Alcoholism is an insidious disease. It is real. It knows no boundaries. It wreaks havoc wherever it goes. It grabs you when you least expect it. It destroys families . . . it destroys lives. . . . I should know—I am an alcoholic.
I come from a family where alcoholism has been rampant on both sides for generations. I saw it take the lives of family members I love, people who were taken much too soon in this life. And then one day it grabbed me. And if it was not for the love of my daughter and son, so wise at young ages, it would have eventually taken me.
Here is a letter I wrote them on June 4, 2012:
Dear Savannah and Steven,
Fifteen years ago this month, at the age of 43, I walked out of the Betty Ford Center, head held high, hopeful about entering “life” a new person, a new mom. Not a single day has passed since that life-altering experience that I have taken my sobriety for granted, that I have not thanked God for you, that I have not thanked Him for another day.
The years leading up to my demise are indelibly marked in my brain, my soul. Nana had passed away in 1990. Your dad and I separated a few months following. You were nine and six years old at the time, two innocent children now products of a broken family. Though I was seemingly carrying on raising you in as healthy and loving way I knew, inside I was drifting, sinking lower and lower into despair, bereft over my mom’s death, shameful of now being “a divorced woman”, and worst of all, the sense of failure as your mom.
As the days and months passed, after you had done your homework and gone to bed, I would reach for a glass of wine to unwind. Over time that one glass became two, three, and ultimately a bottle, or even two. I did whatever it took to deaden my senses, to put myself into a coma-like sleep.
As the years passed, though I tried to hide the glasses, the bottles, you became increasingly aware of my drinking, so much so that out of love, not disgust, you went to my brothers to tell them your mom needed help. That afternoon as I entered your Uncle Will’s house thinking I was coming to a bar-b-q, the silence in the walls spoke loudly. He put his arm around me and brought me into the family room where before me you sat, tears streaming down your faces. Surrounding you were the rest of the family and a pastor, himself a recovering alcoholic. You read a letter to me as to how my alcohol problem had impacted you. I listened intently, heart aching, knowing full well the truth you were speaking.
That very afternoon I walked through the doors of the Betty Ford Center with trepidation, wondering what laid before me for the next thirty days, looking at desperate faces of other men and women, moms and dads, children, wondering what their story was, wondering how they had reached rock-bottom as I had. Though I was in a daze, the one single thing I was sure of was I knew I never wanted to have another drink again, that I would do whatever it took to make that happen. And so my journey began…buried somewhere in my mind was a glimmer of what could be, of hope for a future . . . through adversity would come joy . . . I knew this much. . . .
Through the years I have shared with you how addiction has wreaked havoc on our family from one generation to the next, causing heartache, broken relationships, and often times premature death. Addiction is an insidious disease. It knows no boundaries. I pray that this disease in our family has seen its end.
Today you are adults living solid, healthy lives. Savannah, you are a wonderfully loving wife and mom. Steven, you are a man with a kind, carefree spirit that I so admire. I am so very proud of you both. Without the love you showed me in my darkest hour, I might not be here to write you this letter. I am so blessed to be your mom.
I love you so dearly,
It has been over four years since I wrote that letter to my children and today I am still sober, one day at a time.
I do not take my sobriety for granted. I will never take my sobriety for granted. I could relapse at any given time. I am and will always be eternally grateful to Savannnah and Steven for their unconditional love and support and now I have 3 wonderful grandsons and that love and joy has added so much to my life.
I have so many things to be thankful for. So many family members and friends supported me through my darkest period and continue to support me today. They could have given up on me when I was beginning my rehabilitation period while at the Betty Ford Center but they chose not to. Instead they gave me the love and support I needed, and allowed me to find the strength and courage to save myself. I would never be able to repay them for all the true kindness that they showed me.
Each day is a new opportunity for me to work on and share the gifts and talents that God has given me. When you have been in a dark place and have been given a second chance to see the light as I have, being able to share my story and help others who may have experienced or are experiencing similar difficulties is a true blessing.
If you are suffering from addiction, you are not alone. There is no shame in it. There should be no guilt attached to it. Many people live with this struggle every day and help is out there. Please do not be afraid to ask for it. People are there for you and want to help. Sobriety awaits. Now is the perfect time to Embrace it.