Rock bottom #2 - a Spiritual Awakening
My journey toward sobriety began on October 29th of 2016. My ex-husband asked for a divorce. It seemed to be the same old same old kind of day. It was a Saturday. Of course, I was on the couch, drinking. A retirement commercial came on and he went off one of his tangents about how I ruined his retirement. He had this idea that he should get to retire at 52 and I would keep working into my 60’s. Because I lost my high-paying job during rock bottom #1, it ruined his retirement.
He went on to say that we don’t even sit next to each other on the couch, that we weren’t having sex, and he was just done. I've never been affectionate and one his love love languages was physical touch.
Anyhow, things were cordial at first. We even continued to go out to dinner and watch TV together for about a month. I’m sure any normal person would’ve figured out he had someone on the side. But I was drunk all the time, so I didn’t figure it out for about six weeks.
I was completely unemployable. If I got a job interview for 3 p.m. for instance, I wouldn’t attend it because it was too late in the day to not drink.
After I figured out he had someone else, things changed. We were no longer cordial and then he started being downright cruel. He brought the mistress with him to family parties, even though he and I were still married and co-habitating. It was extremely painful.
Around the time I found out about the side piece, my youngest daughter came to talk to me about my drinking. It was basically a one-person intervention. When I look at it now, I feel so much grief about the fact that I put my daughter in that position, but I should be crying tears of joy right now because, I got out, I escaped. I would try AA for the next three years with no luck. I finally found success with Breaking the Chains, but more on that later.
She sat me down and said that I had a problem, I kept coming up with excuses as to why it wasn’t a problem. I pointed out that during the separation, I had been drinking a lot more, and spilled over into my marital reconciliation.
She wasn’t having it. I needed to get sober. My daughter Heather said something to me about it, as well.
I called an estranged friend who was in AA asking her for help. She was in shock when she saw me. My descent over the previous two years was severe and dramatic. I was overweight, I took no care in my appearance. In fact, I was so depressed I went out of my way to not look in the mirror. I was too depressed at what I had become. I didn’t brush my teeth, I bathed as little as possible.
She took me to see a lawyer. Duane had drawn up an offer that he hoped I would just sign and the whole divorce would take six weeks. It went on for years.
December 29th – I leave for my first detox. I basically have an overnight bag with a couple of outfits in it. Rita comes and picks me up. Apparently, one has to be wasted to get help like this. If they show up sober, you won’t get admitted. So. Rita took me to the local watering hole and got me drunk. My drink at the time was jack and ginger and I loved doing apple pie shots. I got pretty drunk and Rita drove me to the first detox/rehab type of facility. I blew somewhere around .25 blood alcohol content - I was three times the legal limit.
I have some crazy stories to tell, but is when I became an at-leaster – I don’t have a problem. This guy drinks 30 beers a day, this one does heroin, and on and on.
I officially began my journey toward sobriety. I would be a chronic relapser for three years: I couldn’t get ninety days in. If I was an at-leaster before, boy was I an at-leaster after this first attempt.
My addiction had really become a monster by the time I checked in. I was drinking about eight drinks a night on work days and the weekends were a shitshow. I was abusing pills as well. The abuse was so bad that my face sagged on one side, everyone thought I had had a stroke.
For some reason, I found Sundays to be unbearably terrible, and I would start as early as I possibly could – I was hoping that I would pass out around 1 or 2 pm so I wouldn’t have to deal with the day at all, but that never happened, I just became a bloody mess by noon. I can remember my daughter Savannah looking at me at times and just saying, “Oh, you took some pills” in a voice that was both sad and irritated. If the weather was bad, it was an even worse situation.
I had been taking care of people my whole life, - my mother, my husband, my kids… My mom passed away in 2009, my kids grew up and moved on, and my husband was too disgusted to want to spend time with me. I would tell myself that I was drinking because there was nothing to do.
Let me tell you, I am sober now, and there is always stuff to do. If you find yourself, day in and day out, with nothing to do but drink, your laundry probably isn’t done, your finances are probably not in order, your bed goes unmade, and you don’t have real connections with people that don’t drink. Besides all of that stuff, I had a lot of hobbies before alcohol took hold. I was a scrapbooker, reader, photographer, and hiker. However, I had overly identified as a mom, and when I empty-nested, I was lost.
