Hello my Name Is

Hello my name is Courtney and I am a Recovering Alcoholic!

I wanted to share a little more of about my history and what my rock bottom was for anyone who is new that is reading my blog. I have been sober now for 4 years and 5 months. I LOVED alcohol, like it was my bestie for over a decade.  My vicious cycle of addiction was spent for over ten years feeling ashamed, embarrassed, lonely, isolated and scared but I kept staying in this world. For so many years I didn’t feel like I deserved any good.  Most days depending on my work schedules were spent thinking about drinking, drinking or dry heaving, laying in bed all day until I ordered pizza at 8pm when I finally stopped throwing up all the alcohol from the night before. I mean this cycle happened weekly, alcohol poising for sure! Of course I would say to myself every time I would dry heave that “be the last time I did shots or drank like that”…LIES! I often find when I woke up the night before I had no clue how I got home or what happened. About ninety percent of the time my drinking would end up with me upsetting one of my friends, boyfriends or family members.  I often would yell at them, pick fights and get violent like a real pig.  So many missed opportunities and relationships down the drain because of my addiction.  So much TIME WASTED and moments I will never get back in my life. Funny thing is since I was about 24 years I knew I  would have to stop drinking one day. In the pit of my soul I believe that all addicts know they have a problem of some sort its just a matter of “are you going to address the problem” or just carrying on because you don’t want to feel or face reality?!!

When I was 29 years old, I woke up the next morning from a complete shit show of an evening.  I was told I lost my cat(who was not an outside cat at all) for the second time as I left my screen door wide open because I went outside to smoke in a blackout. I was also told by my then boyfriend that he was over the drinking as we at that point we had been together for a year and a half. He had seen plenty in such a short amount of time because I will say the last couple of years of my drinking my episodes were getting worse and worse. So that day I made a pact to myself and the universe that if Fiona(my cat) was found I would give up drinking and give life a go sober as I knew I had to do since I was in my early twenties. For two days I laid around from the worst hangover in my life, like straight up death! I surprised I didn’t need medical attention.  So every few hours I  would go outside shaking Fiona’s treats and calling her name, finally FURPANTS came walking out slowly from under my neighbors deck looking terrified and leaves all over her fur  and in her whiskers. I dropped to my knees like a scene from a movie and scooped her up and instantly starting crying. I felt in my whole being and on another level that sobriety was my answer this was 1 million percent my rock bottom. I probably hit RB about 40 times previous to this but this time it was the last bottom I would face.

My life began on  August 18th, 2012! That boyfriend who said enough was enough is now my husband. He even gave up drinking with me, he never had a problem but just got to a point in his life he could do without.  Sober Life has not been easy, a lot of emotions a lot of ups and downs buts its all worth it. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing of how my life has become. My world is just better with friends, family, husband, myself and everything else. I even have my own health and fitness business! That would of never have happened if I continued to drink, I probably be dead if I would of kept in my active addiction and I know that in my heart and soul! Looking forward to bringing more insight to the world about addiction and wellness.  

Hello my name is Courtney and RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE!!!

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Motivation or Mindset?

I have often been asked and the last 4 years from people, “how do you stay motivated with your sobriety?” The answer is easy, I don’t want to die!! TRUTH. It may seem a little dramatic to some but its all TRUE. That’s how I look at what would happen to me if I went back to drinking. If I were to relapse it would end in death, maybe not that day but I would down the road. That is where my life was going for many years before I said, “I’m done!” You have to understand something about addict’s, we don’t know how to stop. When I go out in life it’s going to be like Rose in the Titanic all warm and cozy in her bed dreaming of DiCaprio. The sauce will not take me out, NO THANK YOU! Over doses or people drinking themselves to death happen daily just not many talk about it. I know that one sip of something would put be back down that rabbit hole of awfulness…is that a word?? The hole of despair, shame, loneliness, desperation and death.

Since becoming sober there is something I have done and that is waking up every day, recite in my head what I’m a grateful for and then say it again. In this morning reflection, my sobriety is always included because without it, I would not be where I am at today. I wouldn’t be married, running my own business, have the relationships I do with friends and family in my life or even writing this blog. On Sundays I also take some time of reflection to remember my days in my active addiction and all the shitty things I have done to others and most of all myself. When you sit in reflection and remember all the god awful things you did, do you want to go back there??? F to the NOOOOOOOOOO!!! I mean what is so fun about waking up in jail or the hospital and not knowing how you got there?? This has happened to me numerous times and not my finest moments in life. Now a days my finest moments in life are living in the gratitude of sobriety and just being in life.

