable.
Today, I’m putting my Superwoman cape away. It’s tired. I’m tired. And with the help of other alcoholics like me, I can live a sober life.
If you or someone you love is battling addiction, PaRC can help. For more information, visit parc.memorialhermann.org or call 877.464.7272.