Melissa’s story

RECOVERY STORY OF THE MONTH!

Melissa Z.
Sobriety Date: October 17, 2012

My name is Melissa and I am an alcoholic. My sobriety date is October 17, 2012. I have a sponsor, a home group, and most importantly a God of MY understanding. I think that’s important for people to understand. Everyone’s God doesn’t have to be the same. Mine is ever changing, ever evolving and always understanding.

I grew up in Avon with three younger sisters and parents who loved and cared for me. We always had everything we needed and wanted. We ate dinner as a family every night, we went camping a few times a year, and were always close. I like to stress that because nothing my parents did or didn’t do is why I became an alcoholic. My first drink, that I remember, was sneaking into my Grandma’s liquor cabinet in Florida with my cousin—it was horrible! My first drunk, on the other hand, I was 13 or 14 and loved every second of it. I don’t remember much because I blacked out, which would be how most of my drinking went for the next 21 years. 

I don’t remember much because I blacked out which, would be how most of my drinking went for the next 21 years. 

In my life, drinking was normal. I grew up in Avon with not much to do but drink in fields, bonfires and house parties. Maybe that was just my normal, but it seemed like we all did it. I got my first consequence at 16 when I got an underage consumption ticket. I had to go to four AA meetings, and all I remember about it was dad was pissed he had to go with me. I got decent grades in school, was in sports and a pretty well-rounded kid. I had lots of friends and fit in with everyone.

My drinking took off around 19 when I got my first bar-tending job and I fell in love. I loved the atmosphere, the music, the fighting, the control, all of it…. even the puking on the floor! Every second of it was amazing to me. Along with bartending came other substances. I’ll let you use your imagination there, but I will say there wasn’t anything I wasn’t willing to try. Pretty soon my day job got pushed aside and my “night life” took over. By 21 I lost houses, jobs, cars, self-respect and most importantly myself. My family was seeing issues that I couldn’t and didn’t want to. I didn’t have a problem, everyone did it, everyone I surrounded myself with anyway. 

By 25 I moved back into my parents’ house, pregnant and with a pretty serious alcohol problem.

By 25 I moved back into my parents’ house, pregnant and with a pretty serious alcohol problem. I wish I could say I quit drinking while pregnant, but I can’t. No human power could stop me. Jacob was born healthy in October of 2005, and quickly I went back to my old ways, leaving my parents with a newborn. Most of his childhood is a blur to me. The pain of that alone is enough reminder to me to keep on the path I’m on and stay sober. I was prescribed pain pills after his delivery, and it didn’t take very long for me to become addicted to those. Quickly my life went from bad to worse. I was drinking and/or taking pain pills daily. More jobs were lost, more friends pushed away, and my life slowly turned to me and this baby in a dark room, him feeding himself because I was too sick to get out of bed. Thank god my parents kept him most of the time, or things would have been worse. I just remember feeling so alone, and lost, in a room with a baby and not being able to be a mom. Again, a feeling I never want to forget.

I got pregnant again, and by this time I was addicted to pain pills and couldn’t stop. I called my first rehab, detoxed myself, and off I went. I stayed 89 days. I remember them telling me to stay to have the baby, and I was appalled that they didn’t think I could stay sober—I couldn’t. I had my daughter in December of 2007, and by February of 2008 my fist DUI. I was back and running, living with my parents, two kids now and still doing the same thing. On the night of April 2, 2008, I went out to dinner and drinks with my kids’ father. I came home by midnight, which was early for me and went to bed. My daughter woke up around 2 a.m. and I put her in bed with me, woke up around 6 a.m. and she had passed away throughout the night. The ambulance came and she was life-flighted to Metro. We had to decide to take her off life support around 2 p.m. that day. I remember rocking her and holding her for hours until my dad took her from me.

I left the hospital without my child and an excuse to drink the way I wanted. I gave Jacob to his dad, or my mom—I really don’t remember—and took off.

