RECOVERY STORY OF THE MONTH
Sobriety Date: May 12, 2020
My name is Sara G. and I’m an ALCOHOLIC; not something I would’ve admitted, a little over 14 months ago. See, 14 months ago I was just “homeless” and needed a “little help”. But come to find out I suffered from this disease of the mind called alcoholism, and I needed a lot more than just a “little help”. I was told I needed a relationship with a higher power (God); I needed a sponsor; I needed to work a 12 step program; I needed to “listen and do”; and if I did all this, my life would change. It was a lot to take in, but my desperation told me it was worth a shot. I’m happy to say that on May 12, 2020, I let the Jean Marie House and Alcoholics Anonymous welcome me in with open arms, and start me on the journey to make that change.
I grew up in Parma, OH. My parents were married until I was 22, and I was the oldest of three girls. My father was an alcoholic and my mother made sure we knew it! Both were great parents, but they weren’t so great together. Despite a lot of arguing between the two of them, they both provided for, and nurtured, us to the best of their abilities. I attended St. Charles Borromeo for grade school and Holy Name High School. I then went on to receive an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science from Tri-C. I was in Honors classes and constantly reminded I was smart enough to be anything I wanted to be when I grew up; an alcoholic/addict wasn’t exactly my first choice, or any choice at all, for that matter. But unfortunately, certain things in life don’t give you a choice; when my addiction called, I ANSWERED.
I was always a drinker. I remember taking my first sip of my dad’s Busch Beer at the age of three or four years old. It was disgusting but it was wrong, and I liked the thrill of seeing what I could get away with. My first real “drunk” was when I was 13, hanging out with the older kids. I remember feeling free; I could act goofy and like myself without having to try and impress anyone. And everyone thought I was funny! It was great! I had found the cure to my social awkwardness, and alcohol and I became best friends for the next 24 years. I was a weekend warrior for the first 10 years, or so; that drinking schedule seemed to work best with my school schedule, allowing me to keep up with my grades.
At 22 years old I was introduced to bartending. “You mean to tell me, I can go to work, dress up cute, flirt, and get all the attention in the world from numerous men, make $200-300 a night, AND GET DRUNK?! Sign. . . Me. . . Up!!!” That associates degree started collecting dust and just became something I accomplished to appease my parents, because I had no use for it anymore. I was doing big things; I was a bartender now! At 24 I moved to Myrtle Beach, and became a bartender at two of the biggest night clubs at Broadway at the Beach. It was during this time my drinking really took off, and I was losing control. Weekend drinking turned into everyday drinking. Nine times out of ten, I wouldn’t remember how the night ended, how I got home or who I needed to apologize to. I’d wake up with the shakes in the morning, and no matter how many times I showered, I’d still reek of Jager or Tequila all day. The tremors I would get would lead to debilitating panic attacks when I would drive. I would almost pass out at the wheel and have to pull over, making me late for work quite often. Then one day a barback at my job gave me another form of alcohol that he said would give me energy, make me focused, and give me a sense of euphoria that would hopefully rid me of my panic attacks. . . This was the moment I had arrived! Unfortunately, it wasn’t something I could get my hands on often because you needed a prescription, or you needed to know someone who had one. So it was a short-lived “cure”, until about 6 months later, after I moved back to Cleveland.
When I moved home, in 2011, I got a good job at 5/3 Bank and was bartending on the weekends. A few months later, I was reintroduced to that same form of alcohol that I loved so much, and shortly after was given instructions on how to go about getting my own prescription for it. This became a seven-year run of doctor shopping and spending hundreds of dollars a month on the street. As my tolerance went up, so did my need for more. My prescribed amount wasn’t cutting it anymore. I never saw a problem with it though. I barely drank anymore, and when I did, mixed with my prescription, I could, all of a sudden, drink “responsibly”; I didn’t black out anymore. I lost weight (because I’d forget to eat!) and thought I looked great! And after all, it was prescribed, so I must really need it. In my eyes, I was doing nothing wrong.