I totally understand how hard the fight is and still have to fight urges present day but we have choices and we must remember that. In those urges I have to change my mindset around and think of my old life. If you want your life to change, you have the power in you to change it you just have to start and GO. You fall off, pick yourself up dust those boots or wedges off and start again. But learn from your falls and reflect on them. Any person in recovery will tell you that the journey isn’t easy, you have to put in the work. Whether that be AA, NA, Therapy, journaling, some online groups or my personal favorite self help books! You must do the work and yes some of it is hard to get thru but once you do it feels pretty good and it so freeing. For me it’s going to be a lifetime or work and I’m totally cool putting that work in because I’m not looking backwards. I will never forget the day I had to make some mends with some important people in my life, I cried(like ugly cry, hard to get the words out type of cry) while telling them how sorry I was for missing some of their important life events. Type of moments you don’t get a redo at. It was hard cause I had to except what I did and own it and guess what? They excepted my apology and we have better relationships now then we ever did when I was drinking. After that day the heavy burden I carried around for so many years was gone. It was liberating.

It’s going to take work, dedication and some days your going to have to fight the good fight to get thru it but it gets easier!! For the days or even hours your addiction is talking to you cause it does. Sounds crazy, right?? BUT it’s true!! Always remember the life you had up until your rock bottom and then remember it again. Really, really REMEMBER that feeling of where you once were. I look at my decade long stent of drinking as the pits. Yes, did I have some amazing fun times having drinks, of course but they were few and far between. I guess you can say my MINDSET is the one that keeps me motivated in my sobriety!

Always,
CMA

Sober Pals

Hey world!!

It feels good to be back and at my creative outlet. I really had to take a step back from this for a minute. When my good pal passed away just two days before Thanksgiving, I went into grief mode followed by the Holidays. I tried writing tips of how to stay on a sober path during the Holiday season but I just faced such a “creative block!” I sat one night for 3 hours trying to get it all out and my mind was taking me into 25 different directions, so I just stopped. I mean at one point I got mad and I didn’t want to hate what I have started to love doing. You know what I mean? I was having a block and there was no sense of fighting it and writing something I just wasn’t into.

I do miss my friend, and think it is important to have some sober friends in your life. Him and I were sober pals and always there for one another. We had that connection of we get it, I hate to say “brotherhood” cause it sounds so Sons of Anarchy(worst series ending of all time) but it is true! Same thing for women, it’s a sisterhood. You forever are connected with people who understand the power of addiction. How it can bring you down, lift you up, make your world delusional AF, ruin jobs, ruin relationships and fuck up everything in between… But for some reason you still continue to drink??? Until one day rock bottom smacks you silly. WE ALL GET IT! The souls in this community understand how hard it can be to even take it one day at a time, some days we have to take it minutes at a time. Many addicts are extremely intelligent its unreal, in a good way! So much to learn from one another. As selfish as this disease is the amount of love in the recovery world is just awesome. We know some days are easier and some days are harder, people relapse, people die, people have dry drunk tendencies(I for sure have and you can totally catch yourself doing it) but we all get it. It’s such a “me battle” but we all get the battle. This of course is not a community we wish to be in, it is just where our lives have lead us to.

My pal was always there for me know matter what and we both knew what picking up one drink would do to our lives. I use to ask him if he missed drinking and the answer was always, “NEVER KID, I have to much to lose and its just not worth it” I dug deep over these past few weeks and took his positivity and strength to keep carrying on sober. He did it in his fight against cancer so I can continue to do so in my own life. Forever grateful for my friendship with my dear sweet sober friend.

If you are newly sober and on your journey in the recovery world it is so important to have a support system around you. Having sober pals around and people who get it will help you so much!! There is a huge network out there, from social media, treatment centers, support groups.. sober pals are all around. You just have to show up or reach out and I guarantee one of us will be there for you.

Always,

CMA
 

Is Escaping Reality Worth It?

