I’ve written this post a million times in my head and once as a draft only to be permanently deleted. I just haven’t felt ready to share “The Day.”
But I can’t stop thinking “Why, Alison? What is holding you back from sharing your story?” I started this blog to share my sobriety journey, to inspire another. However, if I really want to do just that, I need to get real. I need to be more authentic. I need to be completely transparent not only for you but for me!
I think in sharing my (whole) story I will finally be able to make complete peace with myself. Yes, I’ve forgiven myself and have received the appropriate forgiveness from my family. But somehow, I’m still missing something. I feel like I’m holding a dirty little secret, which I guess I am.
So ya know what? I’m going to jump, trust the fall and share with you the day I knew it was finally time to put down the bottle for good!
It started on a Friday night. My husband had just left for a week-long mission. Per my usual single-mom routine, I prepped for a weekend full of booze. Wine, beer, and vodka were my go-tos.
Friday night was nothing out of the ordinary, aside from the fact that I wasn’t feeling too hot. I was kinda achy and felt more run down than usual after a long workweek. But I decided all I needed to cure that was a big bottle of wine.
The next morning, my daughter got sick, so I knew something was brewing in the house. Nonetheless, I cured my little hangover with a few morning drinks and stayed home with the kiddos.
We played. We napped. I drank more.
Sunday morning, same thing. Kids weren’t sick, thank goodness, but I was starting to feel pretty whacky and just blah. Kept drinking. I was clearly on a bender.
Again, the kids and I played, napped, and I drank.
By Monday morning, I felt like death! I had a fever, my whole body ached, and I just knew it was more than a bender hangover. I called out of work, took the kids to daycare, and came home to… you guessed it… drink. I made sure to take a long nap before picking them up, as well as take some meds. However, I also mixed in my Xanax (which I only take when needed) because the anxiety of it all was choking me. I knew I was exhausted, actually sick, and an alcoholic.
Who does this??
When I awoke from my long nap to get the kids, I slammed a baby drink. Drove to pickup the kids, and then the final descent began…
I don’t remember much, but what I do remember is waking up in our van in the garage to our daycare provider’s daughter’s face. The van was still running, the garage door was open (THANK GOD LIKE I’VE NEVER THANKED HIM), and the kids were in the back crying.
What kind of mom does this??
I immediately turned into an emotional MESS! I started crying hysterically and saying I was an alcoholic over and over. I was confused, ashamed, scared, and relieved all at the same time.
Essentially I had passed out the second I put the van in park in our garage and was like that for almost two hours. The kids had tried to wake me, get out, cried, and screamed. Nothing could rouse me from the state I was in.
BY THE GRACE OF GOD, my daycare provider had felt in her gut that something was not right with me. She said I wasn’t myself at pick-up and felt like she needed to check on us. SHE WAS MY ANGEL!
That night, she and her daughter graciously took over on all kid duties and let me go straight to bed.
The next morning I awoke to an avalanche of shame. How could I have done that?? How can I face my children, husband or my daycare provider? (Even though she reassured me she understood and was simply grateful to have saved the day). How can I face myself??
Well I wasn’t ready to start figuring any of that out. I was just too overcome with emotion and too whacked out to make any logical decisions. So ONCE AGAIN, I started drinking and put off reality.
In the midst of the previous night’s events, the van’s battery had died, so I couldn’t drive my kids anywhere. (Do you see God’s work in this story??). I told myself I’d really rest and figure out the van after naptime. I’d go slow on the drinking, and really work at stopping this now uncontrollable binge.
But I was scared. Terrified, really. Lately my withdrawals were on a whole new level. I experienced severe shaking and what I believe were baby seizures. My stomach would get pains so bad I had to lay down. Night sweats and nightmares were overwhelming, so complete rest was hard.
So how was I going to get through all this on my own?? How was I going to fix the van, watch the kids, and start the withdrawal process in single-mom-mode? I needed help. I wanted help!
