I was a bad drinker.
Like, right from the get-go.
I never drank in moderation. I drank to get drunk.
When I was 22, I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter, so my liver got a much needed break. I didn’t drink during pregnancy or while I was nursing and only had a few drunken nights in the years after I’d quit breastfeeding, and before getting pregnant with my son.
When the kids were 4 and 1, I started having a hard time. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and an anxiety disorder, and prescribed medication. I quit nursing my son and started taking my medication but I also started drinking again.
When I drank, I drank hard and almost always to the point of being black out drunk. Friends would often tell me that during the night, they’d see a sudden dramatic change in me, sometimes mid sentence, where I’d transform from ‘me’ to very-drunk-me. That I’d go from making sense, to gibberish and to looking at them, to looking through them. This was, I’m sure, the point where I’d cross over into the kind of drunkenness that lead to moments that I’d regret, the following morning. Always. Though, I never actually remembered any of this for myself, but almost always had someone willing to remind me (while I buried my red face and cringed)
At that time, I didn’t think that I was an alcoholic. I wasn’t drinking everyday. I could even go weeks without getting drunk. I thought that I just didn’t know the ‘art’ of drinking in moderation. My problem was that when I decided to drink, no matter how hard I tried, I could not just ‘have a few’. I always ended up back in the same horrible drunken state.
Over the next few years, I tried to quit many times. It seemed the more that I tried to quit, the worse that I got. I was still battling depression and I was unhappy in my marriage. I was a mess.
By the time my marriage had ended, I was getting drunk at least three times a week. We were living in the same house, pretending to be married (for the kids sake) (yes, I shake my head at the stupidity of this now) and I truly felt like my whole world was collapsing.
We told the kids that we were going to separate and started to make some big changes. I decided to start spending time up at my moms house, during this transition. It was almost summer holidays and nothing felt better than being ‘home’ with my parents and in my hometown. I think that the kids needed this too.
I started to feel better but I was still drinking. Divorce is not pretty. He’s not a bad person, I’m not a bad person but – It was bringing out the worst in us. Though I was accepting of it, and ready to move forward, it was still incredibly stressful. That was one excuse. Another was that when the kids were with their dad, I wasn’t sure what else to do with myself.
One day, while scrolling through Facebook, I saw that a ‘friend’ of mine, someone I knew from highschool, had posted about a run. Running was my only other hobby, so thinking that maybe he’d know of a local run club, I commented. It was a simple exchange that lead me to where I am now. Long story-short, we connected and at the risk of making you sick with my mush, fell head over heels in love.
We knew very quickly that we wanted to create a life together. Everything was going well but- I was still drinking. Mark is a good man. Patient, easy going and kind hearted. He adored me- but he knew that I had a problem. Though he never once threatened to leave me (if I didn’t quit) I knew that there would be problems ahead, if I continued to drink.
After multiple failed attempts at quitting, I finally managed to get two sober weeks under my belt. I was feeling good about it but then one day, the kids were away and I was home alone and the urge hit me. An hour later I was drunk. A few more hours after that, blacked out. Honestly, it happens just like that. Strong, focused, determined and fine. And then drunk. When I woke up, some time in the middle of the night, I called Mark, sobbing, telling him what I’d done (he already suspected when he couldn’t get a hold of me) he tried to calm me down. He told me he was getting in his car and heading to my house.
While I waited for him to show up, I had thoughts that are hard to understand. I wasn’t suicidal, but I felt like I’d be better off dead. I felt like I would never be able to quit. I was sure that I’d only get worse and that it would lead to nothing but heartbreak for everyone around me, myself included.
When Mark got to the house, he helped me clean up and took me over to the couch. He made me a tea and wrapped me in a blanket. He kissed my head and smiled and wiped the tears from my face. I was expecting him to be angry, but he didn’t for a second act as though he was.
I had tried to quit at least a hundred times before, but this was it.
I can honestly say that in the weeks that followed, I had only a few urges to drink. I pushed past and made it through 2,3,4,5,6,7 weeks without a lot of difficulty. During week 8 – I found out I was pregnant.
I felt like getting pregnant was (as well as a blessing) a bit of a cheat. Of course I’d sail through nine months of pregnancy without craving a drink, but worried about what would happen after the baby was born.
When Phoebe arrived, we were in love. I was feeling healthy and strong. No cravings. A few months later and I was pregnant again. The next fall, we welcomed Beckett as our 5th (and final!) child in our lovely blended family.
It’s been over three years now since I quit. I know that I’m suppose to take it a day at a time, but I feel so sure of myself. If you’ve ever struggled to quit something, you’ll likely know what I mean when I say that I shudder at the thought of ever waking up to Day 1 again. I have quit enough times to know that I never want to have to quit again.
I share all of this for a few reasons.
It feels good to talk about it openly and honestly. I struggled the first few times someone who didn’t know my past, would offer me a drink. I didn’t know what to say. I felt ashamed. But – The more you talk about it, the easier it gets. You have to be able to comfortably explain, or say ‘no’, in those situations that are bound to arise. Besides, there’s no shame in it.
I know that I’m not alone. There are so many people out there who are struggling with addiction, and yet its so lonely. If I’m open about my struggles, you may feel comfortable opening up about yours.
Feel free to share and to reach out (message me) if you need to connect.