celebrate recovery rynski

Celebrating 21 Years of Recovery: Before and After

The only thing that used to get me out of bed in the morning was the thought of the Budweiser hidden in the fridge. Yes, my boyfriend-at-the-time and I used to “hide” the beer from each other so the other one wouldn’t drink it.

In a fridge that was stocked with nothing but old soy sauce packets, pickles and moldy vegetable lasagna, hiding anything was kind of hard to do.

But you get very inventive when you’re addicted to something and need to protect your fix. I thank God every day that I no longer have to live like that (and that I didn’t have to be the one to throw out the moldy vegetable lasagna).

While my fridge today is kind of empty, that’s just because tomorrow is grocery day. It’s usually stocked with things like spinach, broccoli, kale and tons of almond milk – but you won’t find any beer.

Fridge contents aren’t the only thing that’s changed in my 21 years of sobriety, which officially hits on July 23, 2020. Here comes a quick before and after snapshot of what I was like before recovery and what I’m like now, two decades later. Enjoy!

Before I Quit Drinking

What made me laugh: Not much, unless it was dark, dreary and involved someone getting their eye poked out.

What made me scream: Running out of beer.

What I did for fun: Drank – even though it had long stopped being fun even BEFORE I couldn’t get drunk any more. I remember filling out a magazine survey that wanted me to check the little boxes of hobbies I enjoyed. I wasn’t able to check any of them. Beer drinking wasn’t a provided option.

How I handled emotions: Drank.

How I handled anything: Drank.

One of the scariest things that happened: Realized I was actually dying from alcoholism at age 29.

One of the coolest things that happened: Having that fear of death propel me into recovery.

Career

I was miserable, working at a local newspaper in Brooklyn. The greatest misery came not necessarily from the job, but from deep within my soul. My longtime dream had always been to be a successful freelance writer and artist, but that dream was drowned out by alcohol.

Money

Ha! Every cent – and I mean EVERY cent, went to buying beer. Bills went unpaid, or paid really late with money borrowed from boyfriend-at-the-time’s mother. Every time we got our paychecks, we would head straight to the deli to pay back whatever we owed for that week’s deliveries of beer. Yep. We had beer delivered to our apartment even before delivery of everything was a thing.

Relationships

Boyfriend who drank as much as I did. Grudges and resentments galore toward other people and family members – mainly for stuff I had made up in my head.

Contribution to Society

Does recycling beer cans count?

Personal Well-being

Another ha! It was more like personal ill-being. I was NOT a well being in any sense of the term. I was physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually sick. It hurt like hell.

Health

Bloated from years of beer guzzling. Eating interfered with my buzz, so I pretty much gave it up. I subsisted on beer and the occasional Saltine cracker. My body was breaking down, and rapidly. At age 29 I missed the 27 club, but I was well on my way to the grave.

After I Quit Drinking

What makes me laugh: So many wonderful things – and I’ve even learned to laugh at the not-so-wonderful things. My sense of humor has been one of my saving graces. It lightens the load and reminds:

Don’t take yourself so seriously.

What makes me scream:  Occasional unchecked bout of overwhelm and stress. Stepping in dog puke.

What I do for fun: Create art. Garden. Play with dogs. Laugh. Nap. Paddle board. Laugh some more. Go to the ocean. Update the bathroom. Read. Meditate. Kick back with beau and dogs to watch TV.

How I handle emotions: Actually FEEL them. The goal while I was drinking was to shove emotions down, get them away so I didn’t have to deal with them. Any emotions that get shoved down, however, tend to fester and grow. All the bad feelings I was trying to escape merely got bigger and bigger – until they exploded all over the carpet. And you thought stepping in dog puke was bad.

How I handle anything: Ask God and spiritual team for help (after I fill my quota of whining, crying and fretting, of course).

One of the scariest things that happened: In early recovery, everything was scary! I didn’t know how to do anything without a beer in my hand. As I learned to survive, and then thrive without alcohol, things got easier.

And I finally dug deep into all that fear in my gut, only to realize most of it was of my own making. Now instead of scaring myself by imagining the worst case scenario in situations, I delight myself by imagining the best case scenario. Give it a try the next time fear starts creeping up your spine.

One of the coolest things that happened: So many cool things! I followed my bliss, securing a series of journalism jobs across the country – then onto being my own boss. I fell in love with a wonderful guy. Discovered the joy of dogs. Had five pet goats. I keep learning and growing, the coolest thing of it all.

No, wait. The coolest thing of all? I know and regularly experience true freedom and joy. Whoa. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Career

After working through all the fears and low self-worth, I officially became my own boss in 2009. Freelance writing, art, coaching and consulting. Loving it every day. Yes, my career dream did come true – and it keeps getting bigger and better along the way.

Money

While I’m still a big fan of spending every penny, I don’t. I actually have a financial advisor – and something to give him to work with. Talk about progress.

Relationships

After years of bad relationships, I finally found a good one. We’ve been together more than a decade now, and we still get a kick out of each other. I’ve also repaired relations with my family, which has been absolutely heavenly. I was able to make amends to and more deeply connect with my dad before he died. I continue to strengthen the loving relationship I have with mom. Even my brother likes me now (or at least he pretends to).

Contribution to Society

I absolutely love sharing my experience, strength and hope (as recovery circles say) to help other people discover the joys of recovery. I donate to causes I adore. I pick up after my dogs.

Personal Well-being

Filled with enthusiasm and joy the majority of the time. I’ve learned to take care of myself. Eating right. Getting loads of sleep. Regular exercise. Massages. A morning ritual that includes meditation, Reiki and energy work.

I’m also strongly supported by that spiritual team I keep mentioning. Its a glorious group that includes my guardian angel, other angels and archangels, ascended masters, spiritual guides and other beings of light. As long as I stay firmly connected and pay attention to what they’re telling me, my well-being gets five stars across the board.

Health

Feeling good. Looking good. Strong, flexible (thank you, yoga!) and full of energy.

Getting sober was both the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the best thing I’ve ever done. If anyone is on the fence about entering recovery, or afraid your life will be over if you give up alcohol, I’m here to tell you it’s not. The only thing that’ll be over is your perpetual misery. Everything else is fresh, new and just the beginning of more wonderful things to come.

Schedule a call if you want help getting and/or staying sober.

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