“It all started with a boy. Everyone says you will always remember your first love. In my case, this is absolutely 100% true. He was handsome, charming, with a southern accent. He brought me flowers every time we had a date. He spoiled me and made me feel like I was the only girl in the world. He was also a drug addict.
We were getting his tux the night before my senior prom. Waiting in the parking lot, he pulled out a baggy from his sock. He said something like, ‘I think you might like this. It would be fun to try together.’ I asked what it was. ‘Crystal meth,’ he replied. Up to this moment, I had been drunk a handful of times and smoked pot maybe twice. But because I was in love, I would do anything for him. I agreed to try it. When we got back to his house, he got it out and lined it up with a credit card on a mirror. It was like things I had only seen in movies. And there, in his parent’s basement, I did my first line. My first hard drug.
He was incredibly manipulative and controlling. We made a pact to only drink or drug together, which only I stuck to. He completely stripped me of any sort of normal college life. I would do anything for him. The occasional meth use turned into daily use. He wouldn’t let me light my own bowl or buy my own drugs. I guess in a way, he was protecting me? After introducing me to this terrible lifestyle? I was the most naïve drug addict you’ll ever meet because I didn’t know how to do any of it on my own.
I was still managing to do well in college, mainly because I was awake all the time, so I was ahead in all of my classes. He got a job offer in Cincinnati. He said if I didn’t come with him, we were done. I went into a depression I had never known before. I remember sleeping for days in my parent’s basement. The thought of being apart from this boy completely broke me. So, I moved to Cincinnati.
It wasn’t long before he found someone in Cincinnati who knew someone who was a dealer. But it wasn’t meth. It was cocaine. I got excited knowing there was something else to try, so we dove right in. The coke led to crack, and the crack led to complete destruction. I was now failing school. Me, a straight-A, honor student. My mom came out to visit for my 21st birthday. I didn’t go drinking. My mom took us out to dinner, and she and I went out alone for drinks but I wasn’t getting wasted. It was all about drugs. My mom could tell something was off, but I had been lying for so long. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone. These were some of my darkest days and regretful memories. I always joke I didn’t drink much before I was 21 because it was illegal. But here I was smoking crack and meth and doing lines of coke.
I now knew I was only in the relationship because he got me drugs. I was scared to leave because he was my first love, and I didn’t know anything else. But my life was a mess. I’d dropped out of college, claiming an ’emotional breakdown.’ I didn’t have a job. I had no idea what I was doing with myself. I was completely lost. I called my mom and told her I needed to come home. Of course, the next morning, I regretted it but it was too late. My parents were on their way from Colorado to get me.
I finally broke up with the boy. The boy who got me into drugs and ruined my life. My first love. Without him, I had no access to drugs. I quit cold turkey. Looking back, I have no idea how I did this. I don’t remember withdrawals or cravings. All I know is I replaced it with alcohol.
I always drank to get drunk. I felt I had missed out on college life, and I needed to make up for it. I had been controlled for too long. I was finally free. I started going to bars and clubs regularly. I got a job and re-enrolled in school. I was doing really well, and I was happy. I did what I thought was normal for someone in her early twenties. I drank every day, starting at 5. That’s what adults do, right?
I didn’t think I had a problem until I realized how much more alcohol I needed compared to my friends. Every time we went out, they were completely hammered, and I barely had a buzz. I started bringing my own shooters in my purse so I could have extra on hand. I would pour vodka into mini shampoo bottles so it wasn’t evident it was alcohol. I’d buy 100-proof to get the job done quicker.
I was always the fun friend, but I put myself in so many terrible situations. The daily drinking continued into my 30’s and into my marriage. When I moved in with my now-husband, I had to start hiding vodka in the closet because, again, the amount I needed was extraordinarily higher than most people. I thought it was fun. It was my secret. I liked hiding it. It was like a game. When people saw me drink three glasses of wine, they had no idea about the water bottles filled with vodka I chugged from earlier. I’d gauge how much I was drinking by counting the number of gulps I took or by seeing how many shampoo bottles were empty.
I hid how much I was drinking very well. I was a functioning alcoholic. I had a great husband, amazing friends, and a stable job. In my mind, there was no way I was an alcoholic because I had all of these things. Alcoholics are people who can barely get out of bed or are homeless. They don’t look or act like me. Right?
There were several episodes that should have been the end, but I was never ready. It took years of looking at myself in the mirror, thinking, ‘Ellen, this has to stop. You can’t continue drinking like this.’ So, I would try drinking a different way. Only wine during the week. Vodka on weekends. Svedka instead of 100-proof Smirnoff. Anything. The only thing that stayed consistent was I never allowed anyone to see how much I was truly drinking. I knew it deep down in my soul I would either die drinking or I would have to admit out loud there was a problem.
The day finally came. I learned later in the rooms it was one of my ‘yets.’ The things that make you convince yourself you are not an alcoholic. ‘I haven’t gotten a DUI…yet. Or I haven’t lost my job…yet.’ Mine was, ‘I’ve never brought alcohol into work…yet.’ My last was really a continuation of several days of drinking. I had finished everything that was hidden in the closet at 6 a.m. before heading to work because I was so shaky. I took my lunch break early (like 9:15 early) and drove to the first liquor store. It didn’t open until 10. I thought to myself, ‘Only an alcoholic would be caught waiting for a liquor store to open. I can’t do that.’ So, I went to another one nearby. Yes, it was open!
I went in and got my usual. The cashier ringed me up and said, ‘Why you here so early today?’ I was so embarrassed. Little did he know, I needed this to calm my shakes, feel better, and make it to lunch. This was the first time I brought alcohol into this job. This was my ‘yet.’ I had basically woken up still drunk and was just continuing the drunk in order to feel okay. I was completely sh*tfaced by lunch. I knew I would be fired if anyone noticed. I had to get out. I called my husband. I knew he’d be pissed, but I have the most supportive and compassionate husband. He picked my drunk a** up from work. Yes, he was pissed but more scared and confused and completely sad. Why was I wasted at work on a Thursday by noon?
And that was it. I have not had a drink since that day. I finally knew something needed to change. I knew I was the only person who could make that change. I didn’t want to live this way anymore. I needed to change. For ME. The only way it works is when you realize you have to do it for YOURSELF. No one else can get you sober.
If I had never met the boy and done that first line of meth, would I even be an addict? Who knows? All I know is I started out hardcore, switched to booze, and never let up. My sober life is amazing. Yes, I still have regular life problems, but everything is so much more manageable without the haze. I can do things now I never did before. Everything makes a little more sense. I’ve returned to the child I remember being when I was young and carefree. Before I knew any different. Before anyone had hurt me or pressured me. I’m back to being Ellen.
My marriage is stable. I still have my job. My family loves me. And I have twins! I was able to get pregnant and start a family sober. I believe my higher power had all of this lined up for me. I could never have done any of these things in any different order. Everything is perfectly in place that way it is supposed to be according to my journey. And now I can actually see that clearly.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Ellen Elizabeth. You can follow their journey on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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