Karli’s Story…

"The only problem was I truly didn’t think I was a ‘real alcoholic’. Real alcoholics are homeless on a bench. I work. I have a home. I can’t be that. He told me he would bring me to my first meeting and if I didn’t think I was an alcoholic after being there I didn’t have to ever go back. I went. And then I went again. I started hearing stories. My stories. I could relate this time, I was losing things, facing jail time and going to be on paper with New York state."

“Hello, my name is Karli and I’m an alcoholic.

It took me quite a few months even after I stopped drinking to say those words. I identified with so many other titles in my life it just took me sometime to surrender to that title and DISEASE. I’m a mother, a nurse, a friend, sister and daughter.

I thought that having a successful career, nice home, a husband, good friends & healthy kids was everything in life but the truth is what is any of that if you aren’t happy within yourself? Everything can look picture perfect from the outside but in reality if you don’t heal the traumas & trials you have faced in life you will constantly look for an escape through outside sources even if it means sacrificing the good in your life. If you keep going back to those outside sources you will lose all of the good.

My outside source started off at the age of 15. Alcohol and drugs both became a way for me to escape a low self esteem mixed with sometimes debilitating anxiety & OCD. I played sports and was good at them but it wasn’t enough to make me happy. I had a family that loved me and always provided what I needed but it wasn’t enough to make me feel worth it. I cared a lot what people thought about me but never could see myself the way others did. At the age of 19 I had put myself through so many unsafe environments & unhealthy high school relationship looking for love in all the wrong places I didn't even know who I was at that point. I suffered my first sexual trauma at 19 by a stranger after a night of drinking with my girlfriends and getting into a cab alone. The fun party drinking/experimental drugging escalated and I found myself in a really bad place. I had a family friend who I looked up to agree to take me in and help me clean up my act. I did it half assed. I would go to meetings and hope no one would see me at the bar because let’s face it....I was NOT like any of them ( or so i thought). I was young and not at all ready to truly stop drinking even though I was really headed down a path of self destruction.

After about a year of pretending to want sobriety & fooling everyone but myself I joined the military. I entered boot camp for the US NAVY at the age of 21. I was lucky enough to be stationed in the beautiful San Diego California. I was on an aircraft carrier with people from all different walks of life. It was a great experience but most of it was a blur. My hours were 7am-1pm when we weren’t out to sea I was on the beach partying until 10pm. Every day turned out to be the same, drink till the sun went down get home wake up hung over hating life and doing it all over again the next day. I’m not saying everything was all bad but I was a binge blackout drinker. I made friends and to everyone else I seemed fun and funny but I often said and did things I couldn’t remember in the morning. I thought everyone drank like me. I began the same cycle of putting myself in dangerous places and walking back to my home alone.

I met a guy who liked to drink just as much as me and ended up getting pregnant with my first son at age 22. I wasn’t married and had to go home that Christmas and tell my family. When I got back to San Diego after telling my family, hoping that this pregnancy would change my life I started to try and focus on what kind of mother I wanted to be and what life I wanted my son to have. My sons father went out to sea and didn’t return until he was 6 weeks old. Not even 3 months after he returned I was pregnant with a second son and we had a shotgun wedding. Again, I was doing something because it was what I thought would be the right thing worried more about what anyone would think about me being 24 years old not married with 2 children.

My dad was sick and I moved home to NY because he was going back out to sea. I felt isolated. All of my friends were still not having children and I had two young children by the age of 24. My dad passed away suddenly and I felt alone a lot. The nights I could go out were few and far between so I drank at home by myself when they were in bed. When their dad got back from sea he ended up moving back to NY and we just had nothing in common but the kids and drinking. We divorced, I went to nursing school and in the middle of the divorce at age 27 I got my first DWI after a night out with friends. It was my very first serious message to take a look at my drinking. I was mandated to an outpatient treatment and lost my license for 9 months. I still drove the entire time. I went to meetings but continued to drink even though I would go to the classes and claim sobriety. I wasn’t ready. I would talk to myself and give excuses...I’m a mom, I’m unlucky my life is not unmanageable I deserve a drink here and there, I won’t drink wine I’ll drink beer then I won’t black out, I can still drink I just won’t drive when I do that, I never drive drunk with my kids in the car it was a mistake, everyone has a DWI.