There is a day month after month for the past two years I would love nothing more then to get absolutely shitfaced! I mean really just take it to the face, black out drunk!! This day I speak of, is the first day of my lady cycle. For the past two years my husband and I have struggled with trying to conceive aka Fertility issues. When you are young you never think that trying to get pregnant would be so hard. You think easy, no big deal, it just takes one time, I will do the opposite of what they told me do in sex ed class and just not use any birth control. For some couples they don’t even try, for some they get pregnant after month 1, some 6 months, some 1 year, some need IVF, some need IUI, some need a surrogate and some need to adopt. We all have such different journeys of becoming parents. On our journey I have learned that thousands/millions of couples go thru fertility/infertility issues. My heart breaks for all couples who have to go on this ride because it is beyond the pits. This really is extremely hard and emotionally draining of one’s soul! I’m putting it out to the world because I have to just release this, sometimes holding onto to something so tight limits you and blocks things from coming into your life.

Each month when my lady cycle comes its like a death, you have to mourn a thought, a possibility like this was going to be the month. You have then put more pressure on yourself because “TIME” is an issue for us ladies. It for sure is not in our favor when it comes to bearing children, we all know as you get older chance of pregnancy decreases. After the moment of my lady cycle presenting itself then comes the feels. It’s a combination of sadness, anger and just a big bummer feeling. During these feelings, an old friend decides to bring it’s self to the surface… hello addiction! This asshole really likes to show me some pretty rude scenario’s, like rude! For instance, me having a time with all kinds of liquor mainly lots and lots of shots just not Jameson(insert dry heave)oh and don’t forget the cigs, I’m chain smoking like a savage in these movie trailers playing in my head. During the trailer in my head, then comes the feeling of not deserving good things and really sinking back into the thought process of “I don’t deserve happiness” or “this must be karma” which is just a crock of shit. I do deserve good and know I’m a good person, its just part of the self sabotage/addiction cycle. It’s beyond fucking WILD!! In all honesty, I see how easy it is for people to relapse. Life is hard and you never know what each day is going to throw at you. Addiction is strong, evil and has a way of making you feel like its right to use… it’s seductive.

So, for a few hours of this particular day this is what my thoughts are consumed with but it always makes me feel dirty, like its not right. I’m happy it does make me feel this way because I know that drinking/using wont solve anything. Why?? Cause the pain will still be there tomorrow. I would only be escaping reality for those few hours and is it worth it??? NO!! I’ve come to the point in my recovery and life I have way to much to loose if I drank then gain if I did. Know matter how much therapy, AA, NA, self help and support groups you attend or complete the “addiction” doesn’t leave you, its a disease and will always be apart of you. I’m only speaking from my 4 years and 3 months of sobriety that the addiction just becomes silent and remains still. Life will continue to throw me curveballs but its up to me to keep the fight going and know that DRINKING IS NOT WORTH IT! My way to grieve this loss each month now is eating some really bad food, wearing fat pants, having a good cry and watching Steel Magnolias. Still gets me every time M’Lynn is trying to make Shelby open her eyes while she is laying in the hospital in a coma. I choose to wake up the following day and continue on with life in a positive mindset and know in my heart that one day we will be parents, how we get there that is uncertain but that is life. I choose self love and not self hate.

I’m beyond blessed with all I have now and lucky to have such an amazing, supportive stud of a husband and the best cat in all the land. We will keep our heads held high and keep on truckin at expanding our family. As always we will take our journey one day at a time!!

Always,

CMA

FOMO!!

FOMO-FEAR OF MISSING OUT… YES, its a thing and YES it is real!! My FOMO was out of hand early days of recovery. It will go away in time but once in awhile it will pop back up in my life, depending on an event or situation. Last year I had this when I opted out of a weekend Bachelorette party for a good friend but I just couldn’t do it because I knew there would be heavy drinking involved. I’m just not there yet, I may never be and that is OK! It’s ok to say NO, its healthy and sets boundaries for yourself so you don’t jeopardize your own sobriety. In early stages of recovery, FOMO was right up there with my crippling anxiety. I know, I know it sounds silly but its true. In my addiction my drinking was so, very social. To be honest I never drank at home much unless it was continuing the party after the bars shut down or random nights I decided to stay in and drink wine.

