I've gone one year without a sip of A-hol, a puff of reef or a tablet of anything. I used to take whatever passed under my nose, but my main vice has always been alcohol. There is something about drinking that drives my chemicals wild. The term "lit" is one that I understand. One sip and I'm "lit up" like an amusement park. I don't get drowsy or tired, I perk right up, get mounds of energy and can go all night.
My story is like this.... I was actually born into a Mormon family where I didn't see a whole lot of booze or anything growing up. It just wasn't something I thought much about or had curiosity towards. What I did have though was spiritual, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse in my home. By the time I was a teenager I was planning suicide daily. I couldn't escape the feeling that I was not loved and my life was not valuable. I had developed an eating disorder to try and control what I could and believed if only I was skinny enough that people would come to love me. I was starving myself, taking laxatives, on the track team running five miles daily and in weight training classes. When I was about sixteen I started to break away from my family and the church. I had always acted out, but my acting out went to the extreme when I ran away from home, shaved my head and got several piercings. That made me feel a bit of relief. I started smoking pot when I was nineteen and had a perception shift. For the first time in my life I made friends that I deeply connected with and smoking weed helped open my eyes to other ways of perceiving things. Up until then I was dealing with what I now see as chronic depression, but THC gave me the chemical shift I needed to experience real joy and to see that it was actually possible to be happy. I became a daily smoker pretty instantaneously. A lot happened during this time. I got married to a man that I had a wonderful relationship with. We were both messed up in our own right and the relationship had some toxic elements, but at the human level we had true love for each other. He started to develop an allergy to weed which had become a big part of my life. Instead, he switched to alcohol which drove me crazy. There were times in the end I was finding him passed out on the lawn and such. I was also starting to put one foot out and eventually cheated on him. Our relationship was also haunted by the issues I carried with me from the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. I was paranoid, controlling, jealous, reactionary, etc. He was very kind to me and often enabled my tantrums and episodes. Anyway, when that relationship ended is when I moved in with a girlfriend and my drinking slowly started to spike.
This is kind of hard to write about. I still find that some things are triggering to me.
But then I remember how my sobriety ended last time. One drink and I felt like I was back to the "real me" and wondering why in the hell I'd ever gotten sober in the first place. Then another ten year drinking span... Trying to avoid that.
Anyway, I started drinking with a lot of people. There was always someone to party with any day of the week. I discovered day drinking and thought the guy that introduced me was a genius. I started taking cups to work. Soon I was the one introducing others to my favorite bar tenders and to deviant drinking. My drinking came first above all else. I realized that no one could hurt me and if they did I'd take a shot. I realized that if I was lonely I could walk into a bar. I also saw that I could hustle and get things by hanging out with drunk guys, which also meant I was having a lot of promiscuous sex. The sex was mostly good and times were roaring and I felt cool, well-liked and with rock solid self-esteem.
Problems followed of course. I got pregnant, had to take a paternity test because I wasn't sure whose he was. I didn't want a child, but my mom hated me out of having an abortion. I lost my license and car and walked my ass to doctor's appointments with the shame of passing by neighbors who knew me as the party girl and the pregnancy looked like a joke. My boyfriend left me when my son was a year old. I was already experiencing bad post-partum and my obsession for my bf left me in a dark place feeling like I couldn't go on. Now I had a child I didn't want. I moved places because I couldn't stand to see the things we shared together. Both my child and I had a seizure in the following two months...his from a high fever, mine from what I believed was a broken heart, but probably alcohol withdrawal as well. A counselor over prescribed Clonazapan so I started taking those regularly while drinking. This combo lead me to go crazy and check myself into rehab. In treatment I did everything they encouraged, got my license back, but secretly planned on drinking better when I got out. When treatment ended I moved into a sober living house. Within three days I was walking in the doors drunk and getting the boot. I moved in with a guy I met at AA and caused him to relapse. We went into a full drinking spree all this time while I had my son. He managed to keep his job even though we were throwing back caseloads of beer. All throughout this time I had come to love my son and was trying to keep him away from the craziness as much as possible, dropping him off at his grandma's, etc. Trying to do fun things with him and teach him. That change occurred in treatment.
That relationship didn't last long, within a half a year things went sour and he had me evicted. Without family to go with, we moved into a homeless shelter for a month. Instead of feeling pity and like I had hit rock bottom I decided to "make it fun" by sneaking drinks into the facility and my son's father joined us with his guitar.
For a long time this attitude of minimizing the bad and "making things fun" was my special way of making alcohol fit in my life. I really believed it was helping me even though when I look back none of this would have even happened had I not taken that first drink.
My life continued to spiral out f control. I moved to Cali with my kids dad, got pregnant again. This pregnancy I drank through as my relationship with the kids father deteriorated. We lived together than broke up, moved back in together than broke up. Eventually, I moved out for good, but I was pregnant again.
Honestly, my story is much longer than this...much more detailed. There were MANY, MANY instances of waking up in Motorcycle shops or on church front lawns. Instances where I didn't remember how I got home. Roommates angry because I'd depleted their alcohol and replaced it with water. There were more relationships, more men. STD's and testing. Thousands of black outs...and that is not an exaggeration. Through it all I learned to be alone and lean on a drink to carry me.
Flash forward to a year ago. February 26 I received a call from my mom in Utah saying that my brother-in-law did not return home from a trip where he flew my niece and nephew out to southern Arizona. He was supposed to have been home at ten o'clock and my pregnant sister woke up to silence. Teams were sent out to search for him. A nail biting two days went by where we hoped for the best, but secretly the worst was plaguing our subconscious minds. When they found the plane there were no survivors. My heart shattered and pain greater than labor filled my body.
I didn't drink that day. I cried and held my kids and shook in disbelief. Days went by where I wasn't thinking about drinking. I also thought a lot about my sister and the strength it was going to take her to go on and live her life. I went back to Utah, drove with my kids to go be with them. There were some slip ups, but I decided to pull from my sisters strength and see if I could go on without a drink. I knew it was negatively effecting my life I think at some deep level. I just said I would try. I hung out at a step house in the beginning almost full time. Did the meeting thing. Any time I wanted to have a drink I thought about my sister and her new baby and how she was living and dedicated to doing it with the worst possible withdrawal and craving one can experience, the need to hold your children. My children have become my everything. They were already important, but now they are the absolute reason. I can't erase my past and the mistakes I've made, which are magnanimous, I can only try and not be the person I was. I can try and be great which sometimes I get down on myself thinking there's too much damage.
It also helps that I met a sober friend and moved in with her. I knew I needed help being accountable. No one ever knows what exactly is going to help one addict or another. It seems to be a matter of timing and luck.
Thanks for reading my story, hopefully it will enlighten someone :)
Top Photo by Moss on Unsplash
Bottom Photo Me
A writer living in Portland, OR looking to meet Chuck Palahniuk. Single mom to 2 boys, sales agent and lawyer-in-training.