Archive for January 2013

You Are Perfect to Me

A lot of times my anxiety is worse than my depression.  My walk-in closet always reflects my mental state, and right now it’s a mess.  It’s not even that things are going badly…things are going relatively well…very well, actually.  The thing is…

I’m so afraid I’ll screw it up.

I have a lot of writing jobs right now; I’m busier than ever.  I also just accepted a long-term sub job teaching English and literature, my specialties, but I’ve always had insecurities about my abilities.  I think I’m a good teacher…I just doubt myself at the same time.

I am constantly exhausted…thinking all the time wears my brain out.  I’ve always had insomnia issues, and when I’m super busy, like now, I just can’t shut my brain off at night.  I hate it.  I tell myself to stop worrying, that it’ll all be okay.  I relax a little bit sometimes when I tell myself that, but it doesn’t always work.

Maybe I should get back into yoga…sip more chamomile tea…I don’t know.  I have Ativan, but because of my addiction issues, I try not to take it.  I always wonder if there are more natural ways to soothe my anxiety.  I have always been this way.  My 7-year-old carries a dragon around with her wherever she goes.  I had a worry stone when I was her age.

Of course, the depression and anxiety are linked.  When I’m anxious, it depresses me.  I so wish I knew what it felt like to have a “normal” brain.

I try to fake confidence, and I think it works usually.  I just long for the day when it’s real, and not an act.  Will that day ever come?  I wonder if others feel this way.  Like, does Oprah ever feel this way?  It doesn’t seem possible.

I try to think of myself in third person.  What would I tell myself if I were somebody else?  I’d tell this girl to relax.  You are fine.  You are loved.  You don’t need to worry.

Someday maybe I’ll believe this for myself.


Thank You

I want to thank a few people.

My life was a mess for a long time.  It was my fault, but I didn’t see it.  I was unhappy…miserable, even.  I didn’t understand what my purpose was.  I felt lost…trapped in my own life that I didn’t want to be a part of anymore.

I have friends who have been there before everything went down, so I won’t thank all of them in detail here, though I want them to know how much I love and appreciate them.  Now I just want to thank some people who seemed to enter or re-enter my life at the exact right time.

First, Dr. Mike Wuebker.  He is my counselor.  I credit him for saving my marriage.  He was our counselor before Andy and I got married, as I wanted to enter holy matrimony with no unresolved issues, and we had issues.  Dr. Mike is amazing.  There’s no other way to put it.  He is real, down-to-earth…he gets through to people.
He got through to me.

I wasn’t completely honest with him for a while. I wasn’t lying, but I was withholding information.  Not even on purpose…I just couldn’t see or face what some of the real problems were.  Though Andy and I have gone together to see him many times, I started going alone for a while, as the issues seemed to center on me.

He’s made me understand what a marriage should be.  I’ve owned up to many things, including my drinking.  I’ve called him at times, when things were going on that couldn’t possibly wait until I got in to see him.  He talked me through my first panic attack, when I was sure I was dying.  

He’s a wonderful counselor, and I recommend him to everyone.  I recommend counseling to everyone…it’s changed my life.  He’s changed my life.  So thank you, Dr. Mike.

I also want to thank Dr. Kent Young.  I met him when I started teaching at a college in Ft. Wayne.  I’d heard people mention his name but had no idea who he was until one day when I was talking to someone in the cubicles and I saw this man with a ponytail and some flavored cigars on his desk.  So, of course, I liked him right away.  

I started talking to him on smoke breaks, and those ten-minute increments changed my life.  Maybe it sounds cheesy…but he’s like an angel sent to Earth…you can’t get to know him and not be changed for the better.  He has given me so many thoughts to ponder…I also credit him with salvaging my marriage, as Andy and I were going through some rocky times when I taught at that school.  You see, Kent isn’t one of those people, who when they ask, “How are you?” and you give the obligatory, “Fine,” in response, they simply accept it and walk away.  Some days when I’d see him and he’d ask, “How are you?” and I would say, “Fine,” he’d say, “You don’t look fine.”  I was transparent to him.  He’s intuitive, and while he’s in general brilliant, he is also highly emotionally intelligent.  He was the one person at work I trusted.
I started sitting in on one of his classes, as when I started teaching at this school I had a five-hour break, working a split. Watching him teach is like watching a magician.  A good magician.  He’s not an instructor who puts students to sleep.  He is highly engaging.  I learned a lot.

