‘Do not stand up!’ These were the last thoughts before my eyes rolled back into my head.’: Woman 3 years sober after decades-long battle with addiction

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“‘Do not stand up! Do not stand up!’

These were the last thoughts I had before my eyes rolled back into my head. The dizziness came on so suddenly that I didn’t have time to react. I tried to fight the urge to succumb to the darkness, but I was not strong enough. I passed out cold at the dinner table. When I returned to consciousness, I opened my eyes and saw that I had vomited underneath the table, just barely missing my new shoes. As I tried to figure out where I was, I realized that my underwear was soaking wet from peeing myself.

When I lifted my head everyone around the table was staring at me, asking if I was okay. One moment I was happily chatting, eating my dinner seemingly fine, the next moment my head hit the table with a loud thud just after the plates had been cleared. I had great intentions to keep it classy that night and failed miserably. Once again, I humiliated myself because of my overindulgence in alcohol and marijuana.

alcoholic woman drinking a glass of wine
Courtesy of Wendy Bridges Bergeron

Unfortunately, the setting that you just read was not happening in my twenties. I was a full-grown woman, wife, and mother of three children. The year was 2018. I was in Vegas, with my husband, celebrating my 49th birthday with friends and extended family. According to my usual vacation routine, I had started out that day by smoking pot and drinking Bloody Mary’s at breakfast to recover from the bender the night before. Then, while we lounged at the pool, I had a bottle of wine, glass by glass, and nibbled on edibles (they had just legalized marijuana in Vegas, and I was in heaven!)

While getting ready for the evening I sipped on a cocktail or two (more nibbling on edibles). On the way to dinner, I had a roadie (a roadie is a to-go drink that is hidden in a regular cup and was essential for me to have to go anywhere). There was a wait for a table at the restaurant which meant I could fit in another cocktail (and more nibbling on edibles) before dinner. Finally, after sucking down the best margarita swirl that I had ever had in my life, my body couldn’t take any more abuse, forcing me to stop by literally smacking me in the head with a table.

Sadly, this type of scene was very familiar to those who knew me. Similar ridiculous behaviors had been on replay in my life for almost 10 years. I would go on a drinking binge Wednesday through Sunday week after week starting the year of my 40th birthday. This very ‘bad habit’ caused me copious amounts of heartache and trouble.

woman drunk at her 40th birthday
Courtesy of Wendy Bridges Bergeron
woman drunk at her 40th birthday
Courtesy of Wendy Bridges Bergeron

In my early 20s, I was always known as the party girl that loved to get dressed up and then get messed up. My friends and I would go bar hopping Thursday through Sunday week after week for years. After I got married, my husband and I would drink together but I managed to not overdo it. I suppose that I figured it was time for me to grow up and become a responsible adult. When our first child was born, I took an unintentional break from drinking alcohol and smoking pot for about 12 years. I threw myself into motherhood and homemaking with my usual all-or-nothing personality style.

I loved being a stay-at-home mom and taking care of our three kids, the house, and the yard. I did volunteer work, joined bible studies, and participated in various mom groups. Even though I loved my life, I struggled with depression, anxiety, and boredom. I tried medications and therapy to help me feel better. Sometimes they would work and sometimes none of it worked, causing me further distress. The emotional rollercoaster ride that I was on, along with the pressures of motherhood, overbearing in-laws, money struggles, and my impending 40th birthday were a perfect storm for me to pick up where I left off in my early twenties with my alcohol and drug abuse.

I began smoking pot again on New Year’s Eve in 2008. I was turning 40 in April. I told myself and everybody else that I was very upset about getting older. The reality was that I had unresolved emotional issues, but I wasn’t ready to face those issues just yet. That’s why the therapy hadn’t worked. I was happy being unhappy and I wasn’t done being unhappy. I was just getting started on wallowing in my cesspool of unattended emotions.

alcoholic holding a glass of wine
Courtesy of Wendy Bridges Bergeron

I prided myself on this newfound form of self-medication. In my skewed rationalization, every occasion was a good reason to drink and smoke it up. I would sip and smoke while cleaning the house, cooking meals, doing laundry, any day that ended in ‘Y,’ and it is always five o’clock somewhere! I was usually the life of the party wherever I went. I loved to entertain people with my outrageous drunken escapades. Because of my all-or-nothing personality, there was no hold bar when it came to what I would do to prove to everyone that I was THE most fun and sexy 40-year-old on the planet.

My self-motto was ‘for instant sexy just add wine and weed.’ I loved the feeling of euphoria that came with being intoxicated. I loved the climb up the ladder of inebriation that came in stages throughout the night. The first buzz was sweet and sultry, I felt like such a sexpot. When the good ole Dutch Courage kicked in, I would go into performance mode, vamping up all kinds of rotten scene-stealers for my audience to enjoy. By midnight I would be so wasted that I could mentally wipe away the disgust that I felt toward myself.

