“Greetings from DFWTX—
First off, I just want to say THANK YOU for everything this movement stands for and for offering me the chance to be a hope dealer!
Second of all, I want to say that I’m writing this line after I wrote my story, and I didn’t mean to write a novel. It’s just incredibly difficult for me to try and simplify something so complex like living life with both a mental illness and substance abuse problem. I hope you’ll understand.
Now, I’m not going to lie… I was slightly selfish and held onto the chip for a while before feeling comfortable enough to send you my story. You see, I experienced a brief spell of exhaustion and a tinge of hopelessness during chip #563’s stay with me, and I wanted to be sure I was in the best state of mind and able to fully be the best version of myself, before contacting you + realizing there is somebody out there who could benefit from a token of hope more than I. That’s the whole point of this, right? To give hope away and deal it to those who need it more than ourselves? I’m now prepared the keep the hope I’ve regained, and am ready to pass the hope on.
Anyway, let me pull out my “crystal ball of doom,” so that I can give you a good understanding of what lies in my past + life in active addiction.
I didn’t start out drinking at an early age, really. I started out as a “normal” drinker, didn’t really touch or have any interest in alcohol until my senior prom in high school, and even still wasn’t sure why people were so smitten with essentially losing control of their inhibitions. After graduating high school, I would have wine coolers and other various fruity malt liquor beverages on an occasion, but nothing crazy or untypical for an adolescent, really. My behaviors and alcohol consumption were pretty “typical” from the ages of 17-20, as I was considered by others and viewed myself as a studious person, who was passionate about art and music, and enjoyed being as present as possible and couldn’t be bothered with the idea of getting buzzed. Now, between the ages of 17-20 I was becoming more aware that I wasn’t quite feeling happy (or what I imagined being happy should feel like), like people I knew. I was diagnosed with depression, which turned into later being diagnosed as bipolar, riddled with some anxious tendencies. I saw doctors and took my medication like I was supposed to, until one day I decided I’d had enough and took matters into my own hands, and eventually took myself off my medications and turned to other means of “feeling good” instead.
We’ll cut to what should’ve been deemed as a serious wake up call; well, more like two separate incidents that should’ve gotten my attention but didn’t. Mind you these happenings took place between the ages of 20-22; something that might be viewed as me acting in devious behaviors as a subconscious way of making up for the 18+ years I spent under a strictly run household…and more or less as a subsequent to me also playing doctor. Not long after my 21st birthday, like a few months after I turned 21, a doctor heavily advised I become abstinent from alcohol consumption for a lengthy duration of time due to how much gastrointestinal damage I was wreaking on myself. So, I went along with it and as soon as I was “allowed” to drink again…it was fairly obvious I was doing my best to make up for lost time. We’ll fast forward another 6 months or so, to the night of May 11, 2007. I went to see Bright Eyes play a gig with some friends, and the last thing I remember was trading my Xanax for drinks from the bartenders, and continuously popping them myself in between cocktails.
The next morning I found myself in the ER, with absolutely no recollection of what happened past the point of trading and popping pills. But, being the good little barely 22 years old girl I was, I decided (well, not decided, more like just got too caught up in chasing the next buzz) that I stopped taking my oral contraceptive somewhere along the way, and found myself pregnant come late summer of 2007. The last 3 1/2 years leading up to that point had been “fun and games” and I didn’t really see or care what was happening to me. So, I found myself having to drop out of college in order to pursue a life as a young mom.
April 2008 I gave birth to my first child, then I returned to college and graduated with my B.A. in 2011, and so forth. I was doing good and things were looking up, only they weren’t as happy-go-lucky as I made it to be. From about 2010 or so until I became pregnant again in 2015, I drank pretty much every night. At first it was still “normal” (what I thought was normal, but what turns out to be textbook binge drinking by definition), but hey — I was still maintaining control and my inhibitions most of the nights, so it was okay, right? Only it wasn’t, and I can’t even recollect how many nights I can’t recollect. I began checking out, began filling my head and my heart with endless pity parties, even further trying to make up for lost time and convincing myself that getting buzzed was a decent way to compensate myself for the amount of hard work I was doing. It’s not something I look back at fondly.
Now we’ll spin ’round the tornado that became my final and absolute “wake-the-f***k-up call” / the event that has changed me as a whole for the better, the battle I finally lost but gave way to the war I eventually won (and will continue to battle every day for the rest of my life), as I finally threw up white flag against my raging, high-functioning alcoholic way of life. Leading up to the day that provided me with my “awakening” I had already tested too many waters, was lying to those who loved and cared for me the most, I was becoming sloppy and crafty with trying to conceal all that I was doing, and I was just basically killing everything inside of me, physically and mentally. But for some reason, I just kept chasing that imaginary feeling I had never and would never be able to capture.
September 6, 2016 is the day I simultaneously died and was reborn — and I haven’t been the same since. While I still prefer to keep these details as withheld and private as possible (I’ve only told less than 10 people in real life what actually happened, and I’ve shared some within a private sober commUNITY), I can safely say I no longer have to keep up the tiring, ruthless way of living that was that of having an active addiction + love affair with alcohol. I’d hurt and lost enough people over the years, because I fancied courting Mr. Al Cohol instead, and the time had come to fully stop hurting the person I was cutting down the most, myself.
Since September 6, 2016 I’ve experienced more spiritual growing pains than I had in the 31 years leading up to that day (roughly 10 1/2 of those years involving a continual reprieve I believed only alcohol could provide), and I have handled more stressful situations than I have ever faced — and not only did I live through them, but I’ve learned from them and have found an inner strength in myself I never knew was possible. I’ve successfully completed an intensive outpatient program with a substance abuse counselor, I am incredibly active within various online sober commUNITY families, and I aspire to become a substance abuse counselor of some kind once my own children aren’t so dependent on me. My number one job in life is that of being a mother, and everything else comes second until my kids don’t need me as much. Outside of being a mom, my other number one focus in life is that of my sobriety and life in recovery, and until I can become educated and professionally certified to become a counselor or therapist, I will continue to be as active as possible within my newfound family, those who have also converted to a sober way of life.
Recovery is most certainly not a cure-all for life’s problems, and I still have depression, but I’m now coping with these things as opposed to viewing myself as a victim or sufferer of these illnesses. I’ll always be an alcoholic, but I don’t have to live a life full of fear because of it, I simply just don’t partake in its consumption anymore and I don’t feel sorry for myself because I “can’t drink.” I choose to live now, not exist, and I’ll be damned if I don’t make myself find the magic in the mundane on a daily basis — because it’s the little things that add up to the big picture, and that’s all life is — one, big picture. It’s a f**king masterpiece, and I am so insanely grateful I get to be present for every millisecond I get to spend on this earth.
It gets better, friends, and I’m living proof.
So, now it’s time for me to pay my hope forward, and deal it to somebody who needs it more than I do.
Sending strength, support and love.