I learned the FOMO would come around the time, I started to get the itch for wanting to drink. Which would be daily. I would wonder what my pals were doing and just assume they were out and about having a time! I would look at pictures on social media and see friends out with big smiles on their faces as they held there beers, wine or shots. I would always say to myself “why cant I just be able to drink normal” It just is life and I don’t have the off button, I guess as lady gaga would say.. I was born this way. Recovery can be lonely! You have to isolate yourself to get better, but then again a lot of friends disappear on you. You quickly see who your real true blue friends are and the ones that will meet you for coffee or lunch and do none drinking activities with you. KEEP THOSE PEOPLE AROUND! They love you for YOU and not just the good time you bring to the table at the present moment of being at the bar, before you reach your black out and become Cornado. In time, I learned that the only thing I was missing out on was me being a drunk asshole!! I wasn’t drinking into a blackout, I wasn’t throwing chairs, I wasn’t yelling at people, I wasn’t putting myself in harmful situations, I wasn’t going to jail, I wasn’t waking up in a hospital, I wasn’t sleeping with inappropriate men, I wasn’t waking up with a hangover that would give me panic attacks.. the list could go on and on. As my alcoholic brain started to change and the fog was
lifting in recovery, I was soon starting to realize that FOMO is me living
in my old life. I use to get it in my addiction when I couldn’t go out with friends or I couldn’t attend an event for whatever reason. It was me wanting to go out and get as fucked up as possible because that is what I thought was how you had fun!!! It’s hard to admit but its true, drinking to me equaled a good time. Growing up that’s how drinking was perceived in my house hold, cocktails were fun, no matter what day it was! When I finally had this AHA moment, I had to start living for NOW and the new life I was and
am creating for myself. It’s funny because you truly have to mourn your old
life and some friends you once had. You have to mourn that FOMO. You have to mourn alcohol, sounds lame but booze was my best friend for 11 years. So, I had to say good bye to it, cry over it, be angry at it and then come to peace with it. Trust when I say what you think you are missing out on, your not and it is not that fun anyway. Keep reminding yourself of all the bad your addiction brought to the table and then remember all the good your sobriety is brining into your life. Go thru the motions of the process, its a death. I cant even tell you how many times I have cried since becoming sober..it is wild but it has become healthy to release the emotions. It gets worse before it gets better but it gets BETTER! Remember, you have done ALOT OF DAMAGE to your life
and others around you because of your addiction, so that ripple effect has expanded wide.

FOMO hasn’t happened to me since summer of 2015, that’s good because its healthy!! I’m growing away from my addiction, if that makes sense?!?! I guess I am trying to say that heavy burden is not so present in my life now a days. I’m living in the present and living for the NOW which does not consist of alcohol. Nothing will be or is the same once you become sober! It’s a good thing, life
becomes better and YOU become better, if you allow it!!!!

Always,

CMA

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!

