I am 40 weeks pregnant writing this, anxiously awaiting the birth of our second child. I am married to an incredible man, and already a mother to a feisty, smart, witty 18-month-old daughter. I still can’t believe the life I have now. But let me rewind…
For as long as I can remember, I struggled with drugs and alcohol, and I was VERY good at hiding it. I was fifteen when I first got drunk on Goldslagger. I simply couldn’t resist all the gold glitter floating around inside that bottle, tempting me with its false innocence. I can remember the exact moment I felt the flutters and heat fill the insides of my chest, my thoughts slowed and my vision slightly blurred. Not a care in the world. I felt alive. I felt confident. I finally felt free.
In high school, I began living a double life. I threw myself into every available activity; from athletics, to student government, to academics and even church. I volunteered and mentored, excelling at most. I would also pop, drink or snort anything lying around, striving desperately to cover up the shame I felt amidst the ongoing internal struggle to coexist here in this life. I felt stuck, lost, and often alone. I did everything I could to stay busy, mask the pain, and deny my truth.
I could sit here and blame my dysfunctional childhood; the neglect and confusion that comes from being raised in an alcoholic and drug infused home, or whatever else. I could also blame my insecurities, inadequacies, lack of guidance, or the genes I inherited from my Indian and Irish ancestors. But I am not going to do any of that. Point is, I enjoyed boozing and using and did it often in isolation, making sure the outside always looked perfect (or so I thought). I loved to escape, not deal, and towards the end, believed alcohol was the only one that truly understood and accepted me.
After close to fifteen years of this rollercoaster ride, I met an incredible man. To this day, I am uncertain as to what he ever saw in that woman. He jokes now that he could see the “diamond in the rough.” I did rather well hiding my drinking from him in the beginning; never raising too many red flags other than the occasional drunken fight or “over doing it” a few nights here and there. He, just like everyone else in my life, never imagined I had an addiction problem as I was smart, accomplished, and well maintained. I was highly functioning, which only perpetuated the belief he had that I was sadly cursed with a slow metabolism for alcohol, (as after a night out to dinner and having what he thought was two glasses of wine, the smell would linger on my breath long into the next morning). Little did he know it was in fact because I would sneak a few shots in before we went out, and was quick to make a drink first thing the next morning hiding sips throughout the day. Taking pills was easier to hide, as I slowly worked to finish off his old prescriptions that laid around the house unused, often accusing the cleaning ladies and even a friend that stopped by for a visit for stealing them. We planned to marry, and I believed that then I would finally feel the security and confidence I needed to cut back on my using. To my disappointment, I felt even more inadequate than ever before… the fraudulent wife I thought- which only excelled my drinking, lying and denying.
It all came to a crashing halt one morning, when my husband returned home from work to fetch something he had left and found me in bed (alone), drinking whiskey out of a coffee mug in my pajamas. I will never forget the look on his face that day, as if all of his thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions were challenged in one forever life changing moment. So, a decision had to be made- was I to get clean, enjoy my life, my marriage, my future? I didn’t know how to love myself, to give of myself, to BE myself. I especially did not know a life without drinking or using. But I wanted that, more than anything. And so that’s what I did, with the help of my superstar husband, who has always seen more in me than I ever could. I made a choice to show up here in this life, and feel that sharing my story and experiences is one of the vital healing agents in my ongoing sobriety.
I am now clean and sober, gratefully married, awaiting our second child’s arrival, and a humbled mother to a beautiful daughter who we named Dakota Grace. She is a balance of sweet and spicy, just like her momma. Her middle name Grace is for the unmerited blessings and forgiveness I have found inside recovery, still astounded each day that God sought out and loved me before I EVER learned to love myself.
My new-found purpose is advocating for Mental Health awareness, as I believe in the power of sharing our stories to live shame free. I write open and honestly about my thoughts and challenges at MomboJombo.org., speak publicly at local events in my area, and write a monthly column in the local newspaper fighting to break the stigma and shame surrounding addiction. I am back in school at the University of Florida, where I am majoring in Psychology with plans to get my doctorate in Mental Health and Addiction Counseling.