I recently got to meet his family, and while I got an idea of how special they were whenever he talked about them, I now fully understand it.  His wife is beautiful, as are his children, and his marriage is one which serves as the ideal model for all couples.  Sure, they’ve had problems like the rest of us…but their philosophies on marriage and their faith has bonded them in a way not every couple experiences.  Kent has been one of the biggest influences in my entire life.  I think everything happens for a reason, and I think I met him for a reason.  He’s caused me to grow as a person.  And now I feel so blessed to have met his family…they’ve also changed me for the better.  They are such special people.  Thank you so much, Kent.  And thank you, Janelle, Sophia, and Caleb.

I want to thank Phil Atkins.  First of all, as he always jokingly reminds me, he plucked me from obscurity and made me famous.  Ha…he did offer me the job that’s changed my life more than anything in terms of finding my purpose.  I think I’m still evolving…I think we’re always evolving…but I really did feel lost and unsure…of everything…until he asked me to write for the We Care People.  This is hands down the best job I’ve ever had in my life.  It’s my dream job come true.  

Phil is hilarious.  As hilarious as he is smart, and he’s a genius.  He has a comeback for whatever you throw at him.  I’m pretty good in that department, but I can’t keep up most of the time.  I work for him, but I also consider him a friend.  He’s also dispensed some valuable advice when it comes to marriage (it really does take a village) and he is completely non-judgmental.  He is fabulous.  He’s saved my life.

Now that I work for someone so incredible, I’m just afraid of letting him down…I want to do a great job, something to be proud of…so that’s something that’s ongoing.  I’m just not used to working for someone whose opinion I really value.  It still seems too good to be true that I get to collaborate with such an amazing person, such an amazing team of people.  I feel so lucky.

I’m just feeling very grateful today, and I want the people who have made an impact and a tremendous difference in my life to know that.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


This is sad.  Death is an inevitable part of life.  That doesn’t necessarily make it any easier.  Even though it is usually sad, I think often it is deep down a good thing…like when a person has lived a full, long life, and it is simply his or her time.

It is my grandma’s time.

Yes, of course it is sad.  I have already cried many times.  I love her so much.  She has taught me a lot over the years.  She has taught me how to be gracious, kind…how to laugh…I will think of her always whenever I see a box of Vanilla Wafers.  She kept a steady supply of them in the bottom kitchen drawer.

Despite the melancholy that I feel right now, I also feel a sense of peace.  When my grandpa died, it was a serene time.  Again, I was unbelievably sad…it was the first time I ever lost anyone really close to me…but he was ready.  He also led a long, full, amazing life, and he was ready to meet his maker…to once again be reunited with his siblings.  And I believe he is watching over me.  I feel him sometimes, and it comforts me.

My grandma is ready to be reunited with my grandpa again.
I can feel it.  Even though I cry as I type this, and it’s hard to see the words in front of me because the tears blur my vision, I know this is not a tragedy.  She is not being taken before her time; she is being taken at the right time.  It could still be weeks…months, even.  It could be tonight.  It’s not up to us.  It’s up to God.

This is where my faith steps in once again…how do we know there’s a Heaven?  We don’t.  I just believe.  I believe when I see a beautiful sunset.  I believe when I get a big smile from my kids.  I believe when I reflect on how wonderful my grandma is, when I remember all the fun things we did and how she tipped her head back when she laughed at something funny.  She’s always loved Thomas Kincaid, and in her soft voice she would utter appreciation anytime she gazed at one of his works.  She’s always possessed a softness and grace that also came through anytime she would play the piano, for church or at home.  Her love for the Lord came through in every note.

