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January 2004

Whom Do You Tell?

This time, she claimed her alcoholism for her own

My name is Debbie and I am an alcoholic and an addict. It now rings like music. I say it in the mirror every morning. Why? Because every morning now for seven months, I've been sober. I wake up refreshed, rejuvenated, and aware. I wake up with passion and purpose. I wake up alive.

In those first few months of recovery, that statement was more important to me than breathing. I knew that if I forgot or dismissed it, I would die. That is true. This recovery was my second attempt. I wanted sobriety and I wanted it badly.

I listened to everything, attended everything, jumped as high as they asked me to. I wanted this, I needed this, and now, I am living it.

Returning home was terrifying. Saying "My name is Debbie and I am an alcoholic" made it easier. I still announced it daily, at my meetings and to myself, and then to my family. Within four months, it was time to move out into the real world. Now who to tell? I thought very long and hard. So many questions. The first was, What was my motive?

During my last recovery, I told no one. The reason? It was my own way out. I could still use my friends. I could still scam my family. I could still manipulate my physicians. I could use.

This time though, there was a new feeling, a new fear. What if I don't tell? The truth was, this disease would use it. My alcoholism would grow and once again control me.

Never again.

I shouted it from the rooftops. Friends, family, neighbors, strangers. Of course I said it when appropriate. But I said it! I claimed it, I owned it and each time it felt like a mighty blow to this evil disease. It fueled me. And there were surprising results.

The response I received brought me to tears. Things like; I'm proud of you, I'm inspired by you, you have given me strength, tell me more, you're not what I expected an alcoholic to be. And finally, can you help me? I listened to each and every story. Never telling anyone what to do, only telling him or her where there is hope. That hope for me was AA.

This for me was not a Twelfth Step. I am far too young for that. This was an affirmation that I am not alone. That my experience mattered. That I mattered. That I was strong, courageous, and best of all, sober.

My life today has been full of miracles. Every day is better and better. And still every morning, in the mirror, with crazy hair and sleep in my eyes, I say, 'My name is Debbie and I am an alcoholic and an addict. Time to take on the day.'

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