I Am Not the Woman I Want to Be


I am not the woman I want to be. I am not the woman I used to be, and most of the time I struggle to find acceptance with the woman who I am right now. The truth is I don’t really know who I am right now. I’m on a journey of recovery, learning how to live completely sober in a strange, new world. I am figuring out what I stand for and believe in; what inspires me and what doesn’t. I am beginning to examine things that I never thought about before. Things that I thought were trivial–what to eat, what to wear, what to listen to, what to watch on TV (OR EVEN do I like TV?), what I put in my body. Most importantly in my mind, I am beginning to examine the people that I surround myself with–do they lift me up? Are they inspiring me? Are they making me feel good about myself?

I feel like an alien on this planet now–I’ve landed hard, and I’m looking around with alien eyes. Coming to terms with my dependency on alcohol (chemicals–pills, prescriptions, even cough syrup!) has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I am a woman, a mother, a daughter, a friend, an employee, and now–a divorcee. This is MY journey, and it is a new path that I did not intend for myself, but I am learning to except where am, and to look down at my feet every day and keep moving. I am learning to look up to the sky and be grateful that I am here (on this STRANGE planet)–that I am one of the lucky ones. I have been given this awareness, and now I have the choice to do something with it.

The more people I talk to and share my story with, the more I understand that denial is probably the leading symptom of chemical dependency. We surround ourselves with people who are ALSO dependent so that we feel normal. In my case, I went to a party college, where I was in the “Greek system.” When I graduated, I got a celebrated, high-paying, high-pressure job where alcohol was almost a necessary part of the business deal (not that I blame my career choice, or my friends, or my family). I can take responsibility now, but I do realize that I was weak and got sucked in to a cycle of coping with my emotions in an unhealthy way.

So how did I develop this awareness? Well, I do have a story–a long, painful (and now comedic) one. I share anonymously at AA meetings, and with people who are willing to listen. Sharing helps me heal, and even writing this is part of the healing process. In a very vague nutshell, I have known deep down inside that I “might have a problem” for about a decade. When I started to hide how much I was drinking, and lie about it to friends and family I thought, “Normal drinkers” don’t do this.
I knew that someday I would probably have to address it, but I hoped like hell that I could heal myself–learn to control it, learn to stop it. But it got worse, and I even remember looking up AA online and trying to read about Bill W. and “The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous” online because I was embarrassed about the idea of having it on my bookshelf. I didn’t want my spouse to know, or anyone to think that I had a drinking problem. In hindsight, I’m sure they all did know, but I thought I was really good at hiding it.

So now that I have this awareness, what do I do with it? I try to speak the truth, live honestly, and attend 12-step meetings daily. I do this because I drank daily, so I need to treat this disease daily. I learn how to live life through AA, talking to other people who have struggled with similar problems but have gotten sober and now have a life beyond their wildest dreams.

Why am I sharing this with you? I think it’s important for you to know that this disease affects more people than you think. The face of alcoholism hasn’t changed, but the way we can talk about it has. It affects not only the homeless man underneath the bridge drinking out of a brown paper bag, but also the mom living down your street, the coworker who can’t handle stress, the still-single party girl from college who “likes her life just as it is, thankyouverymuch.” It’s our parents, our grandparents, and our children IF we don’t learn to cope with life stresses and a healthy way and set a good example. Addiction is a disease, an allergy, a sensitivity to chemicals. It is genetic–as hereditary as skin color, and I am here to shed light on the topic.

I hope you will join me in my journey of recovery, have compassion for those who are still suffering, and have faith that there is a solution. There are people who recover, who start their lives over, and there are several methods for doing it. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I welcome your comments and your prayers–and if I can help even one other person to help herself or to heal, then my journey will have been worthwhile.



  1. First, I’d like to thank you for having the danglies to write this post. It takes a lot of strength and self-dedication to post your dependency on the internet, especially in a forum like this. I can relate to this article in many ways and am standing at the crossroad. Not sure which way to go, which way I can handle, or if I’m ready to re-start my life as I’ve known it because it will change everything…probably including my marriage eventually. I’ve always thought that sooner or later I’d be able to regulate my intake to not go overboard, but with each one that line dissipates. While I don’t drink daily, my social drinking knows no limits. At almost 40 I shouldn’t need my husband to be my caretaker on those nights. I even tried AA once, but it is very religion-based, which I am not. I felt uncomfortable and like I didn’t belong. Not sure what to do next…, but I am not the woman I want to be either.

  2. Thank you for your comment. Indeed it is a frightening (paralyzing) place to be. I literally did almost everything imaginable to NOT walk in the doors of AA (and even when I did, it took me a long — we’re talking almost 4 years — time before I was FULLY convinced that I was Alcoholic/Addict).

    The way I see it, this is a “disease of MORE”: more alcohol, pills, food, sex, shopping, exercise, TV, purses, shoes, ad infinitum. I always wanted more. I was never satisfied. The solution is finding something healthy (and my particular journey has brought me to AA and back to God) to put in its place. There are many other (not just AA, NA, etc) recovery treatment programs out there*, just do SOMETHING because it is a progressive disease that wants you dead.

    *I disagree in that AA is NOT a religious program, however it is spiritual. There is a big difference – and you even get to define your own Higher Power. But I get ahead of myself : the only requirement for AA membership is the desire to stop drinking. You keep coming back until the miracle happens. And most importantly, I am not the voice of AA. These are strictly my opinions. In fact, AA would highly discourage my mentioning it’s game in the essay but I believe it is important to talk about “the shameful stuff” that is often what keeps us silent.

    Bless you, and please know that if it was EASY everyone would do it. It’s hard, teeth gritting, mascara running, night sweats, possibly even divorce papers, custody battles, losing friends and family messy stuff – but I owe it to myself and my loved ones, and we are worth it. We do it together.

  3. I am a mother and grandmother and am in long term recovery from alcoholism. I am part of a 12 step community. The fellowship saved me and gave me a life beyond my wildest dreams. If you think you are an alcoholic, you probably are. Normal drinkers don’t ponder that question. Being an alcoholic is no more shameful than being a diabetic or having cancer. It is a treatable disease. Thank you for writing on this topic. It affects so many women and there is still so much stigma, shame and guilt that is attached to being an alcoholic/addict that many people don’t seek help and end up in jail or dead.


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