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Driving Drunk Sent Me Crashing Into Recovery

I was driving drunk while my five and seven-year-old children were in the back seat of my car. I have to live with that.

My intentions that day were not to hurt anyone. I was depressed and self-medicating; both had taken over. That sounds like a bunch of excuses I realize, but it’s the truth. I was ashamed of the mother, wife, and person I had become and I tried to drown my pain with booze. The accident was inevitable, but my recovery is a gift.

There were many signs early on that indicated I had a problem, I simply chose to ignore them.

On January 10, 2010, I couldn’t hide the truth about me any longer. I placed my children in the back seat of my car, buckled them in and started home. I don’t remember the car ride. I only remember hearing my son yell, “MOMMY” as I veered off of the road and hit a tree. I don’t know what I was thinking in that moment.

The reality of the accident set in as I was being pulled from the rubble and I look over to see my five-year-old daughter lying on a stretcher. I screamed for her! The guilt was immediate and the fear was relentless. What have I done? I remember thinking, what have I done?

My daughter survived the accident and I am four years sober. I can’t take that day back and I can’t hide from my truth anymore. I am an alcoholic. For so long I denied the truth about myself because I didn’t want to be labeled a drunk. I was afraid of what other people might think of me if they ever saw the “real” me. But who was I kidding? They knew, everyone knew, but me. My drinking became so disruptive. It cost me friends, jobs, my home, and nearly my daughter. After the accident, I couldn’t live with myself and I had nothing to offer my family and daughter to show that I was remorseful except, being sober.

I always say that living sober is the best amends. This is the only way I can say I’m sorry every day without having to say it at all.

I chose to share my story on Oprah Winfrey’s Life Class back in July of 2012 to advocate for other women who are feeling the same was I was;  stuck, alone, scared, and confused, not at all a good place to be. Because I took that first step in admitting defeat, the relationships with all those who matter in my life are at peace. I am at peace. My past, my guilt, my addiction and in my recovery, I am at peace. I have forgiven myself for the mistakes I have made and take each day as an opportunity to reach out and start the conversation about addiction. Luckily, through recovery, I have learned that there truly is a softer and easier way.

This post was submitted by Amy B.

The 11 Addiction Memoirs To Add To Your Bookshelf

We have a Recovery Book List and Recovery Movie List and now, we’re releasing our Sober Memoir List! Truth be told, I wrote this somewhat selfishly (it’s my goal to read more this year!). I have read many of these books and can honestly recommend them, and the few that I haven’t read have made it onto my to-be-read list. Happy Reading!

This post contains affiliate links.

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget—by Sarah Hepola

From day one, I was a blackout drinker, and I continued to be a blackout drinker until I gave up drinking, that’s one of the many reasons I see myself in this bravely written book.

“A memoir of unblinking honesty and poignant, laugh-out-loud humor, BLACKOUT is the story of a woman stumbling into a new kind of adventure—the sober life she never wanted. Shining a light into her blackouts, she discovers the person she buried, as well as the confidence, intimacy, and creativity she once believed came only from a bottle.” You can find it on Amazon.

The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley

A memoir from the woman who brought us the blog, Mummy Was A Secret Drinker, which uses humor and honesty to help you answer such questions as Am I drinking too much? What changes will sobriety bring to my life?

The Sober Diaries has been called, “A bravely honest and brilliantly comic account of how one mother gave up drinking and started living. This is Bridget Jones Dries Out.” You can find it on Amazon.

Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel

Another book I read through in active addiction. This memoir isn’t 100% about addiction, but it’s 100% recommended. In my opinion, it’s a cult classic and shouldn’t be left out. Prozac Nation has been compared to Girl, Interrupted and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. And I honestly think you’ll love it, relate to it and be unable to put it down.

The New York Times says, “Sparkling, luminescent prose . . . A powerful portrait of one girl’s journey through the purgatory of depression and back.”  You can find it on Amazon.

Girl Walks Out Of A Bar by Lisa Smith

Girl Walks Out Of A Bar was my first audible purchase and I did not regret it! It was relatable, honest, and entertaining.

