Do or Die
I'm Elizabeth and I'm an alcoholic. I’m also a wife, mother, sister, friend, Counselor, writer, coffee lover, math illiterate and aging athlete. I can be all of these things because I know that I am an alcoholic and that anything I put in front of my recovery I will absolutely lose.
The last thing I remember from September 11, 2006 is getting my nails done. I had already been drinking because at that point I had no choice. I drank 24/7 and had been at that point for years. Flashes of memory pop into my mind but most of what I know about that day is what I have been told – returning from the nail salon, making phone calls, drinking some more, driving to get my oldest son from work and nearly careening off the bridge, having an argument with my husband that led to threats of violence (me toward him) and ending up passed out on the driveway with my keys and cell phone in my hand. A neighbor knocked on the door to tell my husband of my condition but he was aware and had left me there on purpose. I had made my mess and he wasn’t cleaning up after me anymore.
Two weeks before that day I had agreed to enter a treatment program – after he informed me that I had to get sober that day or he would leave immediately, and if I did get sober he would leave me in 90 days. We had just returned from a family reunion where I had cleared my Grandmother out of 3 gallons of bourbon. He had caught me glugging straight from the bottle while I was hiding in the garage. My husband had tolerated my drinking myself nearly to death, including nearly dying from a gastric bleed and doing countless detoxes. After 19 years of marriage he was done and I could no longer cope with the look of disgust and disappointment on his face. Unfortunately I had been released to Intensive outpatient treatment and, having not committed myself to any program of recovery, relapsed hard. I had my arm casted to the shoulder from breaking it while drunk and had previously been doing treatment from home, however our insurance insisted that if they were going to pay – and this is the last time they would – I had to be inpatient. On September 12, 2006 I entered residential treatment and began a journey of recovery that continues today.
I had been drinking and using for 33 years by the time I got sober – daily since I was 8 years old – and had no skills to draw on to live life on life’s terms. I was also a therapist with people with substance abuse problems so letting go long enough to get what I needed to function was not easy. It took a village to guide me but I did learn to become teachable. That is the greatest change in me – being teachable. To understand that I had been operating under the delusion that I would be happy if only I MANAGED well. Boy did I manage – everything around me, near me or that might impact me. From where we lived and went to church, the stripes the vacuum made, how myself and my family looked - I managed it all, with differing results – never satisfied or happy. Letting go, applying the fact that I am powerless over alcohol and drugs, and EVERYTHING else, changed my life completely. It’s not always easy – stuff happens but I know that it will work out in the end the way it is meant to – if not how I would have planned. The great thing is that the results I see today are far better than anything I would have planned. I didn’t think my life would improve to anything resembling what I live today.
There have been many moments that I can list that make me cry with joy including what happened when I received my three year medallion. I was a mean drunk – and my family took the brunt of my rage. I was physically, verbally and mentally abusive to both my husband and my children. When I got sober I really never believed those relationships could be repaired. It took work, therapy and time but things really began to take shape during my second year sober. The morning of my anniversary we were all going in a hundred directions. It was my son’s birthday, he was prepping to leave for the marines, my daughter had a horseshow and I was popping in to my 7am meeting to get my medallion and jump into the day’s activities. Much to my surprise it was my son who appeared out of nowhere to present my coin saying “For my sixteenth birthday I didn’t get a car, or anything material. What I got was my mother sober for the first time in my life”. He said other things but I was crying too hard to hear.
Today, rather than going back to being a therapist, I am a Peer Support Specialist. Assisting people in getting from a starting point in mental health and substance abuse recovery to a place of optimum wellness is what makes me the happiest.
I’m also a wife, mother, sister, friend, Counselor, writer, coffee lover, math illiterate and aging athlete but first and foremost I am Elizabeth and I’m an alcoholic.