Sunday, March 7, 2010

From That First Night

**Submitted by Jane

"You're a horrible mother."
"You messed up again."
"You do everything wrong."
"Everyone would be better off without you."

These are the kinds of thoughts that have rolled incessantly through my head for as long as I can remember. I have always known that I am a fuck-up. A failure. No good. Despite that knowledge, I always strove for perfection; and I always failed to achieve it. Sometimes that failure made me try harder, but most of the time it just made me hate myself that much more.

I never had many friends in school, I was always the loner, the loser, the weirdo. But my freshman year I found friends and acceptance. One night I was out with those oh-so-cool friends and they introduced me to pot and wine coolers. I thought I was flying. I lay on a bed in a stranger's apartment and swore I saw heaven. And for that short time I didn't worry about being perfect. I didn't have to watch every word I said, every move I made. I felt free.

Now, nearly 7 months into my sobriety I realize I was an addict from that first night. But back then I just thought I had arrived. I was cool, I had friends, I went to parties, I "knew" what the straight people never would. I thought they were pathetic, those non-druggies, passing up a straight line to heaven all for the sake of normalcy. What I wouldn't give now to go back and live my life the way they did. Normalcy would have been a small price to pay to not spend so many years in hell.

College was when I really discovered drinking. Drugs were still my preference, but they were harder to get, and alcohol was everywhere. I drank to black out most nights. Half-way through my freshman year, I was raped at a frat party because I was too drunk to fight. You would think that would've stopped me, but I just used it as an excuse to drink and drug 24/7. I stopped going to classes, went from straight A's in high school to nearly flunking out. I didn't care; at least that's what I told myself. But I did care. I was disgusted with my behavior, and I drank to push down those feelings too. Ah, the insanity of this disease.

The years after college were the darkest of my life, all thanks to alcohol.

I thought once I moved on to my new life as a wife and mommy I would automatically get better. After all, mommies don't drink. Mommies are perfect. They keep a beautiful home, cook 4 star meals and have clean, well mannered, intelligent children. They work and they volunteer their time and they bake cupcakes for school and they throw magnificent birthday parties and still manage to be skinny and gorgeous. They are what I could never manage to be, and once again I had all the reason in the world to hate myself.

Oh, I put on a pretty picture. I made sure that everyone outside my home thought I was the perfect wife and mother. I gorged myself on all the "How do you do it all?" and "Jane is so amazing" and "You are such a good mom" compliments. But inside my head I knew it was all fake. In my head I knew I was a horrible granddaughter for not writing my grandma a thank-you letter when she sent me $5 for my birthday. I knew I was a terrible daughter for not making photo albums of my babies to present to my parents. I knew I was the worst mom ever because I forgot to get my daughter's ice skates sharpened. I knew I did everything, absolutely everything, wrong.

This litany of self-abuse could only be quelled by alcohol. When I had that glass of wine, everything got better. My edges softened and I could flow around things instead of grating against them. I could be a better, more patient mom. A kinder, more loving wife. If only I could stop at that glass, everything would have been perfect.

But I never could.


  1. So much of this hit home. So much. The not able to fight back because of drinking...
    And the quest to be perfect, to appear to be able to do it all, motherhood escalates that, doesn't it?
    7 months! That's incredible :)
    Thank you for sharing...

  2. This hit home for me too. Jeez. It's crazy to me how we are all alike in so many ways.

    I'm with Corinne, 7 months! That is truley something to be proud of. You go momma!

  3. Jane, i'm with you; i think i was an alcoholic from that very first drink. for me as well, i soared! i flew! i was finally able to let my guard down and just be ... inhibitions fell. the struggle for perfection is a dance i've done as well. sobriety has shown me a new me, as i'm sure it is doing to you. a me that lets the little things go. a me that knows i'm a good mom, even if every pair of my sons' jeans are dirty on a school day morning. ;)

    i'm proud of you. 7 months is wonderful Mama. :) enjoy BEING you. :)

  4. I read this and I just hate those lies. The lies in your head that told you how horrible you are. I hope that with sobriety, you also find that those voices are silenced. Or at least silenced more often...I don't know that we ever fully escape them...we just learn to fight back.

    Thank you for sharing your story.


  5. I found that alcohol *brought on* those voices af failure as a mother, and it wasn't until I stopped drinking that I finally starting acepting myself, positives and negatives. But, looking back, I was hooked on the first drink, and like you, thought I had just arrived.

    If only we could be normal with just one drink.

    Thank you for sharing this, and thank you for sharing your 7 months with us all out here. It is so wonderful to hear others share their stories. Especially the ones that hit so close to home.

  6. Jane, thank you for sharing this. . . our life stories are amazingly similar. I was a "misfit" in school, until college where I learned alcohol quieted the self-hating demons in my head. For the last 18 years, I consistently self-medicated with alcohol and suppressed my insecurities, depression and anxiety.

    Now in therapy (and on new meds), I am 36 days sober and trying to find my self-worth. Still fighting the negative voices, but at least I am not trying to self-destruct with alcohol in the process. I am slowly learning that being "imperfect" is okay, it is what makes me human.

    You are extremely brave to be 7 months sober. . . you cannot change the past, but only deal with the present and look forward to the future.

    Again, thank you for sharing your story. An inspiration for me.

  7. Jane -
    Congratulations on 7 months. That is phenomenal.

    The days that I can remember that being "perfect" is not in my job description are always the easier days. Thank you for the reminder.

  8. I see myself in you. Last year I finally realized that depression had been fueling alcoholism as alcoholism was fueling my depression. When I started taking Prozac my life changed. It was only after the depression began to lift that I realized my drinking was such a huge part of it. I also realized that I would never be able to heal if I continued drinking.

    It's only been 8 days for me, but I never thought life without depression and alcohol could exist. The fears and doubts I have now are still powerful, but at least all of me is here to fight. 7 months is amazing. Thank you for sharing your story.

  9. Anon at 12:41am: Congratulations on your 8 days! I can relate to the depression/alcoholism cycle. I've had depression my whole life too, and it's amazing how much finally treating that with medication has helped me. I always thought I could do it without meds, until my doctor told me flat out "your brain chemicals are imbalanced, and no amount of therapy will balance them. only medicine can do that."

    To everyone, thank you so much for your supportive comments. It's wonderful to have this community.

  10. Thank you for leading me to this community and for being so honest and eloquent with your feelings. "It only works when we give it away". 7 months! I'm so proud of you. XO

  11. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

    I have an intimate knowledge of that voice, of that relentless flogging.

    Thank you for sharing this.