Lisa Smith gives us a darkly comic, honest, and completely relatable inside look at high-functioning addiction in the world of corporate law-a sort of ‘Sex and the Psych Ward.’ It’s inspiring, informative, and impossible to put down.”  -Jennifer Belle, best-selling author of High Maintenance and The Seven Year Bitch. You can find it on Amazon.

Drunk Mom by Jowita Bydlowska

A favorite on my bookshelf, Drunk Mom is a memoir about a simple relapse leading back into full-blown alcoholism and the fight this one mama puts into regaining her sobriety.

Lena Dunham called the book “An intense, complex and disturbing story, bravely and beautifully told. I read Drunk Mom with my jaw on the floor, which doesn’t happen to me that often.” You can find it on Amazon.

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

From the author of Running With Scissors (another book I recommend), Dry was a book I read in active addiction, though sobriety seemed impossible at that time in my life, I saw myself in this book and often looked back on it in early sobriety.

The description of the book in Amazon says, “You may not know it, but you’ve met Augusten Burroughs. You’ve seen him on the street, in bars, on the subway, at restaurants: a twentysomething guy, nice suit, works in advertising. Regular. Ordinary. But when the ordinary person had two drinks, Augusten was circling the drain by having twelve; when the ordinary person went home at midnight, Augusten never went home at all…[this is] a memoir that’s as moving as it is funny, as heartbreaking as it is true. Dry is the story of love, loss, and Starbucks as a Higher Power.” You can find it on Amazon.

My Fair Junkie by Amy Dresner

After hearing Amy speak on a podcast a few months ago, My Fair Junkie was my second audible purchase, while it’s NSFW, I couldn’t stop listening (thank goodness for headphones!) It hits on every form of addiction – sex, drugs, and booze. It’s a wild ride with a beautiful outcome.

Amazon describes the book as “in the tradition of Orange Is the New Black and Jerry Stahl’s Permanent Midnight…this is an insightful, darkly funny, and shamelessly honest memoir of one woman’s battle with all forms of addiction, hitting rock bottom, and forging a path to a life worth living.”

High Achiever by Tiffany Jenkins

I am a huge fan of Tiffany Jenkins and I am ashamed to admit I had no idea this hilarious vlogger wrote a book!

“Once word got out that I was currently withdrawing from opiates on the floor of a jail cell, people in my town were shocked, to say the least. Not because of the 27 felonies I’d acquired, or the nature of my crimes, but mainly because my boyfriend was a Sheriff Deputy, and his friends—our friends, were the ones who’d arrested me. I spent 120 days in a jail where every officer knew what I had done to their ‘brother in blue’ and despised me for it. After a few suicide attempts, cavity searches, pillow fights, and lesbian love affairs, I made my way to a residential treatment center. It was there that I recounted the harrowing events leading up to my arrest, and eventually began the process of recovering from a life of addiction.” You can find the book on Amazon.

I’m Just Happy to Be Here by Janelle Hanchett

I have a total writer-crush on Janelle Hanchett (from the blog Renegade Mothering), so much so that I am currently working on an interview with her for our next Inspirational Sober Mommies.  This book is beautifully written and honestly relatable to any mama who’d felt out of place.

“Hanchett’s memoir speaks with warmth and wit to those who feel like outsiders in parenthood and life–calling out the rhetoric surrounding “the sanctity of motherhood” as tired and empty, boldly recounting instead how one grows to accept an imperfect self within an imperfect life–thinking, with great and final relief, “Well, I’ll be damned, I’m just happy to be here.”  You can find it on Amazon.

Between Breaths by Elizabeth Vargas

This inspiring read is written by former ABC 20/20 anchor,  Elizabeth Vargas. She shares her raw account of living with crippling anxiety which led her to the bottle, which is how her career and life began to fall apart. This book is incredibly relatable to any woman struggles with both anxiety disorder and addiction.

“Beloved former ABC 20/20 anchor Elizabeth Vargas reveals her alcohol addiction and anxiety disorder in a shockingly honest and emotional memoir. Winner of the Books for a Better Life Award in the First Book category.” You can find the book on Amazon.

