My name is Loretta. I am an alcoholic. My sobriety date is May 13, 2010.
I wonder how many stories start like mine…. “I’ve always felt different”. As a child I felt like I was one of those kids only a mother could love, and only out of sympathy. My dad had practically raised his brothers and sisters & I grew up knowing he really didn’t want children of his own. Although my parents came from strong religious backgrounds, my father became a drinker and carouser when I was very young. I remember the late nights comforting my mother & the fights when he got home. I was afraid to have anyone over because I didn’t know when or how he’d show up.
I hid from home at church. The God of my childhood was a loving God who I could go to with all my burdens and sorrow and loved me unconditionally. My family wasn’t exactly on the same economic level as the other families & the kids there were cruel, but it was my escape. I was a smart kid too, and felt more comfortable around the teachers than students. As time went on, I couldn’t understand why God seemed to forget me. I didn’t understand life at all.
At the beginning of my freshman year of High School I went to a football game & ran into a girl I had become acquainted with in one of my classes. She invited me out to the parking lot with some of her friends. Completely naive to what went on in the parking lot, I went along. The other kids were smoking & drinking & offered me a drink. I didn’t want to be “uncool”, so I took a drink, then another, and another. I became unafraid and completely comfortable in my own skin for the first time. People were talking to me instead of about me. We were all laughing together & I felt acceptance for the first time in my life. By the time my parents picked me up I was completely hammered. I was grounded for the rest of my freshman year. The insanity had already kicked in. I was grounded most of high school because I did the same thing every year. No matter the consequences, I wanted that feeling of belonging again. I started cutting class because that was the only time I could party. I was a parking lot stoner & proud of it. I had one relationship with a boy that I truly loved in my senior year, but he was a good kid & dumped me because I was more interested in partying. I was completely devastated & convinced God no longer cared for me. I became seriously determined to try every drink or drug that I could get my hands on. And I did just that. The early 80’s are vague.
This went on for a few years. I got married during this time because it was the thing to do. The partying came to a screeching halt when I became pregnant with my first child. By the grace of God, I stayed completely clean & sober during my pregnancies & embraced motherhood. I had a second child, then went through a very ugly divorce ironically because their father was using. His purpose in life after the divorce was to make my life miserable. He kept us on the family court rollercoaster for 10 years trying to get out of child support by job hopping & working under the table. I turned to my mother for moral support, but after a while, my brother paid me a visit & informed me that he and my father thought it best I not talk to my mother anymore unless the subject matter was pleasant. My problems were causing problems for the rest of the family so I was cut loose. I felt abandoned and unworthy of love.
I managed to stay clean for several years until the kids hit puberty. Then that one boy that I had truly loved years before came back into my life and dumped me again. I snapped. I don’t know how else to describe it.
I started drinking heavily. I wasn’t a black out drunk, just a stupid one. I can’t count how many times I made a fool of myself in public. It wasn’t long before I started using methamphetamine. It allowed me to drink as much and as long as I wanted without making a fool of my self until much later. More importantly at the time, it masked the emotional pain. I spent the next 10 years drinking and smoking meth. I built walls between me and anyone -including my children- who didn’t approve of my lifestyle. I became someone even I didn’t recognize. I became involved with a married man who was in a position of authority over me. The shame made it worse. Of course there was the denial. My problems were “everyone else’s fault”. “They” had pushed me to this. I was unhappy & I was mean. There were moments of clarity at night in that place just before sleep where I realized what I had become and longed be the mother I used to be; the person I knew I truly was, but for the most part I had been consumed by a darkness so dense I didn’t know if I ever would be able to find my way out - if I even wanted to...
It all came to an end May 3, 2010. I had met the man I was involved with out of town & as I warming up my car for the ride home; I was also feeding my addiction. There was a knock on my passenger side window. To my shock and horror there stood this man who held my livelihood in his hands. I was caught - red handed. I knew he knew & I was terrified. He didn’t say a word. As I drove home for the next three hours, in my mind I had lost everything, my job, my home, and potential for future employment. The soft underbelly was exposed. That was my bottom. He called later & asked what I had been doing. I tried to deny it, but he knew. I asked if I was fired & he said no, but that I wasn’t allowed back in the building until I went to treatment. I slept for the better part of the next 10 days. I had a few drinks the day before I left for treatment because I didn’t think alcohol was my problem.
I arrived at Sober Living by the Sea on May 13, 2010 for a 90-day stay. I will say this – humility is when your grown kids babysit your detox then drive you to rehab…
Within an hour of arriving, I was at my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. I so remember my walking into that room full of people young enough to be my kids rocking my black BLS hoodie, reading the twelve steps & traditions thinking I’d made a mistake. As the days & weeks went on I got used to the routine of morning meditation, regular meetings and our groups. I began to accept I suffered from a disease and that my addiction was a symptom of deeper issues. I also began to accept that I wasn’t a bad person, just a sick person. At the same time, the differences between those young kids and me began to melt away. Looking back, I learned a lot from them & love them all. I must acknowledge my house manager, Rebecca H. She inspired me with a love, compassion & laughter I didn’t know was possible in sobriety. Thank you….
There is one day I will never forget. I was riding my bike to group & suddenly I noticed the sky. It was a beautiful blue! The seagulls were squawking as they flew by. There were people walking, talking, laughing, enjoying life & there I was! I felt the breeze….. I knew right then and there that the God of my childhood was alive and well and had not forgotten me. In that moment I realized that it was He who had really held my life in His hands all along. I am one of the lucky ones in that relapse has not been part of my story & I credit it to that day when I was reminded of the eternal love and power of our Creator.
That’s not to say there haven’t been challenges in sobriety. It’s not all blue skies and laughter. Like almost everyone I’ve faced financial difficulties, and it’s taken a while for me to “find my tribe” in the program, but I keep going to meetings, talking with my sponsor, working the steps, and most importantly I stay in close contact with my higher power.
I used to cringe when people would talk about how “blessed” and “awesome” their lives were after getting sober. I didn’t believe it then, but I do now. I choose to be positive and have positive people in my life today. Now that I’m sober I am able to enjoy being a mother and grandmother. I have friends whose love and support is not contingent on what they can get from me or what I can get from them.
Today I still feel different, but that’s ok. Acceptance is the key. I am grateful for this second chance at life and I’m determined to make the most of it. Thanks for letting me share.