Disclaimer: This story mentions of miscarriage and may be triggering to some.
“I should have known from the first party I attended I would never have a working relationship with alcohol. In all honesty, I was a very well-behaved kid. I never went to high school parties nor snuck out and lied to my parents. I always made sure I followed the rules to a T because I hated the feeling of being in trouble. The first party I went to in my senior year, I had two drinks. That night I blacked out, fell out of my friend’s car while puking on the side of the road, rolled down the hill, and proceeded to throw up all night in her bathtub. I woke up in her bathroom soaking wet, and had vomit caked in my hair. That was enough to make me say, NOPE, this is not for me. During my senior year, my mom and I went through a very traumatic event. Her long-term boyfriend had us scared for our lives. When we escaped that situation, my mom began a long battle with alcoholism.
Watching her go through this addiction made me swear that it would never happen to me. But what I didn’t know was just how easy it was to fall into addiction. As I got older, I went through a very rebellious stage. When I turned 18, I started drinking more and more often. I was completely oblivious to what lay ahead for my future. What started as a fun, social habit quickly spiraled into my own addiction that I would not recognize for years. I was too young to drink at the bars, but ran with a crowd that LOVED to party. We would pregame before our nights out, which meant drink as much as possible before we went out dancing. We loved to make jello shots and soak gummy worms in vodka. We would always try to see how many jello shots we could take before going out. I remember one night I had 23 jello shots before we went to the club. I never had a healthy relationship with alcohol, but everything I surrounded myself with made what I was doing seem normal.
I used to work as a preschool teacher, but living on my own meant I needed to make more money. I started working a second job as a waitress. This turned my drinking from weekends out with the girls into a regular occurrence. I eventually went to waitressing full time. This was the worst decision I could have made for my relationship with alcohol. My routine changed dramatically. I would drink all the time with coworkers, regulars, and friends. This is when I started to do a lot more day drinking and drinking alone at home. Even amid my mom’s addiction, she knew I was going to have a problem too. I remember one day she called me to go shopping with her in the middle of the day. I had already consumed an entire liter of this margarita drink called Tarantula. When she picked me up, I reeked of alcohol. I remember how disappointed she was in me. In that stage of my life, though, I did not respect her opinion. As our relationship crumbled, I fell into a serious party phase. I was introduced to drugs, and that consumed my life for the next several years.
I started taking drugs recreationally at house parties, and then I was eventually taking them at concerts and partying into the morning with friends. We went to festivals, parties, concerts, you name it, and we were there to party all night long. These almost always turned into drinking when the sun came up. When the drugs wore off, it was time to pop the champagne and make the blood marys.
I was in a long-term relationship through this phase of my life. We were that couple that always did everything together. We experienced so much together, both good and bad. The drugs were never hard for me to give up. When I was done with them, I didn’t struggle with cravings, and I was lucky enough not to be consumed by them. I remember saying, very frequently, that I didn’t have an addictive personality. Holy crap, I want to go back to 24 year old me and simultaneously shake her and laugh at her for how DUMB that statement was. I continued to drink but slowed way down on the drugs.
Alcohol was always present throughout all of this partying. I lived close to the bar street in my college town. We’d drink and then walk home. One night, I was so drunk that I decided to run down the hill that led to my house. I tripped on a rock and fell so hard my jeans ripped, I sprained my knee, and blood was running all down my leg. When I fell, I blacked out and my boyfriend had no idea. He turned the corner and went to our apartment, but I was too drunk to remember where home was. I walked around our neighborhood for an hour sobbing and trying to get into the wrong apartments.
My relationship began to fall apart, and I knew we needed to break up, but I didn’t know how I was going to do it because I did not want to hurt him. Instead of handling my emotions and communicating that I was unhappy, I began to drink more heavily. I would black out and get really mean. We finally broke up and things got very dark for me. I started seeing someone I worked with, and things went badly with him. One night, I was drinking alone at a bar to drown out my feelings. I met up with a friend and we drank until the bars closed. I took him home and was driving to my mom’s apartment. I was so drunk I thought I was on the interstate, but I was driving through town. A car pulled out in front of me, and I totaled my car. All I remember is the air bag deploying and the overwhelming smell of smoke. I got out of my car, and luckily nobody got hurt in the accident. I couldn’t tell my mom where I was because I was in a completely different area than I thought I was. The guy I hit begged me not to call the cops because he had a suspended license. Somehow, I got out of that situation without getting into any trouble. This was my rock bottom moment, but this was just the beginning of the worst four years of my life.
After the car wreck, I stopped caring about my life. I felt like such a huge failure. I lied about what happened to almost everyone that asked. I could not get real with myself or anyone else. I moved in with three people and we had the party house. We always threw big parties and drank every day. I struggled a lot through this part of my life. I knew what I was doing wasn’t safe or healthy, but I was in so much pain that I couldn’t stop. I was drinking so much that it was almost always guaranteed to end up with me blacking out or hooking up with a someone I either regretted or didn’t even know. I was empty and felt so alone. I slept with guys to try to get over the one that hurt me. I didn’t care about myself or anyone else. I fell into a deep depression, which only caused me to drink more. It was a revolving door of bad decisions. I put myself in a lot of dangerous, stupid situations.
