PROOF THAT RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE!
MY RECOVERY STORY
Hi, my name is Shannon, and I was an alcoholic and addict for nearly fifteen years. Today, I am celebrating many years in long-term recovery, and I'm not just sober, but I'm happy, healthy, and thriving both professionally and personally. I've transformed my life from an experience of shame and darkness to one filled with light, love, forgiveness, and acceptance. I've come a long way, considering that in 2011 I woke up in a jail cell (for the fourth time in my life) with a horrific hangover, still slightly intoxicated, and refusing to believe that I had an addiction problem.
The process of eliminating shame from my life hasn't been easy. Even after two years in recovery, only a handful of close family members knew the extent of my addiction and that it was once so debilitating I couldn't go a few minutes without a drink in my system, or I'd be in extreme mental, physical, and emotional pain.
Very few people knew I started drinking and getting high at fifteen. They didn't know that by age 21, I was a hardcore alcoholic and opiate addict with one DUI under my belt. They didn't think I'd done jail time, been court-ordered to 60 days of house arrest and three years of probation, or that I was a felon and couldn't operate a vehicle without an interlock. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I feared isolation, rejection, and judgment by my peers and community members.
In 2012, after two years in recovery, I realized that even though I was sober and had come very far in my recovery process, I was stuck emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. One night before bed, I realized why: I was hiding a huge part of my life journey, and this was an act of self-rejection, which was causing me great harm.
That night I decided to take a risk and spill my guts in a 500-word status update on Facebook. In my post, I shared my addiction story, including many things I was most ashamed of. My ugly past was finally out there for everyone to like, dislike, and even comment on. It was terrifying, but at the same time, it was so incredibly freeing. Finally, my dark secret was no longer lurking and threatening to expose me. I had nothing left to hide.
The next day I woke up to find that my post had been shared worldwide, generating an overwhelming amount of engagement. There were thousands of supportive likes and comments. In my inbox, I had dozens of messages from people I knew and didn't know. People thanked me for sharing my story and said it gave them hope. They shared that family members and friends were also struggling with addiction, and they were seeking advice on how to help them. Others confessed that they were struggling, too.
This experience helped me realize that so many people are secretly hiding their addiction, just like me. And that we all suffer in our own ways. My suffering may be addiction-related, while others may suffer from mental health conditions. While our suffering might look different, it's a way to connect and humanize one another and find common ground.
Today, I know that my struggle doesn't make me any less worthy of love, compassion, and support. We are all deserving of these things. I hope that sharing my flaws will inspire you to accept and share your own. Your story can transform lives and infuse hope in those still struggling.
For anyone out there who is struggling today, please know you are not alone, and no matter how bleak your life may look, recovery is possible. I'm living proof. If I can do it, so can you. It's much easier to recover when you have a peer to talk to—somebody who has been there and can listen without judgment. So if you need support, contact me. I'll help you connect with a recovery community in your area.