My grandma has sometimes been a little hard to handle, and any one of her daughters or my grandpa would agree.  I mean this with a smile, though.  We’ve always laughed at the way she could be difficult while still being completely lovable.  We love her unconditionally, no matter how trying she can be.  She’s lived through the Great Depression, World War II while being separated from my grandpa…she built up a hardness, I believe, from going through trials I could never dream of experiencing. While this is true, she’s also always understood when I’ve expressed my feelings to her.  She is simply a product from a different time period, that is all.  She’s developed a rock hard strength over the years, and though it’s been incredibly difficult to watch her deteriorate, it is a part of life.  We don’t understand and we ask God why we have to watch our loved ones suffer and die.  It is so hard.

I want to remember my grandma as the vibrant, loving person she’s always been.  I remember sitting in my parents’ hot tub with her when we first got it, and I jokingly asked her she didn’t wear a bikini.  “I don’t have any boobs!” she said, laughing.  She’d had a double mastectomy because of breast cancer.  I remember when the movie Dirty Dancing came out and my grandma said, “It’s like sex with your clothes on!”  I remember thinking it was a magic trick that she could take her teeth out and I wondered why I couldn’t do the same with mine.  I remember spending weekends with her and Grandpa, listening to “Jukebox Saturday Night” or her favorite song, “Sentimental Journey,” on a cassette tape in the car.  She sang along in her soft soprano voice, and I could detect somewhere in there the memories the song conjured up for her. 

Memories.  She is still with us, but she is not the same.  Hospice has been called in.  Soon we will have nothing but memories of her, but I do firmly believe that the time has come for her to be with my grandpa again.  It’s time for her to once again, as we all teasingly say, “nag him” in Heaven, saying, “Russell!”  Right now all we can do is believe.  Believe in a higher power, believe in a higher plan, and believe that we will always feel her with us like I feel my grandpa.  We will feel her with a sunset, with the sound of wind chimes, or with a gentle rainfall.  And one sweet day we will be with her again.  

I love you, Grandma.  Always and forever.

Being Bipolar

I am bipolar.  

There are so many preconceived notions out there about this disorder.  Let me clear a few things up.

First of all, I hear people all the time talk about how being bipolar means you’re unbelievably happy one second, and then super pissed the next, yelling and slamming doors or something.  Well, that’s not how it is for me.  For me, it means that for days at a time, I’m manic, which means I feel “high.”  I feel so energized, like I’ve just had way too many Red Bulls, even though I haven’t.  I can’t stop doing.  Doing anything, doing something, doing five things at once, doing ten things at once, doing a thousand things at once.  Doingdoingdoing.

I’ll clean the house furiously as if my life depends on it.  And it’s never enough.  I can’t stop.  My thoughts are racing.  I can’t sleep.  I write.  I write.  I write.  The thoughts come so fast and furiously that I can’t write them down as soon as they flash through my brain.  And I have to write them down.  I have to.  I have to or something bad will happen.  At least, that’s how it feels.  Like my world isn’t complete unless I write these thoughts down.  I can’t explain it.  So I either update Facebook or I type in a Word document or I scribble in the notepad I keep in my purse.

I feel euphoric.  But it’s uncomfortable.  Nothing is enough.  I need.  I want.  I need.  I want.  It’s still so hard for me not to drink.  Because being manic means I want something, anything, some sort of substance or vehicle that takes me higher and higher and higher.  It’s never enough.  I talk too much.  I say before I think.  I don’t want to.  It’s like I can’t control it.

I am impulsive.  Shopping.  I have to go shopping.  I don’t think about the consequences.

I can’t sleep.  The thoughts are racing faster.  I am entering a “mixed state.”  I am high and low at the same time.  I feel guilty.  I am a bad mother.  I am a terrible wife.  At least, that’s where my thoughts go.  I’ll never be good enough.  I am a bad person.
The insomnia leads to mania which leads to insomnia.  It’s a vicious cycle.

