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Lindsay’s Journey

Dec 20, 2017
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Please tell us your story.

The pattern of unmanageability, particularly self-inflicted unmanageability, was set in my life from a young age. Of course, this is all realized in hindsight. At the time, I didn’t or couldn’t notice. My relationship with alcohol was on and off for years. We started off hot and heavy in college and quickly spiraled out of control. I’d take a few days/weeks/months break to cool things off (read: appease my mom/dad/friend/boyfriend) but I always went back. This pattern repeated over and over again, always getting progressively worse, ALWAYS worse. We’d go on long streaks of destruction; some which nearly killed me and one that actually physically did. I died. I couldn’t see that I had a problem. I never connected the unmanageability of my life and my tumultuous relationship with alcohol. In 2015, I hit my bottom. After several traumatic experiences, I started drinking harder than ever before. I lost my soul completely and took myself to a place of incomprehensible demoralization. I couldn’t drink away the pain. I just woke up everyday sicker and sadder. I sought therapy to feel better, NOT to get help with addiction. Somehow (the grace of God), the social worker I picked off a website happened to specialize in addiction. I know the only person who can save you is yourself but I wouldn’t have known how to save myself without her help. I’m forever grateful. I worked and continue to work a twelve step program. I’ve worked to clear wreckage of my past. I made and continue make amends to those I’ve hurt in the past. I make living amends to those who love me unconditionally by being the best person I can. I have a soul today. It’s beautiful and I love myself more than I ever have in my entire life. I wake up with a heart full of love and gratitude. This isn’t to say my life is free of hardship or I don’t have bad days but I know alcohol and drugs aren’t my solution.

How long were you addicted & what? How did it change your life?

14 years. Wow, I don’t ever think I’ve added it up like that. While there were brief periods of being dry here and there, I had been drinking since age 15. I started my journey to recovery on September 12015 at age 29. In the end, even though I had material things: a roof over my head, a car, a job, a phone, I felt like a shell of a human. I didn’t experience emotion. I didn’t love anything. I said I loved people and things but my actions told a different story. Above of all, I didn’t love myself. I didn’t have dreams and I lacked hope for a future. I used alcohol to numb bad things I didn’t want to feel but I couldn’t selectively numb. I missed out on the good things too.

What was the breaking point for you to get clean?

On of the things that started my journey was a message on social media. I thought it was the meanest and hurtful thing but it turns out it was just honest. The truth hurts badly when you are living a lie. This woman told me that I was a giant lie and my life was a giant lie. She told me I outwardly claimed to be this great person that cared about others but in my core all I cared about was getting what I wanted. She said I did what I wanted with absolutely no regard to how I hurt everyone in my path. For the first time, I recognized this as true. I didn’t want to be a fake anymore. I didn’t want to destroy people anymore. So I guess the breaking point was utter pain and misery. I didn’t want to live anymore. My life had reached the level of unmanageability that I couldn’t cope with. I was spiritually and emotionally bankrupt.

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?

My journey to get clean and sober through started through therapy. I sought help not for addiction but for my pain/sadness. When I started therapy I just wanted to be less miserable. I wanted my therapist to “fix my life” and “make me happy”. The grace of God intervened when I picked a therapist off the Internet. Unbeknownst to me, she specialized in addiction treatment. She referred me to a twelve-step fellowship. I related into the fellowship instantly and started working a program of recovery. I continue to work a program of recovery. It is the most important thing in my life because without recovery I’d lose all the peace of mind I have.

What is your motivation to stay clean? And how did you do it?

My life today is my motivation. My worst day today doesn’t even belong in the same arena as my worst day drinking. I love my life. I cherish the relationships I have. For 12 years drinking, I couldn’t finish my bachelor’s degree. I thought I just wasn’t smart enough or not cut out for college. In a mere year sober, I finally finished that bachelor’s degree and made the dean’s list. ALL of that is a gift of recovery.

For someone in the same situation as you who wants to get clean, what would you want to tell them?

Try. Do it. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. Take the advice of people who walked in your shoes. You are not as unique as you think you are. There are people that know the deep pain you are in. Let them help you help yourself.

What is your life’s motto?

I’d say my life motto is “Stay Grateful”. Gratitude changes everything. I start every day with a gratitude list. It keeps me grounded and reminds me of all the little beautiful things that make life worth living.

Your Bio:

“Lindsay Opitz is a career firefighter and full time student in Baltimore, Maryland. She lives with her fiancé Jimmy and the best rescue dog in the world, Topanga. You can follow Lindsay on Instagram @lindsayannmarie ”

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