I loved to guzzle alcohol and smoke weed until I was so numb that I could bury the real me into a black oblivion so deep I might never resurface. An evening of substance/self-abuse was well worth every ounce of the pain of a hangover. I couldn’t wait to relive the nighttime shenanigans again the next day. I lived for the weekends so that I could have free reign of my self-medicating madness.

woman with four different wines to try
Courtesy of Wendy Bridges Bergeron

My rational decision-making abilities were slowly declining while my emotional self-regulation went completely out the window. I was spinning out of control, and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me. In the summer of 2013, I got a DUI. Every Monday was ‘apology day’ for my offenses over the weekend. I was continually losing friends because of my behavior. I would slap random men in bars and dump water over women’s heads all in the name of fun. I stopped paying the bills (my husband had no idea) and spent the money on bars, booze, and bud. I was trying so hard to get away from the hell that was me.  In my quest to escape myself, I decided that I needed to look for greener pastures. In the summer of 2017, I announced to my husband of almost 23 years that I didn’t love him anymore and I was moving out. He was crushed. He tried to stop me, but I wouldn’t listen.

It would be an understatement to say that I did not find greener pastures. I found a plethora of crappy people. I found myself in multiple crappy situations. Even though my dear friend took me in, I found myself alone and lonely. I missed my family so much. By Christmas time I went home and begged for forgiveness and a fresh start. I am a very blessed lady to have an incredibly forgiving and loving husband and children that welcomed me back with open arms with the caveat that I get therapy.

Fast forward to today, 2022. I have been clean and sober for three years plus. I got sick and tired of being sick and tired of myself. I decided to get EMDR therapy. I was ready to move forward with my life and I needed help. With my therapist’s assistance, I was able to heal past traumas and anger issues with EMDR therapy. Going through the therapy confirmed that I was using alcohol and weed to self-medicate. I was finally able to view my alcohol/drug abuse for what it was, a crutch that was perpetuating my low self-esteem, the draining cycle of depression/anxiety, and the unwillingness to fully participate in my life.

alcoholic woman on the road to recovery
Courtesy of Wendy Bridges Bergeron

I decided that I wanted to leave a legacy of love and peace to my family and friends. I didn’t want to be known as the party girl/troublemaker anymore. I had so many goals and dreams that had not been attainable because I was wasting so much of my time being intoxicated and recovering from the night before. Now that I am living alcohol/drug-free, I have set and achieved more goals in the last three years than I did in the prior 10 before that.

Because I made the decision to ‘drop the bottle,’ I am a more loving mother, wife, daughter, and friend. I am off the wild ride of the emotional roller-coaster. Now, I use my all-or-nothing personality to build a better me. I can focus on creating a life that I don’t want to escape from instead of drowning in my sorrows with a bottle of booze. I have joyfully participated in over a dozen 5k/10K running races. In two of those races, I placed first in my age/gender category. In three of those races, I placed in the top three in my age/gender category. I have fervently competed in 3 indoor triathlons and one outdoor duathlon (run, bike, run). In October of 2020, my husband and I climbed to the top of Camelback Mountain in celebration of our own personal mountain we had overcome.

sober woman on the top of a mountain
Courtesy of Wendy Bridges Bergeron

After leaving a comfortable job that I kept for over 12 years, I am working in my dream job as a full-time weight-loss coach. I have recently completed a Certification in Nutrition with ISSA. I am currently finishing an Indoor Cycling Instructor Certification as well. Last summer I started a small business, Pink Moon Boutique, an activewear and accessories store. It’s a tiny shop inside of a collective shopping experience called Painted Tree Boutiques. I also rent space for my athletic apparel at a women-only gym, Goddess Maker Fitness. Both locations are In Overland Park, KS. I am so excited to be expanding Pink Moon Boutique to become an online store this summer.

woman at her store that she opened
Courtesy of Wendy Bridges Bergeron

Since I stopped drinking, I have awakened to the power of discipline, self-control, and listening to my intuition. I am taking charge of my life. I am not here to judge or police anybody’s drinking habits. My mission is to bring social proof, to those that seek it, that life is so much better without drugs and alcohol. I am passionate about helping others break free from the chains of self-abuse. I believe that if I can stop drinking and pull my life together, anyone can.

My next challenge is to learn public speaking so that I can spread my mission to audiences everywhere. I also dream of writing a book. I want to share my sobriety story with others. I hope that my story will inspire fellow problem drinkers to ‘drop the bottle’ and create a life that they love, just like I have done for myself.”

sober woman showing off her clothing line
Courtesy of Wendy Bridges Bergeron

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Wendy Bridges Bergeron Overland Park, Kansas. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here.

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‘When a friend died by overdose, or suicide, or car accident, we celebrated them with a toast and a drink.’: Woman 2 years sober shares powerful message on drinking culture, ‘I finally see it’

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