Bent Back into Shape: Beating Addiction Through Yoga by Esther Nagle

Bent back into shape is by one of our own Sober Mommies, Esther Nagle. Esther entered yoga teacher training as a new career venture, and she gained so much more. In this book she describes how yoga has been absolutely instrumental in sobriety.  (I just downloaded it on my Kindle, message me, we can read it together!)

Charlotte Harding from Recovery Mummy calls of the book: “A very brave and truthful account I can relate to. Thought-provoking, informative, a must-read for anyone wanting to find spirituality and learn about the use of yoga in addiction recovery.”

There ya have it! Feel free to share with your sober tribe, and be sure to comment below one’s we left out! Our library can never be too big! And, don’t forget, if you purchase any of these books on Amazon, be sure to use AmazonSmile, which doesn’t add to the cost of your purchase, but the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to Sober Mommies.

Changing the Narrative on Mommy Wine Culture

I cringed reading my friend’s Facebook post the other day. Her day had gone about as bad as possible. Complete with public toddler meltdowns and one kid making a run for it through a parking lot.

Gah. I’ve been there. And there was nothing I wanted more after reading that post than to offer my friend some comfort. Some empathy.

Just as I scrolled down the comments to post something to cheer her up, I paused at the comments already posted. The four comments before me all made reference to her needing wine. And while one or two of them joked about a glass of wine, one suggested significant wine. Like, let’s get you drunk amounts.

I’m no saint you guys. I used to do this too. And for a long time, wine WAS my solution to stress. Wine after a hard day was my go-to for self-medicating.

And maybe if it stopped at one glass, it wouldn’t have mattered much. But for me? It never stopped at one.

I’ve been sober for a little over a year. I think the biggest change in me is my reduced anxiety overall. I’m sure you’ve probably heard that alcohol is a depressant. So then why, after an especially tough day, are we encouraging our friends and ourselves to consume a depressant on top of how they already feel?

It’s become a cultural norm to suggest alcohol for just about anything… bad days, good days, boredom, celebration, even made up holidays like “National Wine Day?” And all of these suggestions? They’re not harmless.

For me, someone who could not stop at just one drink, they were triggers. They were justification to pop the cork. They were excuses to temporarily numb the strain in a way that would cause more harm when the buzz waned and I felt the pangs of withdrawal through headaches, shakes and a foggy brain.

But what if we changed the narrative? What if, instead of encouraging moms after a rough day with the kids to drink, we suggest something uplifting?

Sunshine is a well known natural lift. Exercise? Hello! And hiking or a nice walk is a beautiful combo of the two. I know it’s not as sexy as the hot chicks in the alcohol commercials. I know rappers never talk about getting lit from a great hike. But it’s a healthy, positive way to self-medicate when times are hard.

I know it seems inconsequential, and for many of you, I’m a total buzz kill because for you it seems like a harmless little joke. But for people like me, it’s a trigger. And it can be dangerous.

When I have a rough day with the kids, I don’t need wine. It’s probably the worst, most self-sabotaging thing I could do for myself, in fact. Please consider this the next time you encourage your friends to drink a “glass or three” when they cry out for help or sympathy.

Let’s change the narrative together.

Celeste Yvonne is a popular blogger and personality who writes about all things parenting. Last year her “Dear Husband” post went viral to tens of millions of readers around the world. Celeste shared her frustrations with the invisible workload for moms and pressure we face to run the household, even as many of us return to work. Celeste’s writing resonates with mothers everywhere, and she speaks with a candor and honesty that is unusual in this world of filters.

Celeste recently admitted to her struggles with alcohol and writes about the mommy wine culture and pressure to self-medicate that almost pulled her under. Now one year sober, she writes about her decision to be sober started for her kids…and how it ultimately helped her define her own sense of self. You can find her on at And What a Mom and on Facebook.

The Best Apology

It’s February 2004 and I’m sitting outside of my Aunts house in Marietta. My life is a mess, and the prognosis is not hopeful. I live in the finished basement downstairs. I am very sick.

I actually made it into work today, so I’m rewarding myself with the usual- straight whiskey, coke chaser, and an endless chain of cigarettes. I’m 24 years old and I haven’t gone one single day without a drink in about four years.

I stumble inside around 11 pm and notice a letter on my coffee table from my Aunt. “Raegan—you need to find another place to live. You have a serious drinking problem, and I hope you get the help you need—but you cannot continue living here. I love you.”

