Realization: The Story of My Life – Before & After Recovery
These shoes have kept finding their way into every closet I’ve had for the past 8 years or longer. It occurred to me that I was drunk at least once in every single pair. That made it very easy for me to let them go once and for all. (K, maybe not the bottom left pair. I still love them too much.)
After I took this picture I realized out of the 8 shoes, I was only sober in 2 of them. This means I was drunk in 6 of them and each pair has a story in my “drunkalogue,” except for 2 of them. And at the end of the day, each pair hurt my feet so bad that I swore I would never wear them again (but I still would) except for 1 of them.
And that, my friends, is the story of my life:
I have been married for 8 years (now 11.)
I have been in recovery from alcohol for almost 6 years (now almost 9.)
I have had 2 daughters during that time.
I have countless stories from my glory days and beyond but only 2 that have yet to be told.
And of all the love interests that have hurt me along the way, only 1 revealed himself to me as the love of my life, my husband and father of my children.
If it weren’t for his tough love (which led to a myriad of resentments) I definitely would have kept drinking and created more problems for myself and likely would have tried to bring everyone down with me.
God always knows what I need. And sometimes it’s a swift kick in the ass to restore me to sanity.
Today, He continues to do for me what I cannot do for myself and for that, I am beyond grateful.
For the remainder of the year, I’ll be republishing posts. This was my very first blog post published on November 13, 2017.
I finally tackled the daunting task of purging, sorting and organizing my over cluttered closet yesterday. That shit show gave me a small dose of anxiety every time I walked in. It progressively got worse as each week passed; I’d tell myself over and over I’m going to get rid of a ton of stuff I don’t wear, use or need anymore and put everything else in it’s place. The magnitude of such an endeavor was paralyzing. Every once in a while I’d put shoes & clothes away and maybe organize one section that has gone sideways. I’d feel so accomplished🙄But it never lasted. It was only a matter of time before it was chaos once again.
I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I went full throttle – purging, sorting and organizing sections one at a time. I started with the one big thing I wanted to do the least and got it over with as fast as I could: a huge heaping pile of clothes. Before I knew it, I was done. But am I? No. I still have a few items to sift through and decide if it’s worth holding on to. I’ve accomplished a lot more than I thought I would so I’ll come back to those.
That, my friends, is also the story of my life when it comes to my drinking career, my forced retirement, my step work (or lack there of) and where I stand in my recovery 5 years and 8 months later without a sip of alcohol. I’ve entered into a new phase of my development where it is time I get honest and openly work a program that incorporates the 12-Steps of AA and some other tools I’ve picked up along the way.
I had a counselor once tell me “you are a good girl who likes to rebel…we need to find a healthy way for you to do that.”
Well, I have arrived.
Some might consider my way the “easier softer way” and that I’m playing with fire; increasing the risk of being led back to the one drug that made my life unmanageable and picking up right where I left off.
When I had to quit drinking, I said “fine, but you aren’t gonna take the cigs away, it’s all I have now.” So, I’ve been a closet smoker, off and on (but mostly on) for the past 8+ years. After each pregnancy, I swore I wouldn’t go back but of course, all it took was one and I was hooked again.
Caffiene? If I could walk around with an IV with a constant stream keeping me “up and at em” all day, I would. Stimulants, I love them! Coffee, diet pills, caffeine pills, Adderall, basically any upper that keeps me going – I’ll take it! Reeealllly healthy and smart of an alcoholic who also suffers from anxiety.
Drink decaf you say? Um, no. That’s like drinking a virgin anything. For an addict like me, if I’m not going to feel from the consumption, it’s a waste of my time. No thank you!* I don’t judge those who do drink decaf, it’s just not for me.
Or is it? Just today, one of my sisters in Christ (SIC) told me that decaf coffee might help curb the appetite now that I have quit smoking. Well okay then, decaf it is. I legit don’t need that much caffeine anyway. Plus, I don’t mind putting on 5 pounds but not 10.**
Yeah, you read that right. I quit. And for good this time. I finally conceded to my innermost self that I could not do it without assistance. I finally admitted defeat and got on Chantix, among other medications that I will not speak of. But if you go back in time and read all of my posts, I’m sure you can figure it out for yourself.
