I’m having a hard time getting my thoughts to slow down enough to put them into words.
It’s been 8 years. 8 years since I’ve had a drink…8 years since I’ve taken a drug to get high.
I remember…the first time I went to detox, I was 19. I had overdosed on Xanax and alcohol was and 100% sure that I didn’t have a problem. 100% sure. Like. “I can’t even legally buy booze yet…how can you tell me I’m an alcoholic?” And. “I’m in college. This is what you’re supposed to do in college…”
The second time, I was 21. This time was my choice. I knew I had a problem. I didn’t know what the problem was…but I knew something was wrong. I would wake up and within the first hour or so I would get shakes and experience black outs…until I’d finally cave and have a drink. At 21 I’d developed a physical dependence to alcohol…and I was terrified.
So I went to treatment.
I got clean. I got sober. Call it what you’d like– to me, it makes no difference.
I stopped talking to all of my friends. And I miss them all still. If I used to spend time with you…and you’re reading this…know that I love you and I miss you still. But I was terrified. They told me in treatment that if I started drinking again that I would die…they told me I had to change my playmates and playgrounds…so I did. There’s a part of me that regrets it. There’s a part of me that regrets how one day I just up and left everyone that had been by my side for years before… But I didn’t know how else to handle the situation. I honestly believe I did the best I could at the time…even if it meant hurting people along the way. But believe me…it was so hard. And I am so sorry.
I completed treatment.
I stayed clean.
I got pregnant.
I stayed clean.
And I will tell you that even while pregnant as an addict in recovery it is hard to find drugs and not use them. It’s hard to find a substance that must be so marvelous to keep calling someone back to using…and to say no to that substance…and to dispose of that substance…and to feel feelings when I’d been masking feelings for so long… But I stayed clean. Until I had her. And then I relapsed.
And my relapse wasn’t long. But it was brutal. Not because I fell back into a physical dependency…but because I was proven wrong. I had been positive that the love I felt for my newborn would be enough to make me drink responsibly. –It wasn’t.
If you know an addict or an alcoholic and you think they don’t love you enough and that’s why they’re using…that’s not true. It’s not. I promise. It is a compulsion that I can’t explain with words…and if you don’t have it, you won’t get it.
I felt so hollow.
The day I took my last drink was July 18, 2010. I’d been up all night drinking…I’d stolen pain pills from my mom’s bathroom…my mom was caring for my 6 week old…she’d cut me off and hidden my booze sometime in the middle of the night…but I found it, of course… My grandparents pulled up to the house and saw me drunk on the front porch…when I was sure it was 5am and it was closer to 11am… And I was embarrassed. And ashamed. And broken. And so, so, so hollow.
So all day on the July 18, 2010…I cried. My mom held me and I cried. My grandma held me and I cried. I cried and held my baby. I cried and went to a meeting. And I cried. And I cried.
On July 19, 2010 I celebrated my first day clean. My first day in a string of 2,922 and counting.
Let me tell you something about being young and in recovery: It’s hard.
Let me tell you something about this past year in recovery: It was hard. Did I want to drink? Absolutely. And did I want to get high? More times than I can count. Did I want to revert back to destructive behaviors like disordered eating and/or smoking and/or stealing? Heck yes…oh my God, yes. So badly.
But I haven’t. I haven’t taken the bait. I haven’t fallen into any of the traps.
Instead I’ve cried. And I’ve written. And I’ve read. And I’ve cussed. And I’ve prayed. And I’ve been open and vulnerable and I’ve allowed myself to learn to process grief and anger and resentment and joy and disappointment and exhaustion to degrees that I’d before been unfamiliar with.
This year I’ve grown.
Can you imagine how I would’ve sold myself short if I would’ve given up?
This beautifully chaotic life… Everyday I give my children a mother with clear eyes. And every night I go to bed with my husband and we talk. We communicate about our kids…their behaviors and which areas we need to help them to thrive…we communicate about our finances…we communicate about things that are difficult and our current struggles and how we can better serve each other.
What a beautiful life I have today. I am definitely not hollow anymore. I am full. And I am grateful.
If you are struggling…don’t sell yourself short. Hang in there. There isn’t a problem in the world that a drink or a drug will solve. I promise. I promise-promise.