“Man, it’s hard to fathom now I tried to throw my life away. It’s so gut wrenching to think about how close I came to losing it all. I will never fully understand why God chose me for sobriety. I’ve asked myself why He led me to recovery when so many others never get the privilege. I’m committed to spending my life exploring that ‘why.’ I’ll give whatever I can, tell my story until my voice is gone, answer my phone, hold space for the newly sober girl right behind me, love my kids so hard they never doubt me, and pour myself into discovering any and every avenue I can use to help others, so I can make mine a life that was worth saving.
I grew up in such a great home. I come from generations of alcoholics and addicts. My parents decided they wanted something different, so they raised us in church. I was very sheltered, and they kept me away from the influences of drugs and alcohol as much as they could. I didn’t drink alcohol for the first time until I was 17 years old. Because of the way I was brought up, I was a little afraid of alcohol, but I was terrified of drugs so I just dabbled with alcohol at first. I stayed completely away from drugs for many years.
At first, I was what I now know to be a binge drinker. I would go a few months without drinking, but then I would go out to clubs and get blackout drunk for a whole weekend. I did that for several years. It progressively developed into blackout drinking on weekends, and what I considered casual social drinking during the week. You know, the the usual margaritas with girlfriends at lunch a few days a week and wine nights with other moms. I found myself 30 years old with two kids, multiple divorces, a string of abusive relationships, and a life that was in utter chaos. I still could not see the problem was me.
I thought I had really crappy luck. In my 30’s, I decided to go back to college and make something of myself. I was a single mom of two kids. I was bartending, and making great money. We had an apartment. My kids’ needs were taken care of… It was pretty sweet. I found myself working three jobs, and in school pursuing a nursing degree. I felt on top of the world. I was in a relationship at this point in my life that was extremely toxic and abusive. My boyfriend at the time gifted me with a bag of cocaine at a holiday party. I could’ve said no, but I didn’t. That started the last and worst spiral of them all.
From that point for the next 3 years, I drank so heavily I couldn’t hold down a job. I partied and used drugs to such an extreme my 4.0 I was so proud of in college eventually ended with me failing out of BSN school when I was halfway through. Most people thought I had it all. I was working promotions for liquor companies, which came with open bar tabs… Basically a loaded gun in the hands of an alcoholic and addict. Every bad decision I made just seemed to not be dangerous enough, or tragic enough. So the next morning, or the next weekend, I would set about to do some thing even more dangerous or more crazy. I did a lot of what someone told me later is called ‘candy flipping.’ Just piling different drug on top of drug on top of drug within a few hours of one another, regardless of what effect it would have on my body, my mind, and really not even caring if it killed me.
This whole time, I had a nanny for my kids who would babysit at her home or mine, whenever I needed. I would leave my kids with her so I could go party – sometimes for days at a time. I would lie, and promise I would be back that night or the next morning, and I never showed up when I said I would. My kids spent those 3 years never knowing if I was coming home or when I would show up. I didn’t make it to almost any of their school events. The nanny would always go in my place. The one or two things I actually showed up for at school I was either drunk or high for. My life was a complete and utter train wreck.
I tried so many times to stop drinking. I told myself, ‘Starting tomorrow, I will not use any more drugs.’ But every time, it would only be a matter of hours before there was another party to attend… Another thing to celebrate… Or the loneliness and pain would creep in, and I would drink or drug so I didn’t have to feel any of that guilt and shame. That’s really what I was doing the whole time, but I had myself convinced I was having fun.
There are some parts of my story that belong to other people. There are painful things I can’t share at the risk of hurting others. But the turning point for me came in the form of a tragedy in my family. My brother, who I’ve looked up to as the gold standard for everything for many years, had a tragic event in his life, and I knew he and I would need to lean on one another for support. And when that thought occurred to me, I realized how worthless of a sibling, and a person in general, I was. How can I offer support to him when I was in such a horrible state myself? How could anyone trust me? How could anyone want to be a part of my life? How could I love someone else through their own tragedy when I didn’t even love myself?
How could I invite my brother over to my house to feel loved and supported and safe when they were drugs all over my house, empty liquor bottles everywhere, and a constant stream of strangers, dealers, and drug addicts in and out of my apartment? I didn’t even remember to call him on his birthday because I was so messed up. So, in my mind at that particular juncture in life, I thought I would get sober for my brother. I thought I would take a break from drugs and alcohol so I could get my life together, and he and I could get to a better place together.
Somehow, I had managed to put together about 30 days of sobriety… I didn’t leave my house because I was terrified if I did, I would stop at the liquor store. I would drive past one of my favorite bars, and see my friends’ cars there, and I would stop. I was afraid to answer my phone because I knew my friends were calling to ask me to go day drinking with them. So for 30 days, I held on with white knuckles doing anything and everything I could to not drink or use. It is just the grace of God, and simply a miracle, I managed to do that.
Around the 30 day mark, I knew I could not do it anymore. I was in so much emotional pain, my body was ill from withdrawals, and just the absolute trauma I had been putting myself through for so long. I was on the floor of my apartment, crying, knowing I could not live another day the way things were. I begged God for help. I begged him to show me how to maintain this tiny bit of sobriety I had found… I begged him to show me how to prolong it because even though it was painful… For the first time in years, going those 30 days without drinking or drugs gave me hope.