Once the mania finally wears off, I am depressed.  My body aches.  I weigh a thousand pounds.  I can’t eat.  I can’t shower.  Why bother?  We’re all going to die anyway.

There is an emptiness, an aching, a longing deep within my soul. I can't fill it. How do I fill it? I cry. I cry at everything. I can't stop. I don't know why. I don't want to live. I don't want to be here. Everyone is better off without me. I can't write. Even though I might have deadlines. I can't. I have no creative thoughts. my brain feels dull, numb. Like a rock. This is why I try to write ahead when I'm manic. When I'm depressed, the thoughts just won't come.
This is what it feels like to be bipolar. To be me. I don't know what "normal" feels like. This is my normal. I'm on medication now that seems to be working better than anything I've ever tried. I'm much more stabilized. But I still have the highs and lows. I don't want my family to worry about me, even though I know they do. I try to play along, to seem happy. Sometimes it's impossible though. I just want them to know that I'm really okay. And I am. I've learned to live with this. I know that in my deepest depression, the light will come. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. I tell myself that I am genuinely happy.

So if you’ve ever wondered what being bipolar is really like, here it is, in black and white.

All About Steve

“I learned to shuffle cards in jail.” 

Steve has had setbacks in his life.

“I wasn’t into hard drugs; I smoked a lot of weed when I was younger, got mixed up into selling it, spent 6 months in prison in the early 90s for selling drugs to an undercover cop.  Lost a good job over that, about went bankrupt.”


“I got out and had to start from square one, had to work a job and start entry level. Before I went to prison, I had pretty good job in Van Wert in a factory…that didn’t happen when I got out…7 months later…now what am I gonna do?”

Steve worked at a convenience store for 6 months.  “Went from 15 bucks an hour at the factory  to 5 at the store. I had to get back from where I was, get away from the drugs, cut ties. At first I still had contact with the same people…it took a couple years…went back to smoking pot again, started going down that road again…
“Now I haven’t used anything for 12 years.” 

Steve’s involvement with drugs began when he met some people saying, “We can make some money,” so he agreed to sell…he did that for a year or 2 in the early 90s.  “I was the man in town for weed at that time,” he says.  “I used to go to Kentucky and pick up big bags of weed.”

“I got charged with a DUI in ‘99. I probably should watch the alcohol…” he continues.  The charge was eventually dropped.  Steve still likes to have a few beers, but he has given up drugs for good.  Once he got his life back on track, he started working as a company driver, and is now self-employed, leasing equipment.
“I got fed up with that lifestyle, people coming all hours of the day when I was selling, wondering if they could crash at my place.” 
He continues, “Prison sucked. I was in county jail for 2 months waiting on my court date.  Met a friend, a crack addict drying out, who hanged himself.  I was in lockdown, solitary confinement for five days;  I violated a law by being in someone else’s cell.”  That’s when he learned to shuffle cards.  “I made a few friends, don’t talk to any of them, have run into a few of them,” he says.  “Many had been in and out a few times, one guy who’s probably serving a life term.”

“In hindsight,” says Steve, “it’s not worth it.  I lost 7 months of my life.  I was never afraid of ending up back in,” he says, because he never wanted to do anything to cause that ever again.
“Now I’m more afraid of getting a DUI or being accused of something,” he says, of his fear of returning to prison.  Once he was out, he says, “I felt better, my mind was clearer, maybe read a passage or two of the Bible, I pray.”

“Getting on Facebook has changed my life, make a lot more connections that way, it’s hard for me to be intimate and open up to people.  I’m not really that interesting, I don’t have anyone,” Steve admits.  “I would like to get married and have a kid – I don’t know if I’ll have someone to carry on my name – I’d like to improve my personal life, struggling with dating. I’m a regular Joe, never gonna play in the NBA, never gonna be an actor,” he says.  “I want someone who is funny, not overbearing…looks are important.”
“In a nutshell, professionally, it’s been a rollercoaster for me…I think I’m on the right path, that shouldn’t be a problem. But you never know with the economy…personally I should get out more;  I’m not gonna meet a good girl at a bar.”

