Allie Callahan’s Journey
Please tell us your story.
I had a relatively “normal” childhood. I was always loved by my family, had amazing friends, and was supported in all that I did. I rarely saw my parents drink, and alcohol wasn’t even on my radar until the summer before my senior year in high school. I knew plenty of people who partied before then, but I was wrapped up in running competitively so I simply wasn’t interested. The thought of drinking bored me, honestly. I didn’t see the appeal. Eventually between my curiosity getting the best of me and spending time with a different crowd of people who drank frequently, I ended up trying it. And I loved it from the first drink. It felt like a liquid hug. The comfort it provided me with was unlike anything I’d experienced before. It made me feel safe. It made me feel outgoing and fearless and fun. I quickly made up for lost time and began drinking on the weekends at first, but nearly always to the point of blacking out. The first time I drank alone was when I really realized it was already a problem for me- I pretty much knew from the beginning. After a particularly bad day it occurred to me to see if booze could ease the pain. And ohhh, it did. I sat there in my room, drinking over half a bottle of straight whiskey I stole from the cupboard and I felt like I was falling in love. In fact, I feel like alcohol was my first love. From that night on I was hooked, and I drank like an animal for the next 5 years. It became a crutch for my worsening depression and anxiety. It became a reward at the end of every day. It became a part of every celebration, and to me, there was always something to celebrate. Bad things would happen often as a result of my drinking, and I would drink to deal with that pain. It was a vicious cycle. I found it a lot easier to numb my pain and misery with alcohol than to deal with my problems. Eventually it became necessary every single day. I couldn’t go without it. I muddled through each day just to get wasted again. For a long period of time I was drinking 10-12 drinks a day, often more. I gave up my hopes of college and my running career. It destroyed my mental and physical health. My self worth plummeted and I began to hate myself and everyone around me. I alienated myself from people I cared about because I didn’t feel worthy of love. I was reckless when I drank, and I am astounded but thankful that I never ended up in jail or dead. I was never in denial, I knew I needed to quit early on, but I felt trapped. I tried and failed at staying sober countless times and it seemed impossible. It’s not until very recently that I’ve finally been able to take sobriety and recovery seriously.
How long were you addicted & what? How did it change your life?
I was addicted to alcohol for 5 years. Some may consider that a relatively short period of time and I am thankful to have found sobriety and recovery this early in life, but it was long enough for alcohol to wreak havoc in every area of my life. It made me a person I no longer recognized. A person who would do things the old me would never consider. It made me someone I was embarrassed and ashamed of. It didn’t just change my life, it took away any semblance of a life I once had. It had me believing I wasn’t worthy of life at all.
What was the breaking point for you to get clean?
My breaking point for getting sober for good was finding out I was pregnant with my daughter. Up until then I struggled committing to sobriety despite the fact that drinking was ruining my life, and I think that’s largely because I’m what’s considered a “high bottom drunk.” I never got a DUI, or lost my job, or was homeless…though I imagine it was only a matter of time if I hadn’t stopped. My drinking was also very internal. I wasn’t the drunk that started fights or caused a scene. The damage took place in my own head and made it easier to hide from others. I constantly questioned my decision to get sober because it appeared that so many others were “worse than me.” It can be extremely tough to get sober before you’ve hit rock bottom, but it’s also undoubtedly saved my life.
How did you get clean and how long have you been sober for? What was the hardest part for you about recovery and how did you overcome it?
I got sober on my own, but I believe if I had easier access to rehab I would have got sober much sooner. I was nearly 8 months sober through my pregnancy, but because I was essentially a “dry drunk” and did none of the work I needed to do to heal, I relapsed shortly after my daughter was born. While having her around kept me in check, I realized how slippery that slope back into the nightmare I was living is and got back on the wagon. I am now nearly 3 weeks sober, but I am doing it differently this time. I am embracing sobriety and looking at it as a gift rather than a punishment, and I’m taking care of myself and healing both mentally and physically. Because I’m still so early on in recovery, it’s hard for me to pinpoint what the hardest part is and I’m still working on overcoming challenges every day. But I’m finding that the most important key to success for me is having a solid support network. I rely on therapy, various literature and podcasts related to alcoholism and recovery, and some amazing sober friends I’ve met both through social media and locally.
What is your motivation to stay clean? And how did you do it?
My biggest motivator for staying sober is my daughter. I have the opportunity to give her the most amazing gift: a sober mom. If I stay sober she will never have to see her mother drunk. I will never miss out on a minute of her life due to a hangover. I can show her a healthier way of living. I can show her that alcohol isn’t this magic potion society has everyone duped into believing it is, that it’s instead a toxic poison to your body and mind. I am so grateful to have the chance to do this for her, and no drink is worth giving that up. I’m not just doing it for her though, I’m also doing it for myself. Because I believe I am worth it and deserve to live a meaningful life that has purpose. Because I don’t want or need to poison myself to have fun or deal with my problems anymore. I truly love who I am when I’m sober.
For someone in the same situation as you who wants to get clean, what would you want to tell them?
Don’t do it alone. Reach out. Whether that’s rehab, Alcoholics Anonymous, therapy, or friends and family, use any and all resources available to you. You’ll quickly realize you aren’t alone in this, and that recovery is possible even if it feels far from your reach right now. I strongly recommend reading “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace. It drastically changed my perspective on alcohol and was a real game changer for my own sobriety journey. Also, keep yourself busy. Boredom is dangerous, I’ve found, so I try to structure my days as much as possible so that I’m not spending too much idle time. Lastly, practice self love and self care. If you’re like me then you’ve got a lot of healing to do, both mentally and physically. Be easy on yourself and be patient. Treat yourself as if you are a small child, and do something for yourself each day. You’re worthy of recovery and you’re worthy of love.
What is your life’s moto?
“Success occurs when your dreams get bigger than your excuses.” I’m so glad I stopped making excuses. I’m so glad I’m getting my life back.
Allie Callahan is a Veterinary Technician, musician, and outdoor enthusiast. She lives with her boyfriend, young daughter, and her four legged baby in Kodiak, Alaska. You can find her on Instagram @thesoberalaskan
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