Saturday, January 9, 2021

Keep on Walking by Samantha DeTurk Grudzien #WindowOvertheSink

I'm so happy to welcome Samantha DeTurk Grudzien to the Window today, and grateful to her for sharing her story.

Today is the one-year anniversary of a sober Sammy. It feels good. I feel strong. A part of me also thought I’d magically figure everything out when this day arrived (which is obviously not the case), so I also feel...fragile and scared and overwhelmed and like the real work is just beginning.

I started using pills and alcohol in a serious way at 13, not realizing how that choice would literally alter the way I interact with myself and the world for the next 25-plus years. It changed my brain chemistry and taught me to self-medicate as a way to cope and move through life, even as a way to succeed. After my mother was killed in a car accident three days after my twentieth birthday, the years I’d spent developing addictions only intensified. She was just a year older than I am now.

I never woke up in a ditch or lost a job due to my addictions (though I certainly came close more than I’d like to admit); in fact, the opposite is true. I am what people call a functioning addict, and am only just beginning to understand how that has stunted my emotional growth and ability to move forward in my life. The coping mechanisms I have are deeply intertwined with substance abuse, and learning to untangle all of that and relearn how to think and process emotions is exhausting and tedious, but necessary if I’m going to achieve the life I deserve to live. I’ve felt stuck for nearly 20 years. But I’m taking back my power, one day and one choice at a time.

I read recently that addiction and alcoholism are chronic diseases that require both short- and-long term treatment plans to actively combat. I’ve always had mixed feelings about them being referred to as diseases, but I do get it. My brain functions differently than it would have had I never been an alcoholic and addict, or compared to someone who is not. I will never be “cured,” but I can actively manage these conditions and continue to give my mind and body the opportunity to heal and function “normally” over time. Some damage cannot be reversed, but a lot more can and will as I stay diligent and committed to living my best life fully awake and in tune with myself. Even if it is hard and painful and scary at times, it’s better than living my life in a self-induced fog.

For me, active sobriety is different than being sober. I’ve been sober on and off a lot over the last 25 years, and during those periods of time I was able to heal my body enough to start the cycle all over again. I called this intermittent sobriety, but it was actually a part of my chronic relapse cycle and kept me in active addiction as much as anything. Perhaps I needed it to get me to this point. Choosing to commit to a fully sober life and actively work to heal my brain and cope with things I’ve routinely chosen to medicate is some of what I mean when I use the term “active sobriety.” I started 2020 sober (actually on January 4th--I was hung over on the 3rd) as I’ve done many times before, and somewhere around month three or four, I started to make the mindset shift towards an actively sober lifestyle. A few months into it, lightbulbs and aha moments began to emerge, along with hope. There is no endgame, only living each day untethered by the self-imposed limitations of this often deadly disease of the mind. I cling to hope, and know this is only the beginning for me.

There’s a country song I heard once that says, “if you’re going through hell, keep on walking,” or something like that, and at times that’s what my sober journey feels like. There is no destination, no finish line, and the reward is sometimes feeling worse before I feel better. I also know that after 25+ years of active addiction and alcoholism, one year sober means I’m still in early recovery. “Keep on walking, Sammy girl...”

I’m excited to build upon the work I’ve done and continue to learn new ways of thinking and coping and healing and living as I submerge more deeply into active recovery.

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that has supported me this past year. Yes, I make the choice to be sober, but without a community and a few key people cheering me on and believing in me (y’all know who you are 💜), I don' t know if I’d be where I’m at today. And all things considered, I’m in a much better place than I was a year ago and wouldn’t trade an ounce of pain for any amount of numb. So that’s success.

In 2019, my key phrase was, “progress not perfection,” and it helped me be nicer to myself (still working on this) and adopt a Whole Food Plant Based way of eating. In 2020, my key phrase was, “just keep swimming,” lol, and it helped me keep going, even if the only thing I accomplished was not drinking. For 2021, I think it is all about “try again,” for me. Though I am fully committed to continuing my sober journey and active recovery, there are a lot of other areas in which I feel like a failure. That thought pattern will not get me anywhere, so I will remind myself to just Try Again. Every day, Try Again. Keep fighting, forgive myself, and Try. Again.

If you need help, I’m here for you, just as so many are there for me. If you want to change your life, you have the power to do it! You need a plan (it doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but you wouldn’t start a diet or exercise program, or even a home improvement project without a little prep work, right?) and a few safe people to help you be strong when you feel weak. I don’t care how many times you’ve tried to get clean or sober in the past, all that matters is NOW. Try again! It’s never too late to live the life you want, the life you deserve. Help is out there, but it’s up to you to take the first step and each one after. No shame, no judgement, only a recovery plan, determination, and hope for a better more present life.

Happy New Year everyone! Thank you so much for the love and support you’ve shown me as I’ve shared some of myself with you this past year. You give me courage and strength that I hope one day I can pay forward. I wonder what 2021 has in store for us? We just survived possibly one of the most collectively difficult years we may see in our lifetime, so I say, bring it on yo!

Samantha DeTurk has rediscovered her love of writing as a means of self care and expression to survive the insanity of our shared human experience, and escape this locked down lifestyle to which we are all becoming accustomed. Sam graduated cum laude from BSU with a major in Theatre and a minor in Telecommunications, and spent her first 5 years post grad working in the radio industry before joining corporate America as a business consultant for a Fortune 300 HCM leader. When she’s not writing or preparing delicious WFPB cuisine, Sam loves singing, acting, spending time at the lake with her husband and ornery kitty Jasper, and (badly) learning to play her ukulele, The UkuBaby.


  1. GOD bless you Samantha im proud of you!

  2. You are definitely an amazing example of your dedication to keeping sobriety formost in your everyday life and a great influencin and inspiration to those fighting for sobriety in what ever their addiction my be. I am proud of where you have been and where you are now and your bright clear headed future.

  3. I love you so much Sammi - courage is just the first word that comes to my mind, but you are many things - kind, talented, strong...I could go on and on. I know you got this & you KNOW I am here for you. Happy New Year girlfriend

  4. I love you too and know you always have my back in life, 💜 thank you!