Tammi Salas is someone that I initially met via the cyber sober world as her blog and artwork spoke to me. She has a strong voice of recovery and on top of that she is an amazing artist. I just recently completed the “40 Day Mantra” project that showcased her innovative artwork. I was lucky enough last Christmas to meet Tammi, as she was in town visiting family. It was great to talk and spend time with her and it was truly effortless being around her. She’s someone that I am happy to know, and someone I can call a friend. Here she is sharing her insights on Relationships in Recovery….
My relationship with alcohol was a layered and built up over many, many years. I grew up in a household that never had alcohol in it and my parents didn’t drink until they divorced around the time I was 23. Alcoholism was present in both of my parents’ family lineage, but it was not something that was ever really talked about in our home. As I got older, I dabbled in the gateway alcohol that is wine coolers and white zinfandel. After my first marriage ended at age 27, my drinking kicked into high gear and I became a blackout drinker. When I remarried at age 31, we ended up purchasing a wine bar on our honeymoon. This decision would alter my life and the way I drank for the next 13 years.
My relationship with drinking alcohol stopped on February 3, 2015 at the age of 44 years old. I am over two years sober and it is the thing I am most proud of in my life, besides my son. My husband still imbibes, so it’s in our house, but I have no desire to ever drink again. It’s occasionally hard to be around others who still drink and are checked out or repeat themselves by the end of the evening. My tolerance is really low with people who are drunk. I had a really hard time hosting people in my home the first 18 months of sobriety, but I’m slowing coming around in that department. The best thing about no longer drinking is that I never have to wake up with hangover ever again.
They were strained, uncomfortable, distant, superficial and high drama. Of course, all in varying degrees depending on the day, the amount I had to drink or my mood.
Today my world is calm. I tell the absolute truth and don’t embellish or shine things up because I’m afraid of the repercussions. I own my part in things and I’ve made 9th step amends to those closest to me. Some relationships will never be mended, but I’ve learned that’s not all on me. I’ve been in therapy with my husband for over eight years and we are better for it. I’m a better mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and human being now that I’m in recovery.
My drinking didn’t really kick into high gear until after I divorced my first husband, so I think the men I dated after high school and in my early twenties were unscathed in that department. What I will say is that I was always afraid to tell the unedited version of the truth in my prior romantic relationships for fear of…I don’t know what. Just fear. This tendency to edit my story with the men I was with definitely was present even before drinking became a big issue for me. I was raised in an environment where I daily witnessed lying, hiding, shirking responsibilities and keeping big secrets. I know I used some of those antics in my prior relationships to some degree. It’s not something I’m proud to say, but it’s the truth.
I’ve been married to the same guy (husband #2) for 16 years.
Like I said above, we’ve been in therapy for a long time and it wasn’t until I finally told the truth about my drinking that things started to get better between us. It wasn’t all smooth sailing after that admission, but at least we could finally deal with the elephant in the room. My drinking touched every part of our lives and once I told the unedited version of the truth, things have slowly gotten better.
I’d say they are distant or non-existent. I drank a lot with my friends and customers. It was very much an occupational hazard owning a wine bar and I think I blurred the lines between business and pleasure way too often. I have a small handful of friends left from those drinking days, but even those seem distant and in need of some nurturing. I’ve been working so hard on healing myself that I haven’t focused on healing the friendships that remain. Luckily, those few have been patient and understanding about my recovery and I know they will still be there for me to foster and develop more once I feel firmly rooted in my sobriety.
I have a sweet boxer dog named Bodie and he has been a sweet companion in my recovery. He sits near me when I work from home and is my early morning companion before the house wakes up, as I meditate, write or draw in my journals before the sunrises.
I feel like I’m finally becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be. I have a lot more patience and grace in situations that used to annoy me. I try to remember that everyone is fighting a battle of some sort and who am I to judge them? Sobriety has made me a much kinder person and I’d say I’m less reactive.
I only raise my hand and say yes to things that I truly care about now. I no longer say yes because I feel obligated to do so and then hold a grudge or bemoan the people or organizations I serve. Now that I’m sober, I am so much more present in my life and service looks and feels different. By being honest and only accepting commitments that I can handle, I’m being true to myself and to those organizations to which I serve.
Relationships in recovery can be a difficult thing. In fact, all most people probably don’t understand it, but relationships are the number 1 problem when it comes to relapse. Nothing else has the similar amount of power to make such turmoil in our lives.