For the first 120 days of my sobriety I seriously didn’t know what to do with myself! I will say those first4 months were scary, I didn’t feel that “pink cloud” like most people do in recovery. The pink cloud feeling came years down the road for me. During these early months I had to figure out how I was going to tell my friends and family I wasn’t going to be drinking anymore.Except my
Alcoholism, figure “who the sober me was going to be” the list went on and the emotions were high.
I remember Matt(my then boyfriend who is now my husband) telling me I needed to find a hobby. Excuse? “I had hobbies” is what I told him but when he asked, “like what” I had no response! My hobby was drinking but I wouldn’t know that till months down the road when I awakened to what my true reality was for over a decade. I took to google, yep! I fucking google hobbies(HA) and a list of hobbies popped up and I slowly began to read each line and thought if I would like that hobby or not. So crafting came up and I figured that would be great, do something with my hands! Matt and I took to Michael’s and walked thru the store trying to come up with things to make. We made our way into the section of Mod Podge and the idea would come to his mind of me Mod Podging shit. I left the store with Mod Podge, picture frames and some of the decorative paper people use for scrap booking. For many months and years after that first night, this store and myself would become two peas in a pod. Thank god Matt is artistic and grew up with a mother who did these types of things with her children. That was his normal and something I learned from him and thank goodness I did because it really saved me in those months and showed me there were other things to do besides drink. I didn’t grow up with parents doing arts and crafts, that wasn’t our family dynamic. I was depressed for most of my childhood and teenage years, from about 7 to 18 years old. I lacked the attention from my parents who divorced when I was 7 and I found comfort in Television. So besides drinking, you could consider TV watching my hobby. I still love my shows but now in my recovery life I have found many more hobbies along the way.. Baking, reading, writing, coloring, gardening(I try) and of course crafting.
I would come home that night from Michael’s and I set my craft area up which was my coffee table and I had Matt show me what to do, how much Mod Podge I needed on the paper and frames. I asked him some basic questions and I was on my way to become the best god dam crafter this side of the Mississippi. Of course I needed some back ground entertainment and for months my girlfriend was telling me to watch “Friday Night Lights” so I pressed play. My god, Coach Taylor is LIFE!! That show is amazing if you haven’t watched yet, it has all the feels and more. For 4 months, I made pictures frames and watched Friday Night Lights and wouldn’t have had it any other way. Not every night I was doing this but on the weekends,especially on FRIDAY nights! This is where you could find me. I needed to find something positive to do, to replace the activity I use to do for years! Replace a behavior with another one, just make sure when it comes finding a hobby its a healthy one. This is probably the one thing I could recommend to anyone who is having problems with finding things to do in recovery. Start small. Don’t worry so much about the social aspect of it in the beginning, that will come. Lay the foundation down and figure out what sober life will look like for you. Think of all the projects that I’m sure need to get done because us addicts neglected them for years, that will keep you busy. When I would be creating my master piece picture frame I wouldn’t think about drinking because I was being creative and focusing on something else! Watching Coach Taylor, Riggins, Saracen and all the rest of Dillon High School win football games and figure out life in their teens.. this also took my focus off that constant thought of “really, I’m never going to drink again but I’m turning 30 soon” There is a motto in FNL and it is used as a pick me up or whenever Coach T was getting the team ready for a game and the motto is.. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose. That phrase has always stuck with me. When life gets difficult, my addiction starts to creep up on me or FEAR enters in my path I simply repeat that motto to myself. I know if I made those first 120 days of quitting two addictions, losing the lady that was my rock and excepting that I was an alcoholic and life was going to continue without me drinking in it..I know I can do anything!!
If your ever having a day and it all seems like its going to shit, remember not to give up and you can get thru another day!! It’s possible and repeat after me…

CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS, CAN’T LOSE!!!

Always,

CMA

Friday Night Fear!

For as long as I can remember I drank almost every Friday night in my addiction. That’s over 10 years of Friday nights, give or take a few..I am sure in that period there had to be a few Friday’s I didn’t drink. Whether it was going out with friends, getting done with work early or drinking when I got home from work. I got fucking shitfaced, blackout wasted on Friday’s!! When I got Sober, every Friday for one year in my recovery I got severe ANXIETY on this day. I feared Fridays. The “ITCH” would start rolling in around 2pm, why at that time? Not sure, maybe in my addiction that’s when I would usually start thinking about what I would be drinking that night!! My anxiety would get so bad being in a public restaurant was difficult. I would look at people and get envious they could have drinks and I couldn’t. As much as I was content with the choice I made to quit drinking and knew it was the right one, it was still hard for me to see. I would wonder why they could have fun and I couldn’t. I only thought you could have “fun” if you drank.

When I did try to muster up the courage and go out on this day I would straight up have panic attacks at restaurant’s..sweats, shortness of breath, walls would close in on me, I felt like I was going to choke on my food, it was a real time during that year. I had a very hard time being out in restaurants, sober because I always drank at them. I cant remeber a time of not drinking at any outing of eating. I created such a habit and routine for myself in that 10 years, it was hard to break the thoughts of drinking in my sober state. What did I do for the first year of sobriety on a Friday? Sit home of course!! I had to, its funny because we would go out to eat other days and I would be fine but that day, I just could not get over the hurdle. We ate a lot of take out on Friday’s. God bless Matt for hanging in there with me that first year, I was not easy to be around. What people don’t understand about people in recovery, WE HAVE TO RELEARN HOW TO LIVE! For reals, no bullshit here…we have to figure how to live in a world that is very heavy influenced with alcohol.. its everywhere! Us, addcits have to learn a new norrmal for ourselves. We have to find new activities to do instead of what we used to do, which for me would be drinking. This goes for anyone with an addiction..gambling, crack, heroin, shopping, etc. You have to find new heathly hobbies or things to do to replace those old bad habits and routines. I will talk more about my new hobbies I found in another post down the road.