Finally, I was able to see the slight possibility maybe I didn’t have to live my life the way I was. Somewhere around that 30 day mark, I saw my brother and he handed me a book about alcoholism. He said to me ‘Now I’m not calling you an alcoholic, but I know you’re going through something right now and I thought maybe this would help.’ I threw the book on my dresser and didn’t touch it, but through a series of other events I now know to be orchestrated by a loving God… I found myself in a recovery meeting. My brother was there for support… and I knew within minutes of being in that meeting I was, in fact, an alcoholic. To my great surprise, there seemed to be people who had found solutions for the same struggle I was having!
Day by day, moment by moment, the film that years of self-destruction had put over my eyes slowly started to come away. I started feeling all of the things I tried to bury. I started remembering traumatic incidents. I started realizing all of the horrible things I had done to hurt people, and the guilt and shame rose to the surface. I started realizing the truth about what a horrible mother I had been, and the guilt and shame of that alone almost killed me. But by the grace of God, I had found people, who were just like me, who knew how to help me. Who knew how to show me how to help myself. And when alcohol and drugs were taken off the table, the noise and chaos in my life started to quiet, and I suddenly started hearing that still small voice of God telling me I was going to be okay. That he had my back all along. That he never left me.
When I began to build a relationship with God, suddenly all of the tools I needed to rebuild the relationships I had damaged seemed to appear in my life. Forgiveness, grace, love, patience, humility… The more I surrendered to bettering myself, and surrendered to God, the better my life seemed to get. It was nothing short of the grace of God my children weren’t taken away for me during those several years. I wasn’t an abusive mother, but I was an absent, emotionally neglectful one.
In sobriety, I have been able to rebuild the damaged relationships with my children… Which has been the biggest miracle of all of the things sobriety has done for me. For 3 and a half years, I have been fully present with my children. I have been the one to tuck them into bed every night, the one to wake them up in the mornings for school… I haven’t missed one school activity in the last 3 and a half years. My children trust me again. They know if I say I’m going to do something or I’m going to be somewhere, I’m telling the truth. I’ve been to therapy, my kids have been in therapy, we’ve done family therapy. We’ve just done a lot of work.
After years of abusive relationships, in my new sober life , I met and married a man I never believed existed. The kind of man I never thought I deserved. He is good, and kind, and loving, and supportive. He is a leader, driven, loves my children as if they are his own. He adopted my son and calls him his own. We are now married, we just bought our dream home, had a new baby together, and we have successfully built two thriving business together.
I didn’t ‘find God,’ ‘get religion,’ or ‘get saved’ in order to get sober. There was no spiritual requirement, or really even one spiritual thought in my head when it all began. I just knew…in a way I cannot explain…the elevator was going down, and if I didn’t get off on this stop and change my life, I would eventually die the way that I was.
Sobriety quieted the deafening noise in my mind and heart enough for me to hear that still small voice that is inside all of us. That voice we all try to drown out with alcohol, sex, drugs, trips around the world, and material things. That quiet nagging voice that told me again, and again, there’s more to life than the next margarita. The voice told me I didn’t need another drink to handle life’s tough spots…there was someone far more powerful than any drink or drug, and He was on my side.
When I quit drinking, I stopped drowning out that still small voice, and that’s when a personal relationship with a God that loved and believed in me actually began. God met me right where I was, and loved me until I could love myself. That’s why He’s God. He doesn’t need you to be something you can’t be. He doesn’t expect perfection. He doesn’t even expect you to ‘find’ Him. All he asks is that you SEEK Him. He does the rest.
My life has changed exponentially since my relationship with Christ became a real thing for me. But those are changes HE BROUGHT ABOUT. I didn’t just start living a certain set of principles to earn His favor. I am forever grateful that He came to me in my hurting, broken state and loved me just the same as He loves the ones who never left the fold.
I spent my adult life, until now, avoiding responsibilities like the plague. I treated life like a huge party, and I was simultaneously the hostess and guest of honor. ‘Life of the party.’ ‘Party girl.’ ‘Wild Child.’ You know the ones. Well, that was me. When I got sober and rediscovered my relationship with Christ, one of my biggest fears was never having fun again. I truly didn’t have any concept of how I could be fun, or enjoy life, without alcohol or drugs.
My life is so packed full of fun these days, and not only do I not have to regret any of it the next day, BUT I actually remember all the great moments! On the weekends, we spend time out on the boat, swimming, dancing, eating dinner out on river front restaurant patios. We eat great food, share laughs with friends, and I truly enjoy myself with no regrets. We travel, embrace life, and celebrate all our accomplishments without glazing them over in the haze of a buzz. And when the hard moments come, thanks to being in recovery, I’m able to face the tough stuff with strength and hope. I don’t have to bury myself in a bottle to numb the pain.
I was terrified to build a life without alcohol because, honestly, I didn’t even think I knew who I was without it. I quickly discovered, quitting drinking was not a sacrifice. It was an opportunity. Taking alcohol off the table opened doors for me that I would have only ever dreamed about otherwise. Choosing not to drink is the most powerful, impactful, selfless thing I’ve ever done.
Alcohol and drugs don’t define me anymore. And the fact I removed them from my life isn’t my identity either! I have built a real life since being sober. I have real interests and a personality that is truly me! I’m a wife, mom, friend, daughter, business owner, child of God, and so many other things, and I don’t need alcohol to ‘deal with’ the responsibility of any of it. I will forever be grateful to God for the opportunity to have a second chance at life and the ability to build a new one.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Hart Parker. You can follow her 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.
Read more stories about sobriety here:
‘I could’ve killed myself, or my precious son. I’m riddled with guilt. I’m so ashamed of things I’ve done in front of my child.’: Mother in the throes of addiction, ‘I don’t want to do it anymore. I want my son to have a sober mom’
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