"Every morning I hated myself for drinking the night before and would promise not to drink that night, yet every night I would drink again. It was this sickening record that would not stop spinning and I could not seem to figure out how to make it all stop."
”I feel like I’ve heard the beginning to my story time and time again, wanting to be well liked, social anxiety and alcohol swooping in with that liquid courage. It’s not unique or unexpected. It’s how the majority of these stories start out. Young, impressionable, vulnerable and a brain ripe for the manipulating. For me I was in junior high and had all the expected awkwardness.
I drank heavily throughout high school. When I was a senior I got a DUI and lost my license. This did very little to slow my partying, other than now I was never expected to be the DD (whatever that would have looked like, surely not actual sober driving).
College is five years of fuzzy memories full of parties. I scraped by academically, frequently missing class, lying to teachers to get out of missed assignments due to hang overs and late nights. Sporting events, dorm life, new friendships…I wasn’t really interested in any of it. It didn’t matter if it was a Monday at 4 or a Sat at 11, I was looking to get wasted. I thought I was doing what everyone was supposed to do at that time. Experiment, make poor decisions, live without regret (when there definitely was ignored regret).
Regret, guilt, shame, loneliness, embarrassment. These feelings riddled the years between 14-21. Despite all of that I still had not made the connection to alcohol. At 21 I became pregnant with my oldest son, during which I abstained from alcohol. I was young and nieve and quickly became engaged to his dad. We moved to the Midwest (from Ca) and settled down. I was in a new state with no friends or family and a husband who was light years away in terms of values and lifestyle. That was the first year out of college and my first attempt at adult life. My heavy drinking continued.
At that time I got a job as a CADC for a juvenile meth treatment program. Each day I would run group sessions and one on ones with youth struggling with cravings and addiction and each night I would stop at the liquor store and head home to numb it all for the evening.
After about a year and my husband’s infidelity later I filed for divorce and moved out.
Shortly after I began dating and marrying my current husband, who also happened to work with me. He had never been a big drinker but enjoyed letting loose at the end of the day as well. About a year into our marriage and a year into running substance abuse groups I started to reflect on the severity of my own drinking. They say the best way to learn is by teaching and that is what my job had become for me. It became the tool that taught me what was happening in my own mind and body. Everyday I would run groups and process what the concepts meant for myself and each night I would silence the guilt and shame with more alcohol.
Over the next 5 years I had 2 more kiddos. Both pregnancies I abstained from alcohol completely, and both pregnancies I swore I would not drink once I gave birth. Both pregnancies I drank within weeks of giving birth.
You see, one of the earmarks of addiction is continued use despite adverse consequences and for me those consequences seemed non-existent. I was able to keep a job, one where I was actually helping people obtain sobriety (what a sham). I was able to maintain a healthy marriage, my kiddos were well cared for and by all appearances I was living a happy life.
Despite the apparent lack of adverse consequences I was now drinking vodka shots every night to the point of frequently blacking out. I was experiencing hangovers almost daily and struggled with depression and anxiety. Every morning I hated myself for drinking the night before and would promise not to drink that night, yet every night I would drink again. It was this sickening record that would not stop spinning and I could not seem to figure out how to make it all stop.
Throughout it all my older sister very obviously struggled with her own alcoholism. She was much less functional and her drinking was a big issue within our family. In 2017 she unexpectedly passed away from years of alcohol abuse.
I can’t really elaborate on that experience, it’s one I haven’t fully processed myself, but at that time I gave up drinking. I went 6 months alcohol free only to return to drinking one night at a wedding.
Despite having lost my own sister to alcohol I quickly reverted back to my same drinking patterns. I told myself that it was unhealthy to link my own drinking to her passing and that her drinking was on a different level, nothing like my own. This lie continued for another year. Another year of hang overs, irritability, and living in a fog.
I am not quite sure what clicked this final time. I am not sure if it was the fear of my children finding me passed out on the floor one night (something that fortunately never happened), fear of dying, fear of one more hangover. Whatever it was, it was a gift I realized nobody else would give to me or do for me. It was something I had to do for myself.”