Yeah, you guessed right. I’m keeping some details to myself now. I know I’ve been an “open book” and I don’t regret a word of it. But I’ve also changed my perspective on some things and sharing certain details is one of them. There’s just some things that don’t need to be put out into the world for all to read…ya know?
That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tie this post back to my over the top reactions to circumstances. And I’m so done talking about my very colorful past; so to recap, I’ll wrap it up with a what?
Yep, you’re right, a list. Here are 3 scenarios that happened in the past 3 years, in which I CSW reacted but I didn’t:
Coulda – A male admirer left me a note asking me out. He was married. I could have had my husband call him and rip into him. But I didn’t. I took a picture of it and got rid of it. I allowed my husband to read the note (at his request) but I didn’t include the number. It took balls for that guy to make such a bold move, as he knew I was married as well; apparently it’s way more common to open up a marriage these days. Is it for me? No. Do I judge those who do? No. Live and let live. That’s what I say.
Shoulda – A womanizer looked me up and down and asked if my figure was “natural.” I was so taken aback and lacked confidence at the time. I replied with “ummmm, yeah, I’ve always been smaller but I also run.” He proceeded to talk about his overweight daughter in such a way, I wanted to punch him in the face. But I didn’t. I didn’t say anything. But I should have.
Woulda – One of the DUDS I wrote about had been trying to connect with me multiple times. I finally conceded and allowed him to make his amends. He was the second of 3 DUDS that I finally forgave and freed myself from. BUT, I made some poor choices after and if I could take them back, I would***. If I could go back, I would have blocked him right after he made his amends. Lesson learned…again…oh well.
Men, they’re a big part of my story and someday, I’m gonna have to tell my girls what they are up against; with men AND alcohol. I have a lot of lessons that I have learned that I wish, had I not been so stubborn, I would have learned sooner.
Oh well. I know what to do today and that’s all that matters. You know why?
I wrote this post on December 10, 2018. I can’t tell you what led up to me stumbling across this post today but for what it’s worth, this is a MAJOR God shot and another confirmation that I am exactly where I need to be. There is nothing wrong with me and I’m okay. In fact, I’m better than okay.
I had some major deja vu yesterday morning.
I woke up at 4:30 AM…again…as I have been every day for the past I don’t know how many weeks, for a while now.
I’m not complaining though, I love it! It is my absolute favorite time of the day. There is a woman I’ve watched in AA for years now…well…not so much recently but I still read her thought provoking texts every single morning. She always shares how mornings are her favorite part of her day. Of all the things she has said that I had rolled my eyes at, that was never one of them. I have always loved mornings too…well…when I wasn’t hungover.
Or a mom to two girls.
Their cries, fights, screams, whines and incessant demands have helped me see the value in silence, which has made me love the mornings even more. The sound of silence, oh how I savor thee.
So it’s 4:30 and I’m awake. I settle in to do my morning “spiritual fitness” routine which goes a little something like this:
As I sat in reflection, I turned to H and mentioned just how much I loved getting up so early and then hit the deja vu: that exact moment felt strangely familiar and yet different at the same time. Wasn’t it about a year ago that I was doing the same exact thing?
I had to go look at my IG feed and by golly, it was! 1 year and 4 days ago to be exact, I was getting up around 4:30-5 every morning, on my own, no alarm clock and spending time with God with a fire blazing in the fireplace. I didn’t understand why then but I sure AF do now.
1 year ago, I was begging God to take over because, while I was still without a sip of alcohol in, at the time, almost 6 years, I was miserable on so many levels.
I prayed for a miracle.
I remember feeling the presence of God with me one morning as I was praying in the fetal position, face down in my hands on the carpet. I had this vision of him wrapping his arms around me and say “it’s going to be okay, my child. You are going to be okay. Just keep doing everything you are doing. Don’t stop. You are going to be alright.”
It wasn’t long after that I wrote a blog post after a 5 week hiatus of NO writing. It was only my 5th post published on New Year’s Eve and I was in a lot of fear.
Since then, the entire year of 2018 has been nothing short of mini miracles, one after another. And this entire time, as I have grown in my faith and recovery, I still will hear in my head, “it’s all a lie. God does not exist. How can there really be a God who can do such miraculous things?”
