Casualties of Alcoholism

When I was 9, my family moved, and I had to switch schools. I remember the day vividly. My stomach was upset as I was worried about my clothes and fitting in. We started the new school right after Thanksgiving, and I can remember that I hated my coat. I was terrified.

I somehow made it through the day and on to the school bus. This was strange to me because it was the first bus I ever had to ride because at my old school we walked.

On the bus, this girl from my class plopped next to me and started talking. A lot. I don’t think she shut up the entire ride home. I discovered she only lived 2 blocks from me. Actually, I discovered pretty much everything about her in that 30-minute ride. From that day on, she became my best friend.

We did everything together. Sleepovers, swimming in summer, bowling, you name it, we did it together. It was inevitable that we took our first drink together.

The first led to many drinks together. Our jr. high and high school years were filled with many nights of drinking and holding each other’s hair while we threw up.

As the years passed and we had our own families, we didn’t see each other often, but often enough. There were very few times we saw each other where alcohol wasn’t involved.

We celebrated all of the milestone birthdays with a lot of drinking. Divorces happened, life happened, and we helped each other in our typical fashion.

Here’s the thing. I always thought she had a problem. That she needed alcohol to get through life. I never felt like it was me. I mean, I would go months without drinking until we hung out together. Sometimes she would get sloppy drunk and cry or yell irrationally at her kids. She had the dui, not me. So, she had the problem. That’s what I thought.

What I feel now is that whenever we got together, we would act the way we did when we were young. Balls to the wall – so to speak. I suspect a therapist would say our relationship was toxic. My drinking progressed with my depression. I was, after all, the one with the problem.

After my suicide attempt, I left the psych ward to discover that my family had decided she would no longer be in my life. She didn’t visit me there. My last conversation with anyone before the attempt was with her. I don’t feel like they blamed her actually, just that she wasn’t good for me. She was blocked from my phone and all social media accounts.

She had been an essential part of my life for 40 years. I sang at her wedding. We watched each other’s kids. We gave each other rides to the airport and helped each other move. Now, I couldn’t even say…what? Goodbye? See you later? We’re not good for each other? It felt like a divorce.

My heart broke a little. She never tried to contact me. (She could have reached out through mutual friends or email) She didn’t visit me in the psych ward. She just moved on while I was trying to piece together what was left of my life. I’ve cried more than a few times over this lost friendship.

It’s been 3 years. We have seen each other a few times over the past year. Her mother’s funeral and her daughter’s housewarming. We’re pleasant to each other. We ask about each other’s family. We’re socially polite.

The funny thing is – I’m glad we are no longer friends. I have grown more as a person in the past 2 years than I ever thought possible. I have surrounded myself with strong women of faith, with people in recovery and with family that only wants to see me thrive. “Iron sharpens iron.” I believe that. I think that when we were together – neither of us could ever get to our full potential. I sincerely hope that she is growing and is happy as well. But the friendship we had – looking back – seems weak to me now, as our common denominator was always alcohol.

So, this friendship goes down as a casualty of alcoholism. The breakup, however-became the leg up to my recovery.

I Remember When

Photo courtesy of Ben Hershey — Splasher

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember the nights we lived at the baseball fields. I remember after games the whole team celebrating in someone’s pool to wash off the sweat. I remember days filled with hot dogs and Gatorade that became PowerAdes. I remember driving out of town with the team and every car having a two-way radio because it was fun.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember days of made up games and boys and mac n cheese. I remember broken bones worn like a trophy. I remember practicing the same play over and over until it was easy. I remember the grass worn out in the back yard where home plate and the pitcher’s mound stood.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember sleepovers and team pranks. I remember days of alternating jumping in the pool and playing catch. I remember when the hardest decision was what cleats to buy.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember bike rides to your friends’ for a pickup game. I remember skinned knees and flat tires. I remember sunscreen and sunburns and lots of aloe.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember new gloves and old gloves and glove oil and restringing gloves. I remember new bats and heavy bats and the first hit.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember game-winning outs and game-winning hits. I remember the heartbreak and the tears that came from game-losing misses.

I remember when baseball was your passion. I remember when the most important part of summer was the big game. I remember your face when you won the big game. I remember your face when you lost the big game.

I miss when baseball was your passion.

Enough

photo-1534950581589-28511e00ed67

You’re going along and actually feel like you’re at a place that’s better than anywhere you’ve been when out of nowhere – boom.  You suddenly feel anxious and like you can’t breathe, and it is such a familiar feeling it almost feels like home.

Home if you were in an abusive relationship.

Home if you were always told you weren’t good enough.

Home if you never seem to get it right.

Home if you just want to slide into oblivion.

Home if you just can’t fill your lungs with enough air to get to the rest of your body.

There’s a difference though.   Where this feeling used to take you down with it and hold you until you tapped out – you now have the tools to win this fight.

You breathe the deep breaths of life that fill you up.

