What does an alcoholic look like??? – Christa L.

A huge thank you to Christa for being the first contributing writer to GetSoberBitch!  I am so thrilled you reached out to me and wanted to share your story of alcoholism.  I truly appreciate the honesty and openness you had in our conversations yesterday and look forward to having more updates as to your progress and your encouraging thoughts about sobriety and recovery.

I don’t know how to begin sharing my story…but let me start by introducing myself.  I am a “newly-turned” 31-year-old mother of a rambunctious 4 year old daughter and one adorable baby boy who is 11 months old.

Alcohol, in one form or another, has been a part of my life for the past 14 years.  At first, I didn’t realize I had a problem – and once I did, I felt like it was too late.  I have been arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct a few times and was able to pick up a few DWI charges as well.

When I was ordered to go through my first treatment program I was resistant.  “I did not have a problem with drinking”, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But as the classes went by and I spent night after night wide awake in that empty room I realized a few things about myself.  I thought I might suffer from depression, but I had never gotten medical help for it.  I used alcohol as a coping mechanism and through the therapy sessions forced upon me during my stay, I desperately wanted to get rid of my problem.

The only time I have stayed sober for an extended time was over the 9 months I was pregnant with my daughter and even then it was very hard.  I thought about alcohol throughout the whole pregnancy and I couldn’t wait to start drinking again.  As excited as I was about having my baby, it was the thoughts about finally being able to drink again that really kept me going.  I celebrated in the maternity ward the evening after my daughter was born with a bottle of champagne, meant for us to take home, and a 6 pack of Bud Light.

It is true, I had my first drink in the hospital; my ex husband brought the beer for us to celebrate and the champagne had been a take home gift.  I waited until my ex fell asleep and couldn’t hold out any longer.  Opening the bottle was a struggle, but using the various medical tools available in the room, I was able to crack it open and quench my thirst.  I was breastfeeding at the time, so I wasn’t supposed to have much.  That night I didn’t even think about my new baby, only myself.  Truth be told, I only breastfed my daughter for 3 months because I wanted to drink more often. I felt ashamed everyday, but somehow I just couldn’t put the bottle down.

Alcohol addiction has kept me separated from my family.  My isolation began while on maternity leave the first time and just continued even when I returned to work.  I came home and began drinking before I even started dinner.  When I became pregnant withe my son I hid the pregnancy for months so I could keep drinking and then pretend I had no idea I saw the positive pregnancy tests months before and had already heard the heartbeat of my second baby.

I drank off and on throughout the rest of my pregnancy and this led to many fights with my now ex husband.  I just didn’t care enough to try and save my marriage or care for my daughter.  This eventually led to our divorce.  I felt like I had lost my

worth as a human being – and as a wife mother – due to alcohol.  Everyday was painful, knowing that my little ones would never grow up living with a mom and dad who were together but this still wasn’t enough hurt to stop my alcoholism.

I sometimes thought about ending my life, but the leaving my children motherless was too much.  Everyone outside of my marriage believed I was an amazing mother just doing the best I could after my ex left.  The “shit hit the fan” when I was arrested for a second DWI and I had to call my parents this time, not my husband, to pick me up from jail.  I remember the shame I felt when I saw them and the fact that children’s service was now involved was the tipping point for me.

I had a lot of people fooled.  My daughter was the happiest child you have ever come across and my son was a beautiful newborn.  I wanted to be able to lead a normal life, keep my children, and find relief from my isolating, crippling depression.  With the help of my parents, I went into a treatment program again and this time my attitude was different.  I had to do it to keep my children and my sanity.  I was really ready to deal with my depression and find help for my alcoholism.

To be honest, I wish I would have waited to have my children until after I overcame my problem.  The hard part was that I did not recognize I had a problem at all.  I wish my ex husband would have held a mirror up to my face when I could not and drug me to counseling, but he didn’t.  My family deserved my undivided attention and I just could not distract myself from the bottle long enough to see that I was the one who abandoned them first.

I’m a recovering alcoholic single mother of two children now. My hope for the future is to make it to 1 year of sobriety and keep going from there.  The other day, my social worker said I could have a career in being a social worker because I understand children’s needs. If she only knew everything that really happened.  Her thoughts do give me encouragement and hope for the future though.  If other women in my situation can learn from my mistakes and struggles, that is who I want to help.  I am 8 months sober today and taking classes part time in social work.  I never thought I would live with my parents again, but they are a strong support system for me and their patience is amazing.

I’m sharing my story to figure out how I can offer help to others.

I want to be free. I will not give up on myself.

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