Melissa’s Story…

d the reason that I am willing to share my story, and my sobriety publicly now is because I have healed. Once you stop allowing guilt and shame story you, is when the real healing can begin. "

“As I sit down to begin to write my story after work on Easter Sunday, I am nearing 17 months of sobriety (on the 27th). Those are words I never thought that I’d say. Not because I didn’t think I’d achieve it (I previously abstained from alcohol for almost 5 years), but because being sober is something I never wanted to acknowledge. And I most definitely had no plans to ever tell anyone else!! Crazy right?? Being sober to me, meant that I had to admit I had a problem with alcohol, and that is something I didn’t want to do. Hence the reason I stated earlier that “I abstained from alcohol”, not that I was sober, or in recovery. I didn’t realize there was a difference before. Now I do!! It took me a while to figure that out, but I’m so grateful I did.

I didn’t drink much early on in life. My mom was an alcoholic, and seeing that made me swear I would never do the things that she and her boyfriend did. They were embarrassing. Having that mentality worked all through high school. I drank some in college, but I was a cheerleader, and fitness instructor, and was pretty committed to that lifestyle, so I didn’t get carried away. I married young (21). I think that I was trying to fill the void of not having a dad in my life. I had a vision of being in love, and having a family. That is all I really wanted. Shortly after getting married, we started to try to have kids. Unfortunately, my body wasn’t on board with the having kids goal. I couldn’t get pregnant. After a year of trying, we were referred to a fertility specialist. So began a 3.5 year emotional, expensive journey. But, the great news is – I finally got pregnant!! Not long after my daughter was born, we decided we would start trying again. Since it took so long with the first, we didn’t want to wait too long. I actually conceived my son on my own – no fertility drugs! I was ecstatic!

Shortly after my son was born, I started to evaluate my relationship with their father. It didn’t take me long to figure out he was definitely not the right person for me. He isn’t a bad person, but we were not meant to be together. When my youngest was nearing 2 years old, I told their dad I wanted to divorce. I had no idea how I was going to do it on my own, but I knew I needed to.

After some time, I felt like I should date. You see, my soul focus was to find someone to marry again. I didn’t like the idea of being alone. But, I’m more of a relationship person, than a dater. I hopped into a relationship that lasted for 5.5 years. It was never a great relationship, but I didn’t want to be alone so I stayed. This guy was a big drinker. His family was, and his friends were, so I joined in. It was literally a drink fest from Thursday night to Sunday night, every single weekend. As our relationship started to go south, I found myself drinking when he was out without me (because I was pissed at him). He went out more and more without me – I drink more and more by myself. Once we finally broke up, I was a mess. Not having anywhere to go (as he and I lived together), I packed up my kids and went to stay at my mom’s. My drinking normalized again.

About 6 months later, I met a guy and we started dating. Again, jumped into a relationship so I didn’t have to be alone. A great guy (or so I thought). But, he was a drinker too. And, because I would do whatever it took to make the relationship work – I drank when he drank. The difference being, I always drank to get drunk. He’d have a beer or two. This time, after 3 years, I found out he was cheating on me. It wasn’t good. We split up, but my drinking was out of control. I was so hurt, lost and broken, I just didn’t care. I had come home one Friday afternoon and started drinking. An hour or so later, I remembered something I was supposed to drop off for work. So off I went. However, I never made it. I was arrested. And it was Friday. I had to spend the weekend in jail. I hated myself. My kids hated me. My daughter was so angry with me she asked to go back to live at her grandma’s. I felt like the worst person in the world. This was when I knew I needed some help (but I still didn’t really want it). I went to outpatient treatment. I went to meetings. But as soon as I went home after it, that was it. I pretended my drinking problem didn’t exist. I completed treatment. At that time I thought, “ok, now I just have to stay away from alcohol and I’ll be fine”. This is where my nearly 5 years of abstaining comes in. Life was good. The kids and I were busy. Work was good. I was “fine”. I went about my daily life, and felt quite good. Never once during this time did I acknowledge being an alcoholic or work on my recovery. I just avoided alcohol.

That worked for a while, until things started to get tough!! 2017 started out a little rough. On January 21, 2017 my grandpa passed away. Though it was expected, it was an extremely hard loss. He was the only male role model I had in my life, and I loved him fiercely. A month after his passing, I tore an external rotator muscle in my glute (yep, I tore my butt). But as someone who relies on workouts as my sanity break, this was awful. I was already devastated after losing gramps, and now I have no way to lift my spirits. In April of that year, I got pneumonia. It took me down for almost 2 weeks. It was a slow recovery, but I was finally starting to feel good again, and starting back to the gym. On July 18, 2017 my beautiful momma was found dead. My life, as I knew it was over. My mom was my rock. Her death was unexpected, which left us in a fury to get things planned. She had been dead for 72 hours or so by the time she was found, so time was not on our side.

After the whirlwind of the next few weeks started to calm, I was left feeling devastated and lost. I was going through the motions, but it was all such a blur. I was most definitely not OK. Though I never told anyone else that! But after a month or so, the rest of the world moved on. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t workout, if I ate – it wasn’t usually good for me. It didn’t take long for thoughts of alcohol to creep in. I fought it for a few months, but then Thanksgiving came. The first holiday without my mom. I woke up that morning and tears immediately started flowing from my eyes. I had to work that day, so I didn’t drink, but I planned it for my next day off. I was so desperate for my pain to go away, I didn’t care anymore. This bender lasted 3 days. The sad part is, I don’t remember much of it. What I do know is, I went to get more liquor a time or 2, and a few other things that drunk me thought were a necessity (only from the debit card receipts in my wallet). I remember none of it, until I hit a curb on my way home. That sobered me up real fast. I tried to drive away and make it home, but my car was stuck. I even tried to push it off the curb myself. I tried to call a tow truck, but the police were there before I could. I’m grateful the police officer was nice to me. She gave me my phone so I could make up some lie to my son as to why I wasn’t coming home. But what the hell was I going to do now? I had no one to bail me out. I just figured I’d stay in jail. I live near a big city, with pretty high crime. I was going to a jail that absolutely terrified me! Though this was the most mortifying thing I’ve ever done, it was exactly the thing I needed to have happen to me. It’s what brought me to sobriety!!

I wish I was a person who could’ve just stopped on my own, but I truly believe that I needed my life to completely fall apart in order for me to get my shit together! I went to outpatient treatment again, but this time, I worked hard. And I continue to every day! I have gotten on my knees and surrendered. I have cried out for help, because clearly, my way wasn’t working!! And the reason that I am willing to share my story, and my sobriety publicly now is because I have healed. Once you stop allowing guilt and shame story you, is when the real healing can begin. Knowing I’ve made some terrible choices. I’ve greatly embarrassed my kids and myself, but also knowing that I DO THE WORK every single day to stay sober, means I no longer live in shame! I’m not proud of those things that I’ve done, but I am incredibly proud of who I am now, and without those “things”, I wouldn’t be where I am today! I will continue to share my story, live out loud, and recover out loud in hopes that I can help at least one person. To give hope, and to help others see it is possible to change your life.”