I Found Hope After I Lost Everything
I grew up in an alcoholic family. I was scared a lot as a child, but I also hated alcohol at a very young age. I knew it was all alcohol’s fault that my dad turned into the monster I thought he was when I was a kid. I grew up angry with a lot of resentments, but also very uncomfortable in my own skin. So when I had the opportunity to drink at the age of 12, I took it. I knew alcohol would give me the confidence I desperately needed. I wanted to fit and belong somewhere because I sure didn’t feel that at home or at school. It worked!
I got drunk at a party in the 7th grade, and made friends and fit in for the first time.
I didn’t think about anything. It all just melted away. I started drinking every chance I got.
I went through a traumatic event a few years later that resulted in PTSD. My drinking escalated at that point. I needed to numb and not feel. When I was 17, I started attending church and made the decision to turn my life around. I quit drinking, graduated high school and went to college, and things started looking up.
I tried to stay away from college parties because I knew drinking was a weakness for me. When I was invited to a party with kids at my church though, I went. I saw all the kids I looked up to, drinking and having a good time, and that was all the excuse I needed. I got drunk for the first time in two years that night, and I was found in my car asleep by the police. I guess I had slept long enough to not get a DUI, but it was like I had unleashed something. I started going out and partying. I got blackout wasted most nights. I dropped out of college shortly afterwards and started getting into trouble. I got a few underage drinking tickets and a DUI, but refused to believe I had a problem.
I jumped from job to job and relationship to relationship.
I loved being a party girl, going out every night and getting wasted. I thought it made my life fun.
Sure, there was shame and regret in the morning, but I could wash that away with a few drinks. When I was around 21, I met the man that is now my husband. We were, “the party couple,” until my birth control failed and I found myself pregnant. Our parents convinced us getting married was the right thing to do, so we did.
When I looked at the tiny squishy face of my sweet 7lb. 6oz. baby boy, I wanted to change for him. I wanted to be the mom he deserved. I made a million promises, and in my heart of hearts, I was sincere. I wanted to turn my life around for him and give him the life he deserved. But when I got home from the hospital, he was colicky and did nothing but cry. I was able to quit drinking my whole pregnancy, and was sure that meant I definitely didn’t have a problem drinking, so I drank a few beers. It was the wonderful euphoric feeling I remembered loving so much. My stress melted away yet again, and I was sucked back in.
My husband and I decided I would stay at home with our son, and I tried to be “Super Mom.” Maybe I felt it would relieve my guilt, so I carried him from playdate to playdate, and even organized a parent playgroup for a while. Everyone thought I was this perfect mom from the outside, and I worked hard to make people believe that. The truth was, I was the opposite and I couldn’t face that yet. I drank every night; some nights at home, but most of the time I felt I deserved “a break,” and went out when my husband got home.
Our marriage suffered largely because of my drinking and partying. Eventually, he asked for a divorce. At the time, I was looking for any excuse to drink more and that was it.
I knew I was spinning out of control, and I couldn’t pretend to be “the perfect mom” anymore.
I was sure that everyone knew I had a problem, so I moved. I found a job and studio apartment a few hours away. I moved my son away from his dad and everything he knew. It hurt my husband that he wasn’t able to be around his son every day, so he came up as much as he could. He would spend three or four days there with his son, and I would go out to get drunk. Don’t get me wrong, I drank during the week, but those weekends were my break—that time I needed to get and stay wasted.
I started doing things I never thought I would ever do and becoming a person I didn’t know and hated. I didn’t know how to make it stop. I tried a few times, but a few hours later I was drunk again. One Saturday night, my husband and I got in a fight and he went back home and I stayed with our son. It was my night to party and he took that from me. I was already drinking, and I was furious and determined to still get drunk. I laid my son down for bed and got dressed to go out. I told myself that I would be right back when I got more wine or whatever. That’s the last thing I remember until I was jolted awake by hitting something with my car.
Somehow I managed to get out the crushed car. I thought I hit a tree, but it was a part of someone’s property. The police got there and I was arrested. I was charged with a felony DUI and child neglect. I sat in my cell; sick. The weight of what I did hit me like a pile of bricks. Not just that night, but for the past years. I had put my drinking above my son and everyone else. I thought I was only hurting myself, but I was hurting everyone; especially the little boy that I was supposed to be raising and protecting.
My son slept on the floor of a jail waiting for his dad to come get him. I wanted to die.
I hit my knees in desperation. I wanted to pray, but I couldn’t even find words. Turns out, I didn’t need them. I cried out to God, and he met me right there on the floor of the jail cell. In that moment, I felt grace and peace for the first time ever and I wanted more of it. I got out on bond and started in outpatient treatment and 12-step meetings. I had a no contact order with my son, and my husband didn’t want anything to do with me, I was facing five years in jail and living with my mom. Life couldn’t have gotten much worse for me, but I knew as bad as it was, it was worse in my addiction. I knew all I needed was to stay sober and seek God. I got serious about working the 12 steps, and miracles started to happen for me.
My husband and I went to counseling and rekindled our broken relationship. After a long battle with DSS, I regained full custody of my son. He’s very active in my recovery with me. I went to court and plead guilty to my charges, and the judge granted time served and probation. He reduced my felony DUI to a misdemeanor and gave me the option to have the other charge expunged after three years of community service.
I stay committed to my sobriety and my relationship with God. He saved my life.
He chose me, even though I was a prisoner to my sin, and I will spend the rest of my life living for Him. I’ve finally found happiness—true happiness—that I never knew existed.
It’s been two and a half years and I’m still a work in progress, but I’m okay with that. I’m learning to love myself and love others. God is using me to help other girls with the same struggles, and I feel so grateful for that. Sobriety is the best gift I’ve been given and I plan on trying to help as many people as I can feel the same freedom and happiness that I found because of my relationship with God and my 12-step program.
This post is submitted by Angela McElroy.
A Sober Mommies Contributor is most often a non-professional – in and out of recovery – with reality-based experience to share about motherhood & active addiction, the multiple pathways to recovery, or a family member’s perspective.