I was born uncomfortable in my skin and I became a perpetual rule breaker. Rules never mattered to me. I was an exception to the rules anyway. My wild and adventurous brain thought it would be a great idea, at the age of 16, to skip school and drink alcohol. You know, because I was super cool like that. I invited friends over and we proceeded to get drunk. I had no way of knowing, or caring, that the bottle of alcohol we were drinking was my beloved grandparents Dom Perignon that had been preserved since their wedding night. Oops.
It was the second time I tasted alcohol and the second time in my life that I felt like I could truly exhale. The first time I drank alcohol, I was date raped, as a virgin. Why on earth would any normal person drink to that extent again? There was an unimaginable sense of relief, both from my childhood broken heart and from the subsequent emotional scars. I found that my new best friend could numb the excruciating pain and I loved it. Of course, as the years passed, I would realize that the sense of relief I felt the first few times I drank would prove to be a false sense of relief. And so began the vicious cycle of trying to chase down the “fun” until I nearly chased it to an early grave. Welcome to the diabolical sickness of alcohol addiction. Addiction literally tore my life apart bit by bit. It started out as so much fun, but what seemed like fun, turned extremely dangerous on me. It seemed, at the time, like an overnight curse. One day, it seemed, I woke up a shell of the person I once was. As I began to recover and unravel the wires in my brain, I realized that it had taken years and years of drinking to get to that point, but when it did, it was quick and painful, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
As I sat in my car with tear filled eyes, gazing up at the dilapidated old building I lived in wondering, how did I get here? How did I go from enjoying a successful career, living and working in a swanky high-rise downtown to a shaking shell of the person I once was? I knew it had to stop, I begged for it to stop. I was a nightly blackout drunk. I couldn’t not drink and I couldn’t drink. I was lost in every way a person can be. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually.
I will never forget the day I looked in the mirror and I no longer recognized the woman staring back at me. It was a surreal moment, to say the least. My complexion was gray, my eyes were blood-shot and aged well past my 40 years of life, my hands were shaking uncontrollably, my belly was showing signs of alcoholic sickness. Well beyond the physical and more importantly, my heart and my soul were lost. Should I just end it? Would anyone care? Surely not, I have become such a loser. I knew then I needed help or I was going to die.
It was not until I was 40 years old that I realized and made a commitment to change. Those abusive relationships? Those terrible jobs? Yep, they were mostly of my creating and allowing. I woke up and realized that this was not the life I wanted to continue to live, nor the legacy I wanted to leave for my children. Do you know when I finally figured this out and began to make changes? At the ripe old age of 40! It took me that long to begin to untangle the messy wires in my head and begin to heal. It took a lot of prayer and a lot of work on my part, but I am improving every day. God deserves all of the glory for who I am today.
I do not, however, believe that some of the deep rooted insecurities will ever truly heal, but I have learned how to recognize them when they creep up and I know when to explore them more and when to put them in their place when necessary. The interesting fact that I have experienced about personal development and the growth that is taking place is that it is ever-evolving. I am not the same person I was almost five years ago when I decided to change my life. I would like to think I am a bit Better. Wiser. More Patient. More Compassionate.
You see, escaping all the “bad” things in life also prevented me from enjoying the good times in life. Because when I came down, all those feelings that I was trying to escape, well, they were still there. Those consequences that I tried escaping from? Yep, those were still there too, except they were worse. Figuring out that feelings pass and that I don’t have to act on every single emotion was mind blowing. I can feel the feelings and let them pass! I don’t have to self-destruct every time I’m uncomfortable.
I thank God for directing me to recovery and for the subsequent life I am able to enjoy today. I am beyond grateful for all of the hell that I have walked through because without it, I would never have stumbled upon my own strength. And without my strength, I never would be able to reach out and serve the next suffering alcoholic. That is how this thing called recovery works, in my opinion. We do it together. One. Day. At. A Time.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please hear this, there is hope! When I was lost in my addiction, I had no hope left and was ready for it all to end. I felt like a failure, a loser mom, a terrible employee, and the list goes on. I had lost all hope of living a normal life. I am 4 1/2 years sober this month and my life is more beautiful and peaceful than I ever imagined! Reach out, reach up, we are all here to help!