31 Jan The Beauty of Sobriety
Sitting in a sun drenched room at Hitchcock Center for Women, Diane’s eyes sparkle as she gazes through the windows, remembering an earlier time in her life—one that looked bright, but below the surface was plagued with alcoholism. “I used to go to a different black-tie event every weekend. I was always deciding which dress to wear, where we were going next, who was going to be there.” This is the life Diane shared with her 2nd husband, a life in which all day cocktails became the norm for this mother of three, a life that eventually led to Hitchcock. “Sometimes I can’t believe I ended up here, homeless, without a job and nowhere to go, but luckily, Hitchcock was here for me.”
Diane grew up in an upper middle class family in Geauga County and married shortly after high school. She soon had three daughters and took pride in raising her family and being involved in school activities and sports. But life as a busy mother and wife were taking their toll without Diane recognizing the signs. Diane suffered from insomnia, and her mother suggesting she drink a glass of wine before bed to help her sleep. “Soon that glass of wine became two, and then it became the whole bottle. It was helping me get through balancing a husband, children, and life in general,” Diane says.
Divorcing after 17 years of marriage, Diane felt overwhelmed and lonely, drinking more heavily and frequently. A few years later, she remarried what she refers to as a “functional alcoholic”. Her new husband was a highly regarded physician and Diane found herself in a new role: socialite. Insecurities old and new flooded in as Diane navigated her way through unchartered territory. “It mattered what you wore, how you looked, how the house looked at all times.” Not only did Diane continue to drink daily, she began to feel it was more “normal” since her husband would regularly do the same, even pouring liquor into his coffee with breakfast. Diane shares, “It felt normal because everyone I was around behaved in the same way, or so I thought.” The marriage did not last, and once again Diane found herself single, but this time with the added pressures of caregiving for her aged parents, and living as an empty nester. Life had dramatically changed, and Diane recognized that she desperately needed help with her drinking.
Going through several 30 day treatment programs, Diane got sober but admits she wasn’t actively working on her sobriety. She fell back into old her old habits, and soon started stopping by the liquor store on her way home from work to pick up a bottle of vodka. Before long, Diane was consuming a fifth of vodka a day, which soon led to her losing her job and benefits. With nowhere left to turn, she discovered Hitchcock Center. Diane successfully completed treatment here, got an apartment, and started a new job. But after just three years of sobriety, Diane began drinking again. “I wasn’t using the tools I had learned about in Hitchcock. I wasn’t going to meetings; I wasn’t reaching out for help.”
In August 2008, Diane returned to the one place she knew could get the support she had been missing: Hitchcock Center. Although it wasn’t easy for Diane to return to Hitchcock, she understood that there is no place for pride in recovery. After completing her first three months of treatment, Diane is now a resident in one of Hitchcock’s 26 transitional housing units. “I am extremely grateful to be able to live here. I learned a lot from staff here who helped teach me new tools and techniques for dealing with my disease,” Diane shares.
After completing classes on time management, relationships and communications, and a job readiness program through Hitchcock, Diane is now working part-time and looking for a full-time job and hopes to move into a home of her own in the spring. She also cherishes spending time on the weekends with her children and grandchildren, who support and encourage her recovery process. “I know that there are many women out there who are just like me, who come from good families and good homes, but have a problem and might be embarrassed to ask for help, but there is a better way, things will get better. Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Diane explains.
Though her life is no longer filled with ball gowns and benefits, Diane now knows a different, deeper type of beauty. “In sobriety, I can enjoy each day, notice the beauty outside, enjoy life, and focus on the positive things in life.”