On the first day of May in 2000, I wanted to die. That day I wasn't living - I was surviving. I was suffocating. I was self-medicating. I was in pain - the kind of pain I hope to never forget - and experiencing the kind of hopelessness not many people can or will ever understand.
Alcohol was my best friend and constant companion. The moment I drank him in, I knew that nothing else would ever feel as incredible. I was fifteen the first time we spent the night together.
He immediately invited me into his world, and I felt like an awestruck Dorthy in Oz by how brave and powerful I could be in his presence. He made me feel brilliant and beautiful.
When I was seventeen, he made me a mother.
I only saw him at night, because I didn't want to be an alcoholic, but I thought of him often throughout my days. Sometimes it felt like I was holding my breath until I could solidify plans to see him again.
I put up with people I didn't want to in order to spend time with Alcohol. I started hanging out with only people who admired him as much as I did, and simply outgrew those who wished to limit themselves. I began to justify leaving my daughter every night of the week so I could be with him.
Some people didn't understand this shift, and "worried" about me - my ability to be a good mother. Alcohol assured me I didn’t need those people. He believed they were all holding me back.
He believed in me.
Slowly, but surely, Alcohol made his way inside my strong-willed and stubborn mind. He befriended all of my insecurities, and nestled himself right between my feelings of intense fear and comfort.
He began to isolate me - to shield me - from the world, and it made perfect sense that he was just trying to protect me. After all, Alcohol and I had been together long enough, and he had witnessed the ways in which my family and friends treated me.
At first I tried to argue, but Alcohol never failed to offer enough evidence to convince me that no one had ever really loved me. It was almost as if he'd taken notes to keep track of their indiscretions.
It wasn't their fault, he said. I wasn't very easy to love - I was practically damaged goods. I had no right to be a mother, and my daughter was better off anywhere I wasn't. He knew that, and didn't judge me like so many others did.
Alcohol understood me. He was the only one strong enough to see through all of my bullshit, and love me for who I really was. I needed so desperately to feel understood, and it was comforting to be offered such unconditional love.
Alcohol told me that anyone who couldn't respect and encourage the happiness and contentment I had clearly found with him didn't care about me - they were jealous. He proved to be all that I had, promised to never leave me, and kept that promise.
Even after the abuse started and our nights together resulted in bruises and scrapes on my legs, face, and arms - Alcohol was always there to comfort and hold me.
I can't remember the first time he asked me to have sex with someone I hardly knew or knock someone down with my fists. I cannot recall the first time I lied or stole or manipulated to be with Alcohol. He made it clear that these were prices to pay for the security he provided me. I knew better. I have never been a weak-minded girl. I did what I had to do in order to keep Alcohol, because I couldn't bear to be alone after what I'd done, without him.
My relationship with Alcohol became a vicious cycle of abuse, and I couldn't see it. I thought he was helping me cope. I believed he would help solve my problems.
Alcohol had a fierce and terrifying hold on me - the consequences of which were made better only by his ability to take my pain away immediately. No matter what I did -no matter who I was or couldn’t be, Alcohol loved me. I had spent my life searching for that type of loyalty and safety, and I felt at home in his arms - without limits. No matter what he did or who he was or couldn’t be, I couldn't leave him.
Until I did.
On the first day of May in 2000, I spent my last night with Alcohol. We had burned yet another bridge together, and I was feeling empty and exhausted. It felt like work to breathe, and I could not bring myself to reach out to any of the friends or family I had pushed away. I could not bear to admit just how broken I felt to the few people I had left, and Alcohol was no longer returning my late night calls for comfort.
He had no doubt moved on to someone new, someone younger, more attractive and full of life - someone with more to take. I had nothing left.
That night I sat on a sheet-less mattress in a strange place, wrote my apologies in an old notebook, and ingested a hand full of pills I had been previously prescribed. The bottle was full, because I had been urged not to "mix them with alcohol."
I woke up the morning of May 2nd, terribly ill and desperate for change. I had no idea what that would look like, but I was willing to admit that I could not fix my problems without help. It was clear I couldn’t trust Alcohol anymore, and that he was causing more harm in my life than good. It was one of the scariest things I had ever faced, but I knew I could no longer live with Alcohol. I could no longer pretend I was living with him. I was suffocating.
Alcohol was killing me.
I could never have imagined that, fifteen years later, I'd be sitting here writing about celebrating another beautiful year of life without Alcohol.
It has been quite an incredible journey. I have learned so many things about myself, and examined the reasons I was so susceptible to such a devastatingly abusive relationship.
Even after fifteen years of sobriety, I find myself wondering if perhaps I was just too young to handle the responsibilities of such a serious relationship back then. Sometimes, I wonder, "what if." Perhaps I could handle him now. And then I'm reminded that I was never weak when it came to Alcohol, he was just much stronger.
I remember how manipulative and persuasive Alcohol was in our relationship, and how he never really had the power to take anything from me.
I gave it all away.
Every year on my anniversary, I celebrate the sisterhood that allowed me to earn it all back and grow into the woman I am today. I think about friends I have had and lost, and I remember those who didn’t get another chance at life.
I don’t strive for the perfect brand of sobriety or recovery today, and I do not compete with others for the title of greatest sober person. I am not a "spiritual warrior."
It has taken me very many years of sobriety/recovery to feel comfortable in my skin, and I’m still a work in progress. Breaking up with Alcohol did not solve all of my problems. It simply opened the door I had locked and bolted shut, and allowed the flow of hope back into my world.
Today I am a firm believer that with hope, everything is possible.
If you are struggling with alcohol or other substances, please know judgment-free help is available. Please feel free to email me, or visit the Sober Mommies Resource Page for a list of many NON-12step and 12step recovery options.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.