A while back, my mom gave me a little sandwich baggie filled with a stack of photos. You know that stack: the one a proud father carries around in his wallet, the one that gets thicker with each passing year as the newest photo is added. The one he pulls out every so often for family and friends, with that look of pride twinkling in his eye: “Look at how big our Chris is getting. Isn’t she precious?” And he will regale the listener with hopes and dreams for Little Chris. The most important of them?
“We just hope she grows up to be happy.”
Well, that stack of dog-eared, cherished photos of little me sat face down, untouched in the same spot for I don’t know how long. I couldn’t pick them up and face that the Chris in those photos had long ago drowned in a fifth of Vodka.
The pain of just reaching for those photos reminded me who how much of a failure I had truly become. Sitting alone in a dark room, slugging back shots that no longer needed a chaser, wracked with shame and utter hopelessness, it was easier to ignore those photos than to deal with the fact I had not grown up to be the happy, loving, carefree woman Mom and Dad had hoped and prayed for. No, I had grown up to be an alcoholic. I had grown up to be a liar.
From the outside looking in, I had a great life. Successful husband, a loving family, women people would be lucky to count as friends, and a job I was good at. But all I really had was a secret. A big, alcohol soaked secret. I was the only one who knew the truth: I was all alone.
Words can do no justice to describe the depths of despair, the shame, the agony, the fear or the anger that were my constant companions. The only way I knew how to escape dealing with the emotions was to get drunk, and for a little while, I would forget how much I hated who I had become. For a little while, I would think I had hung onto a little piece of that charming, funny and engaging wife/friend/daughter I knew I had once been. But inevitably, I would sober up and reality would smack me in the face.
Here is the thing about being a liar: you learn to do it so well you are even able to fool yourself. I thought that I was so sneaky and clever, able to fool everyone around me. And for the most part, I did. But not the one person who had to watch me unravel one thread at a time: my husband. Though he couldn’t begin to imagine the depths of how truly far down I had fallen, he knew I had a problem. But it stopped there. He had had enough and, unbeknownst to me, he had one foot out the door. We just existed in each other’s worlds, no longer in the same one, with dreams and hopes of our own as a couple.
As the obsession for the drink became stronger and the time between those drinks became shorter and shorter, the need to withdraw even further became overwhelming. For things that I did show up for, I arrived already several drinks in, and inevitably snuck away as often as possible to swig the vodka nestled in the bottom of my purse. In the end I was happiest at home, alone, just me and vodka, curled in a blanket, checking in on the rest of the world via Facebook or just watching mindless TV until I passed out, only to wake up and do it all over again.
One day, April 4th 2013 to be exact, something happened. Five days into a mother of a bender, something in me knew that this was no way to live. Some glimmer of that almost forgotten Chris decided enough was enough, before she was gone for good. I don’t remember the details, or the exact words exchanged or how everything played out. And honestly, I don’t think any of that matters. What I do know, is that day, I did what I never thought possible. I said, “I am an alcoholic and I need help.”
Almost four months later, I don’t have all or possibly any of the answers to this thing. I don’t pretend that any of this has been easy, or that it will be down the road, but today there are a few things that I have, and every day I get a little bit more. Today, I have a husband who thinks I am a super hero. Today I have time with family and friends and I cherish every minute of it. Today I wake up with a purpose and today I have hope. And today, I was able to look through that stack of long neglected photos. I smiled and cried a bit as I did so, because today, I realized that my parent’s dreams for that little girl are finally coming true.
Today I am happy.
This beautiful post was submitted by Chris E.