I just want to thank Erin for sharing her story. The bravery required to lay yourself bare on this website is nothing short of incredible and each and every one of you who do it are saving lives. This really is life or death. -Stef
“I think I was doomed at birth to have a problem with alcohol. Alcoholism runs on both sides of my family. My mother was a raging alcoholic growing up, hiding her bottles and pills in plants or rolled up in towels throughout the house, spending so much time in the bathroom you would have thought she had had prunes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She slurred her words. A lot.
My sister and I left one night when she was so drunk and came back to find her apartment locked and we couldn’t get in. We pounded on the door until she finally crawled on her hands and knees and cracked the door open. Smoke began to escape out; she crawled back to the bathroom. Our dinner was burning on the stove and there were several plates ready to be served placed in different rooms. There are a lot of strange stories like that I could tell.
My father was a Captain in the Navy and ended up giving up what he loved to find a job that would put him at home more to protect my brother, sister and me. But eventually her alcoholism destroyed our family and when I was in third grade my dad got custody of us. But, my relationship with my mother was like peas and carrots for many years. I was her baby and she adored me. Always telling me how alike we were and that I was her “SP” (sweet pea) and how I look just like her ( I look just like my dad) and how crazy and funny I am…just like her. (I do a good imitation of Reagan from The Exorcist and she would prompt me to do it when going through the Chick-Fil-A drive through and that made her laugh.) And I guess in many ways I held onto moments like these because I knew as soon as it got dark she would turn into someone I didn’t like.
My self-esteem has always been something I struggle with. I am incredibly insecure, my heart pounds and my hands sweat in social situations and the anxiety I experience is exhausting. I often hate myself. Now that I am older and have a daughter of my own I believe it is a direct result of not having that true mother figure in my life. When looking back, I can name several instances when I have gravitated to older women, whether a boss, teacher…you name it…in an effort to subconsciously fill that void.
I guess you could say it was in college I began to drink, you know, like everyone else, right? Summer before my junior year I met a guy who was older and out of college. I stayed with him until I was 22/3ish. I chased him around like a pathetic school girl (literally) when I found out he was cheating on me four hours away. My self-esteem was clearly lacking here for many years. During my senior year I would isolate myself in my room at college watching MTV’s Real World marathons and drinking beer and feeling like the scum on the bottom of my shoe while I wondered what this guy was doing at home. I pushed all my friends away, gained a lot of weight. I did paint (my degree is in painting). But I hated myself.
I lived with him for a year after college and broke up with him the night of my sister’s wedding. She had married a naval pilot. Back then I think I was really beginning to believe I was the disgrace of the family without actually saying it. I pushed everyone away. And hated myself. Again.
My next move was to throw myself into the arms of a man 11 years my senior with two kids. And marry him, despite my family’s begging me not to. But I was on a mission and I think my mind was on auto-pilot. I wanted to be taken care of and escape. Escape I did, I became completely isolated from my friends and family and consumed by this relationship that was flawed in more ways than one. It increasingly became more and more emotionally abusive and I nursed all of this self-hate and the situation I had put myself in over wine. He was rarely home, working all the time and wine became my friend.
During that time, I saw my mother for the last time, about seven years ago now. I helped her get into a rehab facility and gave her money after she called me saying she was hallucinating and her neighbor had to call 911. She was seeing a little girl in a white dress. I promised myself again I would never become like her and I slowed down drinking for a while.
I finally got the courage up to leave my marriage after four years. How I did it, I don’t know. It was an out of body experience.
I am now married to a wonderful man who is the most loving, understanding and supportive spouse I could ever ask for. When our daughter was born it was the best day of our lives. I didn’t go back to work, I made all of her food from scratch (for the most part), and I loved on her like any mother would. When she was 6 months old we found out I was expecting again (surprise!) but we were ecstatic. Began picking out names, imagining being a family of four, and at our first doctor’s appointment we found out our baby was not as far along as should be expected. What? I immediately went into a dark hole and could not snap out of it. We had to wait two weeks to find out if our baby was okay. Miscarriage.
