Profiles in Recovery

Chenoa Woods

“You’re only as sick as your secrets.” It’s Woods’ favorite recovery quote – and a fitting adage for her own journey. Woods was blessed with a tender marriage, two healthy children and the benefits of a nice car, private schools and daily trips to the gym. But Woods harbored a drinking problem as she grieved the death of her mother and felt overwhelmed at home. After several alarming incidents, my husband asked me if alcohol was more important to me than my family, and I couldn’t directly answer him, Woods recalls. I knew what the right answer should be, but in my addictive mind I struggled with the answer. That’s when I knew without a doubt I had a BIG problem. Woods got sober in 2012 with help from a sponsor and Alcoholics Anonymous. I also embraced our family church and developed a personal relationship with God, which continues to sustain me today, she says.

Day Jobs:
Writer at; wife, mother, gardener – living with my family on a small Oregon farm.

What I lost to addiction:
I lost memories with my children and my family because I chose tosaturate them with alcohol instead of being present and enjoyingthem. I also lost the trust and respect of my family and friends.

At my worst, I was:
A shell of the person I once was. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t recognize the person looking back. I was empty and joyless.

Advice to my younger self:
Don’t look to others for validation or happiness. And, it’s okay if not everyone likes you. That’s life. Be true to yourself and the rest will fall into place.

Rules I live by:
Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, then it’s probably not right. Set boundaries. It’s okay to say No.

When cravings come:
Fortunately, after four years of being sober I don’t have physical cravings anymore. More than anything, I sometimes miss the romance of having a glass of wine with my husband or friends. But then I quickly remind myself that it was never just one glass and the reality of what that would look like sets in–me being drunk and making a fool out of myself.

On my bucket list:
Write a book. Travel to Europe with my husband. Adopt more farm animals. Be the type of mom and wife my husband and kids can be proud of.

Stigma I faced:
As a college educated, middle-class, gym-going, nice car-driving woman, I didn’t fit the stereotypical drunk that many people, including myself, had in their minds. It was hard for me (and for some who knew me) to admit that someone like myself could be an alcoholic because in my mind I was normal. Because of this stigma, I’ve been very vocal and open about my recovery in the hope that I will help other women like myself.

On my schedule today:
Playing with my kids in the snow! Because of my sobriety, I get to be totally present with my family today, hopefully making memories that will last a lifetime! Best advice for newbies:
Get a sponsor, go to meetings and work the steps. Don’t over think it; just do it. Getting sober isn’t easy. It requires hard work and commitment. When you feel discouraged, or want to give up, just think about the time and effort you put into your addiction. If you dedicate that same time and effort to your sobriety, you’ll begin to discover the many blessings a sober life has to offer you.

What I learned about myself:
One of the best things about getting sober was discovering who I really was. What I liked, what I didn’t like. Alcohol had been such a big part of my life for so long, I put it in front of everything else. When I got sober, I realized I loved writing, gardening, cooking, crafting–things I never took the time to do while I was drinking.

I get inspired by:
Other people in recovery who are open about their sobriety. Whether they write about it or talk openly about it, I’m inspired by people who are committed to breaking the stigma associated with addiction.

If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].