Photo taken Feb 8 at 3am. A typical night out.
What led up to asking for help with alcohol abuse is complicated. I'd love to sit here and write that you can K.I.S.S. (keep it simple & stupid) and not dive deep into exploring it, but that would be wrong. During my inpatient stay at rehab, I began sifting through the layers and writing a quick timeline encompassing my entire life up to that point. Our first assignment was to work on our life story. It was a grueling exercise.
We weren't allowed to have cell phones or internet access. We were cut off from the outside world. I couldn’t ask anyone if my memories served me well or what particular dates events had occurred. It was up to me to compose the assignment. I believe being cut off from the outside was a huge benefit for me. It gave me the ability to focus on all the things I had been silently trying to drown for two years. I could reflect on my life without any distractions. And God knows, I love a good distraction. Particularly the ones involving alcohol.
I remember waking on February 12, 2019, like I did several times a week. I was instantly hit with a hangover. My eyes weren't even open yet and I felt the dehydration, aches, and guilt encompass my body. With my eyes still shut, I decided that was the day. That was the last day I was going to wake up like this--in pain both physically and emotionally. I acknowledged I was a broken mess of a woman lying there. And so, I decided to do something about it immediately.
Eyes still not open--I didn't want to see what I had become--I made a plan. I would call out of work and write a quick note. Just something simple; no long explanations. I'd grab a Klonopin and go to the car with nothing but the clothes on my back. I'd get on Interstate 10. Probably westbound. My office was located just one exit away and surely someone would recognize my car before too long. I'd simply loop between the exits closest to my house and work until I saw the right opportunity. Then, I would grab my steering wheel at 10 and 2, swerve hard, and brake directly in the path of a semi-truck with a trailer. I'd end it right then. It would be over. I would not battle my demons any longer.
I opened my eyes. I looked around my room, felt my three rescued dogs curled up beside me, and I got scared. Scared because I knew I would do it if I kept waking up like this. I have suffered from depression since I was a teenager. Suicidal thoughts and ideations are nothing new. But since my little brother had nearly died a little more than six months ago, I had made a promise to myself never to consider that option again. And I hadn't. But I had slipped into full-blown alcohol abuse the day I left him to come back home to Mississippi.
I lied to everyone from pretty much that point forward. I minimized the number of days I drank and how much to everyone, especially those closest to me. My family was 600 miles away so they could only garner what my life was like based on social media and quick conversations. My friends saw me at one or two places buying a few drinks but rarely was anyone with me from the first drink of the evening to the last. My therapist had repeatedly asked about my drinking. I had lied about it to her before my brother’s scare and certainly every session after.
The only one who I didn't hide from was a short-term boyfriend who had codependency issues of his own. I had no idea of that at the time. I'd read a book on codependency about 7 years ago...when I was dating an alcoholic. I had told him before Christmas I had a drinking problem. Aside from one scary AA meeting, that admission was the only time I reached out to anyone. The cops had woken me up on New Year’s Day beating on the door, concerned about my safety because of something I’d apparently said during a fight, and him sitting on the front porch. I had alluded in a text that I wanted us to be separated forever. He took that as a suicidal threat. I’m not really sure as I was highly intoxicated and had been for hours upon hours. I just wanted to pass out. You’d think that event would have been a wake-up call, but I blamed him.
One bar in town had a bottle of champagne I utterly adored. I usually made that my last stop because they were open late and served food. This guy was thoughtful and reached out to a local wine and liquor store to see if they could get ahold of this magical potion. They ordered it. He picked up a bottle and surprised me one night. Then we had one of our regular fights--like we had New Year’s--and he brought me a bottle to help patch things up. It worked. And then a week later he stayed the night, and soon there were two bottles waiting for me. A dirty cycle began with champagne constantly being bought for me was started. What I once considered a thoughtful gesture had turned into a nasty cycle of enabling me. But up until that morning in February, you could not have convinced me of that.
Oddly, something Lady Gaga had said at the 2019 Grammy Awards on Sunday, February 10th, echoed in my head. I had seen a pic of the quote going around social media, but I had also watched the speech live. It had gone straight to my heart. I didn't act on it at that moment, but I knew who Lady Gaga was talking to and it was me.
Despite the rough nature of the relationship, that short-term boyfriend was the first person I thought about lying there scared and at my bottom in that bed the morning of February 12. I knew something had to give. I began texting him. He was asleep on the couch he replied. My couch...in the other room. I had no idea. The last thing I remember from the night before was buying a bottle of the blue champagne I loved, drinking a glass--maybe two-- then putting the bottle in my purse and walking/dancing down Main Street. I was at the point in the night where nothing hurt anymore. I don't remember driving home or him staying the night. But, at that moment, he was an angel. I didn't want to be alone.
I Googled treatment centers. Turns out there were options nearby. I spoke to someone named Mike and a lady named Amber. Over the course of two days, they connected me with a facility in Jacksonville, Florida that was dual diagnosis--in other words, I had depression and addiction battling inside me. I believe finding a treatment center of this nature was one of the key factors in my success.
Both the local team and Jacksonville team checked in with me as I packed up. I was in my pj's for two days. I had a list of what not to bring—snacks, drugs, alcohol, etc—and other than that, I really had no idea what awaited me. I cried to my family and friends. I had no idea my two best girls were actually planning an intervention if I didn’t end up going to Florida. The hiding I thought I was so good at wasn’t fooling them. Even though they never drank with me.
On the morning of February 14th, I gave myself the best Valentine’s gift ever and drove myself to Jacksonville, Florida and entered treatment. It was one of the very few promises I had kept to myself in a long, long time. It saved my life.
For those of you who get this, congratulations. We did it. You deserve to celebrate. Check out our latest designs and see if there’s something you want to celebrate your sobriety with me!