‘Our marriage was over. I found out things about him that left me devastated. I was raised in a home where divorce didn’t happen.’: Mom overcomes divorce and alcoholism with 2 years of sobriety

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“I was in Jr. High when I first met alcohol. There was never alcohol in my home and probably hadn’t been since I was 5 or 6 years old. We just went to church a lot. In Junior High I started going to parties at other classmates’, but I wouldn’t drink at that time because I was convinced it was a sin.

I had best friends, Claudia and Lisa, that lived close. We were all within two blocks of each other. Lisa lived in the middle and her parents were never home. So, of course, we spent a lot of time there. They always had their boyfriends over. I felt like I was pushing boundaries reading Judy Blume’s Wifey. They would each be in separate bedrooms and I would be reading or on the phone talking to boys in the living room. This was edgy for me.

One day, Lisa discovered boxes of airplane bottles of alcohol. I thought that meant her dad flew a lot, but now I realize he probably had them because he ran a bowling alley and received samples. None the less, there were a lot. That first night, Lisa and Claudia added something to their sodas. I said, ‘No, I don’t drink, it’s against my religion.’ That was that. They drank, I didn’t. Then, a few weeks later, they’re drinking again. Not me. I was happy with my Coke. I called a guy on the phone. He was like, ‘are you drunk?’ I said, ‘no,’ and my friends started laughing. The entire night they had been pouring just a bit of rum into my soda. I never knew. So, when the next time came, I had already technically had alcohol before, so why not? Thus began my on again off again relationship with alcohol.

Young girl smiles for a school photo in striped t-shirt
Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer

High school became a series of parties. Drinking began almost as soon as school let out on Friday and ended Saturday night. I usually spent the night at a friend’s so my parents wouldn’t know, but sometimes, just went home and to bed. How they had no idea is beyond me. One day, my best friend and I drank the entire way to school. It was the last day and we walked to school. We took vodka from a bottle of her parent’s and replaced it with water. We somehow drank straight vodka. We showed up late. I had a final in Missouri history. I sat down and the guy in front of me turned around, handed me a pack of gum and said, ‘you reek.’ I chewed the gum, passed my final and went to my next class. I don’t remember much from the rest of the day, but I didn’t get caught.

High school sweethearts smile for a photo while in the classroom together
Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer

I was a fake. All through high school I was the good kid. I was in Student Council, soccer, and a cheerleader. Teachers trusted me. At the same time, we were drinking Seagram’s 7 at our locker in a juice container. At football games our drinks usually were Coke and Jack Daniels. And this began my habit of camouflaging my drinking. Hiding it was the norm. I went to church on Sundays. I went to all of the church functions – sometimes with alcohol hidden somewhere.

Here’s where the on again off again began. I would really get into church, so I would stop drinking. For months I wouldn’t hang out with my drinking friends after school, just my church friends. Then I would end up at a party and drink again. My parents thought I never had a drink. I had a fifth of Jack one time that for some reason I thought I should bring in to hide in my closet. Of course, my mom could smell it. I told her it was Cindy’s. The next day after our soccer game, Cindy was sleeping at our house. My mom made a snide remark, ‘she’s probably hung over.’ Many incidents like this occurred throughout my high school days.

High school sweethearts look caught off-guard while getting out of a red car together
Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer

I was a junior in high school when I was caught skipping school. We went to a friend’s house. There were about 10 or so of us. We were playing quarters with beer that one of the guys was able to buy. We got a phone call from Claudia’s brother. My mom was looking for me. Someone from Student Council needed me. They called home. I thought I had covered all of my bases. I knew I was busted this day. When I went home, I was drunk. My mother was angry about the skipping school, but I had never done it before. She grounded me for 2 weeks. She never knew I was drunk. My grounding lasted 1 evening.

So, I mostly stayed out of trouble. I mostly never got caught. When my friend Claudia’s parents were out of town, a bunch of us stayed with her at her house. We pretty much drank every day. Her mom found out. She gave us a lecture and told us she was disappointed in us. She never told my parents.

