A brave and powerful story from Amanda who blogs at Sober Mommy. Amanda, thank you for sharing your story.
“My name is Amanda.
My sobriety date is February 28, 2007.
I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.
My story starts as so many do. I never felt “right” like it seemed the other girls did. I participated in every sport available to us and became quite good at them. I tried to be a good friend. But I still had that feeling inside of panic – that my life wasn’t good enough – that I wasn’t good enough. Without going into too much detail – my life wasn’t perfect. There were reasons why I had panic attacks as a child. I was consumed with trying to be perfect at home, not make an issue of anything, be quiet, be good.
My father was, during those days, an alcoholic and my mother was terrified of losing me after having two children pass away. Now as I parent I can only imagine how difficult their lives were but at the time I had nothing to relate it to. The reality was this: I couldn’t be perfect. My life was a mess – the amount of dysfunction in it was enormous. In truth I had all kinds of reasons to be panicked.
I found my way out of my house at twenty when I married. I tried so hard to marry someone that wasn’t my father. My first husband wasn’t necessarily a bad man – just someone who couldn’t fill the emptiness I felt inside. I had two daughters.
Finally when I was thirty-three I just fell apart.
When I was young I told myself I would never become an alcoholic. It was easy just not drink and it worked for many years. Unfortunately, once I started to drink I found that I was very good at it. I know that sometimes it’s a slippery slope but for me it was a downhill slide. I found that drinking took away the pain, took away the anxiety, and took away the last of what made me that was left. Let’s just get to the point. Drinking ruined my marriage.
I chose to not to go after custody of my daughters when I divorced. I didn’t want them to grow up like I had. I felt a tremendous shame in not pursuing custody of the girls. In society there is such a stigma to not have your children after divorce regardless of whether or not it was the best thing to do. After all no one wants to admit that they chose drinking over their children. Today I have my girls more but I still feel like I did the right thing – regardless of who thinks otherwise.
I struggled with getting sober. Just saying that “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who will not completely give them to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” This simple message was my struggle. I couldn’t be honest with myself.
It was because of this inability I couldn’t get past the compulsion. It was just too great – I still needed something to drown out the pain, take away the anxiety, I was in every way a walking zombie – going through the motions without truly feeling anything. I went on this way for a long time this feeling nothing and faking it around my children. In reality though they realized what was wrong – the big bottle of Chardonnay or the vodka in the freezer. I remember with pain my oldest daughter asking me to stop drinking and I regret not putting the girls before my compulsion to drink.
It was during this time that somehow I met my second husband. He was good man who could see through the walls I’d built up. But he needed me to stop drinking.
I went to rehab three times. The first time I went to frankly make my husband shut up. I didn’t want sobriety for me, I wanted it go get him off my back. The second time I went because I was scared of the paranoia that was beginning to take over my life and somewhere deep inside I knew this as a sign that my drinking was out of control. Unfortunately during both visits the underlying issues of why this was happening wasn’t addressed. Even though I saw the diagnosis of manic depression no one discussed it, no one took the time to help.
The third time, ah, the third time I went to rehab was for me. My was on the verge of leaving – he was sick of my drinking, sick of being alone when I passed out, sick of having to worry about what he would come home to at night. I realized that he and my girls had stood behind me the entire time but I knew that I had to want it.
During that third stint I was placed into a group that was more psychologically based and less drug/alcohol knowledge related. I was lucky that the staff moved me into that group – that they saw the pain, they saw my depression and mania. Working with an addiction doctor helped in ways I can’t explain – he finally looked at the total picture and explained why I wouldn’t be able to continue to be sober until I rewired my brain – that it had been taken hostage from the alcohol and explained that I needed medicine to help moderate my mood until my brain rewired itself. He believed that I had anxiety and knew that I needed the emotional tools to work through the past and how to work towards tomorrow.
With these tools I work through what life brings. I am no longer ashamed of the past. I am no longer in denial. And I am happy. Finally. For the first time in my life.
Like I said, my name is Amanda and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.”
If you want what we have there is support at the Booze Free Brigade.