“She’s right”, I say to myself. “I do need to find another place to live. One where people won’t judge me and be all in my business. I’m a grown woman. I don’t need this bullshit.”

It’s February 2011 and I’m sitting outside of my sister’s house in Marietta, while my two-year-old daughter naps inside. My life is completely out of control, and there is no foreseeable hope for our future. We live in the finished basement downstairs. I’m sicker than I’ve ever been. My daughter went down without a fight today, so I’m rewarding myself with the usual- swigs of cheap vodka (straight from the bottle), Juicy Juice chaser, and too many cigarettes. I’m 31 years old, and (besides my pregnancy and the month after my daughter’s birth), I have not gone without a daily drink in 11 years.

I wander upstairs for more juice, and see a letter on the refrigerator “For Rae.”

“I told you what was required to stay here and you just can’t do it, can you? Start planning your move. I can’t do this. I won’t do this anymore.” My Sister.

“She’s right,” I think. “I need more freedom—I’m a grown woman—this is driving me crazy.”

It’s February 2012 and I’m hiding behind my grandmother’s house in Statesboro. My life is a disaster, and the prognosis is extremely grim. I’m 32 and I live in my Mema’s downstairs guest room. I am very, very sick. Two days ago I was released from a six-day stay at the nearest mental institution—1013’d there after a suicide attempt. I’ve lost custody of my daughter, and I just want the pain to go away. I don’t care how. I am at death’s door, one way or another.

I come inside and see a letter taped to my bedroom door. “Raegan—I love you honey but I can’t do this. You need to move out. You need to get HELP for your alcoholism.” My Mema.

“She’s right,” I say to myself. “I do need to move out. I can’t live under such scrutiny any longer. I’m a grown woman.”

It’s February 2014 and I’m sitting on my couch. My life feels unbearable without my child. I’m 34 and I live in a tiny apartment with my now husband. I am extremely depressed. But this time—I reach out for help instead of a bottle. By the grace of God, I stumble upon a group of women on a site called “Sober Mommies”.

This time, I write a letter. I send a private message, and the publisher responds within two minutes. Her words, and the words and support of other women who read my letter after it was posted anonymously on the site, give me something I have not had in years—hope.

“They’re right,” I say to myself. “I’m worthy of giving myself a better life.”

It’s February 2019 and I’m sitting outside of my Aunt’s house in Marietta. We came here to visit my grandmother (Mema). Her cancer has returned, and the prognosis is not hopeful this time. She lives in the finished basement downstairs. She is dying.

I venture down the familiar stairs leading to the basement. As I walk up to her recliner to chat with her I see the dozens of cards and letters she’s received displayed throughout. Sitting beside her on the end table, I notice a letter. It’s dated December 4, 2018. I smile. It’s from me.

It’s all the things I’d hoped to say to her in person when we visited in November for her 90th birthday, but never had the time alone with her because she’s just so popular. It’s the beginning of my amends to her. I included a copy of the poem I wrote and read aloud at her party:

My Mema
Rises with the sun
And uses each day’s promise
To live a life well done

My Mema
Doesn’t fret over or “things” or money
Needs no band-aids for boo-boos
Stitches wounds with magical kisses and, “Oh, Honey”s.

My Mema
Personifies resilience, strength
It is her same indomitable spirit
I summon during personal trials and angst

My Mema
Loves her some Jesus!
And has been blessed with so many gifts
Her writing, her smarts, her kindness, her drive- the “distinctly Mema” smile that dances on her lips

My Mema
Is my hero
And I know that it isn’t just me
That believes if we all try to follow her lead
What a wonderful world this would be.

I hold her hand, and we talk for a while. My Aunt and sister join us, and we reminisce, laugh, and cry. It’s time for her to lie down, so we say good night. “I’ll see you in the morning,” I say. The words catch in my throat because I realize that is not promised to me. I kiss her forehead and go.

Upstairs we sit and visit—me, my sister, my Aunt, and my daughter. I am fully aware of how fortunate I am in this moment, and my heart swells with gratitude.

