How One Woman Got Sober

“I took my first drink at thirteen. I knew I was an alcoholic from the very start. I took two shots, threw my phone at someone, and fell off my bike. That was foreshadowing the way my drinking career went.”


My story is my perspective. No matter what the facts are, or how other people saw it, what I experienced was very real for me. I never realized I victimized myself and used self-pity, when I could look at life another way.

I wish I could talk to the little, scared girl I used to be. I wish I could let her know everything will be okay. I let my fear of people, of what they thought, run my life. I wasted a good chunk of my life trying to please everyone, trying to control what they thought. I recently learned that’s out of my control anyway!

Through working the Twelve-Steps, and practicing the principals I learned in all my affairs, fear is starting to dwindle away. I feel free for the first time in my life. My character defects aren’t completely gone, after all, I’m only human. Today, I can truly say that Alcoholics Anonymous has given me greater peace of mind than any drug, than any drink, ever did.

My Childhood

I was born on June 21, 1989, in Queens, NY. I was adopted by loving parents who couldn’t have kids on their own. We soon moved to a small town called Suffern.

From a very young age, I remember feeling like something was wrong with me. I just couldn’t put my finger on what. I felt alone, even when surrounded by people. I was impulsive and not the favorite of my friends’ parents! I wasn’t raised with many rules or boundaries, so when I went to a friend’s house, I wasn’t on my best behavior. I didn’t understand rules applied to me. I thought I was special. So, when I’d hear parents, teachers, and baby-sitters complain to my mom, I started to think I was defective. I was clumsy too. If I spilled food or a drink, I’d be yelled at and sent to my room for hours. All this added up to me thinking I was a bad kid. I remember asking myself “why can’t I just be like everyone else?”

Like most addicts, I’m selfish by nature. So, when my brother was born, I saw him as a bother. I was jealous of the attention he got simply for being sweet and quiet. Meanwhile, I was a loud, energetic mess. See that self-pity and victimization happening? I never knew how to connect with people. It didn’t help that I was severely bullied as a child. I was bullied up until I was about seventeen actually. I never stood up for myself, all I wanted was to be liked, so I was an easy target. I’d laugh the jokes off, go home and take out my anger on my family.

My Family

I was raised in a very chaotic house. There was a lot of yelling and hitting, and that was how I learned to express myself. My parents would also fight, then leave the hours for long periods. They’d say they were never coming back. This, mixed with being adopted, left me with abandonment issues, which I still continue to work on. All I could think was “if I do something wrong, this person is going to give up on me and leave me forever.” I realize today that not everyone has to like me, but I struggled with it for years.

As for being adopted, I didn’t have any contact with my birth-family. I didn’t feel emotionally connected to my adopted family. This left me feeling alone and unwanted. One of the many things AA’s given me is a sense of belonging. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m part of a family. I feel loved, which makes it easier to love myself. I’m getting ahead of myself though.

Active Addiction

I took my first drink at thirteen. I knew I was an alcoholic from the very start. I took two shots, threw my phone at someone, and fell off my bike. That was foreshadowing the way my drinking career went. I’d get wasted, get in a fight, and drive home drunk (until I lost my license at eighteen, for getting two DWI’S in six months). I started doing cocaine at fifteen. I had a new set of friends and a new boyfriend. Things were looking up! As soon as I started doing coke, I quit my cheerleading squad and lost most of my friends from middle school.

All I cared about was getting high and being with my boyfriend. I started to get panic attacks and ended up with prescriptions to Klonopin and Xanax. This made getting high ever easier. I used anything I could to change the way I felt. I didn’t want to be alone and scared, I wanted to be a part of something. Drinking and doing coke were the only ways I knew to be a part of anything. I finally had an identity as the party girl, the girl who could get drugs. I was so proud of myself at the time. Looking back, I fell bad for myself. I thought drugs and a reputation would bring me happiness and comfort. They did, but only for a short time. My life fell apart pretty quick. My boyfriend became abusive, I started skipping school, and my best friend slept with my boyfriend.

After a string of hospital visits, arrests, and getting in trouble at school, I was sent to my first rehab. I was a senior in high school. I wanted things to get better, to fix my life, but I wasn’t ready to quit drugs and alcohol for good. I didn’t think that was the problem. After being in treatment for four months, I began to use again. This went on for four more years. I hit a few more bottoms along the way. I was arrested, crashed cars, and got kicked out of community college. I started to think that maybe, just maybe, I was the problem.

So, I moved to NYC to attend school as a makeup artist. I thought if I left the area where I knew all the drug dealers, maybe I’d get better. Guess what? I was wrong. I found drugs in NYC pretty fast and was back to my old routine. I partied every night instead of going to class. I managed to get a few jobs acting and promoting, but they fell through after I began to miss shoots. Once again, I was consumed by getting high. I had to move home and quit school.

