As soon as the news came that I was carrying a child, I was terrified beyond measure. The majority of the fear came from the idea that I would never be able to love her as she deserved. And the rest was the fact that I barely knew how to take care of myself, let alone be handed a fragile life solely dependent on me.
I was only right on one of those notions, for the exact moment she was placed in my hands I actually felt my heartbeat outside of my chest for the very first time. I knew right then, my heart no longer belonged to just me and I was terrified on a whole new level. I didn't want to leave the hospital, I was safe there. She was safe there. I hadn't had alcohol in at over a month and a half.
The first and last drink I had was while I was pregnant with her. I was up north in the middle of nowhere at my sister and brother in law's cabin for a 4th of July party. I went inside to use the restroom and when I realized I was in the home alone my mind went into a dangerous territory.
"It's hot, it's damn hot. I am thirsty. Just one beer won't hurt right? Pregnant women drink wine all the time. It's not that much alcohol content. And it's cold! Ok..just one." Before I knew it, within just a few short minutes the second can was empty in front of me on the counter. My throat hurt from the cold, and I liked it. I loved it and then I went to the bathroom scared as hell.
I wasn't safe in the hospital as I had assumed. The alcohol was brought to me. When my relatives walked in with a gift for me I was shocked and then not shocked that they had actually brought me a fifth of vodka. But I think we were all shocked when I was the one who said, "Yes, open it! Let's have a drink!" Not much longer after that I was outside of the hospital trying to smoke a cigarette and throwing up. I don't know to this day if it was my fear of going home that convinced the hospital to let me stay another night or if it was their fear of letting me go; either way we were both right.
I used to dream of her when I was pregnant and she looked in my dreams exactly as she was at the age of five or six. In my dreams she was always in the passenger seat of my car, looking up, alive, happy, inquisitive and talking to me like she was someone my age, and that was her as well.
You can literally say that she was the daughter of my dreams; and on a daily basis I feared of losing her to something I couldn't control, my drinking. It's not that I didn't want to stop, I wanted to stop desperately. I wanted to raise her perfectly, I wanted to be like all the other mom's. I wanted to be better than my mom, and her mom's mom, and every other one out there because she was the most precious child on earth and deserved it. But the problem was with me.
I didn't feel that I deserved anything good, or beautiful or to be loved; so I let alcohol take over that position in my life. Alcohol became my partner, the body guard for my heart, my best friend, my secret keeper. I would make a promise to myself daily, I will stop quit next week, I will quit next month, I will quit when she starts preschool, I will quit when she first grade. By first grade I had only made it to swapping out the liquor for beer and the only reason for that was because I had an interlock device installed on my car. I would drink as much as I could while still being able to pass the test in the morning so that I could start my car and get her off to school and me to work. But on the weekend mornings I would find myself staring at a counter with 16 empty beers cans on it wondering who the hell came over to drink with me.
By third grade, I was back to alcohol. The problem was, it just wasn't working for me anymore. The drink that had once given me strength, courage, companionship and a comfortable safe zone was no longer doing it's job. I was in terrible shape and I knew it. Even though I had literally lost my faith, I was praying to God every single night to help me with a way out of the addiction. I was tired. I was tired of hiding the bottles, I was tired of taking the trash out in the middle of the night so the neighbors wouldn't know who's bottles they were, I was tired of lying to myself, I was tired of lying to my family and friends and I was tired of always feeling like a failure of a parent and letting my daughter down.
May 8th 2008 was one of the worst days of my life. What I always had feared the most had reared it's ugly head into my reality. I was arrested for my third DUI. My blood alcohol content was a .22 per cent, over three times the legal limit, and my daughter, just eight years old at the time was in the car with me.
Some people will never understand why I say that it was the worst yet best day of my life. Everyone has their own bottom and for some, luckily it's not quite as bad. But for me, this was the day that changed me forever. This was the day that I had to decide it was time to face my demons and journey forward. This was the day that brought me home, brought me back to my daughter and now on to you.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.