It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around, it really is, but my faith is strong enough today to realize where that voice is coming from and what I have to do to make it go away: rebuke, read and reflect.
You guys, the last paragraph of my devotional started with the following sentence:
“So don’t let any evil enemy whisper lies into your ears.”
THEN the accompanying Bible reference was a story in 2 Kings and once again, God revealed himself to me like he always does; reassuring me that indeed He’s STILL here with me, He IS real and He IS at work in my life in miraculous ways.
And theeeennnnn the daily reflections (DR), OH. MY. GOSH. Look. Just look.
If you only knew what the year 2018, 2019 and 2020 has looked like for me, your mind would be blown just as much as mine is by this DR. It’s really quite amazing and hard to put into words but I’m going to try as this blog unfolds.
I have so much I want to share and I know it’s been a while. Let me reassure YOU that I’m still here and I still haven’t picked up a drink.
I want to also reassure you..well..no, I guess this will be the first time I’m saying it: I really don’t care to talk about my marijuana usage any longer…for now anyway. Is it still part of my life? Yes. Does it rule my life or my recovery for that matter? No. Will I mention it again? Probably. Why? Because it’s still a PART of the story. That’s why.
I’m still in the “what happened” portion of my story and I’m not done yet; there is still more to share. Before I get into “what it’s like now,” I invite you to visit Skeletons Part 2.12 for a little review. Seriously…please go read it after you finish this post.
Then I may or may not go into more details about the list of 12 things that happened in 2018 before I jump into 2019 and tell you more cool “shtuff” that happened when I accepted my alcoholism, surrendered my will over to the care of God as I understand Him and got honest in the rooms of AA.
Who knows, maybe my story will help you in your recovery too.
That IS how it works, after all.
P.S. The 5th post I mentioned above is also worth a read because I talk about our Elf, Gidget, and how we do “Elf on the Shelf” in OUR house. You can find it by visiting the My Story page, titled Disclaimer. This is year number 3 and we are having so much fun with it; so much so that I decided to give Gidget her own page to showcase the shenanigans she’s gotten into and the notes she and A1 have been leaving for each other.
It was a long hug; with a stranger whom less than an hour prior, I was cursing at.
When we broke our embrace, she looked at me and said again, “just pray sweetie, God will give you peace.”
When I got to work, the thought came to me “you need to go back to that first lot and make amends.” And that’s what I did. I also was inspired to visit the second lot as well and thankfully, the woman from earlier was still there. She greeted me with a huge smile.
Her: What are you doing back here?
Me: Well, I really felt bad for my behavior this morning so I wanted to come and bring you gift.
I handed her a voucher to come to my skin care studio. She was shocked…and so was I. I couldn’t believe what I was doing. Then I asked her if she was a Christian and she said she was and that she goes to a church less than 5 minutes from my house. She invited me and I attended once. A week later, the pastor had a stroke and then a week after that, our country shut down.
THAT, my friends, is what I consider a “God Shot.” No, I didn’t make that up. It’s a term I learned in “the rooms;” and I’ve experienced A LOT ever since that day.
But before I get to the best part, I need to finish telling you what it was like before I experienced, what I can confidently say, was the day I woke up a brand new person.
March 13, 2020 – we got the official word that my husband had been predicting for weeks: schools were closing. And I welcomed it. My husband is self-employed and I work part time, so we were were actually kind of excited at the idea of all the family bonding time and getting projects done. No schedules, no lunches to be made, no lines to wait in for drop off and pick up; it was a “break” that I deemed a blessing in the midst of tremendous uncertainty.
It was great. For about a month. Next thing I knew, feelings of depression and anger started setting in. Like many parents, I was starting to lose my mind. I found myself fighting those episodes of rage that had finally stopped and I was crying. Every. Single. Day. I was overindulging on sugar and self-medicating in excess with marijuana. I was spiraling and felt out of control with my emotions once again.
Something had to change. At this point, I knew that my girls were not returning back to school any time soon and my new facial business that I had JUST opened in January was going to remain closed for an undetermined amount of time. Once again, I felt lost and defeated.
R2 had told me about this 40 Day sugar fast she was doing alongside a book that is meant to transform your spirituality and relationship with Christ. It had already been put on my heart that maybe my over-indulgence in sugar was affecting my brain, so I took this as a sign that I needed to fast and read the book too.