We were always able to get alcohol if we wanted it. So we did. Sometimes we had to pay for it, most of the time we didn’t. There were a lot of benefits to being cute and girls.

Young woman smiles big on her wedding day
Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer

The next few years, college, work, I didn’t drink. I attended a Christian college. I had every intention of going into missionary work. I’d come home for break and just stay home or visit my church friends. I didn’t hang out with my high school friends much. So, off and on I would drink. I didn’t think much about it. It didn’t rule my life at that point. Then, I met my first husband and my life started taking a path I had never envisioned for myself.

After we married he never went to church with me. I found out things about him that left me devastated. Needless to say, 4 years and 2 kids later, our marriage was over. I was raised in a home where divorce didn’t really happen. So, here I was, 24 years old, single mom of 2 boys and working 2 jobs. I was hurting and every chance I got I went to bars and drank more than I should have. I was in self-destruct mode.

But, guess what? I got over it. I moved on and a few years later I met my now husband. We had 2 more daughters and my life was what any outsider would call good. I called it good.

I became a stay at home mom. I was a room mother, a coach and all the other things that being a mom involves. My husband traveled a lot and a lot of burdens of the house fell on me. Bills, home maintenance, yard work and the kids were all my responsibilities.  I didn’t drink very often. Occasionally, (once every 3-6 months maybe) I would go out with the ‘girls’ or we would go out with other couples. We drank, but not tons.

Woman takes a selfie with her mom
Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer

For many years I was just normal. (er, well, drinking anyway) Then our social life started changing. The kids were all older and our friends’ kids were older so when we all got together we drank more. We progressed and drank a lot. Friday and Saturday nights were always about going out and always about drinking. We’d have friends at our house and they would sleep there. We’d go to my sister’s house and end up spending the night there. Then we started going to the lake with my cousin. It was always a free-for-all with drinking. We always started early and if we hadn’t passed out, we ended late.

This is around the time I stopped wanting to leave the house. Since my husband would be out-of-town during the week or the entire summer, I started drinking during the evenings. I would have a couple of beers or a couple of glasses of wine. This soon changed to vodka. Then, I started drinking earlier and earlier. I would have a drink in order to leave the house. Then, as alcoholism does, it started progressing. I guess this is how it started.

For years, I drank alcoholically. I managed it mostly. It didn’t cause tons of problems and I really only upset my family in a huge way only a few times. I mean, relationships got strained for sure, but I pretty much kept myself in check. Immediate family and close friends knew I had a problem. Acquaintances and not so close friends really didn’t have a clue. I could go for stretches without drinking. I was willing to do this forever. And so, it seems, was my family. The thing about alcohol, it really doesn’t let you stay where you are.

Couple take a photo together while out drinking
Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer

April of 2015 was a turning point in my drinking life. It was a turning point in my overall life. Not to be all whiny and stuff, but we lost our business, lost our house and it felt like things turned upside down overnight. I was trying to be a trooper and not act like a spoiled brat who didn’t live in a huge house so I couldn’t be happy. Our disposable income vanished, we were overridden with debt, my husband was suddenly travelling more than ever and I was basically alone to handle a mess of a new house and a mess of our financials.

We had lived in our new home for a week or so when our puppy got out of the yard. It seems he was able to find every hole in the fence. Our house backed to a major road that had a lot of traffic. We searched for hours and couldn’t find him. We started going door to door to ask our new neighbors if they had seen him. There was a family outside with their dogs so I stepped on their driveway to ask if they had seen our dog. I never got an answer, two of their dogs jumped on me and the third took a chunk out of my leg. I just backed up and got in my car. My husband was driving.

‘He bit me,’ I told him, trying not to cry. I pulled up my pant leg and there was this big hole in my calf. My husband almost threw up. Off to Urgent Care we went. I got stitched up, prescribed antibiotics and was sent home. Later my leg got seriously infected. We didn’t sue or press charges. I stepped in the dogs’ territory. The dog was quarantined for 10 days; neither of us got rabies so all was good.

