How Did I Get Here?

If you believe all of societies conditioning around alcohol, it would be fair to say that the cards were stacked against me from the start. I came from a long line of “alcoholics” and the likelihood that I would become an alcoholic too was almost a given. I remember watching my family members drinking from a pretty young age. I remember my mother drank the “Franzia” boxed wine, my grandmother loved her Bloody Mary’s, my uncle would drink whiskey and Coke from about noon on every time I saw him and my dad loved his Budweiser. I knew my grandfather was a drinker as well, but he passed when I was 2. I just remember knowing that I came from a family full of drinkers. My dad’s drinking was a bone of contention in my home when I was young, I remember my parents fighting often over it. When I look back at it now, I realize just how prominent a role alcohol played in my life. Watching all of this as a kid made me determined to never let myself become an “alcoholic”. I spent a lot of time fighting with my dad about his drinking. Yet, as a teenager I would also convince him to buy me alcohol, which he did I think out of guilt and not wanting to be a hypocrite. But, I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. My dad’s drinking was a catalyst for a lot of strife in our family, mostly because I hated him when he was drunk. He was a different person. And, finally it all came to a head when I was almost 16 and he had his “rock bottom”. There’s still a lot of emotion wrapped up in that event, but what it taught me was that people needed help. I wanted to help other kids who watched their parents choose alcohol over them. I wanted to help parents who wanted to quit but couldn’t. I drank occasionally as a teenager, but I remember being very careful about it. It wasn’t until my 20’s that I started drinking more regularly and spent a lot of time partying. Eventually I hit a point where I felt disgusted with myself and the path I was on. I was wasting my life. I stopped partying and focused on school again; I went back to college full steam ahead and this time I decided to pursue Substance Abuse Treatment. During that time, I met my partner and eventually we had 2 kids. I took my time getting through school; I worked full time and after our first child was born I had my hands full. I drank occasionally at this point, but maybe only a couple of drinks on the weekend. I also developed a taste for wine, which I couldn’t stand the first time I tried it. But, one of my jobs was at a Country Club and I had to know wine. I remember a conversation with my OBGYN when I was pregnant with my first child about drinking and her telling me that it was “ok” to drink a glass of wine every now and then if it helped me relax because stress was bad for the baby. I had been on medication for my anxiety and depression at this point for many years, so that was a major concern during my pregnancy. I was at the highest dose possible for my medication and the doctor offered the wine as a sort of supplement if it meant keeping stress at bay. I remember spending a lot of time agonizing over that, even though I wasn’t a daily drinker at that point. And, after she was born I remember worrying about alcohol getting into my breastmilk when I fed her. But, still at this point I wasn’t a daily drinker. After the first year of trying to juggle motherhood, school and a full-time job, I think that’s when my drinking started to slowly shift to becoming a daily habit. andThey warned me about drinking after the surgery too. They said it was VERY common for people to turn to alcohol because they can’t use food anymore.  I remember thinking that wouldn’t be me.  I lost nearly 100 lbs. in about 6 months or so.  Shrank down to below my weight when I met my fiancé. I could fit into my old clothes again.  I lost a lot of hair too.  But, I knew that going in and was willing to risk the trade.  There’s lots of rules around my surgery, most of which I don’t abide by.  I’m lucky though, because too much sugar and too much fat makes me physically ill.  I can still eat it, I just have to be careful or I pay the price.  Even now, about 5 years later. Lucky because it’s allowed me to keep most of the weight off, though it’s slowly creeping back.  I’m too smart for my own good.  I also stopped exercising after the surgery. I’d lost weight so easily and work was so demanding, it was easy to neglect exercise. I was still skinny.  Work demands grew as did parenting demands. Stress from both pushed my alcohol intake into high gear.  I couldn’t binge eat anymore when I got home from work, which is what I usually did to cope with the stress pre-surgery.  I would work so much, I’d skip meals a lot and then I’d be both starving AND looking for stress relief when I got home.  A bottle of wine occasionally, soon turned into 1 or 2 a week.  Then it turned into a glass a day.  Then 2.  Over those 5 years, it slowly grew to 2 bottles of wine a night and sometimes even more.  I found myself sneaking hard liquor out of the liquor cabinet on really bad days. Those days when I needed that immediate buzz.  I also found myself sneaking downstairs after everyone was in bed and really letting loose. Drinking both wine, which was my favorite by now, and either vodka or whiskey. Whatever we had.  I’d pass out on the couch a lot of times only to wake up around 3 am to drink some more so I could go back to sleep. Sometimes I’d pound another glass and sneak into bed for a couple hours of sleep before everyone else woke up.  Only on the weekends of course.  At first. And, towards the end, I was not even able to make it home before I was cracking open one of those little cartons of wine.  I had moved on to boxed wine, you know the one in the black box, so that I could hide how much I was actually drinking and save money at the same time. But, I always had to buy some extra small cartons (which were really more like 2 or 3 normal glasses worth), just in case. I was always scheming and planning my drinking for the night. I stopped at the store nearly every single day on my way home.  God forbid I didn’t get enough on Friday to get me through the weekend or I’d be pissed that I had to go back out to get more. That meant I had to sober up to drive, because I couldn’t ask my partner to go or he’d catch on that I’d drank ALL that wine I brought home on Friday already.  There was a point that he actually had to hide some of his whiskey because he noticed that I was getting into it. That was a really low point.  There were lots of low points. But, nothing that society would consider a “rock bottom” because I didn’t get a DUI (although I definitely could have many times, I just got lucky), I didn’t get my kids taken away, I didn’t lose a job, I didn’t break up my marriage.  I was still highly functioning. Outwardly.  Inwardly, I was miserable. Borderline suicidal at times. I was stuck in such a dark and hopeless place that I wished God would take me out of this world because everyone would be better off. But, I couldn’t do that to my family. I couldn’t send the message that I didn’t love them enough to stick around for them.  I couldn’t do to my kids what my mother did to me.  Even though I realize now that I wasn’t really there for them anyway. 

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