No, not Sober Living, the VH1 reality show with the has-been celebs that are trying to make a buck by going through rehab.
My life, actually.
I sipped my first alcoholic drink when I was in early high school and by the time I had graduated, my friends and I were partying every weekend. Take that lifestyle and mix it in with a college campus and it soon became more than I could handle. I drank and smoked my way through college, earning my degree and making countless mistakes along the way.
After college, I got a teaching job back in my hometown and began frequenting the local bars. By bars, I mean dives. And by dives, I mean the seediest looking places you would never want to accidentally wander into. I became “friends” with the local regulars and began spending all my time drinking and doing whatever else came my way.
I had wandered a long way off the nice little girl path I had grown up following.
And to top it all off, I was miserable.
The more miserable I felt, the more I drank. The more I drank, the worse I felt. It was a vicious, exhausting, cycle.
I actually attempted to quit numerous times. Now that I was officially an adult with a career, I could no longer chalk it up to “normal” college binge drinking gone wrong (and don’t get me started on how I feel about the level of drinking that is commonplace and considered “normal” on college campuses…it is truly frightening). I knew my drinking was not normal. Many times, fresh off a crazy weekend, I would announce I was going cold turkey on a Sunday (probably because I was still hungover from Friday) and swear off alcohol for good. But by the time that following Friday rolled around, I would be right back at it again. And those were the good times. When the drinking was confined mostly to weekends. The bad times meant I was out most weeknights as well, ending up blackout drunk almost every time, and hungover at work the following mornings or calling in sick.
I was always jealous of my friends who could go out and have a few drinks and be social. They wouldn’t have to get wasted every time they drank like I did. I would, of course, always go out with the intention of just having a couple of drinks, but inevitably would lose all judgment when the drinking began. I just could never get drunk enough.
In the summer of 2003, I had hit rock bottom. Some pretty major things happened in my life that I was not prepared to deal with. Each as a direct result of my drinking. And one in particular scared me enough that I quit drinking for good.
On July 19, 2003, I had my last drink.
Almost immediately, my life began to change.
At first things got harder. I found myself not connecting to a lot of my friends anymore. My grandfather (and first close relative) passed away a few months later and I went through a temporary depression dealing with his loss. I discovered that not drinking meant I had to face my lack of self confidence and raging insecurities head-on. No more hiding behind a buzz…and I felt completely bare.
I started praying every single night before bed…asking God for strength to continue on this journey despite how difficult it seemed. I knew that somewhere at the end of this tunnel there had to be a blinding light…there had to be. These prayer cards became a symbol of my new life and I clung to the hope that they contained. I still have them…and they remain a simple reminder of that place and time.
Prayer has never been so powerful for me. As a Catholic woman who had obviously strayed from the church, both physically and spiritually, I was clinging to hope. I knew that God had given me a second chance and I intended to take it.
I wasn’t in AA and told I had to surrender to a higher power. No one pushed me towards God. It was very “organic” as they say. It was just what I felt was right at the time.
As of this date, it has been over 7 1/2 years since my second chance began. I have lost over 85 pounds. I met an incredible man and got married. I have a beautiful gorgeous daughter.
I am happy.
I am still working on the whole self confidence thing…which is what this blog is about. Figuring out who I am. Without alcohol as a crutch. With a new body.
Randy Pausch (famous for his “Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon before he died) said it best, “The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”
I’ve had a couple of major brick walls that at one point were standing between me and the life I wanted to live .
I will always be a work in progress, but I can now confidently say, that I have finally broken through.