I have met Steve and know him fairly well, and he doesn’t give himself enough credit.  He is smart, hilarious, and I think should have no problem meeting the right girl who will help him carry on his name.

He has turned his life around, all on his own.

I am obsessed with P!nk.

I have been ever since I heard of her, before she morphed into the powerhouse that she is today.  I connect with her lyrics; I love her voice.  I love how she is herself and she isn’t afraid to sing about subjects so many artists gloss over or ignore altogether.

Her song “Sober” is one that I credit with helping me to overcome the alcoholism that took hold of my life for far too long, but that’s another blog post in itself.

Today I want to talk about her new song, “The Great Escape.”  This song, like so many others of hers, really touches me on a visceral level.  I heard it not long after the suicide summit I attended for We Care People, and it fits perfectly.  It’s about wanting to escape this life, wanting out.  And it promises that that won’t happen.  Even though many people, myself included, want to make the great escape at times in this life, we have to be strong and live the lives we were intended to live.

I facilitate a support group for bipolar/depressed individuals, and this song reminds me of several of the dedicated, wonderful people who attend.  I’ve listened to them talk about wanting to make the great escape.  Feeling alone, so alone…wanting out.  I think this song is a great one to listen to when those unwanted thoughts cross your mind.  I credit music, in part, to saving my life several times over.  When I’m feeling down, sometimes all I can do is listen to music, Like P!nk, and after a while, I feel less alone…the thoughts subside.  Sometimes it’s not so easy…members of our support group, including me, have called the suicide hotline more than once.  We Care People has a 24/7 line, too.  1-800-567-HOPE.  It helps.  It has helped so many people.  Don’t be ashamed for feeling these thoughts…don’t be scared to talk about it.  Once you do, you’ll be amazed how people have felt the same way.

I think we were put in this life to help each other along the way.  Even people like P!nk, who has no idea I exist, has helped me tremendously.  The people in my support group have helped me more than they’ll ever know.  I value them so much.  If you’re in the area and would like to attend, message me anytime for more information.  If you’re not in the area and you ever feel like making the great escape, please talk to someone.  Listen to this song.  You are valuable.  You are needed.  You are loved.

I am seeing P!nk in concert on March 6 in Columbus and attempting to get a press pass to write about it for this blog.  It would be a dream come true.  Even if it doesn’t happen, seeing her in concert will be something I’ll never forget, ever.  I can’t wait.
Thank you, P!nk.

The Great Escape
I can understand how the edges are rough

And they cut you like the tiny slithers of glass

And you feel too much

And you don’t know how long you’re gonna last,

But everyone you know, is tryin’a smooth it over,

Find a way to make the hurt go away,

But everyone you know, is tryin’a smooth it over,

Like you’re trying to scream underwater,

But, I won’t let you make the great escape,

I’m never gonna watch you checkin out of this place

I’m not gonna lose you

Cause the passion and pain

Are gonna keep you alive someday

Gonna keep you alive someday
I feel like I could wave my fist in front of your face

And you wouldn’t flinch or even feel a thing

And you retreat to your silent corner

Like you decided the fight was over for ya,

Everyone you know, is tryin’a smooth it over,

Find a way to make the hurt go away,

Everyone you know, is tryin’a smooth it over,

Everyone needs a floor they can fall through

I won’t let you make the great escape,

I’m never gonna watch you checkin outta this place

I’m not gonna lose you

Cause the passion and pain

Are gonna keep you alive someday
They’re gonna keep you alive someday

Oh, Terrified of the dark, but not if you go with me

And I don’t need a pill to make me know

And I wrote the book already,

But that chapter of my life will soon be done

I’m the king of the great escape

You’re not gonna watch me check-in outta this place

You’re not gonna lose me

Cause the passion and pain

Are gonna keep us alive, someday

Yeah the passion and the pain

Are gonna keep us alive someday, someday

I Feel at Home With Homeland

I think my family (husband included) is finally starting to understand bipolar disorder a little better.  For so long I felt like they thought I was making it up.  It’s not like diabetes or cancer, where there’s a physician who can vouch for the symptoms.  The symptoms in this case are highly subjective; my family can rely on the accounts of other people with the disorder, and they can rely on me.  I think with my explanation and the help of others in the media who are coming forward, people are beginning to understand mental disorders a little better.

