I’ve been hesitant to share this one. This one hurts…a lot. And although I would love to tell you that I don’t care what anyone else thinks of me, that wouldn’t be entirely true. Some days I care more than others, but I still fear judgment. I am human, after all.
Since I’ve started sharing my story, I have always tried to be unapologetically honest in hopes of helping others, so when deciding whether or not to share this story I reminded myself that this is not just about me, it is about carrying the message of hope.
Over the past couple of months, I decided to do a little research project. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for about 5 years now, but I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to handle the painful truths that might be exposed. Soul searching can be a painful process, especially when you have a history of alcoholism that sucked up most of your memories into a vacuum.
What was the subject of this research, you might ask?
Answer: Myself 😳
That’s right! I decided to to do a little research on who I was in active addiction, because if I am to be perfectly honestly with you – I don’t remember much of her.
I’ve often described my late twenties as the “black hole” of my life. Sadly, I wasn’t lying. There was a period of time, over the span of approximately 3 years, where everything is sort of a blur. How much of it is actually blacked out from my memory, and how much I might have blocked out on my own, I might never know, but the unanswered questions had become all consuming. They were beginning to fester.
It was time…
So I did a thing I never thought I would have the courage to do. I requested all of my medical records between the years of 2009 and 2014. I printed out hundreds of pages of documents, I sorted through each page one-by-one and put them in chronological order. Then, with a red pen and highlighter in hand, I read each and every one of those pages – making notes and highlighting pieces I didn’t want to forget.
You might be wondering why these years were so important to me. I’ll tell you. My first medical detox from alcohol was in 2009 when I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance due to alcohol poisoning. I was 25 years old. All I remember of that day is waking up in a hospital bed and being told my family and Brad (who was only my boyfriend at the time) were in the waiting room. I remember the nurse handing me a folder filled with pamphlets and AA meeting lists. I remember being embarrassed. “I am not an alcoholic. This was an accident.” I told her bluntly.
Shortly after that, I found out I was pregnant. Nine months of abstinence lead to cravings and resentment. The moment my daughter was born I picked right back up where I left off. I wish I hadn’t, but that’s not how addiction works. No amount of love can save the addict, no matter what you might think.
I was not hospitalized again until December 2012, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t continue drinking and/or wreaking havoc on the lives of those around me. From that point on things escalated at an alarming rate.
From December 2012 to October 2014, I would be hospitalized 9 additional times for complications due to my alcoholism. The medical breakdown of those final 3 years of active addiction reads as follows:
3 ambulance rides/ER visits
10 medical detoxes – ranging 2 to 4 days each.
3 Residential Treatments – “Rehab”
5 Intensive outpatient treatments
3 different psychiatrists
12 different prescriptions medications
1 court ordered 72 hour hold in a Psychiatric hospital.
1 failed suicide attempt requiring hospitalization and stitches.
Of my 10 medical detoxes, over half I was admitted with a Blood Alcohol level that could have been fatal. One doctor noted my “atypical tolerance for alcohol is evidence of years of abuse.”
Many of you may look at list and say, “Wow! She is really messed up!” You might judge me. That’s fine. I am not writing this for you. I am sharing this information in hopes it resonates with those who need it most – family members of those addicted, the addicts themselves or anyone who may have lost faith that someone they love might get better.
I want you to know that there is always hope, as long as the person you love is still alive. These hospital visits, they kept me alive. At one point I wanted nothing more than to die, but at 5 years drug and alcohol free I can honestly say I am so grateful I lived. Please do not ever give up on yourself.
I don’t know exactly what my purpose is here on earth. Maybe it is simply to be a good mother, friend and daughter. Maybe I serve no purpose at all, and my time will just be my own – no legacy to be left. All I know is that if I can serve a purpose today – in this moment – I want it to be a voice of courage and change. I want to be living proof that recovery is possible, even for those of us who find ourselves living in hell.
If you are shattered to pieces like I was, let the recovery community be the glue that puts you back together again. In my case, the recovering people around me blanketed me in love and helped make me more beautiful than I was before. For that, I am forever grateful.
I am still learning to forgive myself for the pain I caused others in the past, as well as the pain I caused myself. Time is a great healer – so are honest amends and changed behavior.
Thanks for letting me share my story honestly with you. Be kind to those in need. Spread love wherever you go.
We do recover. 💜