I knew I had a problem, but I did not care enough to try to fix it. I would cry after a night of heavy drinking and swear off alcohol and start drinking again by the time the hangover wore off. I went on like this for most of my 20’s. I dug myself deeper and deeper into darkness. I ruined countless friendships with my terrible behavior. I felt so isolated and sad which drove me to drink more often. I would drink before my shifts and then slam drinks after work. I hung out with people that drank like me so I didn’t feel like I had a problem. Eventually, I went to therapy. When the alcohol topic came up, I could never be honest about how bad it was. I lied about how much I drank, and wasn’t ready to give it up.
When I finally got out of the restaurant industry, things got a little better. I cut my drinking down to only weekends, but once I got settled into my new job this quickly changed back to drinking during the week. My mom told me on more than one occasion I was an alcoholic, but I refused to believe it. I would tell her that was HER story, not mine. I was just a 20 year old doing what 20 year old’s do. I hated the confrontation. I was so helpless, yet so unwilling to admit I had a problem. In 2019, I had a miscarriage. When this happened, I was inconsolable. That day I drank three bottles of champagne and was posting ridiculous things that were very hurtful. My best friend sent me a message the next day to tell me how much she loved me, but she could not watch me destroy my life anymore. She said if I chose to continue to self-destruct, she could not be in my life. This was the beginning of my wake-up call. After that, I started trying to get sober. The thought of my best friend not being in my life made me realize how much pain I was causing not only myself, but people that loved me as well.
I tried to stay sober by creating reward systems for myself or doing sober month challenges. It never worked. I always started drinking again. The scariest part of all was I didn’t look like I had a problem, but looking back through old pictures I see how much pain was behind my eyes. I was smiling, but I always had a drink in hand and never portrayed the pain. I only ever shared the happy times and the picture before the chaos. I felt so alone with my thoughts. I thought I was the only person who was in her 20’s that had a drinking problem. I was consumed with shame, and it kept me prisoner to my addiction.
The longest I ever lasted sober was two weeks. I would falsely believe I had it under control so I could try to moderate. This went on for two years before I was ready to fully commit. I continued drinking, and throughout most of 2020 I was blacking out so frequently that I pretty much counted on it to happen. After a black out I would wake up in cold sweats, panicking, and looking through my phone to piece together the night before. I would drink a bottle of wine and not remember how I got to bed. Any time I went out for one drink, it ended up in me being wasted. I was so lost and so disappointed in myself.
I had always told myself I was going to be sober for a year and see how it made me feel. There was always an excuse for why I didn’t do it. In February of 2021, I decided enough was enough. I quit drinking for two weeks and then someone gave me a bottle of wine as a gift. That bottle of wine turned into me drinking all night, blacking out, and waking up to explicit drunk texts to a stranger. I felt the familiar rush of embarrassment and shame, and in that moment, I knew my life either needed to change, or I couldn’t live it anymore. I started searching for sober accounts on Instagram and found some accounts to follow. I ended up creating an account so I could share my thoughts and work through the difficulties of getting sober. I didn’t know it then, but this connection is exactly what I needed for the sober thing to work. After a LOT of resistance, I joined a sober group. I started attending meetings and found that there are people all over the world struggling just like I was. This sense of not being alone in my darkness helped me stick to my sobriety.
Getting sober was the hardest, longest, most painful battle I have ever fought. The first few months were excruciating. I wanted to quit so bad because even though I was sober, I was still lost in this depression. I probably cried for three months straight. This time, though, I didn’t hide those feelings. I started talking about them. The girls in the group were so understanding and so supportive. For the first time in years, I felt seen and heard. I eventually started antidepressants and that was a HUGE turning point. These never would have worked had I still been drinking. During my third month of sobriety, things finally started to shift. When I hit 100 days, I finally felt the notorious pink cloud. I remember looking up at the sky and thinking ‘wow, is this what happy people feel like all the time?’ I started learning how to sit with my emotions and process them. I started facing my demons and coming to terms with my relationship with alcohol.
Being sober didn’t solve all my problems, but it did give me the clarity to learn how to work through them. The woman I am today is so much different than the woman I was five months ago. I’m not drowning in pain and sadness anymore. I finally got to know myself and guess what? I am still me! I am still the woman I have always been, but now I am a more reliable, patient, kind, healing version of the woman I’ve always had the potential to be. And all I needed to get here was to stop hiding in my shame and connect with people who just GOT it. I’ve been able to mend broken friendships, create new ones, set boundaries, process deep-rooted pain, and show up for myself. I’ve been able to open up about my struggles and shed the weight of all the shame and guilt that kept me trapped for so long. I’ve been able to travel sober. The memories I made will last me a lifetime, and I could never say that when I was still drinking. There is still pain in sobriety. There is still sadness and triggers. There are still bad days, but those bad days don’t even compare to how bad I felt when I was lost in my addiction.
I want to end on this; you are not as alone as your brain leads you to believe. If you are struggling with alcohol, I want you to know there is so much more to life. I stayed stuck because I didn’t know life without alcohol. I thought it meant my life was over if I got sober, but I was never prepared for just how beautiful life really is without alcohol. Beautiful doesn’t mean it’s always blissful. But if I could go back to my younger self and show her how much pain she could have avoided, I would make sure she knew how amazing life could be if she just showed up for herself.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cierra from Northwest Arkansas. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d love to hear your journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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