It’s always bothered me that there has largely been a lack of understanding when it comes to mental disorders, but I guess I can’t fault people who don’t understand when so many people diagnosed are afraid to speak out.  I just don’t like feeling like I’m alone here; like I’m making this up.

Andy and I have been watching Homeland lately, and Claire Danes’ portrayal of bipolar disorder is so right on, it’s unbelievable.  I have loved her since My So-Called Life and felt like I was Angela Chase in high school.  So it’s crazy that I can relate to her character so well now, in a completely different series.  (Minus the brilliant CIA stuff.)  Still, I think it helps the public to understand mental disorders better when there are amazing depictions of them in popular culture.  It helps me, too, even if it is just a TV character.  It helps me feel not so alone.

I have hope that there will continue to be people who speak out, people who are not so afraid anymore of what others will think when they admit to being diagnosed with mental disorders.  We shouldn’t be ashamed to speak out about this.  It’s not like we asked for it.  This is the way we came.  And I’m just now learning to be accepting of it myself.  The more people who speak out, the more the media and pop culture portray it in an accepting and accurate way, the more we will all understand and be accepting of it.

As far as Homeland goes, a show that is depicting a character diagnosed with bipolar disorder…well, I applaud it.  I definitely relate to it…to the rapid speech pattern, the racing thoughts…the, at times, help of wondrous Ativan.

It’s hard to say how much I relate when I’m the one living it.  I asked Andy.  He said when I’m manic I am a “busybody,” that I’m doing a “bunch of stuff at once.”

I totally relate to the depressive episodes.  It’s unreal.  It’s just nice to have anyone to relate to, really, anyone who can vouch for the symptoms, even a fictional character.  

I love my real-life bipolar friends, and I love my so-called life bipolar friends the same.

I took my love and I took it down.  I climbed a mountain and I turned around.  And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills.  ‘Til the landslide brought me down…  - Stevie Nicks

I reflect a lot.  Not necessarily because I want to, but because my brain won’t shut off.  Usually, I ruminate.  Focus on everything I think I’ve done wrong.  Do I take my kids for granted?  Do I take Andy for granted?  Should I be doing more with my life?  Am I living my life to the fullest?  I should exercise.  I should spend less time on the computer.  I should do more fun stuff with the kids.  I “should” on myself all the time.  I “should” all over myself.

Why is it that I tend to zone in on what I perceive I do wrong, instead of what I do right?  I don’t know.  I wish I knew.  I wish I could shut off that negative inner monologue.

I think back on my life constantly.  My twenties.  Those are a blur.  I made a lot of mistakes.  They have names like “Jeff.”  I was so naïve.  Not so much anymore.  It makes me sad, really.  It kind of sucks once you’ve become disillusioned with the world.  With men.  With people.  It took Andy a long time to knock down the brick wall I’d built around myself.  There are still a few bricks there that just won’t budge.  Someday.

When I met Andy, I was done with men.  I needed a break.  Had I known then that he was “the one,” I’d not have acted the way I did.  I had a few hunches early on that he was different.  He wasn’t like the rest.  I pushed those thoughts aside and pushed him aside anyway.

I reflect on things like all the pointless and frivolous stuff I’ve spent money on.  Tanning.  Too much tanning.  Clothes.  Booze.  Cigarettes.  I have a feeling even if I could go back in time, I’d still spend money on all these things, and not in moderation.  “Moderation” has never been in my vocabulary.  I do everything in excess.  I do excess in excess.  

