“I had my first drink when I was 14 but shortly after I tried it, I no longer wanted to drink. Then by the age of 18, I found myself in an emotionally abusive relationship with a narcissist. I was very young with little parental support, and I was a predisposed alcoholic because alcoholism runs rampant in my family. I had very little self-control because that was something I simply wasn’t exposed to growing up.
My childhood was chaotic, and I was shipped back and forth between very different households. On one side was my mother, the free spirit who lived with her sisters to help paint a picture of her household. I vividly remember us painting our living room lime green while I zipped around on rollerblades. Then there was the other side, my father who was very strait-laced and strict. His wife would put locks on the pantry, and there was a ‘no water on the carpet’ rule. My father’s wife was the strictest woman I have met in my life. It very clearly was her home, and I was on thin ice with my welcome. My father traveled for work, so he was gone constantly. I thought, ‘I don’t belong.’ I think that initial feeling set the tone for the rest of my life to search for a place I did belong. A place that was home, and full of love is the only thing I wanted.
My mother was sober most of my life, until I was about 15. I had never seen her consume alcohol at all, and then at around 16, I remember her going off the deep end with her addiction. It’s at the fault of a doctor who pumped her full of unnecessary pills. This was also around the time she left me to go live in New York with some guy I had never met. Most of our life it had just been us so the sudden change in the mother I knew, and her being gone was probably one of the most damaging moments of my childhood. Luckily, this year we both were able to strengthen our relationship through both of us gaining sobriety. My mother is truly an amazing woman and is currently a hypnotherapist in New Mexico with 5 years sober.
Searching for where I belong brought me to a lot of really fun places though. I lived in New York, Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, Washington and California. My problems were always geographical, so I was on a constant run from them. I found ways to bring the destruction of addiction so shortly after I ran to a new place to find peace, my self-destructive ways would catch up to me.
As I dove deeper into my early 20 party ‘phase,’ I realized I had a problem almost immediately, but I chalked it up to being 21. I couldn’t control my drinking. I wanted so badly to fit in with the ‘cool party crowd’ I had just found, but I honestly couldn’t hang.
When I was younger, I would watch movies like ‘Almost Famous’ and I would just swoon over Penny Lane. There was something so empowering about her free spirit and it sucked me in at a young age. I felt like that’s who I wanted to be. I wanted to be a rock and roller everyone loved. We all know Penny Lane was a very vulnerable young woman with some deep pain and addiction, but I looked past ALL of that because I wanted so badly to be cool. I drank whiskey and beer, I listened to rock music, and I wore a leather jacket every single day. I covered myself in tattoos to fit an aesthetic that now, looking back, was so uncomfortable. I don’t know how I put that show on for so long.
Now I am on the other side of all of this and I have 365 days sober, I truly have never experienced anything as uplifting. I got sober in December, just 4 months before COVID-19 lock down so it was a very interesting experience. I spent a lot of time by myself at home, watching Netflix and impulse buying any self-help book I could find. Most of which are still unopened on my shelf. I threw myself into taking care of my boyfriend, and I wouldn’t change that for anything, but I will say I was very much trying to distract myself from the hard shadow of work that awaited me.
I had to make some really hard choices in sobriety, one of which was to cut almost all contact with my dad. He has gone off the deep end with his political propaganda and his drinking. My dad has always been a heavy drinker, but that, mixed with the very mismatched views of the dad I once had, was the nail in the coffin.
I had to look deeper into myself and pull apart the pieces of my trauma to look at them individually. I had to figure out why I ticked the way I did if I every stood a chance in sobriety.
Now with the help of therapy, I can say I am happier than ever. Sobriety isn’t all AA meetings, blogs, and groups. It’s hard deep work that makes you wanna smash the mirror, but somehow every morning, it’s pieced itself back together and you have to start all over. Getting sober during a pandemic I felt very still. I felt as though my life was moving in slow motion and I had all the time in the world to pick apart every move I made. It was as exhausting as it was rewarding.
My first attempt at getting sober was in 2014. I was a makeup artist in New York stepping out of fashion week season. My dream was to be a makeup artist in New York. I can remember playing in my mom’s makeup. I just always had a real passion for the art. I had finally reached my goal of doing runway makeup for B Michael America in NYFW Fall 2015. I had decided to go home for Halloween and see some family. I had a newfound lease on life. I was able to get 3 months sober under my belt and truly was killing it.
