“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
— Stephen King
I chose this quote and want to be quick to point out the part where it says “people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you cried why you were saying it” because if I don’t explain it, I feel like it’ll seem like a disjointed correlation between it and what I’m about to purge from my system.
We’ll start with the infamous Mommy Drinking Culture — I say we’ll start here, because this post has EVERYTHING to do with it, what it means to me and how it infiltrated and stole some VERY precious years of my life I’ll never get back. And there is literally nothing, no words, no comforting thoughts, NOTHING that will ever make that type of shame or guilt dissipate. The only thing this whole post brings is a sense of relief and release, and the first thing I uttered out of my mouth, once I picked up the phone the day after I was released from jail (or maybe it was the day of — those first 36 hours of sobriety were the biggest fucking whirlwind shitstorm of my entire life), but the first words I said to the man on the other end of what would be my intensive outpatient program was, “If I can prevent one person from making the same mistakes I did, then this will all have been worth it.”
Saying “worth it” sounds so self-centered in retrospect, but all I knew was that I never wanted ANYBODY to ever feel the way I felt during that time.
So, we’ll scale it back a few months, all the way to March of 2016, a mere three months after my son had been born, and a rough six months before I’d have my “wake-the-fuck-up call” / spiritual awakening / resurrection of self / DAY I TOOK MY LAST DRINK — it’s all the same to me these days. Okay, March 2016, having had my second child I had become well informed and cognizant of the signs, symptoms, and feelings of post-partum depression and anxiety. I remember a few mornings while nursing him, my brain felt like it was short-circuiting and I was getting irritated at an abnormally quickening rate, and I was almost borderline paranoid about god knows what… alas, I knew something wasn’t right, so I did what was right, and I called my OBGYN’s office to schedule an appointment and assessment so I could be prescribed medication for my post-partum anxiety.
Lest me leave out the consistent and persistent nightly drinking binges I had quickly resumed as soon as I had given birth to my son, which weren’t helping a naturally occurring problem: the post-partum anxiety coupled with mild depression I’d battled for almost 15 years at that point. (That previous Christmas Eve, SIXTEEN DAYS after my son had been born, I got so incredibly shitfaced at my GRANDPARENT’S annual Christmas Eve celebration. Apparently, I’d been attempting to nurse him in a guest bedroom and was on the verge of passing out, and vaguely recall getting reprimanded beyond belief by every family member closest to me, not to mention the angry blur that followed once I got home, and me begging my (common law) husband to let me put our son to bed, him trying to shield our seven-year-old daughter from my belligerent, incoherent tirade… you would’ve that maybe THAT would’ve gotten my attention… which it did, for a minute.)
Now we’ll speed it back up to March of 2016, and I proudly went into my OBGYN’s office to do the right thing: get prescribed the medication I needed to best handle post-partum anxiety. I graciously picked up the bottle of Zoloft from my local pharmacy, carefully (or is it carelessly?) disregarding the bold warnings emblazoned across the backside of the label, “May cause drowsiness. Taking this medication alone or with alcohol may lessen your ability to drive or perform hazardous tasks. DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES WHILE TAKING THIS MEDICATION.”
And I promptly begin to take the medicine, once daily as prescribed, and started right back up again the same night after it was prescribed with my nightly binge drinking.
I can’t tell you guys how much this hurts right now to relive all these moments, but I’m truly hoping that after I get this out of my system, I’ll feel any better. I can’t deal with the flashbacks, they’re unpredictable and excruciating, but I know there’s somebody out there who needs this and I’m determined to keep the deal I made with myself and the counselor who answered the phone that day — I don’t want anyone else to live the hell I confined myself to for too long. And THIS is why I extracted the line from the quote I mentioned above that reads, “people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you cried why you were saying it.” I firmly believe somebody out there will be able to understand everything I’m saying, and then there will be an ocean of people who don’t understand me — who don’t understand people (mothers like *us*) who chose to drink, as a justifiable “reward” for doing what we CHOSE to do — give birth to innocent lives, ones we’re supposed to protect — as opposed to using our motherhood as one of the reasons we chose not to drink. Oh my God, you guys, fuck — this is difficult.
Anyway, I ignored the warnings, so I drank… and drank… and drank… and one day (amongst many other highly objectionable behaviors I was already engaging in, which I’ll disclose later on, at a different point in time… seeing as how this is already taking enough of a toll on me) I decided it was an even BETTER idea, to go see a doctor and get prescribed Klonopin. Something I KNEW would make shit worse, because Benzos and I do NOT get along — never have, never will — but, drunken, irresponsible me went and saw a doctor (under the influence, and obviously coupled with the Zoloft I was taking, so I could be a “good little mommy”) and got a prescription that I most definitely abused, when I decided I wanted to feel more than buzzed.
Y’all — THE POINT OF THIS WHOLE POST (mostly) — is taking a medication such as Zoloft, on its own, while drinking *especially the way I did* will put you in a completely different type of blackout drunk, and the pain, shame, guilt, anguish, remorse, stabbing flashbacks, shattered memories, vague remembrances of saying spiteful things and irrationally snapping at EVERYTHING because all you wanted to do was feel and be anything outside of what you are/were and THIS is one of the main reasons I have such a personal, vindictive bone to pick with mommy drinking culture.