I started the book on Tuesday, May 26th.
On May 29th, I cried out to God to help me.
And on May 30th, the Holy Spirit took over and things haven’t been the same since.
I started this post about a year ago and the time has come to finish it.
I think I have a legit anger problem. At 7+ years sober, I only just recently figured this out about myself a couple weeks ago.
H had pissed me off about something that, of course, I can’t remember now. I was (and still am) trying to quit smoking cigarettes. So naturally, my go to when I am mad at him is to rebel. I went, bought a pack, took them home and puffed 2 down in a matter of 10 minutes (or less!)
I felt guilty after and it hit me right then and there: wow, anger is a major trigger for me.
Just like I did when I drank. I drank AT people, places and things.
I have now been sober from alcohol for 8.5 years. Exactly 102.06 months, 3,106 days and 74,549 hours.
And guess what?!? 15 days ago, I hit 2 years clean from Adderall.
Both of those are miracles but I’ve got even a better one that I cannot wait to tell you about.
Up until 4 months ago, I was still struggling with my anger management. While I was no longer experiencing episodes of rage, I was still allowing my emotions to get the best of me; leaving me filled with tremendous guilt, shame, and remorse.
Earlier this year, we had house guests for the whole month of February. Towards the end of their stay, I was ready for things to “go back to normal” and wasn’t coping very well. My husband had been following the virus infiltrating our country and preparing our home for the impending lockdowns; and like many Americans in the early days, I didn’t truly understand the severity of what we were facing and that ” going back to normal” was never going to happen.
One week left in February and my car was towed from outside my house. I was enraged. The next morning, upon arriving at the tow lot, I saw that the gate was open. So instead of going into the office to pay for the release of my car, I decided I would just walk on the lot and take it.
Adrenaline had taken over and aint’ nobody was going to stop me. I was immediately approached by a man who told me I wasn’t allowed in there and I walked right past him and told him I was just getting my wallet – which – was a lie. I was literally going to steal my own car.
Long story short, I shared some choice words with the manager and then immediately fell apart into a puddle of tears. And guess what? My car wasn’t there. It was at their other lot. When we got to the other lot, I was met with what looked like an intercom. I could hear the woman inside dealing with another customer as I pushed the button.
I push it again.
My husband suggests that maybe the other lot had called and warned them that I was coming, which incensed me even more. So I started pushing the button non stop. The woman finally responds out the door “I’m with a customer, I’ll be with you soon” and how did I respond?
Me: “THAT’S ALL YOU HAD TO F&%$ING SAY!”
Her: “Don’t you talk to me like that! Just for that, you’re gonna sit out there longer!”
I was already crying and now I’m sitting on the curb, in the fetal position, balling, as my family watched from the car. “Longer” was just a couple minutes and then I was let in. I apologized for cussing at her and she nearly cut me off and said “do not use that language again” or something to that effect, to which I replied “I just apologized.”
I went on to explain that the reason I was so upset was because the last time I had my car towed was because I had been arrested for my second DUI and now 9 years later, it’s being towed from outside my house because of my service to another; never mind that I was breaking rules I never took the time to learn. The woman seemed cold – she couldn’t care less. I wanted her to join my pity party and she was declining my invite.
When we went to retrieve my wallet, I apologized again and she acknowledged that the button I pushed over and over looks like an intercom, so she understood why I felt like I was being ignored.
But I still couldn’t really get myself together. I was on the verge of tears the entire time. When departing in the lot, I don’t remember what I said to her as I let the tears start rolling down my face again. But I do remember what she said,
“It’s going to be okay. Just pray.”
My heart burst open. I said “I love Jesus and I do pray.”
Disclaimer: I started this post just over a year ago. After reading what I started, I’ve decided to keep my original words and just add to it, as I’m feeling similar feelings today, except, for totally different reasons.
I am overwhelmed with feelings today. Lots of feelings ranging from extreme sadness to extreme gratitude. The self-reflection that I have been doing is almost too much for me to handle. At 7+ years sober (now 8+), I see so clearly now how what goes on in my head can debilitate me and why I drank for so long to escape all the extreme emotions.