On October 28, 2014, I was crossing the street at 9:30 at night, and a car ran a red light going 40 miles per hour and hit me dead on. I flew in the air, crashing down on my face and right shoulder. The impact of the hit also broke my knee. I was DEVASTATED. After a police officer asked, ‘Are you okay?’ I asked, ‘Can I call my dad?’ My dad then told me, ‘Stop being dramatic and take a cab.’ He didn’t believe I actually got hurt. It was such a traumatic experience I spent years wishing I would have died.
I had very little purpose after that, and I still very much struggle with the PTSD and great loss of my makeup career. I had 3 months of bed rest and was unable to return to New York. I couldn’t walk so I had no options. Slowly, the boxes from my New York City apartment started to show up, and I was just in such disbelief at what a left turn my life had taken, I couldn’t bear to unpack them.
I maintained my sobriety until I was able to walk again, and then I truly could not have cared less about life. I crawled into that bottle full of shame and grief and it took me years to crawl myself back out. I had to make a choice: ‘Do I want to spend my life mourning ghosts of a life lost, or actually live?’’ Ultimately, after a lot of trial and error, I chose life.
I now can show up and face my fears with a newfound strength. I actually was arrested for a DUI in 2017, and through a series of events and bad choices, I never took care of it, so I was issued a warrant. I decided to face it and turn myself in with 9 months sober under my belt. I had to handle that wreckage. All of my work was rewarded when I showed up to court. The judge had faith in me, which then resulted in her waving all of my fees, but I still had to turn myself in and spend 8 hours in jail. But all in all, knowing I had conquered that step was a really empowering and validating moment.
I showed up for my past self as my sober self and I don’t know how many people get to do that. Now with a year sober, I have to go to rehab to get my license back. Honestly, I’m hoping to help someone and I’m seeing it as such rather than a daunting task. I thought, ‘I’m sober anyway, why not do some work to make sure it stays that way?’
365 days ago, I was homeless, living on a friend’s couch with no heat, no job and no food. I had hit a rock bottom. There was no drama, but a lot of struggle. I have hit rock bottom more than once in my life, but this one was just exhausting. I was so sick of my own sh*t. Alcohol stole every single happy moment from me. I would black out at family holidays and wake up not knowing what happened.
I remember once I blacked out within the first hour and my family wouldn’t speak to me for months. I had gotten so drunk and I was so angry, I just spewed a bunch of really hateful stuff about my dad to his brother. I would choose alcohol over almost everything. I would mourn with alcohol, celebrate with alcohol, and survive with alcohol. I feel like no matter what chapter of my life I was in, alcohol was there like a looming cloud. I truly am lucky to be alive.
I decided I didn’t want to struggle and hurt anymore. I turned 29 and I was ready to close the chapter on my 20’s and fall into my future with a man I loved, and more importantly, live the life I deserved. I got sober on my own, completely cold turkey. I don’t really believe in shame-based programs such as AA. It triggers my anxiety and brings up some childhood issues that I don’t think I need to face in that setting.
My boyfriend truly changed my life for the better. Without Ryan, I don’t think I would have had that support I needed to become the best version of myself. I needed someone to show me how to love myself and he does just that. I had to really lean into the love that he had to offer me. Sometimes love isn’t bringing you flowers, and soft kisses in the morning. Most of the time, it is an uncomfortable growing experience. He has taught me more about being true to myself than I think anyone ever could. Ryan really brings out this stillness in me that I love.
My time is spent differently now. I have turned 30 this year, and I have finally found where I belong. Despite a horrible pandemic, I have had so much uninterrupted time with my new family. We learned how to be a family unit and it basically was a drill to show up for them as the woman of the house. I have nurtured a man I love and was able to receive that love back full force. Sobriety is a beautiful gift. We spend our days baking cookies, juggling homework, a business, and dinners. I am, for the first time in my life, so hopeful about the future, and that is all because of my sobriety.
If you are struggling to get sober or feel you need to reach out, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kelsy Ann. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more inspiring stories from sober warriors:
‘A guardian angel called 9-1-1 as I convulsed in a coffee shop parking lot. At 18, I’d lost 20 jobs and been arrested 14 times.’: Man 13-years sober after long battle with addiction, ‘We’re not meant to live in darkness’
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