Ellie: Finding Peace, Love, and Acceptance in Recovery

A woman shares her story of recovering from alcohol use and starting a nonprofit to help others recover.

Drinking was everything to me. It cured my anxiety, animated me, and was the mortar to my many cracks.

It started right away, this love affair. From the very first drink, as that warm confidence slipped through my veins, and I thought: so this is how normal people feel.

I could not imagine a life without alcohol. It was my everything—until it ripped me apart.

My recovery journey began in 2007 after a 30-day rehab stay. Going back to my regular life was the hardest thing I have ever done. How to be a mom without wine? How to socialize without my liquid courage? How to figure out who I am and what I want from life?

Day by day, my real self emerged. I got through unimaginably hard times without my liquid crutch: the sudden death of my dad, cancer. More importantly, I learned to navigate everyday life totally present through every emotion: boredom, resentment, anger, sadness, joy, celebration.

I have found my heart song in recovery. I started a nonprofit, Shining Strong, and its mission is to reach out to those still struggling and celebrate recovery. Because we do recover. We heal. We find ourselves. We learn to sit through every emotion, resist the urge to alter or numb our feelings.

I laugh today, right from my heart. I don’t shape shift to please people. I cry real, genuine tears, not drunken, self-centered crocodile tears.

I have found the peace, love, and acceptance in recovery that I searched for years for at the bottom of a glass.

Last Updated: 12/22/2015