At this stage in my recovery, I’m so happy and surprised at the same time. I no longer fight the desire to drink my feelings away. I no longer fight the notion of “someday” recapturing the feeling of freedom alcohol gave me in social situations. I no longer carry the shame, guilt and remorse for the things that I did under the influence. That right there, is a miracle in and of itself. I never thought I’d say that and yet here I am.
I am by no means cured though. Nope. I’m still fighting the battle of self and all the demons and character defects that were present long before alcohol was ever a part of my story. Check this shit out:
The very last sentence at the bottom reads: I wish I could forget the frustrations aside.
Then on the other side, a final two sentences:
And think of the lives with the pain and sorrow. Then think of my troubles tomorrow.
I wrote that poem on August 30, 1995 – I was 15 years old.
And that was 25 years ago…today.
For old time’s sake, let’s take a moment and acknowledge the numbers 15 and 25. In Skeletons 1.1, I used my discarded shoes as metaphors to talk about “the story of my life before and after recovery” and how God was doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself to restore me to sanity. I mention my husband, whom I met at age 15. I got my first DUI at age 25; which was God’s third attempt at getting my attention with regards to my drinking. And THAT was 15 years ago.
What’s my point? My point is God has been involved the entire time, I just ignored Him. I ignored all the “signs” and got in my own way of living a life free of guilt, shame, remorse, worry and fear. Even after the alcohol was removed over 8 years ago, I still wanted to live my life MY way, do recovery MY way, do everything MY way and thought I could fix my problems MY way.
Humilty, my friends, I needed to be humbled. Even at 15 years old, I was convicted, but it took 25 years for me to really humble myself the way God wanted me to – to smash my ego and humble myself to see His true will for my life.
So much changed since I started this blog almost 3 years ago, but the most change has happened in the past 3 months. I’m not going to talk about that just yet and want to circle back to how my feelings today mirror those that I was feeling last year but for different reasons.
Last year, I was feeling tremendous gratitude for my life and how far I had come in recovery. Life was good! But life wasn’t good for others and I was greatly saddened. A dear friend’s sister (who was also my friend but we weren’t close) had just suddenly died from addiction. Another friend was “on the run,” unable to see her children and fighting major demons. I was seeing alcoholism wreak havoc in the marriage of another couple who I love, and watching another friend continue to sabotage his life with booze. My heart was hurting.
One year later, my heart is still hurting. Our country has been turned upside down with a global pandemic that has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands and upended the lives of millions. Our “new normal” has brought about extreme stress, fear and uncertainty. Racism and police brutality has been brought to the forefront, resulting in mass protests and riots, turning people against each other. Humans are acting like wild, untamed animals. Politics, I’ve never been a fan but what’s going on right now is just an utter shit show and has caused me to lose trust in our democracy. I could go on and on but you know, you’ve had a front row seat as well.
Yet, life is still good. In fact, life is better today than it was a year ago.
How is that? How can I say that my life is better now than it was a year ago when you consider what’s been going on this year?
Here’s the fourth of five UN-edited articles that I’ll be sharing before I shut down my blog for re-construction.This post was written in February of this year.
When I first quit drinking 8 years ago, it wasn’t by choice. I was an alcoholic who knew deep down I could never drink again but I refused to accept it. I did not want to be done for good and therefore, wanted to protect my right to drink by not being honest about how bad my drinking really had gotten. I remember another sober woman telling me early on that the reason I was refusing to admit my alcoholism to anyone else was because once I did, it closed the door on ever drinking with whoever I told the truth to. And she was right.
I wasn’t even a month sober when I found out I was pregnant. By the grace of God, I was finally going to become a mom and now had a perfect excuse to not drink. Staying sober was easy and hiding my alcoholism even easier.
In early recovery, social gatherings were my main trigger. After my daughter was born, I had breastfeeding as an excuse but now, staying sober wasn’t as easy. I’ll never forget a business dinner my husband I attended. We toured our host’s wine cellar and then went to dinner where the wine never stopped. I was “white knuckling it” the entire time. Upon departing for the evening, the host insisted we return after I was done breastfeeding so I could enjoy their collection. It took everything in me not to cry right then and there – so I waited until we got in the car and let the tears flow immediately.
Self-pity was my favorite.
