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Beyond Sobriety: Unveiling the Layers of Healing

By Shelby Phoenix



It all began with stolen sips from my parent's liquor cabinet during my early teenage years.


Seeking solace and escape, I found comfort in the secrecy of drinking alone and carrying small amounts into the bathroom during my showers. But the ill-fated celebration of my 15th birthday, drowning in tequila-induced darkness, left me terrified and temporarily sober. Little did I know, this would be the first step in a long and tumultuous journey.


As the years passed, my relationship with alcohol took a treacherous turn. By the time I reached 18, drinking became a daily occurrence, a way to numb the pain and bury my insecurities. I reveled in the chaos, embracing the lifestyle of wild parties and relentless intoxication. Blackouts became a haunting norm, and the lines between reality and oblivion blurred relentlessly.


In the midst of my relentless pursuit of intoxication, two significant events caught my attention. My best friend, my partner in crime, chose sobriety unexpectedly, presenting me with an alternative path. Simultaneously, my sister's struggles with the consequences of drinking, including a DUI, served as a stark reminder of the potential pitfalls ahead. These events planted seeds of doubt, causing me to question the trajectory of my own life.


Brief periods of sobriety peppered my journey, often spurred by external circumstances. On one occasion, prescribed medication that could not be mixed with alcohol forced a temporary respite. During that time, I experienced the clarity and relief that accompanies abstinence. However, the allure of old habits and the persistent belief that alcohol was my stress reliever led to a relapse when I embarked on a new career as a high school teacher.


Brief periods of sobriety peppered my journey, often spurred by external circumstances. On one occasion, prescribed medication that could not be mixed with alcohol forced a temporary respite. During that time, I experienced the clarity and relief that accompanies abstinence. However, the allure of old habits and the persistent belief that alcohol was my stress reliever led to a relapse when I embarked on a new career as a high school teacher.


In 2021, a glimmer of hope appeared during Dry January. The clarity I experienced during that month motivated me to experiment further, to stay away from alcohol until the urge to drink arose. Five months of sobriety followed, but then, a fateful encounter with a bottle of wine left in my fridge shattered my progress.


The subsequent morning was filled with regret, missed commitments, and physical torment—a wake-up call I couldn't ignore.


The realization hit hard: alcohol was merely a symptom, a band-aid I used to conceal deeper wounds. My commitment to sobriety paved the way for a profound self-discovery. Seeking professional help, I embarked on a journey of therapy and psychiatry. A revelation unfolded—the true underlying issues were bipolar disorder, CPTSD, ADHD, and a non-verbal learning disability. The withdrawal of alcohol unmasked these struggles, causing my mind to spiral in panic.


Armed with this newfound understanding, I began the genuine healing process. Treating my mental health conditions became a priority. Therapy sessions and consultations with a psychiatrist guided me toward effective strategies and medications. In the absence of alcohol, I confronted my traumas, honed healthy coping mechanisms, and learned to identify and express my emotions in safe and constructive ways.


August marks two years of alcohol-free living, and the journey has been transformative. By making the courageous choice to step away from alcohol, I reclaimed my life and embraced newfound passions. Building on the solid foundation of sobriety, I started my own business, became self-employed, and pursued my love for yoga, coaching, and social media marketing.


Becoming alcohol-free was just the first step on a path to holistic healing. My story teaches us that healing is not a linear process but an intricate tapestry of self-discovery, resilience, and self-compassion. By shedding the false crutch of alcohol, I unraveled layers of pain, emerging stronger, and more authentic than ever before.

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