What is your Sober Date? Tell us a short paragraph on how you are living your best life now post addiction and recovery?
My emotional sobriety date is 2/22/12. That's when my journey of self-discovery and self-worth started and I haven't looked back since. I truly am living my best life now because I was void of life before entering the rooms. Recovery was the only way to address the core issues that were causing me to need to use in the first place. I can now say that I have the ability to make healthy choices, put my self care first, set boundaries, create meaningful relationships, show up with integrity, and go to bed every night with a clear conscience. I am in awe of the never ending waves of awareness and growth. The relationship I have now with myself and a power greater than myself is worth more to me than any other relationship, drug, or drink. And if I don't put that first, everything else will fall. I'm either working on my recovery or working on my relapse. My life is so full. I have a wonderful career, great friendships, sponsees, a sponsor, God, my health, and most importantly, my sanity.
How did addiction keep you from living your best life?
I am addicted to not letting myself feel uncomfortable. That's what's underneath all of my accessory behaviors - escaping. I was never present for anything. I was living on automatic pilot - a sort of unconsciousness. Whatever took me out of myself became an addition to me... drugs, alcohol, shopping, eating, smoking, men, love, video games, apps, sleeping, etc. For a long long time I had no idea there was anything "wrong." I blamed everyone else in my life for my problems. I spent more time in pursuit of anything that could make me feel better .. anything that could fill the hole. That was my priority. It impacted my jobs, my children, my family, my health, my finances and my sanity.
What and who guided you toward an addiction free journey?
I was seeing a therapist because I was having uncontrollable panic attacks and depression. I blamed it on my then fiancee'. My focus in therapy was to fix the relationship so that I would feel better. Throughout those first 6 months, I started to realize (with the help of my therapist) that the relationship wasn't causing my problems, this man was not another broken man, it was me - I was broken. I started to see the patterns of my behavior, the paths of my destruction. She introduced the idea of addiction and encouraged me to check out the rooms. The night I entered my first 12-step meeting what the beginning of a whole new life. I was finally home. I had found my people - my tribe. I heard my story over and over again. I made a choice that night to start working the program and haven't stopped. My sobriety journey started with the help of my therapist and the amazing people in the rooms.
What plan and steps did you take to get out of addiction?
I went to 12-step meetings - multiple ones because I needed to address more than one addiction. I got a sponsor, made outreach calls to fellows, deepened my relationship with God, prayed, meditated, journaled, went to therapy, began sponsoring, spoke at meetings, got service positions in the rooms, read self-help books, found new hobbies, went back to school, and then started focusing on the things I COULD control. I had to strip everything away - every accessory behavior so that I could see what was truly underneath. I had to meet the raw, vulnerable, scared little girl inside of me and start all over. I had to re-learn how to do everything... even how to watch t.v. without my phone in my hand. Identifying my character defects and making amends to those I had wronged were huge game changers. Those two things alone are a huge help in staying sober. I am truly sorry for anyone I hurt when I had no idea what I was doing. It was not your fault.
When did you decide it was time to take action?
Before I entered the rooms, I had an eviction notice on my door, my car had been repossessed, my daughter was suicidal, I was recovering from a terminated pregnancy, treating a bacterial infection, and on the verge of losing my job. Suffice to say, I was not sure how much longer I would even be alive. After suffering one of the worst panic attacks of my life, I knew it was either going to be death or get help. I chose help.
What was at stake for you if you didn't take these actions to get sober?
My life - literally. I was in between thoughts of taking my own life and wondering if/when my addictions would do the job for me. I put myself in risky situations and with dangerous people and/or people I didn't know well. I also realized that I was ruining two other lives as well - my daughters. More than anything, I didn't want them to ever have to suffer the way I had. I wanted to break the cycles with them. I had to become available to myself so that I could become available to them. I wanted better for them.
For someone in the same situation as you were who wants to get clean, what would you want to tell them?
Someone once told me the definition of hell: "Dying and then meeting the person you could've become." This shook me to my core. The torture of that vision pushes me every day to be the best me I can be. So to you I say, It gets better - I promise. Check out the rooms, go to multiple meetings until you find your tribe. Work the program, really work it. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Meetings aren't the only answer. If you need additional help from a therapist or someone like-minded, don't be ashamed. The harder you work at this, especially from multiple angles, the more you will learn and grow. You are not your addiction and sometimes it takes more than one source to identify your triggers and heal the underlying wounds. Your drug of choice is only the surface issue. Figuring out why you use people/places/thingsYou will meet yourself and it will be painful at first but the blessings far outweigh anything else you're using right now to try and escape what you're feeling. The awareness you will develop is absolutely beautiful and not only will it change your life, but you will, by being a living example, change other's lives as well. Don't give up. Help is real and you are worth it.
Bio: Elizabeth Anne is dedicated to personal growth and to living a fully authentic life - not only for herself but to help others as well. She speaks at 12-step meetings, prisons and treatment centers. She is a loving, present, mother to two healthy, beautiful daughters. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, friends, road trips, time in nature, reading books, and writing. Feel free to reach out to Elizabeth if you ever need someone to talk to or if you simply need some inspiration to get through the day - one day at a time. You can find her on Instagram @liz_anne818
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