A funny thing is starting to happen: I’m beginning to tell people in casual conversation that I’ve overcome an addiction to alcohol. What’s particularly surprising, even to me, is that I’m saying it with pride. I’m kind of glowing even, and a little giddy, like I’m sharing a great secret along the lines of “I just won a million dollar lottery” or “I’m being inducted into the sober hall of fame!” It’s the coolest feeling. And guess what? People respond in kind. I’m sharing from the heart, and I’m giving them a chance to do the same.
What they don’t see is shame.
The shame is dissipating, like smoke rising into thin air. I used to duck my head when talking about addiction. I used to cringe when admitting that I had to stop drinking. I felt vulnerable in sobriety — as if I’d been thrown out of an exclusive club.
Here’s a secret about the drinking club — anyone can get in. It takes a rock-solid superstar to check out. And I’m proud I did.
I can see the seeds of this pride years ago, when I’d get a few days sober, and tell someone — tentatively, barely meeting their eyes — that I was abstaining for a while. What I didn’t tell them is that I had a tiny hope that it would be my last Day One, that I could finally stop drinking my life into ruin.
I was right to hope. It’s possible, it turns out, even after decades of trying. I’m grateful that I reached beyond the veil of shame to ask for help — from the universe, from God, from Buddha — I didn’t care who. I was too desperate to be picky. And I’m proud of myself for being willing to believe what the universe told me — that I was worthy of being saved. That I was loved and precious beyond measure, and was meant for much greater things. It turns out the universe was right.