During this span of time, I started working at a bar and shortly after started dating the owner. A few months later, I was pregnant. I was scared, but excited. I just knew I’d be a great mom. I stopped drinking and found a baby doctor that would co-sign me staying on my prescription. Perfect! The bar owner and I got a house together, and I started preparing to be a mom. I had my son in December of 2012. It was the best day of my life! The following months became snuggling my baby, singing lullabies, going on walks in the park, reading bedtime stories, zoo trips and overtaking my medicine daily because I needed that extra energy to be the SuperMom I was striving to be! The relationship, between his dad and I, became very verbally and emotionally abusive and we separated. A five-year, off-and-on, grueling custody battle followed. I was self medicating and drinking more than ever to numb the pain, and ended up getting pregnant with my daughter during this time. So here I am, a single mother of a toddler and an infant now, trying to work, find babysitters I couldn’t afford, keep up with bills from my custody attorneys and pay for my growing addiction. My life and my mind was rapidly spinning out of control. I eventually lost my job, lost my house, lost my car, lost family and friends, and lost both of my children. That pain was indescribable. I remember there were moments I could barely breath and didn’t know how I would get through another day. Didn’t my family and the courts know how much I love my kids?! I would do ANYTHING for them; anything, but put down my drugs and alcohol.
The next two years, became living in roach and mice infested trap houses; donating plasma twice a week as my only form of income because I couldn’t hold a job; not eating for 3 days because food was not a priority; manipulating my father for money; wondering why I had five different restraining orders against me; running from the police; walking for miles in snowstorms with everything I now owned crammed into a book bag. I even got shot one night, in a drug deal gone bad, and almost died. You think that would’ve scared me straight, but no. I eventually graduated to a stronger, illegal, street form of the prescription I had been on all those years. And yet, I still didn’t see that I had a problem. This drug took over my mind completely. I thought everybody was out to get me. It got so bad that I felt safer walking the streets and staying a night with strangers, then I did at the trap houses I had lived at the last two years. In March and April of 2020 I was in five different psych wards, and one psych ward even sent me to a homeless shelter for mentally ill people!
I am from Parma. I came from a good family. I went to church every Sunday. I attended a Catholic school my whole life. I was a bartender in Myrtle Beach for four years. I have a college degree. I am a Mother! HOW THE HELL DID I GET HERE?! HOW DID MY LIFE GET LIKE THIS?!
Mother’s Day weekend of 2020, my dad asked if he could come see at the hotel my dope boy was paying for me to stay at. I hadn’t seen my dad in months. He was currently living at a men’s treatment center and eight-months sober. He knew I needed help, so he brought me up lunch, sat down in the lobby with me, and asked me if I would please go to this place called the Jean Marie House. I was so defeated and beaten down, I didn’t even hesitate to say yes. I was so sick and tired of living the way I had been living.
The Jean Marie House and A.A. saved my life and forever changed me. I’ve been sober for over 14 months now, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m genuinely happy again and have my mind back. I have peace in my life; not chaos. I have a job at a skilled nursing facility, where I was able to get my license as a state-tested nursing assistant. I’ve never been late for work once! I saved up to buy a car. I actually have money in a bank account again. My family actually talks to me again. I’ve made forever friendships with other women who share the same story as me. I have an amazing Sponsor and I get to sponsor another struggling alcoholic now! I’m not the one always needing the help anymore; I actually get to pay it forward! I’ve been taught how to express and talk about my feelings in a healthy manner, instead of numbing them with a substance. I have a relationship with my children again and get to see them regularly. I don’t have custody of them yet, but I know if I trust in God and continue to incorporate the 12 steps into my daily life, I will, again, one day.
If you’re struggling, I want you to know there is help. Give it a shot. I promise you won’t regret it. You’re worth it!