I was four years old the first time alcohol touched my lips.
I know today that the “magical water,” I casually tossed back that day was vodka. I also know now that I liked its effect too much, even at the age of four.
When I was 15, my boyfriend broke up with me two days after I lost my virginity to him. I cracked open the vodka and started shooting. I drank alone; to change the way I felt, and to numb the pain of my broken heart.
My drinking continued every day after school until I either passed out or ran out of liquor.
My grades dropped, and teachers began to worry. My friends even spoke to the guidance counselor about me. I hated them for it, but it didn’t stop my drinking. It continued, on and off, for the remainder of high school. I attempted suicide for the first time at age 17.
After graduation, I enrolled in college, began a relationship, and made some awful decisions. By the time I was 21, I was back to being a daily drinker. At 25, I made my second suicide attempt by driving my car into a tree, and was sent to my first rehab. It didn’t “take”. Nine days later, I was drunk again.
At 27, I was unemployed and homeless. My friend pitied me; so she gave me a job, found me an apartment, and paid my rent. I went to work, came home, locked my door, and drank until I passed out every night. I lived completely isolated.
At some point, I started hanging out with an old acquaintance from high school. Before either of us could blink, we were “in love,” and shortly after we were pregnant. The night I found out, I took shots of vodka to calm down. I decided to keep the baby, so I quit drinking hard liquor, and only drank wine. I was sure that was ok. I was eventually able to quit altogether, but I was miserable sober. When I was about three months pregnant, I realized I was not in love. A month later, I gave him his ring back and kicked him out. I made a plan to move in with my sister after the baby came, and when my daughter was five days old, we loaded the car and made the four-hour trip.
Breastfeeding lasted a month before the urge to drink became so strong that I gave in.
My drinking escalated rapidly, and I was drinking all day, every day. I drank before work, during work, and after work.
One afternoon while driving home from work, I was pulled over for an expired tag. I was arrested and charged with 2 DUIs. In my state they charge a DUI for anyone in the car under 18, and my one-year-old was in the backseat. My life was over.
About 12 hours later my sister bailed me out and informed me that if I wanted to stay with her, I would have to go to a 12-step program and an outpatient treatment program. I was horrified. I went home and drank a bottle of wine. That would be my last drink for quite some time.
Fear and meetings kept me sober for 10 months. Then came the day where the urge was just too strong and I drank again. I enrolled in another intensive outpatient program. I went back to the 12-step program. I drank again. It became a pattern with me. I was a “chronic relapser;” or so I thought.
I understand now that I was never truly sober; what I had were periods of abstinence in between binges.
My sister finally kicked me out, and headed back to my hometown—once again homeless and jobless. It got so bad that I started chugging bottles of Nyquil.
My daughter’s father filed for custody and served me with papers. That was it. I was defeated. I sought counsel and did what the lawyer suggested. I signed over custody, and checked into rehab.
I can’t describe the anguish I felt. I ached. I was broken. I stayed there for 28 days and was released on Halloween 2012. I began yet another outpatient treatment program, and was allowed to see my daughter once a week, for four hours…supervised.
I was drunk again in January.
I made my third suicide attempt in February. I was found in a bathtub full of blood, with my wrists slit open. Later at the hospital, when they stitched me up, I was asked why I did it. I told them I wanted to die and was sent to a psychiatric hospital that I’d heard horror stories about. I soon found out that the stories were not exaggerated. I was released a much more pleasant, grateful woman after six days, but still couldn’t stay sober. Every time I tried, I failed. And today I know why.
I took my last drink on December 22, 2013. Of all the beatings alcohol administered to me throughout my drinking career, something about that one was different. One day I was sipping wine and relaxing, and the next I was waking up shaking so violently I couldn’t even hold the glass. I was scared. I was beaten. I was tired. I was DONE.
Withdrawal wasn’t pretty; I had a seizure in my bathroom and I was sure I was dying. I should have sought medical attention. It was by the grace of God, I lived.
What was so different about this time? I hit my bottom all by myself and was finally willing to let go of the control I thought I had and do whatever I had to do to get sober FOR MYSELF. Not for the judge, not for my sister, not for my probation officer, not for my daughter; just for me. I finally believe I was worth it.
I was at my lowest point, but for once, I didn’t want to die. I wanted a better life for myself. It took a whole hell of a lot to get me to that point but I made it. And once I was willing to go to any length, the rest just fell into place. I’m just grateful I made it back from that last drunk to see the rewards of genuine sobriety.