Throughout my 20s, I was “in da club.” (Pause – 15 second dance break as the 50 cent song plays your head. Go, Shawty! It’s your birthday!) I was young. I was single. I worked hard. I partied hard. That is what young people do, right? I was sowing wild oats or buying them or smoking them or something. I know that my 20s took ten years to get through, but literally I blinked and they were gone.
By the time I reached my 30s, I was making more money than ever had before and my career was beginning to really move. I had finally found my niche. I was on top of my game. Life was golden. I began building my life with and around people who had the same philosophy: “You work hard so you deserve to party hard.”
What a perfect cover for this budding alcoholic. Anytime I thought I had gone too far, I could point to some success in my life and say, “I get promoted every single year,” or “my bills are paid on time,” or “my credit score is 786,” or “I wear expensive clothes,” or “my boyfriend/husband is really good looking.” Alcoholics don’t have those things happen in their lives. They are messes. I am not a mess.
(Comparing and rationalization are an alcoholic’s best (deceitful) friend!)
As my 30s came to a close, I had a small child, a failing marriage and I was drinking every single day. Not much, but I had to drink something, every single day. It was no longer a choice. I had long come to the horrifying conclusion that I could not stop. And if I did stop, how was I ever going to face my life, or as I liked to call it, “Chernobyl”?
When you think of Chernobyl you think of the explosion at the nuclear power plant, right? Well, my life was living day by day in the mistakes, the failure of containment, the explosion, the fire, and the fallout, the damage to anyone exposed to the radiation, the painfully slow announcement, and equally sluggish evacuation.
One of the primary excuses I used for “self-containing” my problem was my child. I was deathly afraid that admitting I had a problem with alcohol would automatically forfeit my rights as a mother. Not legal rights (although a divorce was looming) but my right to ever be perceived as a “good mother”. Good mothers are not drunks! Drunks are not good mothers!
I am so bad.
I am so broken.
I am so disgusting.
Pour me… another drink.
But even in the haze of my disease, I loved my daughter above anything else in my life. Anything! I thank God for giving her to me because when I finally decided to get help, it was for her. It was ONLY because I did not want her to be raised in the house with a drunk. She deserved a mother who was sober, alive, engaged, devoted, safe, and helping her to become her biggest self.
In my recovery group, there is a saying. It goes, “First you come. Then you come to. Then you come to believe.” By the grace of God that is what happened to me. I came and started to get sober. I came to get the understanding that I was a sick person not a bad person. I came to believe that not only did my child deserve a mother who was sober, alive, engaged, devoted, and safe but I deserved those things from and for myself too!
Addiction – be it alcohol or shopping or sex or drugs or toxic relationships or food or whatever – does not mean you are a bad person. It means you need to learn a new way of being in the world. You are worthy of the help that is ready and waiting for you. We can walk the path to getting well together, one day at a time.
Don’t take my word for it. Here are some other voices sharing their experience, strength, & hope.
If you have any questions and do not want to comment below, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org