But it wasn’t. A week or so later, we got a torrential downpour and the entire downstairs flooded. Memories, my daughter’s bedroom, photos, lots of stuff got ruined. My heart was hurting. One Saturday morning, (it was my daughter’s prom) I got up and couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t even know why. I took her to get her makeup and eyebrows done. I took some pictures at home but I didn’t go to the place everyone was getting their prom pictures taken. I should have. I always had in the past. I sent a friend who took photos and I stayed home. I cried, and I drank.

This was the beginning of the end. This was the beginning of my 6 months in a black hole. This was the beginning of not wanting to exist anymore.

Mom and daughter smile for a photo while daughter is dressed for school dance
Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer

I became really depressed. I was drinking a lot. I don’t know what was worse, the alcoholism or the depression. I just knew I came to a point that they both had to be dealt with. I didn’t deal with either though. So, being that they are both progressive, they both continued to get worse.

October 23, 2015, I couldn’t stand myself. I couldn’t stand the fact my family was done with me. I couldn’t stand the fact I would walk in circles before I could walk out my door. I skipped work that day. I swallowed a bottle of pills. It’s really weird. I remember the thoughts going into the act. I just thought that if I could go to sleep and never wake up, everyone would be better. Then the thoughts after the act of, ‘oh no, what if my daughter gets home before my husband does.’ I started freaking out because I didn’t want her to find me. I called my husband and asked him when he was getting home. He could hear it in my voice; I guess the pills were already taking affect. He called an ambulance and I ended up in the psych ward for a while.

Blended family take a selfie together while enjoying a camping trip together
Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer

About a month and a half after my suicide attempt I was drinking again, but was trying so hard not to. I couldn’t walk out the door. I kept trying. I had to get to work. I kept circling the family room. The really sad part of this, we had moved, and I hated this house. It felt alive and like it was always squeezing me. Yet, I couldn’t get out. I finally took a deep breath, walked down the stairs to the front door with purpose and… fell in a pile of dog crap at the bottom of the steps. I kid you not. Down I went. I landed in it. Purse on my shoulder, phone in my hand and I just sat there. I was crying. I didn’t move. I didn’t get up. I just sat there for about an hour or so.

My husband called. Work called him because I didn’t come in and they couldn’t get in touch with me. I answered the phone sobbing. I just couldn’t get up. I didn’t have any alcohol and that was usually how I managed to get out of the house. But I was trying so hard not to drink. I felt shattered. Like a mirror that fell off the wall and every part of me was in slivers that couldn’t be pieced back together. My husband was at a loss. He tried being gentle. I think he got in touch with my cousin and my sister. They started texting me. I got myself back to my kitchen. I cleaned up and stayed in. I took a lot of deep breaths and I made it through the day.

I got myself to my psychiatrist that night.  She prescribed Naltrexone. It is supposed to block your ability to get drunk. I took it. Sometimes I didn’t so I could drink. My family got angrier with me.  I would attend twelve step meetings to make them happy. Sometimes I drank before, sometimes after. I never really invested much in the meetings. But, I kept going so they would leave me alone.

Then, one day, I didn’t drink. I didn’t buy the airplane shots on the way home from work. I started paying attention at the meetings. Slowly, I started becoming alive again. One day, I even got a sponsor.

Woman on sobriety journey takes a selfie, looking happy and healthy
Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer

I now have over 2 years of sobriety. That is not to say I don’t have addictive tendencies. Netflix was created for me. Chocolate was too. But, when I find I am going down the rabbit hole of addiction again I now have the tools to climb out.

Life is better sober. I am better sober. Twelve step programs might not be everyone’s way, but it is my way and it has helped me in ways I can’t explain. I am truly excited about the rest of my journey. I am grateful every day for a chance to have a next chapter.”

Woman overcoming alcoholism looks happy and healthy in black dress
Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Bobbie Tipton Kaltmayer of Arnold, Missouri. Have you struggled with addiction and are now sober? We’d love to hear your story. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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‘I don’t know how we got to that house. I don’t know why I did the things I did when we got there. I just know it was my bottom. I hurt him terribly by cheating on him.’

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