Please tell us your story.
I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to reflect and write out a portion of my story. As we live, and actively craft the story of our lives, rarely do we pause in the moment to edit or reflect so deeply to recognize where it all went awry. The drug, substance, of my situation is alcohol, and oh did we have a tragically tumultuous and abusive relationship. It has always been in the margins of my existence, but this is not about blaming the alcohol and its presence, because hello it’s always going to BE there. This is about my choices and decisions and ‘story’ about how I broke up with it, why and my gratitude for this path.
I am your typical mixed bag of nature vs nurture when is comes to my alcoholism; but my ego knew better. It made me different from my alcoholic father, closet relative problem drinkers, and string of mental health / addiction layered family tree – I was different. I could control it. And, frankly I was stupid to think that, but it’s so difficult to convince your ego sometimes.
My drinking hi’story’ in cliff note bulleted points:
1) I drank. All the things. Liquor before beer or vice versa no matter. I outdrank those larger than me. I was thee flip cup champion. Did not get hangovers.
I wound up in fights, friendship were ruined, bruised body parts and egos too. But it was never because of me, it was never my fault. I drank to fit in. I drank to find answers. I was a 4.0 GPA, multi-honor society student, varsity athlete / musician going into college. Everything was fine.
2) In college – I lost all outlets of sport and creativity and fell into a depression where I drank even MORE; escapism was the motive. What resulted was decline in health, in grades, unsure of the consensual nature of some encounters .. but again, it wasn’t my fault it was everyone else’s.
3) I eventually crawled out of depression, found running, improved my GPA, graduated on time with honors, got an amazing job right out of school but never let the drink get too far.
4) I didn’t qualify as a problem drinker because, I never showed up to work drunk. I never drank at work or let it effect my responsibilities; but still too continued to cycle of mishaps, fights and lost friendships, and the massive loss of self worth.
5) After one night of heavy drinking I freaked out because I indulged a little too much, memory was hazy and I didn’t like that. I looked online and because of a checklist I realized I had a problem and I needed AA. That lasted 9 months. But it was all okay. I had a handle on my drinking. I just needed a break
6) Then, came the elimination drinking (no more beer, then only certain drinks etc) , and the increased brown outs with decrease amount of booze, drinking to excess in unknown places, getting kicked out of bars, elevated cholesterol and LFTs (liver enzymes) . Then came the sneaking and calculating how much I can have before I had to do xyz.
It was exhausting, but I was making it work. I had control. Right?
How long were you addicted & what? How did it change your life?
As I sit here, I can attest I will always be addicted/have addictive tendencies; it is apart of me, down to my genetic composition. I co-habituated with Alcohol for 14 years.
How did it change my life? To get deep , it dimmed my spark, my essence, my creativity and gusto for life. It shadowed my decisions and ability to truly express myself. Which is really sad. I have an AWESOME life resume, accomplishments and ‘pride’ filled things but inside I was mostly empty. I say mostly, because that little girl who had hopes and dreams and welcomed the fear of the unknown and handle things without alcohol – was still fighting to gain control.
What was the breaking point for you to get clean?
I woke up in my hotel room, after a wedding. Not that kind of story, I was supposed to be there. My boyfriend lay next to me, and there were cans and bottles coupled on desktops and table corners. Our room was the pre-festivities suite, per usual.
Crumpled on the floor was my vomit scented, and stained dress. I loved that dress. It was the first and last time I wore it. Flashes of the night before came and went in kaleidoscope fashion, and then came the shame. That pure unadulterated shame. My boyfriend rolled over and had that look, despite his sleepy eyes it was there – disappointment and repulsive disgust.
And to be honest I felt fine – physically. No trace of a hangover – which I knew I deserved. But after the reel of the previous night pieced together I was nauseous; the blur of starting fights, blacking in and out, falling, vomiting places (this was new I was NEVER vomited. ) I sat against the outer wall of the room. Fervently wrote in my journal. I was keenly aware this was the ‘next time’ from the last fight of “this can’t happen again.” I was losing my mind. My body . My boyfriend. I was empty. I had been to this place before, and I would always run. But I was tired of running and starting over and getting in that stupid pattern again and again. If I didn’t do something, this was my already certain future. No one else was to blame, the bartender the bad friends, mean boys, the alcohol, the lack of food, – it was me.
How did you get clean and how long have you been sober for? What was the hardest part for you about recovery and how did you overcome it?
To me, recovery is a persistent and continuous process. It alters as we change and grow. Often the disillusionment that once you feel better, you have control is one of the hardest mind tricks to battle. I faced the facts- the only thing I have control over is what I do/do not put in my body. Because, once it’s in there – chemically, physiologically there is not such thing as control.
Today August 12, I have been clean 125 days. That day in the hotel room, I said nope this is it, and never picked up another drink. Everyone is different; i went through mild withdrawl symptoms; sweats, shakes, irritability tough concentrating, dizziness, but to me it was a punishment for lack of hangover . I also reached out to those I knew were sober, and threw myself in the sober community. I do NOT recommend this physical process for everyone. Going cold turkey can be extremely dangerous.
HOWEVER Everyone needs community in this process whether rehab, AA, any of the rooms really, friends, family, internet tribe… you will ultimately do it alone – but you don’t have to, nor should you struggle alone.
The hardest part so far for me has been the billboard size mirror and finally facing myself and my shit. The shame, fear, relearning who I actually am and the self forgiveness. It has been and IS hard, but is needed.
Also realizing- my story is just that. Events happened. And they ended. They are not now, they are not my future. My future resides on my past staying in the past and ensuring I live my greatest truth and potential now, whatever that may be.
What is your motivation to stay clean? And how did you do it?
Well, I’m motivated to stay clean because people don’t think I can. My head strong nature has not left but I use it as ammo instead of a barrier. And my future life and future family. I owe it to everyone in my life and I owe MYSELF to have the best of this life and the only way I can see that happening is being sober.
For someone in the same situation as you who wants to get clean, what would you want to tell them?
Darling take the chance and do it. There will never be a perfect time.
Fortunately and unfortunately no one can do it for you. This is your power in its greatest form. Who are you now? Are you proud? What do you want for yourself? All those excuses you are thinking and repeating, and rattle off – that’s just the story you’re telling yourself and you’ve pretty much damned any chance of happiness and freedom. break free from that.
I don’t know you I don’t know your situation but I promise you will not regret getting clean. Hell yes I still have regrets or question decisions but I have never – not once – ever regretted not drinking.
What is your life’s moto?
I have this tattoo on my arm; I got it before I went on a cross-country adventure
Something I was told by my then English major Aunt, who was more of a sister
“this too shall pass’’ little did I realize at 7 years old that it was would become the seem that has and continues to stitched the various elements of my life.
The good and bad, it will pass . Beyond that cliché though, resides the truth that its how we react and learn from our situations. This is how we create change in our lives and the lives of others.
Bridget is caffeine fueled mindfully driven wonder and wanderluster. She is a Registered Nurse, and educator by trade. Has her 200 RYTT with certificates in SUP yoga, and Kids Yoga. Bridget is dedicated to bringing access, and tangible resources to others to help them create and manifest a fulfilling and healthy lifestyle. In her spare time, she volunteers at PAWS(Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society), and is training for her first triathlon. Follow her multitude of projects and sobriety journey on Instagram @biddybop__
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