‘Do you think it’s too late for me?’ He bravely responded with a single, ‘No.’: Mom details overcoming alcohol addiction, finding healing in music

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Disclaimer: This story contains details of addiction, substance abuse, and sexual abuse that may be upsetting to some.

“‘Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, and should I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take,’ a prayer from my childhood

I am an artist. But it took me a long time to channel it. This is my story about how I found sobriety, and through it found my music and a second chance at life.

Prayers were a big part of my childhood. My parents taught us to pray before meals. My mother and father modeled prayer as part of their daily practice. And every night, before bed, my dad would tuck me in and recite a prayer, usually in the form of song. That was when I was a little girl. A lot would change, but prayer would prove to remain present, even in my darkest hours as the living dead.

young girl with guitar and microphone
Courtesy of Feroxx

It is a bit difficult to know where to start, or how to even tell my story. Even now, at almost 4 years sober, it still comes to me in bits and pieces. I am also not sure where the best beginning is; I just know my story holds power and it is my responsibility to share it so others might stand in theirs too. In reading my story, I hope you find the permission to be yourself and to stand strong behind whatever the honest truth is.

But I want to be clear this is not a story of a recovering alcoholic. The fact is, I don’t have any trace of it wrapped up in my identity. Instead, mine is a radical story of being healed. It is about unrivaled grit. Genuine forgiveness. Total transformation. And choosing to walk a road marked by brutal honesty, wrestling with ghosts of the past, and letting go. This is the hard and brutal work of healing. It demands authenticity and unwavering dedication.

I won’t ever fully understand why I found my way out when so many others lose their battle. Addiction is an unforgiving monster, and the only way out is straight through hell. I walked it, alongside my husband, and found myself, one tiny piece at a time, along the way.

man and woman at wedding
Courtesy of Feroxx

Past Traumas

Like many others who struggle with addiction, I have a long history of intensive trauma. Deep family betrayal. Sexual assault. I have been raped three times: once took my virginity, another by a military soldier who drugged me at a party, and the third time by a family member. But even before that, there were things that fractured me as a child. I had a good home. I have fond memories of moments that shaped me, in profound ways, as a child. Quality time was important to my parents, and they worked hard to provide for my sister and me.

However, I was a wild nonconforming artist from the start, and I came out of the gates on fire. As a young girl, this was mislabeled as mental illness: a major and pivotal trauma of my early adolescence. I spent my entire teen years, from age 12 to 18, heavily medicated. And I was unfathomably angry about it. But no one seemed to listen. The doctor, an ‘expert,’ had spoken. With that diagnosis, at age 12, before I had even hit puberty, she single-handedly destroyed me.

woman before sobriety
Courtesy of Feroxx

Drowning In Addiction

In my early twenties, I met a man who introduced me to alcohol. From drop one, I was hooked. At first, it was fun. For much of my early adult years I could be found at the center of every party, and usually wasted. But everyone was wasted, and this became my framework of understanding how to get attention in the context of social gatherings. I finally had found a way to fit in and intensely enjoyed the liquid courage that allowed me to let go and be free. Long forgotten was the wounded girl.

I don’t know when it crossed over from fun to frightening, but it did. I met my husband at age 25 and was married shortly after. During my pregnancy with my son, I didn’t drink once. This was probably the first break from alcohol I had experienced since the first time I tasted it. However, it wasn’t long after my boy was born I returned to the bottle. The next 5 years would be the darkest of my life.

I lost my sister soon after my son was born, and this new trauma would prove to absolutely shatter me. I became a closet drunk. And while I was at a job that focused on helping people, I was isolated and alone, severely judged and without help. Instead of quitting alcohol, I quit my job. I don’t think I will ever be able to adequately describe the months that would follow. I became extremely sick. I was in and out of the emergency room for alcohol-related reasons. My body was bleeding out. My organs were shutting down. I was perpetually in black out. I would wake up with bruises all over my body and have no clue where they came from. It was getting progressively worse and my world became void of any light. No one came to save me.

It is impossible to fully outline the depth of torment I was in; not in these short pages, and maybe no amount of paper would ever hold it all. I was drinking gross amounts of whiskey, seven nights a week, to black out. Through it, I became a prisoner to severe anxiety. When I say severe, that’s exactly what I mean. I could not drive, or even be in a car, without having a severe panic attack. I could not be in public of any sort without feeling like the world was closing in around me. I would wake to panic, and every moment felt like hours.

If you look up the symptoms of a heart attack, amongst a host of many other symptoms, it reads, ‘a feeling of impending doom’. I lived tortured by that feeling every, single, waking moment. Eventually, it became so bad I became a shut in, and for an entire year of my life, I did not leave the house. Toward the end, as I look back on it now, I realize I was drinking to entirely, and maybe even permanently, disappear. I was a shell. I became dead on the inside. The shame was suffocating. It became a vicious cycle without mercy. And this became my identity. For months I would wake up and pray; pray as I was taught when I was a young girl. Pray that today would be the day. But it never was. Every day I tried. And every day I failed. This was the dark belly of the grave.

family photo
Courtesy of Feroxx

The Start Of My Unraveling

I began to have dreams. In those dreams, I saw my son as a young man. I heard what he had to say about me. I watched him at my funeral. I saw him living a life without a mother. In these dreams I had died, and I was viewing life in my absence, being forced to watch my son struggle to make sense of his alcoholic mother. A mother who could never get sober. A mother who was never present. A mother who was sick. And a mother who eventually died from it. He hated me. Those dreams changed something inside of me. I believe God sent them to reach the core of me that was still alive, albeit barely. The small piece of me that could still feel and perceive and ache.

