It Appeared I Had it All.

I had a doctorate, a successful practice, a handsome husband, a healthy happy child, a big beautiful home, drove a cool car, volunteered for our church and community, exercised regularly, took exotic vacations, and was invited to the best parties. I had style and personality.

What could possibly be wrong with me? On the outside it appeared I had it all. But on the inside, not so much.

I had worked so hard and had accomplished so much so why didn’t I feel happy? I tried so hard to do all and be all for everyone. I reasoned I didn’t fit in because of others’ misperceptions of me. I felt hurt and defeated whenever my family or friends, or for that matter really anyone, didn’t respond the way I wanted. Here I was Miss Congeniality yet I was becoming anxious to attend school or church events. I’d beat myself up at the end of the day for losing my patience with my spouse or staff. Why did I snap? Was I losing my mind? I questioned whether my friends were actually true friends. Was I becoming paranoid? 

Alcohol took the edge off and made me feel relaxed. I had a doctorate so I was smart, right? Why couldn’t I intellectually control my alcohol consumption? I just could not have ever imagined how my life would change.

I got a DUI. The DUI was a life turning point. I wasn’t happy, I felt alone, and I drove my car in a black-out drunk!! I could have killed myself or even worse someone else. I went to jail in handcuffs that night. Ashamed and scared I called my girlfriend and told her I wanted help with my life and my drinking. It was that night that I surrendered that I couldn’t do this alone. At this point, I didn’t see that God was stepping in to do for me what I couldn’t do for myself.

I spent the next few days finding a long-term rehab. My friends and family were not on board and said I was over-reacting and that “everyone gets DUI’s” and “what about the office?” and “what about your child?” My friends and family couldn’t know how miserable and afraid I had become. Perhaps they were fooled by my outward appearance. I was ready to ask for help but without support.  I had to dig deep to do this for me!

It didn’t take this broken soul much time in rehab before I accepted I am an alcoholic and my life had become unmanageable. After 3 months in rehab and a 5-year contract with the Caring Dental Program, my life is better than I ever could have imagined. Rehab laid the groundwork to begin my recovery by giving me time to work on myself, to learn about alcoholism, and introduce me to a 12 step recovery program that would work for me.

The individuals that make up the CDP are compassionate and respectful. They are good people with huge hearts that give of themselves selflessly. They were always there for me. They taught me accountability and provided a road map to beat the odds of addiction. Their compassion for the alcoholic and drug-addicted taught me a compassion that I had not had despite losing two loved ones to this disease.  Because they respected me, I learned to respect myself again.

I am an active member of a 12 step program and eternally grateful for the brotherhood, the lessons I have learned, and the tools I have acquired.  I live one day at a time doing my best to apply the principles of recovery in my life.  I am conscious to do the next right thing, even if no one is looking. Today I intellectually understand the anatomy, physiology, and genetics of addiction.  I understand I was using alcohol to escape life, fears, and feelings. And I have learned that alcohol is but a symptom of my disease.

Since the DUI I have learned much about myself and the actions I must take to enjoy this precious life. I used to feel like I didn’t fit in because of my thinking, not because of others.  Today, I am comfortable in my skin and fit in with my brothers and sisters of AA, family & true friends at work, at meetings, and when I volunteer. This is fun! Today I realize that expectations of others can lead to resentments. I can only control myself and not others. My relationships have improved because I am a better version of myself. My relationships changed because I changed. I have learned how to work through resentments by acknowledging my role, learning how to forgive others, and forgive myself.

I am a more patient, tolerant, open-minded, less judgmental person and I like myself today. I am so grateful to have restored trust from my family, friends, and staff. My staff stood by me because they knew my heart. They admire my strength and come to me for advice about their lives. I cherish them. I am so grateful that my career was spared and that the downward trajectory I was on did not impair my ability to care for my patients. I certainly could have lost everything.

I have learned that my emotional and spiritual sobriety is dependent on being willing to be honest with myself and others. And this is a gift. My fears have diminished because my Faith is strong. I am not nearly as anxious because I understand where my anxiety stemmed and that brings me peace. I don’t have to be put together all the time and my home isn’t always spotless because I am a more balanced healthier me.

All these positive changes occurred because I surrendered and learned how to ask for help.  I was helped in rehab, from the Caring Dental Professionals, my 12 step program, therapists, true friends, family, and of course God’s Grace.

This road wasn’t easy but totally worthwhile. I had to dig deep to peel off the layers and experience humility. I work daily to maintain my Spiritual fitness and tame my character defects. Recovery isn’t just about stopping the drug or drink, it’s about spiritual growth. I grasp the understanding that I am powerless over so many things in my life and need God’s direction, power, and strength in all my life including patience and tolerance to live life on life’s terms. Instead of self will I trust that my Higher Power will direct me and my life.

I’m definitely a work in progress and by no means perfect but life is far easier today and I am grateful.

Submitted by a Grateful Recovering Dentist