When I worked at my office job, on Friday’s the ladies would go for happy hour, well I said “NO” many times because the thought of being in that environment made me uncomfortable. Some of the ladies would pull the guilt trip card on me and remind me how I would never hang outside of work with them. I started to feel bad for always saying no, so I decided to go with them a few times because I wanted to be a team player and try to have some fun with them. I would sit in th bar with them during happy hour wanting to crawl out of my skin. I would sit back and watch them drink their beer, wine, fish bowl drinks as they would all start to get louder and louder because the booze was hitting them and I would be having a panic attack inside as I would eat my feelings. I Couldn’t breathe, felt like the walls were caving in and every other minute felt like I was going to shit myself because my nerves were so shot. I wanted a drink TOO!! I would sit there so uncomfortable with myself just to please them and act like I was having fun when I was barely hanging on, sound familiar to anyone?? I would always leave the local establishment having an ugly cry on my way home wondering why I couldn’t be normal when I drank because I missed my old friend as in alcohol. There was always one quesiton that came into my mind during that first year and even second year but it starts to fade away after a few years of soberity and that question was.. “what if I can just causaly drink, like only have 2 and be done?” The answer is I can’t and if I could, I wouldn’t have been in the boat I was in!! Bottom line when it came to being in those social settings, they made me uncomfortable so I had to choose in my recovery what I was and wasn’t comfortable being around. It’s ok, if you have to take a “time out” of hanging with friends and family members beacuse its not a healthy environment to be in, take the time to build up your own comfort level with all different types of social situations. You have to create healthy boundaries for yourself in your own time, this is something that can’t be forced. This may take a day, a week, a month, 6 months, 2 years maybe even 5 years, everyone is different! You will know when YOU know and don’t let anyone pressue you into something that is out of your comfort zone in an unhealthy way that can fuck with your recovery.

Friday’s are no longer a day I fear and I am able to sit in a restaurant and not feel like I’m going to die! From the bottom of my heart I appreciate my close friends and family who were nothing but supportive that first year and continue to be. As you get more comfortable in your own recovery and in your own skin, a shift happens and its no longer scary. You start to change and adapt to your new normal life of sobriety and life around you!

Always,

CMA

One and I’m never done!

In the 4 years I have been sober I have been asked by many people, “so you can’t just like have one drink?” The answer is a simple and hard NO!! I have often thought this to myself, can I just drink one?? I can’t. I have tried every way to “control my drinking” no shots, don’t mix booze and beer, only have 2 drinks a night, make sure you eat dinner, no white wine, don’t drink margarita’s, no martinis and the list goes on and on my friends. I tried to control my alcohol consumption and it has always lead me back to the same place. Doom and gloom!! It may had been good for 1-6 weeks but it was bound to go back to the dark hole of one of my fuck ups that drinking lead me to every time.
My mind doesn’t have an off switch like some people do when it comes to drinking. I want to keep going and going, like that little energizer bunny. I would say 95% of my drinking always led into black outs because I didn’t know how to stop nor did I want to. I loved getting fucked up, LOVED IT! Once I had that one drink in me.. I could feel the switch turn on and there was no turning back. Hold on to your chairs because Cornado was coming out! Cornado was a real asshole. More on that pig another day. I know I am an alcoholic and I’m ok with it. I have come to terms and accepted this is a part of me. Whether its my chemical make up, genes, a learned behavior, or the relationship I developed with alcohol. I know I’m just not a person who can drink or should because one is never enough.. Bottom line, period, exclamation point, end of story!!

Always,

CMA

First blog post

This is my first blog post!! Yay me!! I have been wanting to do this for a long time, mainly because I enjoy writing and I need a creative outlook for my recovery.  I have been sober now for 4 years and 20 days.  In my recovery I have developed a liking for writing.  Has it always been there or is this just something that came out of me since I decided to get sober? Who knows but I’m glad it’s in me.  I can’t guarantee that these will be good or entertaining but I can guarantee they will be from the heart and real. No BULL SHIT! I want to share with the world that recovery is possible and that addiction is a disease.  I will be sharing all parts of my recovery and my days of using.  Hope whoever reads this can relate or at least help someone in their own journey.

Always,

CMA