"The one thing I told myself I never wanted to bring back in my life, alcohol, became the only known answer to escape my anxiety and true reality. And at that point, my disease of alcoholism progressed more rapidly than I knew humanly possible. Things I said I would never do; hiding my drinking, lying to my husband, and drinking in the morning, had quickly transpired."
“My name is Morgan and I am 34 years old. I reside in Minneapolis, MN (which is where I grew up) with my husband and 2.5 year old son; Nash. I have a story that requires a book to tell (in the works ;-)), so I will start at a place that gives you a hint of background and leads to a very pivotal moment in my life.
I grew up in a broken home. My family was probably considered middle to upper class, and I was raised with very much love, support, encouragement, and values in place. After my mom and step dad's sudden divorce at the age of 12/13; my life started to complicate. I recall being placed on anti-depressants around that age, and was involved in therapy/counseling within my school. For the next 18 years, I battled many forms of addiction including in and outpatient treatment visits, hospitalization for an eating disorder, and an overdose at 22 that left me minutes away from death. There are many phases of my life of which I have little to no memory.
Fast forward to August 9th, 2015. At 30 years old, I married my best friend. I was a blackout drinker for as long as I can remember. No matter how much I tried to avoid a blackout, the ability was never in my hands; except on my wedding day (by the grace of God). At this point in my life, I told myself the only way I would probably ever quit drinking is if I got pregnant. As sad as that sounds, I knew quitting alcohol was not a power I held within myself. I was never that girl who dreamt of having children, a family, or being a mother. I know now that I was too selfish to ever want to care for another human being. My husband and I had the mindset that life was going to happen however it was going to happen. We weren't working towards that "family" life, but we were also not working against it. And just 5 short months after our wedding, I found out I was pregnant.
Pregnancy, for me, was absolute magic. I took the best possible care of myself and my unborn child. I ate perfectly, I worked out with a personal trainer until I was 8.5 months along, and took better care of myself than I ever had in my life. I felt absolutely glorious. I told myself I never, ever, ever wanted to go back to drinking the way I did. I wanted to be better for myself, my husband, and our child. On September 11th, 2016 at 12:17am, my son Nash was born. I felt absolutely nothing. No angel hovered over me and placed my child in my hands, no rush of emotions entered my mind or body, I'm not even sure I shed a tear. I see now that this is where my REAL story starts.
I suffered from extreme postpartum depression and anxiety that went untreated. I wanted nothing to do with having a child, and it went extremely far beyond the baby blues. I lived with absolute skin crawling anxiety every second of every day, and being alone with my son was the most unsettling feeling I had ever experienced. Nursing did not work out for us, so I conceded to exclusively pump and it became an absolute obsession. Pumping 7-8 times a day left me laser focused on the clock, and losing more sleep than the simple fact of having an infant. I was more concerned with how many ounces I was pumping and how big my stash was becoming, than the actual fact of feeding my child. This time of my life seems nothing short of a nightmare and I can only truly recall wanting to climb out of my own skin and escape this life I had created for myself.
The one thing I told myself I never wanted to bring back in my life, alcohol, became the only known answer to escape my anxiety and true reality. And at that point, my disease of alcoholism progressed more rapidly than I knew humanly possible. Things I said I would never do; hiding my drinking, lying to my husband, and drinking in the morning, had quickly transpired. I was not drinking during the week while home alone with my son; not yet anyways. But when the weekends came and my husband was around to help out more, I took full advantage of that and of him. More weekends than not (probably all), my husband became the mother and the father. Most Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights I was too blacked out to even hear our son crying in the middle of the night, and most of those nights my husband would get me up to pump. He would get all of my supplies together, hook up the pump, set a timer for me, make the bottle, feed our son, all while trying to wake me out of my alcohol induced sleep.
