Liv - Being Young & Sober, Dating and Tools for Recovery
Please, introduce yourself!
My name is Liv and I was born and raised in Bellevue, WA with two wildly loving parents and two stinky (amazing) brothers. After high school, I made my way to the University of Denver and graduated in 2015 with a BSBA in Marketing - go Pios!
When did you first notice that you had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol?
It’s hard for me to remember when exactly I realized my relationship with alcohol crossed that “line” as it was such a gradual process. I was finishing up college and my drinking was definitely reaching a peak, however, it was college and it was easier to rationalize obnoxious drinking patterns. So I guess I’d have to say, around the time I graduated and moved home was when I realized that my relationship was unhealthy. Once “college” was removed from the equation and couldn’t return to regular drinking, a part of me started to realize that I had a different relationship with alcohol. It was no longer something I used in social situations, I was physically, mentally, and what seemed like, emotionally dependent on alcohol. I would wake up every day for months with the intention of “taking a break” and when I was unable to conjure up a few hours without drinking, I knew something had shifted and that I wasn’t in a good place.
When and how did you decide that you wanted to quit?
The first time I got sober was when I was 22. Again, I was living at home with my parents after college, I was in a massive depression and didn’t have a job. While my parents went to work, I would sit at home all day drinking and sleeping. My overall physical and mental health started to deteriorate fairly rapidly at that point. After about nine months, I was getting so sick that my parents had me visiting all different kinds of doctors and after discovering my elevated liver enzyme levels, it was suggested to me that I stop drinking for a month. I unknowingly went through a week long period of withdrawals; I attributed the symptoms to the major food groups I had also cut out. The doctors felt I might have severe food allergies, so all of these tests were coinciding. Long story short, it came to everyone’s attention that I wasn’t unable to obtain from drinking during these periods and I hit a major rock bottom after undergoing 3D brain imaging which I knew would inevitably reveal the truth about my drinking. I couldn’t run from science and cold hard facts. In the midst of a drunken breakdown I admitted to my parents the truth about my drinking. I woke up the next day horrified that I had told them the truth about where all of the bottles and empties were.
What have been some of your biggest obstacles and how did you overcome them?
Some of the biggest obstacles I’ve faced have been…
Being young and trying to get sober. I had to admit to my innermost self /come to terms with the fact that I was an alcoholic, therefore my life was not going to look like the majority of the people at my age.
Leaving jobs & moving. I was in an out of sobriety for a couple years and because of that I was in and out of jobs, I had to move several times and put my career aside while I focused on my recovery. This was really hard for me, as I grew up in a family who places a lot of value on careers and working. I felt like I was going to get so far behind or throw away amazing opportunities by leaving certain jobs to go to treatment or to move states. Quitting and leaving a few of my jobs was without a doubt one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, but I was fortunate in being surrounded by people who had been through similar experiences and who encouraged me to do what was best for my health.
Dating. It may sound trivial, but finding healthy relationships with people who either support or share in sobriety is very difficult. Dating already sucks when you’re younger because everyone is trying to figure life out, but then you add sobriety in the mix and it definitely starts to paint a different picture of reality. Fortunately, I am dating someone who DOES drink and it honestly has no affect on me. I continue to do the things I need to in order to stay strong in my recovery and he respects every part of it.
How has your life changes since becoming sober?
Everything about my life has changed. My life revolved around drinking entirely. I really didn’t have a life at all in the end. I have built incredible relationships with people, found my voice, healed past traumas, discovered a new way of life, I’ve laughed harder and experienced a true sense of JOY. My best friends are still in my life and continue to support me. My friends in California are all sober, so the people I surround myself with have changed, but when I go home I still do the same things because the people who have remained by my side make a conscious decision to do things that don’t involve drinking.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love that I have fought (and continue to fight) for my life and recovery. It’s become my way of life for me now, so it’s easy for me to forget how amazing it is that I was able to do all the work that I have to get here. Choosing a life of recovery has demanded a level of honesty, tenacity and strength that I always knew existed within me but I was never able to tap into. Every step I take for myself on this journey truly deepens the sense of love and care I have for myself.
Was there any one piece of wisdom or element of treatment that helped you stay the course? I remember my old therapist telling me (this was right at the VERY beginning of me trying to get sober) that I could continue doing what I was doing, or I could make the decision to stop and live an incredibly full and meaningful life without alcohol. Knowing that it was really up to ME to make that choice was empowering and terrifying all at the same time. It never left my head though. I knew where drinking brought me and I knew it was only going to get worse, but I didn’t know what sobriety had to offer. That curiosity and fascination of a better life keeps me moving. Also, knowing to my core that I am an alcoholic helped me stay the course. After several relapses and attempts at trying to “control” my drinking, I realized that this was a real thing. Having that knowledge helped me surrender control and accept the responsibility of what I had to do moving forward to get/stay sober.
How did alcohol affect your spirituality? How is your spirituality now that you are sober?
Alcohol completely robbed me of all of my spirituality. Ironically, I found myself desperately seeking and attempting to build on my spirituality while I was diving head first into rock bottom, but alcohol always formed a barrier between me and something bigger. Getting sober strengthened my relationships with my Higher Power and brought a sense of clarity to my spirituality. I mean, watching people recover from this disease is one of the greatest spiritual experiences one could imagine. I’ve more or less created my own version of a “Higher Power” throughout my sobriety and my spiritual connection strengthens and weakens depending on how present and mindful I’m being in my life.
What tools have you used in our recovery? (Books, podcasts, groups etc.)
There’s not much I haven’t tried when it comes to recovery! I was initially very selective in the tools I was willing to “try” , but after several relapses and surrendering to the reality of this disease I was willing to do it all. Group therapy, 12 steps, therapy, podcasts, blogging, CBT, meditation, taking medication, setting boundaries and taking action.
Describe sobriety in three words.
Trying, empowering, badass
What else do people need to know about addiction & recovery?
It’s not something that can be navigated through alone. We need support, love and compassion.
** If you are sober, or curious about sobriety, we would love for you to join our Facebook group - Mindful Times Facebook Community for support, encouragement, accountability and questions.
Private Sobriety Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/511982812958932/