I look back on all the times I’ve been mean to myself.  I am bipolar with a dash of generalized anxiety disorder and a pinch of borderline personality disorder.  I rip myself apart.  I’ve never physically harmed myself unless you count the splash of eating disorder.  I subconsciously punish myself by not eating sometimes.  I think it’s mostly the depression.  I cannot eat when I’m depressed.  I’ve never in my life thought I look good enough.  Good enough for who or what?  I don’t know.

This all sounds rather depressing, doesn’t it?  Is there anyone out there, I wonder often, who reflects and the thoughts are positive?  I’d like to learn how to do that.  How to reward myself.  How to be good to myself.  I’ve been told I don’t love myself.  To be honest, I think I love myself more now than I ever did.  I’m learning.  I think it’ll take a while before I fully get there.  Can the child within me rise above?  Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?  Can I handle the seasons of my life?

That’s something I can reflect on tonight.

The Light

(I wrote this over a year ago, the day I decided to quit drinking.)

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. – Anais Nin
Today is the day. Tuesday, October 11, 2011. I want to remember this day forever. 

The day I decided to stop drinking. 

The sunrise was beautiful this morning. Possibly the best one I’ve ever seen. Pink and blue hues in the sky sprayed with just the right amount of clouds, the brilliant orange sun barely peeking over the fall trees, as if uncertain of making its appearance. 

There are knots in my stomach. I can’t breathe (allergies). I am on my period. 

I am incredibly exhausted from being awake all night, tossing and turning and trying to banish the unwanted thoughts that kept racing through my head, taking up space where happy memories should be. 

I look like absolute crap; my face is broken out, there are heavy purplish bags under my eyes, my hair is frizzy and disheveled. I am wearing an oversized Nike sweatshirt belonging to my husband, stained because of me, a constant reminder (as if I need one) of how I’ve continually let him down. But not again. Not again.
Not ever again. 

I am terrified. I have never been in control of my own life, never been in the driver’s seat, always a passenger, always letting someone else or something else take the blame. I can’t do that anymore. I can’t live like this anymore. I can’t. 

I joke around a lot and talk about drinking more than I actually do it; I exaggerate when I’ve had a bad day and say things like, “I want to drink my body weight in alcohol,” and it’s funny. I’m being sarcastic and it’s funny, and everyone laughs. Except it stopped being funny. I can control myself some of the time, which is why it’s been so easy to rationalize why I continue to drink, not to mention that I live in a town where drinking is practically mandatory, and raging alcoholics are accepted with open arms. I blend in here. Alcohol is socially acceptable. It’s the times that I don’t stay in control that outweigh the times that I do – those are the times that, at this point, have accumulated to an incredible number that I don’t even want to think about. It’s killing my marriage. If this were reversed, I’d have left Andy by now. 

I have used alcohol as a scapegoat, every time. I could do anything with it. I could be invincible whenever I wanted - do, say, or act however I pleased when the numbing liquid flowed through my body. If I offended someone, “I was drunk. That’s not the real me. It was alcohol.” If I did anything bad, it was the reason. I’ve relied on it. It has been a friend. A friend who’s always been there for me, no matter what. And breaking up is hard to do. 

I am absolutely shaking with fear that I won’t be able to do this, that I’ll fail. I’m ashamed. I’m embarrassed. I’m hurting inside. Badly. I’m so very sorry for the things I have done to people I love, afraid that they won’t accept me even if I quit drinking, afraid to become who I really am instead of who I am with alcohol.
I have never been so scared in my life. 

I’m afraid to face the truth and push denial out of the way, because to do that means I was wrong all these years, wrong for thinking I was okay, and wrong for thinking I could control myself. To admit that I was wrong means all those years, all those incidents shouldn’t have happened, and that means I have regrets. And I want no regrets. I feel guilty. I feel like a scumbag. I’m open about everything in my life, including my depression (which drinking exacerbates) but this, for some reason, ties my stomach in knots. I’m so afraid of what people will think. 