I left the hospital without my child and an excuse to drink the way I wanted. I gave Jacob to his dad, or my mom—I really don’t remember—and took off. I used anything and everything to not feel, and I walked around in a blur for the next four years. In this time, I won’t get into details, but there were a lot of jails, rehabs, institutions, and horrible living situations. I put myself in situations that were unimaginable, but I was ok with it. I didn’t think I’d ever draw a sober breath again. I didn’t know how to stop, I couldn’t, unless forced, usually by handcuffs and jail cells. It was a horrible existence, but again, I was ok with it. I didn’t know there was any other way. I had lost sight of everything that was important to me. Jacob was gone, to my parents thank god, my daughter was dead, and I had nothing to live for. I missed my nephew’s birth, my sister’s wedding, and plenty of other family events I wasn’t even allowed at. They didn’t want me around anymore, and I couldn’t blame them. Fortunately, I’m one of those alcoholics that can’t die. I tried multiple times and couldn’t. I just had to live in that miserable existence.

My last run was in October of 2012. I woke up in another jail cell unaware of what had happened. It was then that God set into motion a plan I was unaware of. People made phone calls, and I was dropped off in Brookpark, at the Jean Marie House, the women’s house of the Ed Keating center. I was angry and hated the world and definitely didn’t want to be sober. I didn’t think I could be. I didn’t think it was going to work for me. I had tried over and over, and it never worked. I didn’t know that I had to make some changes. God’s timing is everything though, this time I was ready to start listening. This time the pain was great enough, this time was different. 

God’s timing is everything though, this time I was ready to start listening. This time the pain was great enough, this time was different. 

I got a sponsor that I absolutely loved and attempted to listen to. She took me through the steps and taught me what it meant to work the steps and live the steps. She loved me no matter what. I’m sure I was a nightmare, defiant and trying everything my way, before listening to her. I couldn’t even follow simple rules in the beginning. I had to be taught an entirely different way of life than I was used to. It’s not ok to lie and cheat and steal, that’s not normal. My entire existence had to change! I was brought up with morals and values and love, and along the way I had lost all of that. I had turned into a monster and slowly, with the help of my sponsor and the women at the house, that shell I had turned into, slowly started to fill up. I let some women in and got vulnerable, sort of. I allowed people to teach me, guide me, and love me. 

I eventually got a job waitressing and started to see Jacob again. He got to come stay the night with me. All he ever wanted was his mom. I couldn’t see that, I didn’t think I was good enough for him. I went to grief counseling and started to talk about Laney and her death. She died from SIDS at three months old. I wasn’t sure at the time what had happened, and of course in my alcoholic stupor, I blamed myself and used that as an excuse to drink for a long time.

My sobriety hasn’t always been easy, but it’s always been worth it. I met my amazing husband in early sobriety, and we started our family, which was hard being pregnant and newly sober. Again, because of the women in the program, I had help. I waited until I was about two years sober to get custody of Jacob back. He had been through all of my addiction with me, and I didn’t want to cause him any more harm than I had already. I went in front of the same judge who took him away from me more than once, and when asked what’s different, I simply replied “Everything”. Everything had changed, everything MUST change for me to stay sober, people, places and things. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still in there, but it’s only to pass on what I’ve been through and what I do today to stay sober.

I went in front of the same judge who took him away from me more than once, and when asked what’s different, I simply replied “Everything”.

I slowly got to work on relationships with my sisters, make amends and be around them and their kids. I got to be there for my nephew’s birth, the sister’s wedding I had missed. I am also his God Mother. I get to be there for my family today, after all the years I stole from them, I’m there today. My baby sister is getting her Doctorate from USC, and I get to be there. Her dissertation is on the experience of college students in addiction and recovery. She’s managed to steer clear of it all because of watching me and my struggles. That alone is enough for me, to know that my struggle kept her safe. My parents are also a huge part of my life again, my aunt who wouldn’t even let me in her house, let me have my wedding at her house. Today I get to be a mom to three amazing boys, and a wife to an amazing man. I’m forever grateful for Alcoholics Anonymous and the Jean Marie house for showing me how to live again.

Recently I took a position at The Road to Hope in Lorain County, as the Women’s Program Director. I am blessed and humbled that I get to work with Alcoholics daily, and try to share the hope and love I was given in the beginning. Today I get to be part of the solution. I am far from perfect when it comes to my recovery, the only thing I’ve done 100% correct is not take that first drink. Thank God for AA and the 12 Steps which taught me that I get a daily reprieve, I get a fresh start daily, and that is something I can wrap my head around. Just for today, I can stay sober.

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