Brown Girl in Recovery recounts her journey to sobriety by starting at the beginning.
By Brown Girl in Recovery, Photo courtesy of Brown Girl in Recovery
Seven years ago, newly sober but still thinking and wanting alcohol pretty badly—to the point where I would unconsciously salivate for it—I was introduced to the phrase “anchor in the now” via an intricately designed tattoo on a stranger’s arm. It floored me because it made so. much. sense. I approached her and we talked about her tattoo. It ended up being a deep philosophical conversation on life.
That phrase still floats to the front of my brain. Sometimes I reflect on “anchor in the now,” and I think of how far I’ve come. Sometimes I reflect on it because I am focusing on being in the present and stopping my monkey mind (a phrase I learned from Dan Harris in his book 10% Happier) from doing what it does best: running around all over the place, flinging poo and making a mess.
Today, as a 30-something Brown woman from an immigrant family now with a loving family of her own, people probably think I have it all together and always have. I sound pretty decent on paper, and I outwardly present myself well enough. I have a master’s degree, I volunteer, my professional work allows me to give back to my community in a meaningful way and I practice yoga and meditation on the regular. No way could I be an alcoholic. No way do I still continuously listen to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. No way do I struggle to keep anxiety and depression at bay.
I think it is important to share my journey to sobriety and where I stand with it now because it might help a fellow brown woman like me feel less alone and realize that they are not inherently bad. Also, it allows some of the shame and embarrassment I still feel about being an alcoholic to dissipate a little bit. So here we go.
The new me began seven years ago. That is when I became sober. I gave up alcohol, not because I wanted to, but because I was hospitalized twice, put in protective custody and basically needed to let it go in order to survive.
I began drinking when I started college. I prided myself on not drinking until then. Even though the legal age to drink is 21, we all know drinking can begin way before then. My purpose in drinking was to party hard and have a good time, and boy did I accomplish my purpose. I maintained a near perfect 4.0 GPA, was heavily involved in a sorority where I met some amazing women and consistently volunteered. I made some lifelong friends. I loved college. It was everything I dreamed of, and I was truly happy. It is one of the few times I can vividly recall this true happiness for an extended amount of time.
I also drank heavily when I was out with friends, but everyone was doing it. So that made it okay, right? If they could handle it, I could too. Plus, I did not let it interfere with my goal of going to law school. I was not an alcoholic at this point.
So, when did I become an alcoholic? It is not quite so linear. It is messy and embarrassing. But it is my reality. In writing all of this and sharing more in the months to come, I hope to give other Brown women a space to reflect, perhaps nod along and hopefully realize life is going to eventually be okay.