Written by Alyssa Turcsak, CNP
Reading Time: 2 minutes
I firmly believe vulnerability fosters a deeper sense of community and human connection, so here is my humble attempt at practicing vulnerability. Let’s talk about vulnerability. I spent many years keeping parts of myself hidden until it nearly destroyed me.
As a first generation college student and overall general optimist, I graduated college feeling invincible. Being an overachiever for many years, I had high hopes for myself as I entered the “adult” world. Here’s the thing, though… Addiction doesn’t care what plans you have for yourself. This is my story about my journey with addiction and my path to recovery.
Shortly after college, a loved one mentioned that I was drinking alcohol in a seemingly unhealthy way. This was confusing to me because, in my mind, I was just drinking the same way I did in college. (Hint: also not healthy). I mostly stuck to drinking on the weekends, but in large quantities (also known as binge drinking). Quickly, this became a daily habit. I didn’t think much about it because it didn’t impact my ability to show up and do the work. I was “high functioning” until… I wasn’t.
Years later, I secured a job at an organization in a role that was an absolute dream. I told myself this would be my catalyst to get better, do better, and be better. Unfortunately, alcohol abuse is a disease and one that is NEARLY impossible to battle alone. After calling in sick to work too many times, I was let go from that role. My hangovers had won.
You’d think that finding out I had a fatty liver from drinking during a doctor’s appointment would have been the spark for recovery, but it was actually losing my job. In the world of addiction, this is as lucky as I could be. There’s a saying in the recovery community that people like me who continue to drink will end up in jails, institutions, or dead. I’m grateful that I was able to receive the support needed to change my trajectory. I’m also happy to report my liver is no longer fatty! It’s one of the only organs that can regenerate itself.
As the title suggests in a bizarre way, losing my job saved my life. This was my sign to get real help. I entered a residential treatment program for 30 days and learned how to love myself enough to finally secure my sobriety. I’ve proudly been alcohol free continuously since January 8, 2020. Today, I work for an organization full-time as a Fundraising Coordinator in a role I love. I originally started there as a volunteer at the beginning of my recovery, so to be working here now full time is poetic. I work for Constellation Cat Cafe, an organization that is a coffee shop and cat rescue. I have even helped to submit our 1023 Form with hopes to earn our 501c3 designation. As many of you can empathize, we are still waiting to hear back from the IRS. Since I first walked through those doors, I felt the freedom to be fully myself – mistakes and all. I disclosed my story to my (now) boss even before I was working there and she hired me anyway. She saw my potential and admired my perseverance. Being embraced by a community like Constellation Cat Cafe is part of the reason I was able to maintain my sobriety. Community is the opposite of addiction – and I had found my community.
My intention for this post is to let you know that you’re not alone. If you or someone you know is having struggles with alcohol, my heart goes out to you. There are countless resources available to help you. I’ll include a short list at the end of this post. All you have to do is decide when you are ready. Calling yourself an addict is a very scary part of recovery – and trust me, I’ve been there. If it helps, “sober curious” is another term for people who are considering sobriety but who aren’t yet ready to dive all the way in.
I was really hard on myself for a long time that I couldn’t just get it together. I write this to emphasize that this isn’t a choice thing. It’s a literal disease that changes your brain. You don’t need to beat yourself up if you are stuck in this cycle. All you have to do is decide when you’re ready to get help. Eventually, it’ll click. I promise.
I hope you find inspiration in this post. Sometimes it takes failing to truly thrive. I am a phoenix rising. I recognize this is a silly platitude, but it’s true. Never stop going after a life you deserve. Here’s to many more years of learning, loving, and sipping on sparkling water (because I’m fancy and I deserve it).
Red Table Talk recently did a really incredible interview showcasing stories of women who have overcome addiction, highlighting an important discussion around representation in the recovery community.
“This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace
“The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober” by Catherine Gray
“The Sober Girl Society Handbook” by Millie Gooch
Alcoholics Anonymous (Narcotics Anonymous) – Probably the most well known recovery
groups. 12 Step recovery program with an emphasis on a higher power.
Al-Anon – For folks who love someone with an addiction. Branch of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Adult Children of Alcoholics – Support group for children who grew up with parents who had an Alcohol Use Disorder.
Recovery Elevator – Online support community with dozens of weekly meetings of all types, social and recovery focused. In-person meetups around the country.
Refuge Recovery / Recovery Dharma – Buddhist inspired recovery program.
SMART Recovery – Scientific based recovery program.
The Alcohol Experiment – 30 day alcohol free experiment hosted with resources by Annie Grace.
Sober Black Girls Club – Peer support group geared towards Black women.