Learning to live Sober…
I never thought that I would end up sober. I never thought I would end up needing to get sober. How did it happen? When did an unhealthy relationship with myself turn into an even unhealthier relationship with drugs and alcohol?
The first years…..
I am a Korean Adoptee, that was adopted by a childless American couple at 9 1/2 months old. I never formed a bond with them, and even though they’d probably never openly admit it, I believe they also struggled with forming a true parent-child bond with me.
As an adult who is now a parent, looking back, I will say that they had unrealistic expectations and were overly critical of me. They were “religious” to the highest extreme and used their religious beliefs to control my every thought & move. Both parents were egocentric and narcissistic.
Around age 4, I started displaying signs of mental illness. I was a highly stressed, worry-prone and anxious child. I would break out in hives often and my O.C.D. started to disrupt my life while I was in Kindergarten.
I was sexually abused by age 5, by a non-family member, but didn’t feel safe to tell anyone. The physical and emotional/mental abuse began at home around the same time. I suffered silently. I always felt different. I always felt alone. I always felt like something was missing. I desperately sought out a connection with others but did not know how to create & maintain a healthy relationship, since I had never experienced love or connection with anyone. I so badly wanted to fit in, but as an adoptee, my life was one big identity crisis.
I’m an 80’s kid who grew up when the “Just Say No” ad campaign & the U.S. “War on Drugs” was most prevalent. What I learned at school, was reinforced at home. I was told to say no to drugs and not to fall to peer pressure, but there was never any real education as to what drugs I would come in contact with and why I should say no, other than you would “fry your brain” as taught via the popular video that showed an egg frying in a frying pan. I have always been a curious person. I always searched for certainty and facts. To be honest, it just made me more curious.
Let the experimenting begin…
I smoked my first cigarette at age 12. I was scared & it really wasn’t a pleasant experience, but I remember feeling this rush of excitement as I did something on my own free will. I remember feeling cool. I remember feeling in control for once in my life.
At age 13, I was offered Marijuana for the first time. I didn’t feel pressured and since I had never been given any substantial reason to say no, other than I would get in trouble. I said decided to try it and see what it was really about. The first time I got high, I felt like I was floating. I was numb to the pain & stress I had felt my entire life. It was a great feeling. It was like a mental vacation for me. I couldn’t understand why they said drugs were so bad because I felt relief for the first time.
After that, I got addicted to the feeling – the thrill of doing something I wasn’t supposed to, feeling like I belonged to the “in-crowd” and having an escape. Pot led to experimenting with alcohol. I got braver and started drinking during lunch while I was in high school. I thought that I was cool and that my friends & boys would like me better.
I could no longer endure the abuse & the terms in which I was living in so left home at age 15. It felt good to be free and be free, but being on my own at that young age came with so many more challenges and A LOT of guilt from my parents.
I started drinking every night. I had a milk crate full of hard liquor. I would spend my weekends drinking a 12-pack of Budweiser along with a fifth of Jose Cuervo. This led to so many poor choices revolving around men, getting involved with the wrong crowds and heavier use.
Becoming responsible for someone other than myself..
My drug and alcohol use came to a screeching halt when I found out I was pregnant with my first child at age 18, but it didn’t take long to return to using alcohol to numb the pain. I struggled with an off-and-on relationship with drugs and became more dependent on alcohol as the years flew by. Drugs and alcohol only provided a temporary fix to my mental anguish and false happiness but left me with a history of bad decisions, failures and a lot of shame. Recreational drug use became habitual drug use. The problem was that I was a functioning drug addict. No one knew. I still went to work. I still took care of my responsibilities. I was a “highly functional druggie”. I could hold conversations, perform my job duties higher than a kite and no one could ever tell. I felt even more in control of my life, knowing that I could find relief to my pain, overcome my social anxiety, and hide what a mess I truly was.
My vehicle for change arrived…
In 2012, I found myself completely lost once again, back at rock bottom and that is when I stumbled across someone and something that would change my life. I found Becky Brossett who introduced me to fitness. I found a new crowd, which consisted of people who were positive, high achievers and pushed me to be a much better version of myself. I started taking care of myself and stopped smoking and stopped drinking. I started overcoming my past. I started to become a better person and forgive myself for the mistakes I had made in the past. I realized I did the best that I could with what I had. I started helping others, which helped me heal myself. The downside to that was that I started to lose myself in others problems. I started to become more of a people pleaser and found myself neglecting my needs to try to fix others.
