By: Laura Bishop, Guest Blogger
Seven years ago my life changed. Actually, I like to think of it as the time when my life started. The person I am today amazes me, catches my breath, actually, when I stop and reflect on my past, and who I could’ve become if I didn’t make a change. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a godmother, a girlfriend, a therapist, a writer, and I’m an alcoholic.
Growing up, I always felt different. I was insecure, painfully shy, afraid, anxious, angry, and always expecting the worst. As I hit adolescence, all those feelings intensified. I was so busy comparing my insides to everybody’s outsides that I went through life physically, emotionally, and even spiritually uncomfortable. What I remember so vividly about that period of time, is wanting to be somebody else. Somebody who was pretty, confident, and able to face the world. I wanted any excuse to escape so many intolerable feelings, all of which I was unable to articulate, so I acted out. Around this same time, I went to my first party. I was 14 years old.
Over the next 12 years I used alcohol to escape. It wasn’t every day, but it was constant. After some time, it became problematic. And after some even more time, I didn’t recognize myself. I was making poor choices and alienating myself from the people who loved me. After several attempts to cut back or stop drinking all together, I found myself back at that bar or in the wine isle at Trader Joe’s. It was a constant cycle--an ugly, lonely, scary cycle.
One day, I had enough. I awoke after another crazy night out on the town, and those same intense feelings were still present. It’s ironic that I started drinking all those years ago to escape from the same negative feelings that I was now living with on a daily basis. I felt stuck. I felt hopeless. I felt done. It was in that moment that I decided to get some help, and that’s when my life began.
The thing that amazes me is that I can now cope, with both good and bad feelings, in a healthy non-destructive way. Even in my toughest moments, I know picking up a drink will only make things worse. I think back on that lost, sad, vulnerable girl and feel grateful (weird, right?). Because without my past, I don’t think I would have the courage to be the girl I am today. Learning to love myself, and to accept life the way it is (for today) is a daily practice. I met people with shared experiences, who lead the way for me. I learned from these amazing ladies how to be the woman I aspire to be.
I wouldn’t change one aspect of my life, and I certainly don’t wish I wasn’t an alcoholic. I am stronger today because of it. This is my path, one for which I am grateful for. I will say, it was with careful thought that I chose to share this most vulnerable side of myself. There is no agenda. It’s just me being honest, real, and fearless, sharing a piece of my journey.
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Laura is a Bay Area native, with a master’s degree in counseling/psychology. She loves helping others become the best versions of themselves. When she’s not working with clients, she can be found spending time with friends and family (especially her little goddaughter), practicing yoga, hiking, and baking cupcakes. She considers it an honor and a privilege to share her voice with the IATG community.