Then two of my friends died. One died suddenly, the other shot himself. As if that wasn’t enough, I was at my friend Tara’s house when her dad also died suddenly. I used these events as a reason to drink more than I ever had before. I went on a four month bender of cocaine, alcohol and Roxi’s. At the end of my bender, I went missing for two days and finally stumbled home. I looked like I was about to die. I was about to die. I finally told my mom that I needed help. Three days later, I was on a plane to Florida. This is where my real journey of recovery started.


I arrived at a treatment center on February 21st, 2011, determined to stay sober. My sobriety date is July 29, 2012. Clearly, I still had challenges ahead.

I was in treatment for nine months. I started to look at events from my childhood and how those events shaped my life. I shared things I’d never talked to anyone about. This was a great start, but I had to do more. I had to forgive the people who hurt me, leave my past in the past, and look towards a brighter future. I had to realize that, on my own, I sell myself short. I’m worth something. I can contribute to other people. I don’t have to let my people pleasing attitude, or my social anxiety, run my life! I didn’t realize all of this right away though.

I got out of treatment and relapsed. I managed to put together another six months sober, but ended up relapsing again. The second time, I worked steps and was sponsoring women. I wasn’t taking care of myself or my program though. I stopped praying, started skipping meetings, and starting going to clubs all the time. Once again, I got wrapped up in caring only what other people thought of me, not what I thought of myself. To put it another way, my behavior relapsed long before I drank. I also got involved in an unhealthy relationship. I lived in fear of him leaving me. I never felt good enough for him, or anyone else. I let the way he treated me determine how I felt about myself. If he texted me, I was happy. If he didn’t, I was depressed.

I had other issues from my past pop up. I didn’t tell anyone that these things still consumed my mind. Finally, I got honest and told my new sponsor everything. I finally felt free. I let go of my fear of being judged and laid everything on the table. That was July 23rd, 2012. I used on July 28. I didn’t tell my sponsor until a month later! I was embarrassed that I used after everything I’d been through. After I came clean with my sponsor, everything changed.

I began to pray everyday, even if I didn’t want to. I shared what was on my mind, even when I wanted to keep it close. I reached out to others, even when I wanted to wallow in self-pity. I went to meetings and helped others when I could. I wasn’t perfect, but I tried my best. I made mistakes, but promptly told my sponsor about them. I worked the steps honestly. It wasn’t easy, but I got through it. The only thing I did do perfectly was not to use, no matter what.

I’ve been through a lot in the past year. I lost a close friend to this disease. My uncle died recently. My birth-mom, who I recently got in touch with, didn’t send me a birthday card and doesn’t reach out to me. In the past, I would’ve used over all these things. Today, I know my higher power is watching over me and I make sure to stay in conscious contact.

The Blessings of Sobriety

I have friend who’ve been by my side through thick and thin. They’re always there for me. I’ve built a strong foundation in my sobriety. I have a sponsor I can call for anything. I have about twenty-five solid, sober people I can call for anything. I go to meetings everyday. Most importantly, I help other women. I have sponsee’s and I bring women from treatment to meetings. Today, I give back and help people, like others help me in early sobriety. I actually listen to people and help them with my experience. I have a higher power that will never abandon me. My higher power is mine and no one else’s. I have a healthy relationship with my parents and talk to them daily. I have so many friends in recovery who love me, and I love them!

I do so many fun things in sobriety. After all, I didn’t get sober to be bored! I can go anywhere without fear of picking up a drink or drug. I go to the movies, bowling, on adventures, cruises – the possibilities are endless! I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be. I still struggle with my work ethic and figuring out what I want to do with my life. I’m sure of one thing though, that I’ll be okay. Nothing is worth using over, nothing. No one can make me use, no one. I determine, through my actions, how my day goes. No one else controls my mood, or makes me feel a certain way. I have that power now and I give it up to God.

As long as I’m helping others, and working an honest program, I’ll be okay. Sure, I’m going to fall short sometimes. I’m okay with that. I’ll go through pain, but I realize if I handle it right, I’ll grow. I’m starting to understand the real meaning of love and peace of mind.

I’m happier than I ever was while using. I feel at home for the first time in my life. AA’s given me everything I’ve ever needed and wanted (and not only materially, but emotionally!). I have respect for myself and others, a new family, and my life has meaning. I have no idea what the future holds, but I’m excited to find out. I know I have an amazing foundation in my sobriety. I love being sober and I wouldn’t trade any of my experiences, good or bad, for anything. I know that I can help others because of who I am today. As the Big Book says, “how dark it is before the dawn.” No matter how bad things seem to be, or how bad of a day it is, I’ve learned if I push through, the next day can be amazing. I just need to stick it out and have faith that everything happens for a reason. I have a good thing going here and I owe it all to Alcoholics Anonymous and my higher power.

It’s a miracle that I’m sober. I’m eternally grateful for this program and everyone in it who has helped me along my journey. If I can do it, anyone can!

–Dana K

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