“I was nineteen when my friends said, ‘You need to go to an AA meeting.’ My parents had been away on vacation and I was throwing a house party. Apparently, I was blacked out (as usual) and fought them to let me go play in traffic (literally). I had just gotten out of a toxic relationship with my high school sweetheart and I had no sense of identity. I was lost, and alcohol helped me ‘find myself.’
I went to a meeting and felt it wasn’t for me. Off to drink I went. Yet another day I don’t remember. This continued for a few years and I made really stupid decisions. I’m pretty sure everyone thought I was a joke. After dropping out of college and working in some restaurant, I thought I was a joke too. I took on the ‘party girl’ role and I took it very seriously. I started working at a country club. I came into work each morning smelling of tequila and bad decisions. I begged my boss to date me, I’d drunk dial him every night, and one day, for some reason, he agreed.
Our first date was a Sublime concert, but the dates following I don’t really remember (shocking, right?). I do recall trying to sleep with him and he had enough respect to make sure I wasn’t completely sloshed. A few months later I took him to a beer pong party, and we had this great idea to take a pregnancy test (bad idea). I told him, ‘My life is over, I am 20 years old and I am expecting a baby!’ But truthfully, I thought the baby was going to keep us together forever. My family was less than thrilled. My grandmother called me to tell me, ‘You are going to hell.’ She didn’t tell anyone her oldest granddaughter was expecting a baby out of wedlock.
I was induced, and seven hours later, my daughter was born. I was so scared when I held her for the first time. I still acted like a teenager, and I now had the responsibility to raise this baby girl. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen; I really didn’t think I deserved something so precious. When we brought her home, I was no longer drinking because it was just too messy with a newborn, even for me.
A few of my friends had been taking these little blue pills called Oxycodone. I decided to try them and before I knew it, I was abusing the pills. My savings account was drained in no time. Those little blue pills flipped my life upside down. I remember my daughter’s father asking, ‘Don’t you love her?’ Of course I loved her, more than anything, but I just couldn’t stop taking those pills. The idea of rehab was a joke, it was for quitters. Between social workers, her father, and our family’s minds, rehab was the only option I had left if I didn’t want to lose her.
Unfortunately, the first rehab I went to was more like summer camp for addicts. Anything I didn’t already know about manipulating around my addiction I learned there. I came home and said I’d never drink or use again, and I used within days. I was given urine tests and failed. My baby’s father asked, ‘How does it feel to have the tables turned?’ He had taken on the role of mom and dad while I was gone for 32 days and he really had gotten burned. This time he broke up with me and filed for custody, my parents weren’t letting me move home, and all of my friends either didn’t approve of my lifestyle or were so caught up in their own addict lifestyle they couldn’t help.
I was forced to move into a sober house. The sober house didn’t work, so back to rehab I went. Yet another visit which reminded me of summer camp, probably because my mind had me convinced I was truly working on myself, and in actuality I was deceiving myself. My addict mind is like having a devil and an angel on my shoulders and not being able to tell who’s who.
Next, I was sent to a halfway home in the country, two hours from my hometown. I scraped together six months of sobriety but still wasn’t myself, I was just someone others wanted me to be. I lived in this façade where addicts and alcoholics in recovery are perfect people and they aren’t, they fall short just like anyone else. I met a guy three years sober and put him on a pedestal, and once again my identity was hidden behind a man.
He ended up cheating, I moved back home, and off to the races I went… again. I only knew he cheated because the girl told me. I confronted him, and he had nothing to say. I was convinced I was supposed to die this way and I was never going to ‘get it.’ I reached a whole new low. Luckily, the manager of the final sober house saw something in me, and told me if I could get seven days sober together, I could return to try again. I was sick of living the way I was, it was more than exhausting. I was sick of feeling empty, and thought if this program works for all these other people, maybe this time it’ll work for me. That’s when my life changed.
I went back to 12-step meetings, connected with others in recovery, stepped out of my comfort zone, and worked the steps. I did absolutely everything I could to climb out of my hole. I was present in my daughter’s life. It started with supervised visits with her dad or my mom. I made friends who were in the program and I kept those who weren’t at a distance. Lots of friends were dying because of the opioid epidemic, and lots of family members still couldn’t trust me. But I kept working on myself.
At six months clean, I moved into an apartment. At one year clean, I returned to college to major in social work. After all the case managers and counselors I had met, I felt inspired to help others in the same way. At 18 months clean, I regained partial custody of my daughter. At two years clean, I was working at a rehab, and I got engaged. At three years clean, I got married. I started a cleaning business. We moved into our dream house in suburbia. I had been accepted into the top social work school in my area and we brought a puppy home. At four years clean, I had another daughter who I’ve watched grow.
I thought I was the queen of freaking everything (move over Regina George)! Two months later, our dog set our house on fire when we were in Philly for an Eagles’ game. All the work I thought I had done was lost with the house. My feelings of failure and hopelessness returned. I picked up a drink in Mexico less than six months later. My alcoholic mind told me I was now a ‘grown up’ and I was responsible. I had a family, I was almost done with my bachelor’s degree, and my business was booming. Drinking wasn’t going to win again, I knew who I was, and had it all figured out.
I remember my first blackout after six months of drinking. I still thought I had control. I thought I’d get a better grip on how much I drank. I repeated to myself, ‘Do NOT stop at the liquor store!’ yet I always found myself in the parking lot. My friends in recovery would call me and tell me they loved me, and I was beyond miserable. Still, my pride kept me from admitting I was defeated.
On September 9th, 2018, I was fighting with my husband and I had decided to leave our house after drinking all day. I fell asleep behind the wheel and coasted into a bush about 100 yards away from a busy intersection. I woke up and had no clue how I had gotten there! My mom graciously picked me up and took me home. The next day, I got out of bed. It was September 10th, 2018, and it was day one of a whole new life in recovery.
I graduated with Phi Alpha Honors in the BSW program and I was accepted into the best master’s program in my area (how ironic my concentration is chemical dependency!). I figured out my pride and ego are what drove me to drink in the first place. Now, with almost 15 months, I’m focused on connecting with people I typically wouldn’t, because I’ve learned they’re my biggest teachers. A wise woman guides me in this process and gently reminds me to ‘return to love’ whenever I’m feeling anger or intolerance.
While throwing away 4.5 years seemed to have been a curse, I now view it as my greatest asset. Not everyone has the chance to stand up and fight again after they fall. Today, things are really different. I keep the focus on my attitudes and behaviors. I have no control over anyone else. If anyone asked me if all these struggles were worth the life I have today, I’d tell them I’d go through all of it all over again to be where I am. While some people look at addiction as a negative, I’m more than grateful it’s created my current, wonderful story.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rosie Young of Pennsylvania. 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.
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