My current guest, Debbi has shared how her alcoholism contributed to her divorce and her journey through hitting rock bottom, getting sober and staying sober. That’s a lot of talk about alcoholism but I did want to share it because it is important – alcoholism is more prevalent than may of us realize and it’s affecting people at younger ages. I also believe that talking about it helps to increase awareness and understanding. In this last segment on the topic, Debbi reflects on her experience as an alcoholic. Here’s Debbi:
I was embarrassed right from the getgo. I was like, “How could I have ever gotten to this place?” But once I started my recovery process, then my viewpoint started changing. Now I view it is as a gift because the silver lights that I have today far exceed my life that I ever had, even when I wasn’t drinking, or hadn’t crossed that line into alcoholism.
So today, I’m not ashamed of it. It’s something that’s a part of my story, just like divorce is part of my story, having a child is part of my story, my work. It’s just part of the journey that I’ve taken, but it’s enriched my life so much because it’s changed me profoundly. It has allowed me to be of service to other women who are struggling with the disease like I did, to be able to pull them out of the trenches and up into the life of sobriety. I’ve got such incredible stories of women that I’ve worked with and I got that front row seat on the bleacher seat, watching them grow into incredible, beautiful women they are today.
Anybody can be an alcoholic. Alcoholism does not care about gender, race, economic level, profession, it goes across the board.
I think one of the eye-opening things about being part of an AA community, is the diversity of the people, because there are people that are my best friends that have tattoos from their toenails up to their ears, and those were people before that I would have crossed the street not to be close to because they had “that look” about them.
These are people that live incredible lives and do incredible work for other people, so I’ve learned not to judge the cover and really to take a look inside at the gifts of other people.
I’ve also learned to sympathize and empathize with those other people around because in society, ten percent of the population is alcoholic. Whether or not that ten percent knows that they’re alcoholic or is doing anything about it, or even trying to get sober is in question, but if you think that one in every ten people you know is potentially an alcoholic, it’s heartbreaking. It gives me empathy to people that I know who could probably benefit from a program but they choose not to. I see their life and it breaks my heart because it doesn’t have to be that way, but it’s their choice.
I will do an intervention only if I’m asked, because I can tell you that if someone would have approached me when I was not ready for it, I would have turned them away. My ex was telling me all the time that I was worthless, this and that, and a drunk, and so I received a version of that, if you will, and not in a healthy manner. If people aren’t ready for it, then there’s no point in getting into people’s business about it.
I’ve had people out of curiosity, say, “I don’t know if I am one or not, but can we just talk about what it’s like?” and I’m more than happy to sit down and talk to people, but I don’t push my will on people that I see and say, “I see things are miserable in your life and they’d be so much better if…” No one wants to hear that, right?
I suspect that you can only see something like alcoholism as a gift when you’ve put some distance between you and rock bottom.
My divorce was final more than five years ago and at the time I would never have described it as a gift yet now I do see it that way. I’m not the person I was five years ago and I would not be the person I am now had I not ended my marriage. And you know what? I like the me I am now, a whole lot more than the me I was back then.
Do you see your divorce as a gift? Do you think you’ll ever see it that way? Are there other challenges in your life that you now see as gifts?
Debbi Dickinson is a personal coach who writes at Stepping Into Joy inspiring professional women the importance of self-care and balance. Debbi also creates audio and video programs and hosts telesummits focused on topics professional women deal with today.
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