"My relationship with alcohol began around the age of 15 and has been a tumultuous one from the onset. I was always so insecure that alcohol gave me the liquid courage that so many of us fall prey to."
My name is Kathleen; I am 40 years old and I’m a born and raised Clevelander. I am also mom to an almost 19-year-old daughter, Reily. My relationship with alcohol began around the age of 15 and has been a tumultuous one from the onset. I was always so insecure that alcohol gave me the liquid courage that so many of us fall prey to. In high school I was the party girl, I could hang with the boys and drink with the best of them and finally felt like I found place. My drinking was then and continued to be the “go big or go home” kind. I never drank daily, I never missed work or school, I never did all the things people with drinking problems do, until I did.
I am the third child of four; having 2 older sisters and 1 younger brother. I was extremely fortunate to spend my childhood with all of my cousins too. We had the best mom around, Marty. Our mom was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 47 and passed away at the age of 49. This is when my drinking really took a dark turn, I was 20. Everyone goes to a bar and slams 5 to 6 beers in 45 minutes and goes back to work don’t they? My saving grace was getting pregnant with my daughter. I immediately stopped drinking during my pregnancy. Had I not gotten pregnant I am sure my bottom would have come a lot faster, but because I was mom I kept shit together, or so I thought, a bit longer. I never drank when I had her; but when she would go to her dad’s house for the weekend, game on. I was the epitome of a weekend warrior. This pattern continued until my daughter was 4 and my boss at the time started noticing that I was drinking more often and heavier each time. I would miss work because “thirst Thursday” got the best of me and I would just not show up. This was when my first try at sobriety happened, it was forced. My boss said I couldn’t continue in my position, as a probation officer, unless I went to outpatient treatment. So I went, and I rode the pink cloud. I went to AA meetings and got a sponsor. But I was 26 at the time and couldn’t even fathom the thought of never being able to drink again. I lasted about 4 months. I wasn’t an alcoholic; I didn’t have a problem.
From that time until I was 38 years old, I never stopped drinking but man did I have work really hard to control it and more I tried to control it the worse my drinking became. I truly had myself convinced that because I didn’t drink daily, was doing well at work that there was no problem. On the outside, I looked like I had it together. But boy was I wrong.
My second try and sobriety happened after I went on a blind date. My dating career consisted mostly of one-night stands after blackout nights at the bar. In this particular instance, I decided I couldn’t meet this person without a buzz so I brought road pops in the car with me. We met at a local brewery and drank IPAs; eating appetizers. As if I wasn’t drunk enough I decided that dirty martinis were how I should end the night. I drove home in a complete blackout, I passed out at the wheel, crossed over the street, went up over the sidewalk and got stuck in mud. Had it not been April, and the ground soft I would have driven right into the back of someone’s house in my own development. I got out and tried to push my car out, called my then 16-year-old daughter to have her come get me. Who does that? Me during a blackout that’s who. I left my car just sitting there in the middle of development but I knew if I didn’t leave I would have gotten a DUI. My daughter called her father to come get her at 2 am; she was done with my going out and coming home not remembering how I got there. I went back to AA meetings and again only lasted about 90 days. I just couldn’t come to terms with me having an issue with alcohol. I just needed to control it better, take Uber, don’t go home with random men. So I kept drinking.
Finally, after another blackout so bad I had no recollection of the night before, sick again I started to realize you just can’t do this anymore. You can’t control how much you drink when you start. So I started listening to the Home podcast and it literally changed my life. I devoured it. These women were telling my stories and they were successful and they were open and honest and raw. I felt an immediate connection to them. I took what I thought was my last drink on October 14, 2017. I was sure that was it but I fell again; in February, on trip to Mexico. But I think I almost needed that to confirm my commitment to being sober. So finally on February 26, 2018 I took my final drink. Today I am 206 days sober.
The mom guilt I have is real. I look back and think why did I pick going out over spending time with my daughter, why did I let her think that this was a good way to live, why wasn’t I someone she could look up to. That is all I ever wanted. My relationship with her is the best it has been in years. She has her mom back, I am the person she deserves me to be. As a newly sober mom I would say the things that helped me best were surrounding myself with sober women (go to AA, find a meeting you like); Instagram (I never thought that would be the case but it is); reading memoirs on drinking; listening to podcasts (I am also part of one now; Drunk Mom/Sober Mom); and just keep doing it. It does get better; you do get more confident with your decision. I am finally who I am supposed to be. Good luck to you mamas. We are built to hard things but this hard think turns into the most beautiful life.