You meditate and fill your spirit with the strength needed to overcome the doubts.

You speak out loud your fears and take away the power.

You know – you are enough.

 

I am enough.

 

 

 

Dying

death

My family has suffered 2 deaths in the past two weeks.  The first was my sister in law, 47.  She died from complications from pneumonia.  That’s the simplest way to put it.  The second, last night, was my father in law.  While at the wake for my sister in law, my father in law was taken to the hospital due to a lot of fluid build up.  While there, he was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic and liver cancer. He lasted a little longer than a week.  He died 2 weeks after my sister in law.

Watching my brother and my mother in law is so sad.  Watching the children (albeit adults) lose a parent is heartbreaking.  I’m just freaking sad.

I’m sad and even filled with some guilt.  Guilt I wasn’t a better friend to my sister in law.  Guilt that I didn’t see my father in law as often as I should have.

Guilt that my sister in law died on the 3 year anniversary of my suicide attempt.  Guilt watching family members hurt so much from these unavoidable tragedies.  Guilt that I almost put my family members through something similar.

I’m just sad today.

How Far Will You Go To Protect Your Addiction?

Lies

“Have you been drinking?”

“No.”

My standard reply. Always. It didn’t matter if I had been drinking or not. This was what I always answered. And not just, “no” but “no” with a little indignation thrown in. Like, “no, why would you ask that?” or “no, what kind of question is that?”

But, chances are, if someone asked, I was. Because I always was. Vodka. In my coffee, my iced tea, my diet coke. Disguised in a water bottle. Wherever I was. Coaching, playing ball, watching my kid play ball, family get-togethers, and even babysitting. It didn’t matter where I was. I always had a drink in hand.

I guess I thought I wasn’t hurting anyone. It was about me. My vodka, my life. I had gotten to the point that without it I became extremely anxious and couldn’t really leave my house. I had gotten to the point that it just became my big crutch.

Actions

One evening I was babysitting my granddaughter. I was supposed to pick up my sister at the airport so I had my son leave my granddaughter’s car seat. And I wasn’t going to drink. My sister hadn’t met my granddaughter yet and I was really excited about it. She was just a little over 3 months with red hair and gorgeous and I was so in love with her.

I wasn’t going to drink. So, instead, I took a Xanax around noon. I knew I would get really anxious and I felt this would be the best plan. I took another Xanax on my way to my son’s around 4 hours later. Somehow I felt this was better than drinking. Maybe it would have been. But, guess what? I fixed myself a drink.

My son had all this alcohol on the top of his fridge. Awesome looking stuff if you’re me and an alcoholic. He had peach or pineapple vodka and I couldn’t resist. I made myself a drink. I only had one. I thought that would be okay. The baby and I fell asleep and were awakened after about an hour from my daughter.

“You need to go pick up Amy,” she says. “okay, we’re up.” I replied.

“Have you been drinking?” she asks.

“No.” I say.

The Drive

I get the baby in the car seat. My two nieces ride with me to pick up my sister. I can barely keep my eyes open. It is about a 20 minute drive and I struggle to stay awake the entire time. We pick up my sister who oohs and aahs over the baby and I take my sister to pick up her vehicle about 30 minutes away.

“Are you okay?” she asks? “Just tired,” I reply.

By the time I drop off my sister I am more awake. Her youngest gets in her car and her oldest stays with me and my granddaughter. (later I found out she stayed with me because I seemed off) At this point, I don’t know how to get back to my son’s, so as I’m driving I pick up my phone to put in the address. I look down and swerve. A pretty big swerve I was told. I correct myself and start to look down again. My niece takes the phone then so I can tell her the address. I don’t remember his address. I give her a cross street and we figure it out. The rest of the drive is pretty uneventful. That is only due to luck. Or God’s grace, which is what I’m going with.

Consequences

At my son’s my behavior became more erratic. The Xanax and the alcohol combined just made me more drunk. My daughter drove me home and gave me a lecture the entire way. The next morning I woke up with a little headache. I walked into the kitchen to find 4 empty vodka bottles on the counter. It seems while I was sleeping they found my stash of empties. No one was around so I just threw them away. To this day, I don’t believe they have ever been mentioned.

Needless to say, I was no longer allowed to babysit. My relationship with my son and daughter-in-law was so strained I wasn’t sure it could be repaired. And if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have blamed them. I thought that, since I only had one drink it was okay to drive. The reality is, I shouldn’t have driven. I shouldn’t have been babysitting.

I was willing to drive with my granddaughter before I told anyone I was drinking. I didn’t want anyone to know. I thought I could hide it. The memory of this incident still makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t even tell you how many tears I shed because I did this.

This just shows how far I was willing to go to protect my alcoholism. I would risk mine, my sisters, my granddaughters and my nieces lives. This night could have had an entirely different ending. I am grateful I am here to tell my tale, as horrible as it is. I am forever grateful for second chances.