“I grew up in a family of alcoholics, with the exception of my dad who was the complete opposite and despised the drink. It probably had something to do with being married into an entire family of alcoholics. I watched my mom drink my entire life, even still today. When I was a kid, I thought alcohol must be something cool and fun, because even though my mom and dad always fought about it, she still wanted to do it, every single day.
Before I continue, I do not want to blame my mother or anyone for my alcoholism, because she too grew up around it, with far more alcoholics around her. Sometimes diseases can be spread through habits we are brought up around, not by viruses and germs. It’s a disease of influence, of habit, of exposure. I started drinking at the age of 13 with my best friend and older boys in my neighborhood. I was an outcast at school. I was taller at 5’7” and more athletically built than my petite classmates, I had boobs, I dressed in baggy jeans, wore way too much foundation, and I was socially awkward. I was often picked on, and by often I mean pretty much every single day.
The dangerous thing about introducing a mind-altering substance at such a young age is that you haven’t yet learned how to handle your emotions, how to think critically, how to overcome anxiety, or reduce stress in healthy ways. You have no idea who you are, what your purpose is, nor have you learned your weaknesses and strengths. Alcohol, even in adults, can become a crutch and coping mechanism. But in younger, teenage years? Young, confused, full of raging hormones and unmanageable emotions? It can be catastrophic, to not only the development of the brain and body, but to the person’s entire life and perception of the world. By age 13, I had begun drinking regularly on the weekends, lost my virginity to an 18-year-old guy who was just having sex with anyone he could, and I started skipping school. By age 14, I was a habitual weekend binge drinker. I was raped at a party, and later that year, I was introduced to Vicodin and Acid. I failed the 8th grade and made enemies with old school mates who wanted to jump me every day after school so my mom pulled me out. In order to legally do this, she had to agree to home-school me, but she could not due to having a 9th-grade education level. So she ordered me a G.E.D. book and I taught myself enough to pass into the 9th grade that year.
By age 15, I had my G.E.D. which later on I found out was not legitimate. That same year, I was introduced to ecstasy and Xanax. While I dabbled with these drugs a bit, I really only did them occasionally and stuck to my poison of choice: alcohol. I was a big-time binge drinker. I binged as many as four times a week, with enough alcohol to put a grown man on his ass. The scary thing was my ability to handle it so well. People always said they could never tell just how messed up I actually was. They only knew I could drink A LOT.
By 16, I’d been robbed at gunpoint at a drug dealer’s house, nearly kidnapped, and I was in a relationship with a man who was nearly 30 years old. Luckily, throughout my teens, I didn’t lose my moral standards. I wasn’t the type to sleep around. Still, to this day, I can count on my hands the men I have been with, but I put myself in so many dangerous situations. Anything could have happened. At age 16, I was working a fast-food job. I had a manager buying me alcohol and making sexual advances at me all the time. I was even drinking at work when I was on the night shift, hiding booze in lettuce boxes. I made a new best friend and she ended up moving in with my parents and me, due to having a heavily-drug-addicted father. Together, we ended up in a lot of scary situations, from ending up at a house full of older men and a Colombian drug lord having to lock myself in a bathroom, to meeting men online and getting hammered with them at their house then stranded because they refused to take us home after we refused to put out.
At age 19, after being with a controlling, habitually cheating boyfriend who later overdosed and died, and an emotionally abusive boyfriend in the military, I met my now-husband at work. Same fast food joint, except now I had been in management for nearly two years. I almost pushed him away with my drinking problem, it was actually the first time it had been called a problem.
‘You’re drinking way too much. I want more out of life,’ my husband, then-boyfriend, told me.
I would have crazy manic crying fits, I became suicidal, I was Baker-Acted for attempted suicide and overconsumption of alcohol. When the cops entered my bedroom, I was cutting my wrist. They counted 17 empty beer bottles, but that was just the nightcap after going out and splitting two 12-packs with my best friend, and a fourth of a bottle of Jager. I bought a case on the way home, but 17 bottles were all they could find. The rest were out back. I was writing dark, suicidal poetry. Everyone talks about how bad alcohol is for our body, that it can kill you, but no one really talks about how it kills your mind first.
I was drinking till blackout drunk on a consistent basis. It was to the point that I was embarrassing my husband, then-boyfriend in front of his friends. I even kissed one of his friends one night, after drinking wayyyy too long. I told him and it crushed him and ruined the friendship. I would have NEVER kissed him if I were sober. He stopped wanting to be around me and he stopped inviting me out with him. We were basically going out separately and coming home together. Sometimes he would stay at his moms when it got really bad. I was 20 years old when he finally told me, ‘I’m no longer in love with you.’ We broke up for a week or so and got back together on Valentine’s Day. We got drunk and had our first night of unprotected sex, which resulted in an unwanted pregnancy at age 20. I refused to get an abortion because it was something I knew I couldn’t live with. We went through with the pregnancy and were young parents to a baby boy named Jacob. I was able to stay sober throughout my pregnancy, thank God, but shortly after I had him, I was right back at it. The party went on and on. I remained a good mother to my son, but we were both going out every Saturday, separately, again, while my son stayed with his grandparents.
Next followed 6 years of drinking, fighting, blacking out, waking up covered in bruises, depression, and working the same dead-end job out of fear that I couldn’t do better. This went on until we had our daughter, Aliviah. We moved into our own house that my husband purchased 2 months before our daughter was born. He was an apprentice electrician working for a company. He ended up going back to school and getting his electrical contractor’s license because he outgrew the company he was working for. I wasn’t drinking for the time I was pregnant and didn’t drink much of the year after I had her because I was breastfeeding. I even started researching being healthier altogether. I wanted to be a good mother, but I didn’t know how to not want alcohol. I didn’t know how to live a life without alcohol. That may seem odd being that I had done it while pregnant and breastfeeding but admittedly, I hated abstaining from it. I wanted to drink, if I could have been drinking without harming my daughter, I would have. Again, as soon as we were done breastfeeding and after a car accident that resulted in a concussion and a neck sprain, I picked up again. It’s as if you never put it down. You revert right back. Alcohol consumes you. You don’t want to do anything without it.