Everything that I thought I was doing so well began to crash. My equilibrium was completely thrown off and I questioned my abilities as a mother. My anxiety and depression went through the roof and I was put on Zoloft to help. In the middle of this I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism which is directly linked to depression. This helped to explain my mood issues throughout the years and poor self-image. I began drinking wine again, too much. Things began to happen as a result of my drinking and I definitely should not have been combining it with Zoloft.
I stopped drinking for two months. Last Sunday I relapsed. I thought I was OK and I went out for a leisurely lunch with the romanticized idea in my head of having a glass of wine while I contemplated paintings in my sketchbook. That glass of wine turned into I don’t know how many. I can’t remember parts of the evening. I do remember being in an ambulance and screaming “I want my baby” and hitting people and crying. I woke up the next morning not knowing where I was or what I had done. I had to ask the nurse if I had hurt anyone. I thank God that I am alive and no one was physically hurt. My blood alcohol level was a .309 and no charges were pressed. I could have easily died.
I will not drink again. I will do this for my daughter. I thank God I have the loving support of my family and husband. Truth be told, this is my story.”
If you are looking for help, The Booze Free Brigade is a bunch of moms who would love nothing more than to offer their support.
Erin – you are so brave and honest to post this. I wish you all the best. I, too, come from a family of alcoholics, and one of the things that has motivated me to get and stay sober is that I can model sobriety for my kids. I can’t change our bad genes, but I can do this. And it may be more useful for them in the long run anyway since AA has helped me with much more than just not drinking. xoxox
Colleen Snell said,
Erin, I am really proud of you! You are such a wonderful person and mother and I know you are going to get thru this with the love and support of family and friends! This was a very courageous way to start and it can only get better.
Congratulations on this beginning. I’m very proud of you not only for taking this step, but for sharing your story with us. Best of luck. You have strangers pulling for you.
Gamanda´s last blog post ..Today you are 3
Erin: You could never fool me, even from a little girl. Don’t think this has taken me by surprise. I have always felt an incredible kinship with you, even sometimes I think to the slighting of Julie. Your courage is what I’ve always known is there. I am so glad you are taking the steps you are taking now, so you will not end up like me. Waiting until you are 60+ to finally break the cycle. As you said, I started drinking in college. Then in law school it increased greatly. Lawyers are supposed to drink, right? It helped me cope with the tremendous pressures in law school, and the constant character assassinations that occur on a daily basis – to make you tough – because it dulled the pain. Practicing law was worse, and over the early years, I started going out with my buddies to local watering holes and getting about half stewed and then driving home. Every Friday afternoon, two of the local lawyers (man and wife) had a booze party after work. Never missed one until they started using drugs in the basement, and I ran like hell.
Last July 3, was my Enlightenment. You have seen me for over 20 years, show my ass (even literally) at nearly all family functions. Every signigicant event (except your wedding to TJ), I managed to leave a blot due to my drinking to excess. I can think of the most significant events in my family’s life, and recall that in some way or another I left an unpleasant stain related to alcohol. So I have dealt with this obsessive drinking for 40 years, and it took last family 4th of July gathering to finally get my attention. I will never drink again. Have quit before for as long as five years, but if you have even one drink, you start at the TOP of the bell-curve again. You just can’t take that one harmless one if you’re like me, because at that point I want all that’s manufactured.
It answers my prayers that you are so young and have the maturity to do what it too me so many years to realize. I am enormously, enormously proud of you and T. J. (he has to be given his share of the credit. He is a hell of a man).
I love you and Julie more than you can ever know. You have been a part of my life since little children, and are as loved as biological nieces. Steve O. has told me I have damaged my relationship with Julie, but she assures me not beyond repair. Again last July 3.
Keep it up, good woman, and know your entire family has you, Leila and TJ in our constant prayers. And if you ever get down and feeling like you don’t matter to anyone or have no self esteem, look to family for a jerk back to reality, especially Julie. Or, me, for goodness sake. Your conquering this, Erin, is in some great way redemption for me. My hardest task is not looking back. That is in God’s hands and I can’t change it much as I want to. Its today and our tomorrows we can change, and I’m so glad when you’re 63, you can look back with the confidence and be proud for the woman you truly are. Love, love love! Mac