By Deb Earleywine
Nine years ago, I almost lost my life to alcoholism. I was in the Emergency Room and my heart almost stopped because the level of alcohol in my blood was sky high.
It wasn’t the first time my parents had taken me to the ER in order to save my life. A worried doctor decided on the spot to send me immediately to a treatment center for alcoholics.
I’d been drinking for 20 years- I started when I was just 15. I drank throughout my teen years and into my twenties, but things really accelerated to an out-of-control type of drinking when I hit my thirties.
As a divorced, single mum with several bad relationships behind me, I got to the point where I just couldn’t function without alcohol. It had to be the first thing I had in the morning and the last thing I had at night; I drank to celebrate good things and to drown out the bad. Alcohol was in every single aspect of my life and it became a vicious daily circle for me.
In 2004 I fell into an extremely toxic relationship with a guy, and things spun out of control.
He knew exactly how to push my buttons; he was controlling and very mentally cruel. In response, I would drink in order to cope and numb myself to the abuse I was undergoing. So, by 2007 I simply could NOT get through the day without a drink.
The referral to rehab was a turning point for me, the beginning of my journey to sobriety. I was fortunate to have a loving family to support me, and thankfully, while I was in rehab, I learned how to keep a journal as part of my therapy. It was my first experience of pouring out my feelings on to paper.
My first journal was about my toxic relationship. When I read it back now, I can see what I actually endured. I am so incredibly thankful I learned how to write my feelings out daily and date each and every entry.
My journal gave me a safe place to express all of my emotions- the anger, the frustration, the grief- and also my hope for a better life. It was a tool to help me plan a strategy to deal with my cravings. It became a daily regimen for me and I believe it can be tool to help all people dealing with addiction.
I have stacks of journals and have continued my writing therapy since 2007. I truly believe it is one of the reasons that I just celebrated nine years of sobriety this past October!
Journaling lets you be the driver of your destiny. It is within you to put those thoughts and words- whether they are good or bad- on to paper and let out the emotions you may be dealing with at the moment. It is very empowering.
As you journal and then look back on those words on paper, maybe even many years down the road, it gives you strength and insight into the many twists and turns that life can throw at you. I am often amazed that something as simple as pen-to-paper therapy became such a key tool in my recovery.
Whatever your struggles, whether simple or complex, journaling is a chance to write YOUR story and get those feelings ‘out there’. It has been a fantastic coping tool for me and it can be for you too! It will take you to places that you never dreamed were possible.
Deb Earleywine is a mom and spends her time caring for her family, including her father, who has dementia. She loves writing, and communicating with people who struggle with addiction. She is an avid animal lover and enjoys painting.