Drinking was not only a habit for me but also an obstacle. It altered my moods and my perceptions. It kept me from accomplishing my dreams. I have been an alcoholic most of my life, getting my first taste when I was only 4. In order to make changes I had to admit to myself that I was, and still am, an alcoholic. I started going to AA meetings, and completely distanced myself from all of my closest friends. Sobriety has been incredibly gratifying! It has brought clarity to every aspect of my life.
The first change occurred when I finally admitted I was an alcoholic. Knowing I was one, and actually saying it aloud, are two different things. Building enough courage and strength required me to look deep within myself. It took a tremendous amount of effort to believe that I would not fall apart. Looking back, attending my first meeting was my biggest challenge. I was frightened; I felt weak and vulnerable. I remember sitting in my car in front of the meeting place; I was perspiring and my heart was racing. I wished I could close my eyes and disappear. However, I managed to overcome my anxiety and proceed in. I took the first seat that was available and waited for the speaker to ask, “Would anyone like to introduce themselves?” This was my chance; she looked at me and said, “Welcome.” I stood up and said, “Hi my name is Letizia Principato, and I am an alcoholic.” I realize now that I had to hit rock bottom before I was able to face my true self. Having lost the most important things to me, I knew this was necessary.
I woke up one day and realized I had accomplished absolutely nothing—none of my goals or dreams. It was clear to me that I had to change. I needed to face my insecurities, and battle my demons. This was one of the hardest and scariest decisions I have ever had to make. However, without that first step, I knew I would not accomplish anything. My dreams would never come to life, and my purpose in life would never be understood.
A second change occurred when I realized I had to distance myself from my closest friends. The choice did not come easily because some of my friends had been in my life for more than 20 years. We shared many beautiful moments full of laughter and joy, but we also shared many painful exhausting nights, full of drama and bar brawls. I realized none of us could hold our liquor. Everything revolved around drinking. A walk in the park, or a day at the movies always turned out to be a disaster. One of us (if not all of us) would end up fighting, and our “sober” audience was always embarrassed, and disappointed with our behavior. In my heart, I felt as if I was losing everything, but I believed I would gain control and the clarity I needed. Like a domino effect, I knew it would all fall into place.
Being sober has inspired me to look towards the future. Taking this step has given me the confidence and hope I needed. I now have a newfound respect for life. I appreciate the simple things and find comfort within myself. I no longer use alcohol as an escape, or find myself drowning in fear. Although I struggled with the loss of great friends, and I have completely rearranged my life, I find comfort in knowing I am now in control. This is a blessing; a second chance at life, and a gift unlike any other. I can finally achieve all that had been hidden; as if a mask was removed, and no costume needs to be worn.
Through sober eyes, I can see clearly who, and where, I want to be. I have had a chance to reinvent myself. I have enrolled in school, and have a greater sense of integrity. More importantly, I believe in the power of God. Today I am 132 days sober, and I feel optimistic, and self-assured. I am truly blessed and able to acknowledge my past mistakes, with humility and insight. Today I am grateful both my habit and my obstacle are things of the past.