One of the major misconceptions out there about people in recovery is that we hate drinking and drugs. Au contraire! We simply learned that we can’t do it responsibly. The fact of the matter is that we would never have become addicted if it all hadn’t started off being incredibly fun.
If you hang around recovery circles, you’ll hear people say, “First it was fun, then it was fun with problems, then it was just problems.” We like that expression. We get that expression. We wanted to have a column which examines that expression. And so we reached out to the most prominent recovery bloggers, writers and advocates out there to ask them about their trudge down that road.
This week, our focus is on Nancy.
What was drinking/using like when it was fun?
It was great hanging out with friends and going to concerts and happy hours and parties! It was like I didn’t have a care in the world! High school was pretty fun because I ran around with a visible and fun group and it was just normal teenage fun. I was able to drink and use with any friend groups I had—because I had that façade. I drank with many different groups; work friends, high school friends, new friends in the town I was living in, etc. I thought everyone was living this kind of life! Footloose and fancy free!
Fun wasn’t consistent for me, even from my younger years. I started using cocaine regularly by 18 and by 20 I was burned out and ended up in a detox while getting out of a destructive and abusive relationship. My 20s were a blur so by 30 I think I would say those were my “fun with problems” years. By then I had figured out how to make my drinking and using work for me and my life. When it was fun it always included friends and family and we had “the best time” but I usually did or said something inappropriate and pissed someone off. I know that I always had major regrets during those times and the self-loathing was getting worse and worse. I thought staying up for two days drinking and using was fun—my perception was very off back then. I would take a boring day sober over any fun day drinking.
When and how did it become fun with problems?
My problems started in my late teens and early 20’s and continued on until I got sober. I would have a few good days here and there and then my lying and addiction would show up at my front door. I was helping others deal drugs—that was a problem I had for years as I was always “helping someone out” as I was usually dating the local cocaine dealer. My real problems happened very frequently. Broken bones, injuries, horrible emotional episodes (crying a lot, yelling and screaming at him, lying to everyone in my life). I had problems with the law, and was arrested over a half dozen times for drinking (some underage) and was able to rack up two DUIs by age 37. I would be sleeping with your boyfriend and had a long list of degenerate losers and guys that I was slutting around with. No dignity, no integrity! I also had very unhealthy and co-dependent relationships with family, friends and boyfriends. I knew I was on a downward spiral and I was okay with that, until my second DUI. That is what saved me.
What was it like when it was just problems?
It took me six weeks to get to my first AA meeting after the second DUI. Pretty soon after that I got sober and my life immediately got better! I could think clearer, I had more money in my pocket, I didn’t have to lie anymore, I made a new host of friends and I started liking myself a little more each day. It’s been 13 years and it hasn’t all been fun by any means, but I have solutions today to manage my life, instead of drinking over them. My sober life is the real deal for me.