Blindfolded woman judge holding gavel,

Reserve All Judgment

People often say that things aren’t always what they seem. Perhaps nowhere is this expression more appropriate than in the context of addiction and mental illness. You can look at someone destroy themselves with drugs and alcohol and immediately judge them without even realizing it—I’ve been through this and I’m still guilty of it myself. When you hear about someone going to jail for robbing a pharmacy or getting their third DUI, the natural response is to point out what a train-wreck that person has become.

Young woman giving thumbs up sign.

Give Yourself The Chance

People always assume that addiction exists on its own; like the person that drinks too much or takes pills to numb themselves does so because they want to. I have a bit of advice for anyone that ever had a snide word to say about someone’s addiction: until you’re prepared to listen to them discuss the tragedies and trauma that led to that abuse, you should probably keep your mouth shut. For years I had to listen to people tell me that there was something wrong with me, and they were right, but they were completely wrong about what that something was.

Closet alcoholic woman drinking from flask.


My mother struggled with alcoholism for years, as did her mother before her. When you’re working against those kinds of odds, it’s hard not to become a self-fulfilling prophecy and fall into alcoholism yourself. This is exactly what happened to me. I became acutely aware of my family history early on and was so determined to not let it affect me that I obsessed over it and, without realizing it, let it take over my life. I’m probably the only person that was so anxious about becoming an alcoholic that I became an alcoholic despite my best efforts and intentions.

Alcoholic mother drinking and driving.

Another Self

I’m an alcoholic. At 38 years old, I’m comfortable saying this because during my drinking days, I hurt myself more than any form of judgment or snickering ever could. It seemed like alcoholism was always in the cards for me. I grew up in a very liberal household with a functioning alcoholic for a father and a mother who wanted to believe the best about her life, no matter what truth lay out in front of her. I started drinking early and just didn’t stop for about 20 years, during which I cut a path through whatever and whoever I wanted.

Woman leaning on fence looking peaceful.

Learning To Be Confident On My Own

My whole life I’ve been worried about saying and doing the wrong thing. This anxiety has cost me dearly and eventually led me to alcohol abuse. It was an ever-present force in my life that kept me from doing so many things. I don’t know if it’s because of how I grew up or what; but for some reason, I was always so incredibly nervous about everything. I started drinking mainly to relax and, in the process, developed an addiction that ended up derailing my life more than a nervous disorder ever could.

Woman pushing giant boulder showing conceptual strength.

The Strength I Never Saw

You’re taught to believe that addiction is about “strong” and “weak”; that you’re making a choice; that with enough platitudes and gumption, you can finally overcome alcohol and everything will be OK. I always thought these were toxic assertions that completely failed to capture the seriousness of alcoholism. These "fairy-tales" had haunted me all of my adult life and made it impossible for me to do any kind of real work on my recovery for a long time.

Alcoholism word on paper crumbled up in hand.

The Humility of Recovery

I guess it’s a rite of passage for all alcoholics to fall on God’s mercy and ask for his forgiveness, even if you have no intention of earning it. I had no idea how hard or long I would have to work to earn actual forgiveness until I was actually tested. Thankfully it’s a test that I’ve been passing every day since I’ve entered recovery.

Illustration of alcoholic woman trapped in a bottle

Alive Again

Very often people assume that addiction, especially alcoholism, is a matter of just “snapping out of it” and moving on. It’s obvious that those people have no appreciation for the circumstances or factors that might have led someone to alcohol abuse. In 2010, I lost my husband to a heart attack and something died inside of me too that day. After 29 years or marriage, my world felt completely empty without him. I had two children, who I loved more than anything, but at the end of the day, they still weren’t enough to make me happy and that made me feel worse than anything else.

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