Opening up doors that have remained locked…
I also had found a new sense of confidence and started digging into my adoption. Searching for my birth family, connecting with other Korean Adoptees and taking a DNA test unlocked some doors that had never been opened and I found myself in a deep dark depression. I tried to ignore it and my drinking became heavier and heavier. Feeling numb to my pain became the thing I searched out the most.
The shit hits the fan …
Mid-2015, everything came crashing down around me. 2 days after my sons 5th birthday, on June 9th, I found myself facing my 3rd divorce as my husband of 6 years and I were separated and my 2 oldest children moved in with their Dad. I was homeless, living in someone else’s home on an air mattress with my son. I had hit rock bottom once again and couldn’t find any reason to pick myself back up again. I didn’t have the strength.
After a life-changing event, my husband started an intense out-patient treatment program to treat his PTSD. He started to find peace and answers to his problems. He kept encouraging me to do the same as he learned more about mental illness, realizing he had missed all the signs I had displayed for the 8+ years we had been together.
Finally, at the end of August 2015, I checked myself into the same mental health facility, as an inpatient. The day I voluntarily checked myself in, I was suicidal and completely hopeless & lost.
7 days later, I was discharged with a new mindset, new lease on life and a new set of coping skills. I continued treatment as an inpatient for several weeks. While in therapy, it became apparent to the therapists that I had formed a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol and was still abusing it as a coping mechanism. I was encouraged to take a look at my behavior and make a decision to change it. It was also pointed out that my anxiety and depression medications became less effective with alcohol consumption.
I wasn’t ready to admit that I had a problem, but by the end of September, I stopped ignoring how much control alcohol had over my life and how it was negatively affecting my life. I set the goal to only drink 5 times in the month of October. I reserved my “partying time” for the end of October because I had plans to visit Miami for a few days.
The night the straw broke the camels back…
When we arrived in Miami, it was customary to party with our Floridian friends and we were there to celebrate a friends achievement and it just happened to be my husbands 39th birthday. On October 24, 2015, we started drinking early, pre-gaming before the event that began at 5 p.m. We started with beer and red-bull and vodka since we knew we had to stay awake because we had planned to have an after-party at Scarlett’s, our favorite Club in Miami. We continued to drink bottle after bottle of Grey Goose from 5 until we arrived at the Club. (I can’t even remember when we arrived at the Club because I was already so wasted.) I have very limited memory of the time spent at the Club. We left around 2 a.m., but I don’t remember even leaving, although there was a picture of me awake as we waited for the car from the Valet. The next morning I woke up feeling disoriented and not fully aware of my actions from the night before. I felt so much shame and regret. I could not think coherently. I felt brain dead. I declared once and for all on my friends couch that I didn’t ever want to feel this way again. I shared on Facebook that I made the decision to get sober.
I have not had a sip of alcohol since around 2 a.m the morning of October 25, 2015. It hasn’t been easy, but I believe getting sober was the best birthday present I could ever give my husband and the best gift I could give my children and myself.
Getting sober has been challenging in ways I never imagined. It has been humbling & extremely eye-opening on so many levels. I have had to learn who the real me is for the first time in my life. I have had to create new habits and routines. I have had to re-evaluate relationships I had. I have had to 100% feel all the feelings that I had ignored and avoided my whole life. I have had to rediscover how to do everything sober. I have had to remind myself nearly every day why I can never go back to drinking..because that one drink today would easily become a case of beer, maybe not in a month, but most definitely within 6 months.
I have held myself publicly accountable and shared my journey openly since day 1, which at first, much to my surprise inspired and influenced others to take a look at their relationship with alcohol and decide to start their sobriety journey too. If it weren’t for the sober community, which turns out to be bigger and more supportive than I ever imagined, I could not have made it as far as I have. I am thankful for everyone who has supported me and kept me inspired along my journey to staying 100% sober. I now can say I am truly living life to its fullest and all my fears that I felt regarding sobriety were completely invalid.
Because of this, I have decided to pursue a Life Coach and Recovery Coach Certification so I can continue to pay it forward.
If you are reading this story and any of it resonates with you, let’s connect. You are not alone. We are not alone. If I can get sober, anyone can. I promise it’s worth it.