It was clear to me I had an extremely small window of time to get it right. The evening of November 10th, 2018, my husband took me to a late-night movie –this would be our final attempt at sobriety. I wasn’t sure what would happen afterwards if I couldn’t do it, but I knew it wasn’t an option. The movie was A Star Is Born with Lady Gaga.

I cannot explain in words what transpired in that theater, other than to say it was the start of my unraveling. I remember leaving the theater and sobbing in my husband’s truck. I asked him, ‘Do you think it is too late for me?’ He bravely responded with a single, ‘No.’ That was Day 1. November 10th of this year will be 4 years. That was the beginning of putting my dirt on the table. I’ve held eye contact since.

men and a woman in recording studio
Courtesy of Feroxx

Turning To Music

At three months sober, I picked up the pen and began writing music again. But this music was different than anything I had ever written. This sort of dark, electro-popish music began to emerge as I sifted through the wreckage. Music became my lifeline, and in it and through it, and maybe because of it, I began the long journey out of the grave. My pen moved effortlessly as I poured myself into song after song. I spent the first year recording a collection of songs chronicling the navigation of sobriety in real time. My husband took on extra work to save up enough each month to send me to the studio where I would record a song. And, one song at a time, I gained strength.

I began to feel again and I poured every ounce of it into the music. My lyrics became a reflection of the layers of work I was doing in my fight toward freedom. Somewhere along the way, I was healed and Feroxx was born. I had first started to write music to stay alive, but it became so much more than that. At a year sober, I was ready to release the music I had been writing and started praying about a new name. It came to me in the night: Feroxx. Ferox means ‘fierce or war-like’ in Latin. It was perfect.

One year and two months, to the exact day, I was hired to manage the recording studio where I had spent the previous year becoming and unraveling. I have since recorded over 30 songs (15 of which are still unreleased), begun producing my own music alongside my husband, done two incredible music videos, been granted a radio station on Pandora where I am categorized similar to artists such as Lorde and Au/Ra, and I am just beginning to put my toes in the water with performing. By this time next year, my goal is to be performing on stages across the country. I hold the future with open palms, living on the other side of the grave that tried to swallow me.

woman in recording studio
Courtesy of Feroxx

Rising Through Recovery

So much of my life prior to sobriety is a blur. Memories have slowly come back, usually unprovoked, but I’ve learned how to be okay with the sadness some of them bring. I have learned a ton about myself through the work that comes with it. It isn’t about not drinking. It’s about the what now. Mainly, I’ve learned how everything I came to believe about myself in a negative light are actually some of my greatest strengths.

All of my ‘too much’ is something this crazy world could use a big dose more of, and I have been long retired from trying to make myself small for the comfort of others. I keep myself open to receiving life as it comes – the beauty and the pain, and sometimes not mutually exclusive. The thing is, freedom comes at a cost. There must be death to self, over and over again, in order to rise again new. Healing is not linear. It is cyclical. And, in my experience, it is slow. It starts with day one and turns into thousands.

Recovery is the purest art of becoming. And the heartbeat really is about the unraveling, which ironically is what sews you back together. I wrote in one of my songs, ‘the secret to rising is falling and letting it spill’ and I try to live doing just that: spilling. A cup full is enough for the person holding it, but a cup spilled pours into those of others. Spilling reveals what is in the cup, and there is freedom in the flowing and the refilling. I am a firm believer the key to recovery is honesty. To achieve it is the bravest act I know. But until things become uncovered, they cannot be recovered.

professional photo
Photo by Justin Hardman

While much of my story is a miracle I owe to the one who holds the constellations, I also owe it to myself to acknowledge the level of cooperative work it requires. For me, I had to first learn to love and forgive myself before I could receive it from others, including my Creator. My entire life I was told to believe in a God who would set me free, but I have come to believe our own capacity for self-love is what accesses it. The gift of co-creation – in my case, a different ending to my story and the music I write – is a phenomenon impossible to capture with language.

This is the entire crux of my music and the foundation I have built my new life upon. My music is not about sobriety but it is written from that place; rooted in strength and empowerment with an unapologetic returning to the wild. We are currently converting a bus into our home on wheels… our bridge to take our music on the road. I will be releasing a new song called ‘Hush’ in early August. And I am committed to continuing to live open, wild, spilling, and unraveled. May it be a catalyst for others to dream big, hope enormously, and live intentionally. Anything is possible, you need only be.”

professional photo
Photo by Justin Hardman

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Feroxx of Colorado. You can follow her journey on Linktree, Instagram, and Spotify. Be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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