I did not go to my first 12-step meeting to stop drinking. I did not go because I wanted a better life. I didn’t even go for me.
I’m an alcoholic. I was good at drinking. If you could pour it, I could drink it. And if I could drink it, I could justify it.
The problem was I couldn’t figure out how to manage life between drinks. I thought the concept of a better life a hoax. It was the snake oil I had been sold as a child so I would stay in school and eat my vegetables. It was as real as a Lifetime movie, or a prince with a foot fetish who marries a servant girl because she wears glass stilettos.
You would have assumed I loved myself. After all, I was always on my mind. I had the talent of Maya Angelou, the mind of Bill Gates, and the legs of Tina Turner… at least I thought so when I had a drink in my hand.
If it had been up to me, I might have let myself slip away.
I hated me. I hated my life.
It all looked like Chernobyl. Everything had been laid to waste…except my child. Doctors told me I would never conceive. She was my miracle. At the time, she was my only proof that God did not hate me. I refused to be responsible for her motherless childhood.
I knew what it felt like to watch your mother slowly die. When I was 16, my mother lost her three-year battle with breast cancer. Twenty-two years later it was happening again – a merciless disease devouring a mother – the possibility of a child left behind.
I was certain I was on Death’s door. It was as close as a shadow caught out of the corner of your eye. It was so heavy and tangible to me. Every day my eyes opened was a surprise.
When I lost my mother I was helpless, but this time I had a choice. This time I had a say in how the story would end. She did not deserve to grow up without a mother.
I did not love myself enough to try and save my life, but I loved her enough to try.
I took my last drink the night before her fifth birthday. The next day, I gave her the only present that really ever mattered. I gave her a sober mother (okay… a “not drunk” mother; since SOBER took some time).
I went to my first 12-step meeting for my daughter.
She deserves a sober mom who is safe. She deserves a loving mother. She deserves a mother who is actually living; who is not simply “not dying.” Along the way I’ve discovered that I deserve to be these things.
I got sober for my daughter, but I stay sober for me.