When naptime came, I couldn’t sleep. I putzed around the house thinking, processing, panicking because I knew if I did not seek help, I was risking so much more damage. I had to break this cycle.
My drinking was hurting my family, my relationships, my everyday life, and more than anything, my soul. I hated myself when I drank, and I was exhausted to the core. Something drastic needed to change, and I fully realized that day I couldn’t make that change on my own.
I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but since I couldn’t go anywhere in the van, I walked straight out the front door to my neighbor’s house. I wanted to go to detox.
It was in that short walk that something deep inside me clicked. I was suddenly overcome with an inner calmness. This was the beginning of an end. I knew I was breaking up with the bottle for good. Yes, I was terribly nervous about the immediate future and the beginning stages of sobriety since I’d been through it before. But I knew I’d rather be scared and feel than to not feel at all.
On that walk, I was choosing life rather than the hell I was putting myself through. I was choosing to be present, to face fears, to feel it all once again. I was choosing to be honest, happy, and authentic. And I was choosing freedom from the bottle not only for the ones I loved but for ME!
The rest of the day took a great deal of help from a lot of key players. My neighbor and I didn’t know really where to start, so we called the police together. Two officers arrived at the house not too long after and facilitated my wish to go to detox.
My husband was notified and thankfully was able to take a red-eye flight home from his mission. My daycare provider stepped-up to take care of the kids for the night. My friends were on-and-off the phone with my husband and me to keep us all grounded. And my sweet little neighbor stayed by my side to assist with the kids through it all.
Once all the pieces were in place, the cops and I left together. However, on the way to detox I mentioned how bad my withdrawal symptoms had become, how scared I was that I was going to have one of those weird seizure-like reactions. We decided it would be best for me to go to the hospital first.
After the doctors pumped some fluids through me and prescribed proper withdrawal medication, I was taken to a detox facility. I spent the night, but upon awaking realized the environment was not what I had envisioned. I decided that I would check myself out ASAP and detox at home in trusted company.
As soon as I blew a .00 I was free to go, which was around noon the next day. My husband picked me up, we got my meds, and home we went.
The first 36 hours were absolutely brutal! I sobbed. I shook. I sweated. I tried to sleep. But somehow I was able to pull myself together enough to return to work by the end of the week. Then I had a full weekend to really rest and reflect.
Although there had been prior situations that should’ve served as my rock bottom, this one was THE ONE. I know this simply because of the feelings that overcame me on that day. I could feel my soul shift and heard it cry out, “Stop, Alison!! You are actually killing yourself! You deserve to live and be truly happy!”
And so I listened. I followed my heart. Now here I am 10 months sober living a life I could never have imagined. Life has become brighter, lighter and more exciting. My inner critique has gone from yelling at me to whispering. My guilt, shame, and embarrassment have packed their bags, and my self-love grows as each day passes.
That day, although not the worst of my days, is a day I now cherish. It’s the day I saved my life. In sharing, I hope to inspire another to live and to live wholeheartedly.
Even if addiction is not a part of your cards, ask yourself- are you living a life you genuinely love? Are you fully present in all the moments- good or bad? Are you running from years of shame, guilt, or self-sabotage? Are you letting past experiences take over your present?
If so, you can stop. You can rest. You can live. All you have to do is ask for help. You are not alone. My God! You are not alone! We all have secrets, struggles, and fears. However, if we allow ourselves to combine our weak spots with others strengths, we can conquer. We can overcome. We can live life better!
And that’s where I’m at now… trying to live life better. Everyday is a work-in-progress, and everyday is so different. I’ve had many (SO MANY) ups-and-downs, but I know that because of my decision, I’m now fully striving and working towards living my best life, an authentic life- sober and FREE!
**If you are struggling with an addiction, please reach out or seek professional help. YOU, too, deserve to live a honest, happy, healthy, and hopeful life! We can and do recover!**