Maybe because bipolar disorder, though not fully understood by the general population, at least, I think, seems more like a disease to people; they view it as something beyond a person’s control. 

Alcoholism, I feel, is looked at by many as a weakness, a sign of making bad choices, not necessarily a disease, even though it’s been proven to have genetic predisposition involved, as is the case with me and my family. 

Of course, depression runs in my family too, and I have obviously been self-medicating for a long time now. It’s the first thing I reach for, my go-to, my trusty friend. With a glass of wine I can feel good again. It’s a great feeling. It’s the nights that the glass turns into two glasses, then a bottle, then two bottles…the nights I’ve blacked out, remembering little, if nothing, about a majority of the evening, wondering what I said, what I did…who I did it with…the horrible dread of trying to recall the next day, what took place the night before, the hangovers lasting days – those are the reasons I want to quit drinking. At this point there are no benefits. 

But mostly it’s my marriage I want to save. I have an incredible man and he does not deserve this. There are a couple of other reasons too, and it’s a knife through the heart to hear them ask why Mommy won’t get out of bed. No, it’s not every day. It’s not even too often at all in the minds of many, I’m sure. I know there are so many people who are in much more advanced stages of alcoholism than I am. But this is not their life. This is my life. And I know I have to do this if I want to keep it. I want to be a better wife. I want to be a better mom. I need to be a role model. 

I know in my gut, with every fiber of my being and pound on my body, that this is the only solution left. I’ve tried limiting drinking to weekends, drinking only at home, drinking only a certain kind of alcohol, drinking only for a certain number of hours – I’ve tried everything. I’ve taken “breaks” from drinking before when I’ve been spiraling out of control; I’ve “slowed it down.” But once I started again, I ended up right where I had been. I know I can’t just “take a break” this time. I know my addictive, all-or-nothing personality, and telling myself I can stop for a while and then set limits once I start again does not work. I’ve tried that. It’s a slippery slope. I’ve exhausted the options, made the excuses, and fiercely embraced the denial with a warm, tight hug every single time. This is it. This. Is. It. 

I am very scared. What do I do? Can I still have fun? Will I fit in? Will I always feel awkward now? Do I attend AA meetings? I’ve always thought of alcoholics as people who get up in the morning and have to drink. People on street corners with tattered clothing and bottles hidden in brown paper bags. People who in general seem much more “out of control” than I am. I’ve never thought of myself as “one of them.” As it turns out, there is no exact alcoholic profile. I am one of them. 

I’m not sure where to go from here, how to go from here. My path has not been marked out yet. I know that I do need to go from here, though, and take the path I have never taken. In order to save my marriage, my family, my life, I can’t stay on this path. My therapist said just as much a few weeks ago, when I had, once again, vowed to be better. Yet somehow, some way, no matter what precautions I try to take, no matter how much I worry and think, and try, really, really try...I somehow always take a detour, and I’m back on the old path again. That path has now been blocked off, eradicated, and filled in with the grasses and weeds of yesterday. I know I have a problem. 

So today, I am going down a new path. The path of sobriety. It’s surreal. Alcohol has been such a focal point in almost everything I do. It’s very hard to imagine my life without it. It might not look like to others that I even have a problem, but I know I do. I’m scared that people won’t be supportive, and I’m scared to be this honest and vulnerable. I don’t know exactly where I’m going yet, but I know where I’ve been, and if none of it had happened then I wouldn’t be where I am. And that is at a point of great change. Everything in my life has lead me to this point. Everything. 

My name is Sara, and I’m an alcoholic.

About Me

I have an MA in literature from Eastern Michigan University and I write a couple of regular columns for The Delphos Herald. I am the mother of two young girls, and the wife of a firefighter. I am also bipolar (with generalized anxiety disorder) which somewhat accounts for my occupied mind. I rely on sarcasm the way others rely on oxygen.
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