I finished nursing school and the boys dad moved back to his hometown. At that point I had met a younger guy who adored me and the boys. Life was really good. We drank together and I was excelling in my career. We got engaged and we had two more children. The nights we got to go out or I got a girls night out never ended up fun. There was always some major chaos where I got black out drunk and would wake up feeling regretful and shameful. What did I say? Why are they mad? How’d I get kicked out? I puked in her car? Where are these bruises from? No more I’m not gonna drink liquor again, just beer next time. Anything that was supposed to be fun memories turned into horrible times. Weddings, concerts, family gatherings, ball games, holidays. Ruined. Same story, different nights. I would stop and then a few weeks later be right back to the same old Karli. Every time I would go out I would tell myself I wasn’t going to drink to oblivion, just beer no wine or liquor. It escalated to the black outs. Every. Single. Time. Looking through my phone to see what I had said piecing the night together through pictures and texts. Multiple times I lost my purse, my camera, my wallet. My marriage was declining we had had a serious trauma where we were sleeping in my house and it caught fire. We lost EVERYTHING but our lives. My drinking and anxiety from that increased. More strained relationships with family and friends. Nothing stopped me. I still held my life together -worked a career took care of my children they were all beautiful and relatively healthy, had a beautiful home, bills paid but was SO unhappy however people have it worse I’m not THAT bad doesn’t everyone drink at night after working all day? How else would i cope with the stressors of life? But things were bad, really bad. From the outside things looked fine anyway, I had it all. But in the walls there was lots of drinking which turned to fighting and a really unhealthy environment for everyone.

On April 1 2016, I went to friends house and drank two bottles of wine drowning all my life problems. I needed to get home and thought I was ok to drive. I got in the car against my better judgement and was speeding in a blackout 88mph on a Friday night. I got pulled over and arrested for a second DWI. In NY two DWI's in a 10 year span is a felony, mine were 8 years apart. I’m a nurse, a mother, a wife. How could this happen, again? I’m going to be in the news, the newspaper. What is everyone going to think of me? I quit drinking for two weeks as I was scared as HELL what my legal situation was going to be. I called multiple legal counsel and everyone was saying the same thing....I’m going to do jail time. How am I going to pay my bills? Am I going to lose my nursing license? Is my marriage going to end? WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK OF ME? Who knows about this? How is this effecting my family and kids? I WANT TO DIE! Never once did it cross my mind that I’m an alcoholic. I was riddled with anxiety and anger at that cop that pulled me over. How could he do that to ME?

When the legal process began I hired the best lawyer I could find. I was offered drug court that if I completed with no police contact and not using I could get a misdemeanor and 3 years probation. I started to see a light but I had to stay sober. How could I cope without drinking? The only time I’ve ever been sober was during my pregnancies! I was asked by a friend of the family that I confided in about going to AA. He suggested that it would help my case to show the judge for drug court I was serious about staying sober. The only problem was I truly didn’t think I was a ‘real alcoholic’. Real alcoholics are homeless on a bench. I work. I have a home. I can’t be that. He told me he would bring me to my first meeting and if I didn’t think I was an alcoholic after being there I didn’t have to ever go back. I went. And then I went again. I started hearing stories. My stories. I could relate this time, I was losing things, facing jail time and going to be on paper with New York state. This is real. I AM like these people in this room! Im an alcoholic. I started to listen and share my stories and I started to feel better. I finally get it. I'm an alcoholic. This is my solution. To stay sober and never have to feel this way anymore. I connected with some sober supports and the community of my sober supports grew. Life got better and continues to get better.

Today I am 2 and a half years sober and I’ve never felt more ME in my life. I’m learning to live life in life’s terms. Things are good today. Not perfect but good. I’m able to face life without a drink today and feel all my emotions. I have made real meaningful connections and most importantly have self love and acceptance. I’m ok if my life doesn’t make sense to others. I care more about what i think of myself today rather than what others think about me. I have a relationship with God today. Don’t give up better days are coming.

I hope this message helps keep someone sober today. I’m grateful no lives were lost in my journey to where I am today. I know my mess was meant to be a message for another person suffering.”