I went back to work at 13 weeks postpartum, and as scary as it was to break back out into the real world, it was my way to simply get out. Our family struggled to find a balance for the next year. My husband had told me from the start that I didn't need to go back to work, but I was determined to not "lose my identity" and prove that I could be a working mom and do it all. However, although I wanted so badly to get out of the house for work, between a commute and 9 hour work day, the 11 hours I was away from my son each day for a dead end job brought me a whole other level of guilt. I decided that if I was going to be a working mom, it had better be for something I am passionate about because I wanted to show my son that mom was doing something with purpose. I took a part time job doing something I loved and thought that would cure all. It didn't. I had loose hours and was working with clients. Trying to fit in pumps between clients caused me even more anxiety which I didn't think was possible. The loose hours gave me some flexibility to stop at the liquor store on the way home from work and get a few shots in my system before going home to my family. It almost became even more toxic for me at the time. There's a lot of minor details in this part of my story, but I will skip straight to the point.
On Friday, May 26th, 2017, my husband was out of town for work. My dad came over to watch my son while I saw a few clients that morning. I was off of work at noon and knew I had the entire afternoon and evening ahead of me, alone, with my son. I stopped for a few shooters on the way home. My son and I spent the afternoon outside in the back yard, and this was the day I decided to keep drinking while spending alone time with my son. I was acquainted with a neighbor girl who had 2 kids of her own, but didn't know much about her except that I would see her outside with a drink in her hand once in awhile and I'd give her hand me downs when my son outgrew them. On this particular day, she joined me in the back yard for a cocktail. I guess having someone else around was the justification I needed to continue drinking that day. She stuck around long enough to help me with Nash's bath time, and that is the last thing I remember of that day.
My husband came home very late that night to find a stranger walking out our front door (he had never met her) and me passed out on the couch with empty glasses all over the house. He was scared to death. The next morning I woke up alone in my bed, had no idea my husband was even home, and the look on his face when I came downstairs is forever engraved in my mind. I came to discover that this woman I had in my house had stolen my credit cards and all of my prescription medication that I had for anxiety and panic attacks. This woman could have taken my child. I knew at that very moment that my husband was no longer going to support my lifestyle, and if something didn't change I was going to lose my family. Yet I continued to drink that entire weekend because my actions were the true definition of insanity. I had to con my husband, one last time, into believing my justifications as to why it was OK to drink again that next day.
That weekend was filled with phone calls I don't remember, videos on my phone of myself and my son that I don't remember, pictures of us all that I don't remember. The shame, guilt, and embarrassment I felt for myself just kept piling and piling and piling until it had no where else to go. I was at the end of my drinking career and it was absolute torture. On Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 at 33 years old, I woke up and knew exactly where I needed to go. I had been into the rooms of AA during my visits to treatment earlier in life, and I knew it was a program that saved peoples lives. So I went. I about had a panic attack on my drive there, but I went. I have been a grateful member of Alcoholics Anonymous ever since, and will forever know that this program has saved my life.
My son saved my life. It took having a child to put me in the darkest place I have ever been in my life. But because of that experience, I can truly say my life is more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. I got sober when my son was 9 months old. Today I am a stay at home mom, but we do employ a nanny for a few hours a week so that I can truly make time to focus on keeping my life in a state of improvement. I volunteer for 2 non profit agencies that are very near and dear to my heart; the MN Recovery Connection, and Pregnancy and Postpartum support MN where I not only volunteer but was voted into a seat on the board of directors. I also assist struggling moms on a helpline and am currently working on a project to see how I can bring both of these communities together, as sometimes they do go hand in hand.
I am proof of that, and women who have a history of mental health issues, as well as addiction, are at a greater risk for developing a perinatal mood disorder. I am very active in the recovery community, and sponsor women within the AA program as well. I share my story every chance that I get, in order to spread a message of hope and to let people know that they are never alone. My dream of helping others is finally coming true. My relationship with my son grows stronger every day, and our little family of 3 had a bond so strong that it truly will never be broken. My name is Morgan and I am an extremely grateful alcoholic.”