I am a recovering alcoholic
Watching my mother smoke, snort, swallow and drink every drug that was available to her was my reality as a child. In turn, this reality led, drove and resigned me to spend most of my childhood knowing that I never wanted to be like her and planning ways not to be. “Ah, the best laid plans,” I thought, as I lay slumped over the edge of my couch viciously dry-heaving into the steel pot lying on the floor beneath me. Worst-case scenario? I had become the very woman I resented. Wiping my mouth, trying to remove the evidence of last night’s binge, I realized I had become my mother.
“Dear God, please let me die,” the Lord’s Prayer uttered by most, if not all, alcoholics. Followed by the pledge: “If you decide to keep my pathetic shell of a body on this planet, I vow to never drink this poison again.” These prayers and pledges were often drowned out by the demons screeching in my head. The voices that reminded me how I was not smart enough, not skinny enough, not pretty enough. So many ways, I will never be enough.
Irony. The very voices that tore at my esteem were the same voices that would only be quieted and satiated with alcohol. I used alcohol to quiet the demons and the demons demanded the alcohol.
Last night. Well, last night had been just like every other time, day or night I had decided to drink myself into a blackout. Shot, after shot, after shot; I got drunk. Blasted. Wasted. Blind. That’s what I did.
It was July 19, 2006 and my husband was traveling out of town on business. His departure signaled the party was about to begin. Alcoholics love to drink when they think no one is watching. Alcoholics always believe they are smarter than their sober counterparts. We are emboldened by our lies. He was nervous to leave me because I had promised a thousand times before that I wouldn’t drink and a thousand times I had. Promises are made to be broken and mine were. The vows spoken from sober lips would soon be slurred into lies by my drinking.
My memory of that night is spotty at best. I remember stumbling into a few local bars, slurring and fawning over anyone that would talk to me. I heard later that some people that knew my friend, Shannon, had seen me and called her to inform her of my reckless behavior. Shannon quickly called my husband and told him that I had been driving drunk all over town and was a complete disaster; a tornado, the very hurricane of destruction my mother was.
My husband rushed home and they both confronted me in the living room. My head was pounding, my stomach was turning and the room never stopped spinning as they both sat in front me and pleaded with me to stop drinking. Tears fell from Shannon’s eyes and rested on her cheeks as she mustered the words, “You are going to kill yourself.” Unfortunately, at that moment, I honestly didn’t care. I mean I wanted to die. Yeah, Shannon, tell me something I don’t know. I was sick and tired of feeling worthless. I was also worthless at feeling sick and tired.
My husband, on the other hand, didn’t show the emotion that Shannon did. He was just flat out exhausted. He had been living an alcoholic induced nightmare for the past two years. Our relationship had seen him through a 30-day stint in rehab, one overdose that resulted in a two-day hospitalization, a three-month break-up, one DUI, and countless days and nights of worry. He was done. If I thought I was sick and tired, well, he was terminal.
Sitting before me was a broken, tired, man. His words cut me to the bone. Thankfully, I will never forget what he said. Now mind you, my husband is one of the most selfless, genuine and kind-hearted people that I have ever met but he was maxed out. Everyone has his or her limits.
He looked at me and said, “You don’t know what you do when you’re out drinking because you are in a blackout. I feel like I should have myself tested for diseases because you could be sleeping with people and not even remember.”
My heart was shattered and I felt suddenly dirty, disheveled and disgusting. My whole world felt like it was being ripped apart. For whatever reason, those words triggered something inside of me. He had tried to be understanding in the past. He had tried tough love. He had tried to be encouraging. He had tried it all. Now he wasn’t trying; he was giving up. I had never truly heard what he was saying because I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to get rid of my best friend. Alcohol had always made situations, people, places, things and even myself more tolerable. He didn’t deserve this kind of life. The difference was that now I knew and believed that I didn’t either.
For the past ten years, alcohol had consumed my thoughts and ravaged my mind. I convinced myself that I needed alcohol to survive. Happy, sad, hungry, confused, my past, my future; it didn’t matter. I could always create a reason that my feelings needed to be buried. Alcohol seemed to hold the shovel. Alcohol was the dirt. Alcohol would also be my executioner and my undertaker if I let it.
It’s safe to say that I am an alcoholic. I wasn’t aware, ten years ago, that being able to say those four words, “I am an alcoholic”, would save my life. But now I know, without a doubt, that if I would have never uttered them and actually believed them, I wouldn’t be alive. I am an alcoholic. Four words can change your life.
When I look into my three-year-old son’s perfect blue eyes I see love, honesty, hope and unselfishness. I feel the purest form of unconditional love that I never knew existed. Knowing that he has never had to see that hideous side of me brings me joy. My husband has been a gift from above. He knows everything about me and loves me in spite of those things. He loved me as the active alcoholic person I was and the recovering alcoholic person I am trying to be.
When I think about how I made people feel when I was at my darkest with alcoholism, my heart slides slowly into my gut. These memories are horrible, vile and painful. Yet, I keep them close and remind myself of them often. I breathe in the pain because it keeps me sober. I make a conscious decision every day to stay sober.
I deserve this chance. I deserve this life. I deserve to be loved. I deserve happiness. I am real and I am true. I allow myself to experience life. The good, the bad and the ugly. I embrace it with all of its ups and downs, twists and turns, with a newfound resilience. I can face life, feel its wrath and weather the storm without taking one drink because one drink is too many and a thousand is never enough.
I try my best to do the right thing and always be forthright and honest. However, we humans are a complex bunch. No matter how hard you try, sometimes you’re just an asshole. Today, I’m a sober asshole.