A lot happened in that five-year span between my new found hope and my repaired relationships with those my alcoholism hurt. I excelled, I slipped, I grew, I face planted- improved, bawled, laughed my ass off, broke my own heart, found purpose…. and so much more. And I’m still doing all of that. I’ve heard that “the best apology is changed behavior,” and that’s true. But it doesn’t happen overnight. I’ll spend the rest of my life making amends to my harmed loved ones simply by living the kind of life I know I deserve and treating them the way I know they deserve.

How I Explained Recovery To My Daughter

I always dreaded the day that I would need to explain my alcoholism to my daughter.  I knew that it was going to be a necessary conversation; a conversation that would help to heal the wounds that my drinking behavior had caused her. After all, this is a family disease, and my mom was also an alcoholic. So after contemplating a long time, having the conversation just seemed like the right thing to do for my family; including the two sons I had in sobriety.

I had a long journey into sobriety, motivated in the beginning by several legal consequences. It took another four years before I was able to maintain long-term sobriety. In my early recovery, I went to a 12-step meeting every single day no matter what. Eventually, my ex and I split up, and we were awarded joint custody of our daughter. Being a single mom all of a sudden, I often took my daughter to the meetings. I bought a portable DVD player and headphones, and we sat in the back of the room as not to disturb anyone. I went to women’s meetings because they made me and my daughter feel more comfortable. Of course, all the women loved to see her adorable little face too.

These meetings provided me with many new connections to other sober moms; from which some of the greatest friendships of my sober life have blossomed.

I also found tremendous support through my difficult times in sobriety, as well as the challenging times in parenting. Our kids became friends too, and sometimes we would bring them to meetings together. I got involved in other fellowship activities; where I met up with sober moms and had play dates for our kids. My daughter was a huge part of my recovery, even early on.

My journey began six years ago, and my daughter is now almost eleven. She has become a curious preteen, and the questions have begun. I no longer have to take her to meetings because I have remarried, and she can stay with her stepdad.

One day, as I was leaving for a meeting, she asked me why I keep going to the meetings and what I do there. This question had come up before, but in the past, I had politely responded with humor.

I decided that it was time to start the conversation.

I told her that I go to the meetings because they help me live a happy life without drinking alcohol.

Then I explained that alcohol is a type of a drink that some adults enjoy, especially with dinner, and that it comes in several forms; like wine, beer, and liquor. I told her that I have an allergy to alcohol, sort of like the kids who have an allergy to nuts. I explained that when I drink alcohol, I cannot stop. I get very sick or act strangely, or I fall asleep for a really long time. She replied, “Oh, I remember!” My heart sank! She continued, and I listened to what sounded like a description of my last drunk night. Good grief, I couldn’t believe that she remembered that. She was only four years old!

I was heartbroken for several days after that conversation. The pain of knowing that my daughter remembered my last drunk night was excruciating. I was flooded with the memories of all the wrongs I had done, and wished it had been different. But you know, what’s done was done, I couldn’t change it, I could only move forward and work toward not repeating it! I had to let it go, beating myself up served me no purpose! I had to remember that was in recovery now, and no longer that person. After some time had passed, I was getting ready to leave for another meeting. My daughter ran over, gave me a big hug, and told me to have a great meeting! Ever since then, we have had open communication about my recovery. My husband, her stepdad, who is also in recovery, felt comfortable enough to share that with her too.

My recovery has become our recovery, and a part of our life! It is a part of our family, wide open and acceptable. This has been the greatest gift of all because, after all, one day she may need meetings and recovery! I hope if that time ever comes, she will feel comfortable enough to find support in her family.

This amazing post was submitted by Maggie Shores. In July 2014.

Maggie has been sober since April 15, 2008, and is a huge advocate for recovery. Her main motivation is to stay sober, and help other alcoholics to achieve and succeed in sobriety. She works full-time in the exciting business section of Washington DC, and in her “spare” time she spends endless hours entertaining her three awesome kids (ages 10, five, and two), along with her amazing husband. He is one of her biggest supporters, and is her partner in recovery. Maggie is also a passionate gardener, a music enthusiast, and a coffee junkie. Check out her blog Sober Courage!

original photo credit: greekadman via photopin cc