I can remember, on more than one occasion, my friend Stacie calling me on Sunday around four to hang out, and I met her a couple of times but I had taken too many pills. She never hesitated to call me out on it. Clearly, I picked people who didn’t give me a hard time to drink with.
Rita comes to pick me up, gets me drunk and drives me to St. Vincent Charity Hospital for a detox. The plan is to find a halfway house to go to after the detox.
I learned so much about street drugs and prescriptions during that three day detox. One woman had hidden heroin outside the hospital in case she wanted to use when she was released. Another girl said she caught her son wrapping a belt around his arm saying, “I want to be like mommy.” A male patient said he drank a fifth a day. Surely, I didn’t belong here. My problems were nowhere near as bad as the ones of these people. In fact, at least I’m not them.
However, I was terrified, absolutely terrified about getting sober. I wasn’t really an alcoholic anyway, but how on earth are you supposed to go the rest of your life without drinking or anxiety pills.? After a four day detox, I was released to long-time friend. Holidays fell weird that year, so New Years Day was celebrated on a Monday. Because of the holidays, none of the typical half-way houses that Rita normally used would even pick up the phone. Rita did eventually find a halfway house, but it wouldn’t last long.
Rita takes me to this halfway house and we walk in through the back door. I see a bunch of women hanging around and they were talking about sex, pretty explicitly, actually. My first impression was not good, and it didn’t get much better than that.
This place is an absolute trap house. In fact, the back door doesn’t even lock, so on a rotational basis one of the residents has to stay up until 5 a.m. guarding the door. What the girl is supposed to do if there is an intruder is unclear. She has no weapons and no backup. The place relies on food donations and donations were drying up – it’s after Christmas now. No one is thinking of the hungry, the poverty stricken, the downtrodden anymore. There are probably 20 women living in this halfway house and there is one shower. I left my house with basically two changes of clothes. No cell phones are allowed and the trap house was on restriction, so the TV was not allowed to be turned on.
Upstairs, there are four sleeping areas. The area for new people has bunk beds to sleep - at least sixteen people.
Now I had been drinking and pilling out pretty heavily – to be off of everything was causing a sensory overload. Everything was too bright, too loud, too irritating.
There were AA meetings every day. I remember one young woman talking about how she knew things had to change, because she was actually sucking dicks for drug money and she personally didn’t like dicks to begin with. Wow! Sexual favors, pills called opanas, children born with fetal alcohol syndrome. No, no, no! I did not belong with these people. Yes, I drank daily, but so does most of Europe (I would literally tell myself this). didn’t do street drugs, I only did beer – I never really even got heavy into the liquor scene. Everybody was just overreacting on the “off days” I took things too far.
This first entry into a rehab system lasted about 9 days, but it was nine very long days – and I have a ton of memories from this time. Even though I thought I wasn’t an alcoholic, I surely remember dreaming about beer – Fat-Heads Blueberry beer – I wanted it so bad, I literally could taste it in my sleep.
I wasn’t allowed my bi-polar meds there, food was iffy, safety was a definite disaster, and basically I couldn’t handle the situation. No access to a TV, no access to a cell phone, no access to my meds, and I am no longer have alcohol and anxiety pills; traditional methods involved quitting cold turkey - complete abstinence didn't work. I definitely wasn’t ready to quit. Complete overnight abstinence decreases your chance of success. Thankfully, the five step program I found on facebook didn’t believe in complete and total abstinence.
After about six days, I called my daughter to come pick me up. I moved into the house that I was renting to her and my first husband. I stayed sober until Feb 2nd when I went out with friends and said I would have only two drinks. I would go back to just three times a week. That may have worked after rock bottom number 1, but not this time. By March I was drinking by 8 in the morning. I decided to try a residential rehab.
Once again, Rita got me drunk and dropped me off. Once again, I wasn’t like those people. Once again, I wasn’t properly medicated. And, once again, I relapsed.
The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.
My spiritual awakening began during this intervention. Maybe schedule an intervention for a loved one. It's worth a chance. The timing is perfect too now that the holidays are over. Give your children the gift of sobriety this year. what will your legacy look like? Do you want your children to think your life was a Shakesperean tragedy ending in death. When you die, do you want your children to say "its better this way?" Please let this acticle inpire you. Sobriety is sexy; you won't be alone for long. Get it together - it's better this way.
About the Creator
I am an aspiring writer currently writing a book on the Sober Revolution we are in the midst of, a book about essays that will change the way you think, and a novel about a serial killer. I am also working on a book of poetry.