Anyway, so I picked up my prescription for Klonopin mid-summer, and that was mostly the beginning of the end for me. As much as one could be on the verge of the end of something they were already rapidly tailspinning towards, at least.
To this day there are still days and nights I have no recollection of. Oh yeah — and I drove a lot during this time period. So, while I get where people are coming from when they’re detailing their drinking career, it is a super sharp blow to people such as myself when those people boast “at least I never drink and drove.”
Well, I did.
I don’t say that like it’s a badge of honor, but it just feels like somebody’s twisting a knife in me every time I read somebody say things like that. Cheers to you for having been so responsible, I was not. I was however, VERY lucky. So lucky, I still often wonder how or why I got so lucky, when all I did shouldn’t have resulted in me being able to have the luxury of being able to type all this shit out, on a beautiful Wednesday, where I’m sitting in the sunroom of a house I own, with a (common law) husband who never left me, and two healthy, happy children who still think I hung the moon.
I don’t question the hows and whys as much, because my wake-the-fuck-up call was also the catalyst to me getting and staying sober, and finding the courage to use my voice in a positive way, and connect with souls I couldn’t have dreamt up, just a short 590 days ago.
We’ll fast-forward a bit more, after several blackout days and nights, fights with several family members, hanging out with people I don’t remember having conversations with, further engaging in activities that should’ve solidified my (common law) husband leaving me… and we’ll get all the way to the glorious day of September 6, 2016.
We signed all the papers on the house we currently own, parted ways, my son with me… and a few hours… a few pills… several drinks… and a car ride later, I woke up late that evening staring at a cement wall, in an orange jumpsuit, completely frightened for my life, everything and everyone in it. I vaguely remember being handcuffed and shuffled back and forth between the hospital and local jail to have my blood drawn, having a shouting match with one of the jail staff members, and using my one phone call home, simply opening up the conversation by asking my husband, “Are you going to kick me out?” and then being informed that I had also been involved in a hit-and-run, amongst the other stupid shit I was arrested for. (I had both of my children in the car, by the way, and found out later on that my BAC was .22) That phone call will haunt me, along with everything else that took place that day, for the duration of my existence.
I have never hated myself so much in my entire life, and rightfully so. I had been involved in activities I still don’t fully remember, but I recall enough to have them resurface in breathtakingly traumatic flashbacks, and the waves of guilt, shame, ugliness are currently crashing all over me, all over again.
I will forever be in disbelief but eternally grateful that I did not kill or injure anyone that day. (I feel very exposed and hollow right now, so please try to overlook the amount of scattered, broken thoughts. This has been very difficult, but very necessary for me to write.)
And so there you have it, friends. The day I figuratively died and was simultaneously reborn. Mind you, there’s still a decade+ of pain, reckless decision making, selfish actions under the guise of bullshit I’d convinced myself were justifiable scapegoats and reasonable excuses… and additionally speaking, I have made no mention of all the work, pain, progress, setbacks, victories, defeats, euphoria and heartbreaks that have taken place since September 6, 2016 — but these are all stories and posts for different times.
For now, I know a few things for sure: that day made me a forever changed woman, and the flashbacks I have from it (as well as the now unadulterated, slivers of hazy yet stabbing recollections I can piece together from the years leading up to that day), have been nothing short of a naturally occurring deterrent from me EVER wanting to have alcohol pass through my lips ever again. I am a living, breathing, functioning miracle and I’ll be damned if I let my most painful day have so much power over me and keep me from using my voice, and keep me from *hopefully* preventing one person from ending up in a concrete room, staring at themself in a dull aluminum sad-sac excuse of a mirror, tears streaming down their face, realizing just how wrong their perceptions and justifications and selfish decisions were. And none of it was ever worth it. Not once.
But for me, that’s what it took, for me to see how special I am and how amazing my life always was. Even when I didn’t want to believe it was.
We are so much more than the people we become/became after we allowed our DOC to hit our bloodstreams. So, if you’re new into sobriety, please believe me when I say that you are not your mistakes, and no matter how awful the pain might be during recovery — I assure you the pain will only worsen if you choose to partake in mind-altering activities, and the short-lived relief or escape you might feel, will only prolong and exacerbate your pain and keep you from truly healing – and don’t ever think that “just this one time” will be okay… because I guarantee you, you’ll be just as lost (actually, you’ll find yourself more lost than you ever were) before you know it. I also want you to know that you’re above cheapening the good times by altering your sense of perceptions as well — there’s nothing more pure or blissful than experiencing your happiest feelings, all on your own, no (abused) chemicals involved*.
The world is yours for the taking, and you’re stronger than you can ever possibly know. And if you EVER need a listening ear, I am here for you.
I love you.
Thanks for reading.
“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I will answer you: I am here to live out loud.”
― Émile Zola
*EDIT/UPDATE: I still take my Zoloft, and it works wonders for me since I quit drinking and know I will never put another benzodiazepine in my body ever again. I firmly stand by the benefits of medication, when it is both responsibly prescribed and taken. I know for a fact, I never want to feel mentally/psychologically altered, for as long as I live. I love who I am and who I’m becoming, and there’s no better feeling than that.