Words by Ashley Longmire
My journey to sobriety has been twisted, stubborn, and miraculous.
Once upon a time, I could take a drink or leave it. Sometimes, I try to remember what may have flipped that switch. It’s almost impossible to determine, but I still try. Somewhere in my brain, I think that if I can just figure out what made me like this, maybe, just maybe, I can reverse it.
Thankfully, most of my brain knows better.
I was a scared little girl pretending to be a grown-up. Alcohol became the primary vehicle I used to race ahead of the emotions stemming from trauma, abuse, my mistakes, and really, just life. The more I drank, the more it felt like I was racing along the edge of a cliff.
My now deleted Twitter account was a clear indication of my spiral into alcoholism. It started with parenting jokes and devolved into drunk tweets multiple times per week. I “joked” about passing out in the hallway on a Wednesday night, hangovers, sleeping the entire weekend away, and carrying a hidden flask everywhere I went.
My ex-husband got primary physical custody of our children at the final divorce hearing. We settled without a trial for various reasons, and even though I agreed to that arrangement, it tore my heart to pieces. I wasn’t drinking as much as I had been, and had resolved to stick to beer/cider instead of liquor in a vain attempt to moderate my drinking. It worked somewhat, but only in the sense that I didn’t have as many blackouts. I still drank too much, acted a fool, and embarrassed myself on the regular.
The shame was overwhelming. I felt like I didn’t have the “excuse” of going through a divorce to continue drinking like that, but I couldn’t stop even though I wanted to.
One Tuesday night, I picked a fight with my boyfriend after I’d had too much to drink at dinner (and continued my own private party at his home). In my drunken rage, I grabbed my keys and stomped out to my car. My apartment was one mile away, across the highway. I don’t remember anything beyond backing out of his driveway.
The next morning, I woke up with a deep sense of terror and shame permeating my entire body. The tire of my vehicle was up on the sidewalk in front of my apartment. I couldn’t find my phone, and I had slept through a scheduled phone meeting for work. My whole body shook as I struggled to remember how I got to my apartment, why I was in my bed, what had happened.
Drunk driving was one of those things that I had resolved to never, ever do. I probably spent thousands of dollars on taxis over the years, just to follow this rule. It scared me to death. It wasn’t the first broken rule, but it felt like the last straw.
A few weeks later, after weeks of researching alcohol abuse and sobriety, I decided to quit drinking for good. I was tired of feeling helpless and powerless to make any decisions. It's frightening not to know what you will do, when you will do it, or how to control yourself. I didn’t even know the twelve steps at the time, but without knowing it, I had already accepted that I was powerless over alcohol.
At two weeks sober, I walked into AA to ramp up my support system. I also filed for emergency custody of my children, due to some scary situations that started happening with their dad, and I knew that I couldn’t stay sober through that without additional support.
I’m approaching two years sober. The boyfriend and I are now married, and I have sole legal and physical custody of my three children. I changed careers and found my passion in building websites and writing. None of this would be the case if I had continued drinking, and the sky is now the limit.
There will always be that little voice that tells me it was all just a phase, but I banished her to the dungeons in the corners of my memories. My primary job is to not pick up a drink today. Everything else comes after that. As long as I don't pick up a drink, I have a chance to continue improving my life and serving others, and that's what really matters.
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Ashley writes about mental health, recovery, and parenting on her blog at bloominash.com. She lives in Mississippi with her family and dreams of writing a book in the near future. Her hobbies include writing, reading, improving her website building skills, and eating her weight in french fries.