My Sobriety Journey

I've never actually sat down to write about this (other than a couple of brief posts on social media) or even really talked about it outside of my therapy sessions.

See that photo? On the left - 27 and dead inside. On the right - 41 and so full of life!

September 14, 2010 - My life changed forever. This was the morning I found out I was pregnant. I took the test on a whim, not really actually thinking I was pregnant. I took 3 tests just to make sure I wasn't seeing things or it was a false positive. My mind was racing. I was happy, but also scared. Scared because I wondered if my actions just before this test would cause any damage to the very young and developing embryo. I wondered how long I had actually been pregnant. We had been trying for about a year and a half to get pregnant and after the test in August was another unsuccessful pregnancy, we decided maybe we needed a break from the constant stress from trying and the timing of everything. I was debating on doing another round of Clomid.

The weekend prior to taking this pregnancy test we were in Las Vegas, celebrating our friends' birthdays. In the 4 days and 3 nights we were there, I might remember 28 hours of it. You see, vodka and Red Bull was my drink of choice and it was notorious for causing me to drink a lot and blackout. During my blackouts, I was fully functional and didn't even have slurred speech. I was just drunk on vodka and high on Red Bull - a very confusing combination for my body. On this particular trip to Vegas, I have brief flashes of memories of crying at dinner, playing in the indoor fountains at the hotel, and being IN the water of the lazy river at Mandalay Bay. Keep in mind I am terrified of being in water up to my chest and drunk Susie was not only in the water, but I was also running in it with no floaties or pool noodles. I don't remember crashing a bachelorette party, but my friends have pictures to prove it. Apparently, I was pretty wild that weekend.

The sad part about this story is this blacking out was a normal part of my life. Not just reserved for the weekends, but when I was in college, this was sometimes a DAILY thing. Blacking out, not sure how I got home, waking up on the cold tile floor of my living room or kitchen with my shirt pulled up (so I could cold shock my body and not throw up) surrounded by Whataburger or Taco Bell wrappers on the floor.

I was very unpredictable when I drank. The smallest thing could set me off and I would get violent - either with my words or my fists. I had been called T-Rex and Dy-no-mite because of my violent and crazy outbursts. I would even get in fights with my friends, if someone did something to them I didn't like, Mean Susie would step in to have their back.

Alcohol was my coping mechanism. I was trying to escape my reality. I didn't like who I was, the first part of my night, I was always fun to be around, the more I drank, the more unpredictable the night would get. When I drank, I forgot about what a shitty person I was - then I would get shitfaced and become an even shittier person, more for me to hate the next day. But most of the time I wouldn't remember. I would have to gather evidence from my phone - pictures, texts, or even ask my friends how the night played out.

Speaking of friends... Let's just say I was a terrible judge of character for the most part. I was surrounded by people who were either just as bad as I was, so they didn't see a problem with my behavior, or others who had been around me when I was angry and fighting and they wanted to stay on my good side, I like to call them "Yes people". They would never tell me no if I was doing something stupid, never told me I had enough to drink or that it was time to go home. Sometimes I wondered if I was just their entertainment for the night, I mean, I did put on quite a show sometimes. It was exhausting living this double life of putting on a smile and being a good girl while I was dying on the inside from my own self-inflicted anger, rage, and hate.

Sometimes my two addictions - alcohol and fitness - would collide. When I decided I couldn't sleep and I should be productive with my insomnia, I would end up at 24 Hour Fitness drunk and pounding away on the elliptical. At least I would also be chugging water, so...

Back to the story about when my life changed. Once I found out I was pregnant, I obviously stopped drinking cold turkey. Having a life created inside me was enough motivation to get serious about my issue. It actually happened perfectly. I was finally able to take an outside observer at my past behavior and addiction. I got to deeper root issues and understood what I hated about myself and why. I was able to work through most of this. Having a clear and sober mind to finally SEE was a blessing. I was becoming a better person and friend. Unfortunately, at the time, my husband saw this time as him always having a designated driver. At first, it upset me. As I grew into my sober lifestyle, I finally realized I was a better person without alcohol. I didn't need or even want it.

At first, I was worried that once I had our baby I would go back to drinking. It never happened though. I had one Guinness to try to help with my milk production while I was nursing, fortunately, it didn't do much but give me a pretty strong buzz after drinking about 5 oz., so I didn't do it again. I was still the designated driver, but this time I didn't feel upset about not getting to drink, I was more upset about always having to be the responsible parent. Now I'm not throwing my husband under the bus, so don't take it like that. However, he never stopped drinking. So I was becoming resentful that he wasn't stepping into his role as what I envisioned a responsible dad to be, he still wanted to have the fun party life while I had grown out of that lifestyle. I can imagine it was challenging for him since every single Navy function is associated with drinking. But he did have a choice and he made the choice to drink. This put a strain on our marriage for many years. I kept hoping he would grow out of constantly needing to drink, but he didn't. The only things that actually changed were I didn't drink anymore and now we have a baby.

As the years passed and we had a second child, my sobriety stayed strong. It became a part of my identity. My husband's drinking would go in waves. He would go through periods that he would drink heavily, then he would cut back. It had no influence on me anymore, I knew this was his journey and he had to decide what he wanted from his life. I was a mother of two and took my role very seriously. Through all of the stress, it NEVER crossed my mind "I need a drink". In fact, the mommy wine culture, the acceptance of overconsumption of alcohol, and the way it is promoted and associated with everything is actually appalling to me. Manipulative marketing is so deceptive and cruel and I wonder how the people that work in their marketing department can even sleep at night.

When someone says they are going on a diet to get healthy, no one blinks an eye - but say you are alcohol-free, don't want to drink, or that you are sober and people lose their shit! They grill you about why you don't want a drink, treat you like there is something wrong, and still try to encourage you to "just have one", and I've even lost friends because I stopped drinking. At first, I would take it to heart and think I did something. Then I realized they have a problem with my sobriety, which is not my problem. For some, they have told me it makes them question themselves and their motivation for why they drink or that they get nervous with me around thinking I am judging them and their drinking. Several have told me they didn't even notice I was sober because I didn't make a big deal about not drinking. Others who have eventually gotten sober told me I was their inspiration. See, I never preach about it or tell people they shouldn't drink. I don't throw my sobriety around making it seem like I am better for choosing to be sober. I don't even nerd out and talk about the stats of the correlation of alcohol and depression. I keep to myself unless someone asks about it. It's their choice to drink and unless it's going to have an impact on my life or my children's life, I keep out.

As I have opened up more about my sobriety, others have asked me to share my story for them to be able to share it with others. It is for those reasons I even talk about it. If someone can see themselves in my shoes, knowing they want to make a change and get sober, but think it will be hard or impossible, I share to help others, not to preach. I am an open book, willing to tell all if it means helping someone else out of a hole they think they will never get out of.

My alcohol and depression were closely tied. Now that I am sober, I do have fewer depressive spirals. When I do get depressed now, I don't reach for a bottle. I've found better ways to understand why I feel the way I do and alternatives to feel better. Because I don't drink when I get depressed, I come out of it faster and it's not as dark and damaging, I have more clarity. I am more self-aware without alcohol. I am a better person - a better wife - a better mother without alcohol.

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