Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time


This word is so profound.  I have understood the meaning of it since I was a little girl.  I remember reading history books filled with stories of how people fought for their freedom.  Whether it was from some form of government, slavery, prison or personal tragedy, people found their way and as a result of those triumphs, today we live in a better world.

Each and every story told of how people moved from pain to glory, critical mass to wisdom.  Their hope was to someday be able to wake up in the morning and decide for themselves how to make that day theirs, not according to someone else’s plan.  They hoped for freedom.

I’m often asked what, if anything, is the one element that keeps me sober and in good overall health.

My answer?  Freedom.

In prison you put a person behind bars.  I didn’t need to be behind bars to know what prison felt like.  For more than 30 years I created my own prison.  I held myself captive, tied by the rules of my addictions.

For example, when I would wake up in the morning, these would be my first few thoughts …

  • Do I have wine in the house?  Do I need more?  If so, how long until I’m alone to get it?
  • What did I forget from yesterday (think, think, think)
  • What, if anything, did I say to my husband, friends or family that I need to apologize for or weasel my way out of?

Once out of bed, without looking in the mirror, I’d step on the scale.  Was the number higher or lower than yesterday?  Ultimately that number would set the tone for the day, whether I was a success or a failure and finally what, if anything, I would eat that day.

If it was higher, not only would food intake lessen, I would mentally beat myself up for my inability to be in control of that number and then move
about my day angry and ashamed of myself.  I would I take my feelings of despair out on my husband, my co-workers, my staff and (hopefully not) my clients.

On the other hand, if that number was lower, I would praise my ability to be in control and the day ahead was a joy for all those who surrounded me.

Either way, I knew a drink and minimal food intake would be the answer to my shame or the means to celebrate my accomplishment.  In other words, it didn’t matter why, a drink was always within reach…food was not.

There was no freedom.  There were only rules.

Today, because I reached out for help and found my way to the rooms of recovery, I wake up in the morning and say a prayer of thanks for being alive, sober and healthy for another day.  I include gratitude in that prayer because I am loved by many and blessed with an amazingly supportive and loving man who, through it all, still calls me his best girl.

Today I am free from the chains of addiction.

I am free to choose how my day will be spent.

I am free from caring about numbers on a scale and where my next drink is coming from.

I am free from worrying whether or not I’m worthy to share the air you breathe.

I am free from thinking I’m broken.

I am free and I am alive.

Today, I think I know what those people I read about in history class must have felt like.  How good it feels to finally be free.

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One thought on “Freedom

  1. An amazing insight! I’m proud to be among the “many” you are loved by!

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