Fast forward 7 years later and I no longer fight the anxiety of being the only one not drinking and being asked why. But I do still fight the triggers on the rare occasion and it’s usually because I am restless, irritable or discontent. Last weekend we attended a lunch at a winery. I had been to wineries in the past – sober and pregnant. But I had never been wine tasting at a winery and I always wished I had. Isn’t that funny? But I digress.
Tensions ran high with my daughter as we prepared to leave for this lunch and on the way there, I decided: I’m gonna drink today. That thought was immediately followed by “no you’re not” and then from there I proceeded to judge myself for even considering such a terrible idea at almost 8 years sober from alcohol.
The longer we were there, the less I wanted to drink but the more annoyed that I was still somewhere I no longer wanted to be. The person next to me was drinking and when he was asked by the server if he wanted water, he responded with “I’m allergic.” I laughed out loud and he looked at me with a dead pan face.
“Wait, really? You’re allergic to water? How is that?” I said.
He proceeded to explain to me that water tastes like shit and he refuses to drink it.
5 minutes later, my impatience for our food to arrive took over and he turns to me and says,
“Just chill, have a drink.”
I look at him and say “yeah, no, I’m allergic.”
I get the same dead pan expression staring back at me and then he says “really?”
“Yep, when I drink, I bread out in poor judgement, make bad decisions and end up in handcuffs.”
I can’t tell you what his response was. Did he laugh? Probably and that was my intent. But more importantly, two things happened after that: One, I planted a seed. And two, any remaining ounce of desire to drink was immediately removed.
That is my intent for living my recovery out loud and proud. By sharing my truth and being honest, I’m planting seeds in the minds of other potential alcoholics and by doing so, I’m protecting my need to stay sober.
Here’s the third of five UN-edited articles that I’ll be sharing before I shut down my blog for re-construction. It was composed in October, 2019.
“You wouldn’t know, you’re not a mother.”
My friend was right. She was a mom in the depths of toddler hell and I was childless.
What you don’t know is, I had suffered a miscarriage less than 6 months prior and was actively trying to get pregnant again – I wanted to be a mother more than anything.
But she did know. She knew that and she uttered those hurtful words anyway because she was struggling with something I knew nothing about. Which is funny because, I ALSO was struggling with something she knew nothing about. She didn’t have to “try” for a baby and she never knew what it was like to lose one either. I don’t remember if I pointed that out to her then or not. My guess is, I did.
I called my husband on my way to work to invite him to my daily pity party of 1:
“Can you believe she’d say that?” (waaaah waaaah) “She KNOWS how bad I want a baby!” (waaaaaaaaah)
What you also don’t know is, I had already polished off the wine from the night before. But he did.
“Have you been drinking?”
Of course I lied. I lied all the time about my drinking. But everyone close to me knew I was an alcoholic. Down deep, even I knew, but I was drowning in a sea of denial at the same time.
Less than 6 months later, I got my second DUI on my 32nd birthday. 2 days later, my husband told me he thought it best to wait 6 months to get pregnant. Devastation is an understatement. I wanted to get hammered but instead, cried myself to sleep because it had been decided for me that I was done drinking. Sure, I could have drank but I did not want to deal with the consequences…not that weekend, anyway.
I went on to relapse a handful of times over the next two months and for some reason, my husband changed his mind on baby making. I picked up a sponsor to make everyone think I was serious about sobriety (cuz I wasn’t) and she highly suggested I wait a year to get pregnant.
What do you think this dry drunk girl did?
1 month later, I saw 2 lines and it wouldn’t be too long until I would experience the challenges that come with ages 0-5 that my friend was lamenting about just before she dropped that insensitive statement on me.
Do I regret getting pregnant in my first year of recovery? Of course not! God did for me what I could not do for myself. I’m convinced that had I not gotten pregnant, I would have drank again and again; causing more wreckage along the way.
That being said, I’m also positive that had I put more effort into my recovery that first year, I would have been better equipped with tools to handle life when it got harder after we brought home baby #2.
Because being a mother is hard AF. I cannot imagine doing it drunk.
Being a mother (with alcoholism) without a complete reliance on a Higher Power proved to be unbearable. For me anyway. Hence the name of this series – My Recovery Rock Bottom.
2 more posts and a final “sign off” before I shut down my page for all things new.