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Jules Recovery Story: I Came From a Normal Family

(April 17, 2024) - One of addiction’s stereotypes is that it only affects those with dysfunctional families or a history of abuse. But when we spoke with Jules, we learned her story defied those ideas conclusively.

Recovery story
“I wish I had some story to tell you about my horrible, abusive, and neglected childhood. But I don’t. I came from a normal family. We literally had a white picket fence.

“Growing up, I had a lot of insecurity. I fought with eating disorders. I couldn’t cope with looking in the mirror. When I was about 15, I started drinking. As soon as I drank, I became a different person. That, to me, was freedom – but it later became prison.

“It was my idea to bring drinking to my friends. We went to a competitive high school and most kids saw drinking as a social faux pas. When we started doing it, everyone else could pick it up and leave it alone until the next time. I couldn’t do that, which baffled me. Why could everyone else stop after the weekend and I was left obsessing about drinking all day every day?”

Jules’ alcohol use started affecting her everyday life. It hindered her from doing the things she loved, it certainly damaged the relationships she had with her loved ones.

“I just kept lowering and lowering my standards. When I went to college, it really took off. I joined a sorority, made friends with drug dealers.  I was free to drink and use the way I wanted to. It made me feel powerful, like I was unstoppable. And then it stopped working. My alcoholism had progressed to the point in which I couldn’t get drunk anymore. The solution I had found to deal with life had failed me. I had a miscarriage, I was so out of touch I didn’t even know that I was pregnant. I felt alone, confused, and broken.  My University asked me to leave and everything came to a halt. It was the catalyst that led me to surrender."

“I came home and I decided to find a therapist for treatment. I told her all of my problems and she said I was an alcoholic. ‘No.’ I said. ‘I have highlights and a French manicure, there’s no way I’m an alcoholic. Aren’t I schizophrenic or something?’ I didn’t know I had this body that worked against me. Once I started drinking, I couldn’t stop. If I did manage to stop, my mind told me that I could drink like normal people.

“My therapist introduced me to my first sponsor who sent me to my first 12 step meeting. I had every excuse not to go. But once I got there, I stayed.  I reluctantly kept going. There was something about the people there that I couldn’t put my finger on that kept me going. I know now that it was the light inside of them – the sunlight of the spirit – that spoke to me.

“Getting sober at 21 wasn’t easy. All of my peers were still at college partying while I was embarking on a spiritual journey. It was the most difficult and most brave thing I have ever done.

“The twelve steps are about spirituality. They’re not about sobriety. They’re about growing along spiritual lines, and sobriety is a by-product of that. Living by spiritual principles is not something that other 21-year olds were doing. The recovery community was different then, too. There weren’t as many young people in recovery as there are today. I had to start my life from scratch. Everything that I believed in, everything that I was about, and my perception on life had to change.

“My recovery has been a journey. As a woman, part of my journey is about finding my voice and figuring out who I am. After nearly a decade of living in recovery, I can tell you that long-term sobriety is not for the faint of heart. A lot has happened in these nine and a half years. At three years of sobriety, I buried my best friend in the world. It broke my heart and healed me in innumerable ways at the same time. I sought spirituality and a connection with my higher power with a desperation that I never had before.

“The challenge for me now is not to fight urges to drink, but to stay passionate about recovery and excited about spirituality. Long-term sobriety is about constantly seeking – seeking to grow, seeking to help others, and seeking what my truth is and living it. It’s about self-reflection, remaining teachable, staying humble, and not compromising my morals regardless of the worldly consequences.”

Jules’ recovery has been as much about finding herself and living her truth but rather about reclaiming her life from alcoholism. Now with a new life, she has her confidence back.

“My sponsor told me a story once. She was getting her hair cut and this little girl next to her looked at herself in the mirror and said, ‘Oh my God! Look how cute I am!’ And I just thought to myself, that’s how I feel every single day. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I know and accept exactly who I am – flaws and all.”

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