I’ve tried to write about this so many times over the last year and a half. I don’t know if it’s the shame that kept me from moving forward with it, but the reality is that it is my truth, and I’ve always been huge on transparency in my recovery journey. But when I relapsed after 7.5 years of sobriety last summer, it felt like everything I had worked so hard for was no longer valid. I was ashamed to have to admit I messed up; I was embarrassed that I failed. I thought that if I admitted I relapsed, people from my past would have rolled their eyes thinking, “Of course she did. This is who she is at her core. She’ll never get it. She’s a fraud. She’s a failure.”
But that’s not the right mentality, and I know that now. Yes, I picked up a drink after 7.5 years of not doing so. But guess what else? I put that drink back down after a few weeks. I remembered my truth and took the necessary steps to find my way back to recovery. I recognized that all of the work I did was not for naught. That work saved me. That work allowed me to come back to recovery so quickly. That work gave me this beautiful life I have today.
My original sobriety date was December 5, 2011. (Well, if we want to talk about my original date, we could go back to December 24, 2006. We can save that story for another day, though…) When I went out for my last night of drinking in 2011, I didn’t necessarily know my life was going to forever change over the next 48 hours. I just knew I was likely going to treatment so I might as well get as messed up as possible. I went into the bar telling everyone it was my final night to party, and party we did. The combination and quantity of substances I consumed should have killed me. And truth be told, I didn’t really care if it did. I was at rock bottom, spiritually devoid and unable to even look at my own reflection. I won’t go too deep into that time of my life now, but if you are curious, read this or this.
December 4, 2011 is still so vivid yet such a blur. Waking up on the floor with a mouth like cotton and an ache throughout my entire body that I can’t begin to describe. Driving to the Lubbock airport to pick up my father while still drunk and high. Stopping for food to-go but not being able to eat any of it because the nausea and drugs were ruining my appetite. Spending 8+ hours riding passenger to my dad who—bless his heart—drove in the pouring rain with a half-drunk, half-miserably hungover idiot. Stopping at Walmart to buy a few “rehab-items” because it wasn’t my first rehab-visit; I knew the drill. Feeling the all-too-familiar dread of checking in to yet another place, wondering if I’d ever get it.
That day was nine years ago.
Since that day, life has changed drastically. If you’d have told me that day that today I’d be married with a kid, dog, cat and house, financially stable with a savings account, a 401k and a solid job, a nonsmoker and sober, I’d have probably laughed in your face. (Or, back then, probably punched you.) That kind of life was unfathomable to me.
And yet, here we are. By the Grace of God, here we are. And sure, I can’t claim nine years sober tomorrow anymore, but I can claim 500 days sober, and I can claim sober just for today. I can also claim the second chance I received on 12/5/11, when I woke up truly sober for the first time in a really long time. I was given the most beautiful gift nine years ago: I was given the gift of Hope. Hope is a beautiful thing; hope was my lifeline when there was nothing left. Hope is what I’ll hold on to for as long as I can.
I’m Erin, and I’m truly a grateful, hopeful alcoholic.