Then one night, my husband got a big job and we celebrated on a date. I was actually in the beginning stage of wanting to stop drinking, but I hadn’t made the commitment. I had terrible anxiety when we sat down at the restaurant table to eat as I watched everyone, drinks in hand, around me. Watching the bartender pouring those fruity, beachy drinks, people laughing and glasses clinging–I hated it. I wanted it. My husband insisted I have a drink to ease my nerves. I gladly obliged. Drink after drink, after drink, our tab must have been insane. We got more on the way home, finished that, and then I went to get some long-desired piercings, something I often did when I was drunk. Apparently, I asked the piercer if I could take a shot after my first piercing before I got my next two. He allowed it and there in front of him I chugged a fourth of a bottle of Jameson. I blacked out. After my piercings were done I insisted they weren’t and refused to leave the shop until he did. My husband had to carry me out. I woke up the next day and went to use the bathroom, but I didn’t make it. I fainted. My husband got me back to the bed where I started to slowly faint, which was the scariest thing I have ever experienced. It is like slowly going blind. I panicked. I told my husband I couldn’t see, my temperature was dropping and he decided it was time to call an ambulance.
My parents had just brought our kids home and here I was 2 hours later, hooked up to monitors in my own bed, being taken out on a stretcher. I couldn’t stay conscious. I had depleted my electrolytes so badly that my body could not function. That was my initial sobriety date. I could not continue this. I could not kill myself and make my children witness such a horror. I HAD TO STOP. I did. I stopped for 16 months. I was more than ready. I knew it would be uncomfortable, I researched it. I knew I used alcohol as a tool for my anxiety so it would be a while before I felt normal, let alone good. Going anywhere was a chore, I pretended my way through family outings. I hated it; I didn’t want to do ANYTHING at all. I knew I couldn’t live this way.
I got involved in online sobriety groups. I wasn’t into the AA thing but I needed community. I started listening to self-development day and night. Something clicked in me… the real me wasn’t anywhere as weak as I thought. I was growing, I was facing fears, I was finding out that most of my insecurities, flaws, or weaknesses were caused by alcohol, not solved by them! I became an inspiration to many. Others were quitting with me! I became addicted to gardening, house plants, health and organization in place of alcohol. I got over LIFE LONG fears, I squashed them like a little bug and grew stronger every single day. I went from a size 11, to a size 4 jeans.
So, what happened to my sobriety if everything was so amazing? People in AA would tell you it’s because I didn’t go to meetings, but meetings are not for everyone. I just didn’t enjoy them. I hated the literature. It wasn’t for me. What happened was something I wasn’t prepared for: tragedy. My brother received a cancer diagnosis, my mom and dad separated, my dad had to move across the country to help my brother while he went through a very aggressive treatment regime, then my mom had to move in with us. At the time, and still to this day, my dad and I became very close, he was my rock, so losing him hit hard. I didn’t drink because I craved it. I drank because I was in so much pain from being knocked down over and over again and felt so out of control, that I just went into self-sabotage mode. I didn’t care about anything. I felt bullied by life. I feel confident in saying I don’t think you really understand how difficult it is to get sober until you have to get sober from a relapse after a good stretch of sobriety. Resetting that ticker made me feel like I was living a lie. I said I would never drink again… but there I was. I couldn’t trust myself anymore. These thoughts kept me in my relapse. I continued for 6 whole months.
Having that 16 months of sobriety under my belt gave me the ability to do something I was never able to do before. I was able to observe how quickly and how massively alcohol was impacting my mind, my body, and my life in a negative way. I started to gain weight, 20 pounds to be exact. I started eating a lot of junk food because I was drunk and didn’t care, or I was too hungover to cook. I started packing crappy lunches for my kids, throwing together dinners, the laundry piled up, the house was a mess, and the organization? What organization? I killed my garden and most of my house plants, I became insecure, had terrible anxiety, and became the ‘Not today, honey, Mommy doesn’t feel good’ mom again. I was hiding the amounts I was drinking, I was lying and manipulating to get more, and I couldn’t cope with even minuscule amounts of stress. I was falling hard and fast, but now I was able to see it because I knew who I was sober and this was NOT ME. That is when I read the book ‘This Naked Mind,’ by Annie Grace. I almost tossed it in the beginning because she didn’t seem like she had as big of a drinking problem as I did, and I’m so glad I didn’t. She confirmed everything I observed in myself during my relapse with SCIENCE. That is what I needed. I needed to confirm and connect the dots to rev me back up with the passion to stop this nonsense once and for all.
Today I feel stronger than ever in my sobriety. I know now that even when tragedy strikes, alcohol will never make anything better. Only time can do that. Nothing good can come of it. It is a thief of growth, of passion, of talent, of purpose. I have already lost weight and gotten on the way back to growth. I am helping my husband with our contracting business and I am going back to school for Business Administration, which is HUGE for me because I was TERRIFIED for so many years. I am back to being a fun and organized wife, mother, and friend. I am back to being ME and loving me. Sobriety isn’t boring, and relapse is not a death sentence. You can come back and come back stronger than ever! Write your own story and inspire others. Passion and purpose are within all of us, rediscover yours. Love, Audrey Rose.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Audrey Rose. You can follow their journey on Instagram. 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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