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Michelle – Bad Parenting, Child Sexual Molestation, Alcoholic And Student Loan Debt – Honest And Positive Attitude
In this episode, I will be speaking with M and her addiction to alcohol. M is a 29-year-old alcoholic with adventures in alcohol that she’ll be speaking about. Welcome to the podcast, M.
How did your addiction start?
I’m going to go all the way back for this one. We’re going to talk about my parents mostly because I fully believe that addiction is much more than who we are as people. It was our environment. It’s the people who raised us. It’s all of that. A lot of people you’ll hear say that it wasn’t. I don’t want to blame anything but these things have effects on us for sure. I was born to two parents who were alcoholics. They also had a drug addiction. What that drug of choice was, I do not know. I was born in Arizona but I know nothing about that state because we moved directly after. We moved all the time. We moved from Arizona to California to Barstow, California. We were all over. Whenever they ran out of money, we were on to the next place. At the time that I knew, I had two half-siblings, an older brother, an older sister and a younger sister. We had a large family. I lived with them until I was about four years old. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Barstow. It’s not a great city to drive through. It has a huge drug problem so they found their place in it. I remember many things where it was not the life that a kid is supposed to have.
I remember my biological mother asking my sister and me to go to the local liquor store and go steal some Twinkies and Ho Hos for her. I remember the police barging into our house because my dad was getting arrested for something. We were free-range kids. We took care of ourselves. We took care of each other. We were always getting into trouble and we had nobody there to tell us any different because they were busy with their own addiction. I can remember people coming in and out of our apartment. We moved many times even within Barstow. We had a house at first but they couldn’t afford after a while. We had an apartment and then we were living in a motel. It was a downgrade the worse their addiction became. I didn’t know that as a kid, I can see that now as an adult. The downgrade is a direct result of them getting deeper into their addiction. When I was about three, my oldest half-brother and sister were taken by their dad. They left and then it was the four of us. It was my older brother, my older sister, me and my younger sister.
There came a point where my parents couldn’t take care of us anymore. My grandparents took us. My grandparents were my maternal grandmother and her second husband. He wasn’t technically my biological grandfather. I had never met my biological grandfather so he was the only grandpa I knew. We moved in with them in Southern California. It was good but there was always something missing when you don’t grow up with your biological parents. They always have a parent day at school. They always ask you to do a little tree thing as a project for school and you can’t do that. It’s a little bit of a bummer but I know that my grandparents tried as hard as they could. My grandfather was always active in my school life. They did the best that they could. When I was ten, my grandmother developed breast cancer and spine cancer. She passed away. We had her in hospice care in our house and I was there the day she died. After she died, the house was in her name. We couldn’t stay there anymore. My grandpa took all four of us, my older brother, older sister, younger sister and me to NorCal to his daughter and her husband’s house. They already had a kid. They had a kid that was outside the house. They had five dogs. His daughter’s husband was in a wheelchair. There is not enough space for all of the kids and stuff.Michelle parents did not provide a good environment, her uncle sexually molested her at age eleven and Michelle abused alcohol badly. Click To Tweet
When we moved up there, it was a free rein again. There were so many kids, they didn’t have enough energy and time to watch all of us. We were outside and doing our own thing which was fine, I’m not going to lie. I have some good memories of rollerblading outside, biking to the grocery store and all that good stuff. It wasn’t all bad for sure but definitely not enough adults watching over the children. Probably in about August of 2000, my maternal aunt and her husband came and took my older sister because they wanted to be able to help out. They knew they could adopt but they want to start with one because they didn’t have any children of their own. They took my sister and that went pretty well. They had her for a couple of months and then it was me, my older brother and my younger sister. It was at that time that my grandpa’s daughter’s husband molested me. I was eleven at the time. It started out super innocently. All the kids were like, “Let’s give each other massages or whatever,” and then everyone left and it was just me and him. He was like, “Why don’t I give you a massage?”
I knew stuff wasn’t right when he started to move lower and lower and then it all happened quickly and I felt numb. He asked me if he could hold me after and I wanted to scream, “No, you can’t. You can’t touch me anymore,” but I was eleven. I sat there in shock and I’d let him. He’s in a wheelchair. There was a part of me that was always like, “Why didn’t you run?” but it didn’t make sense. The next day, we’re doing some yard work or whatever. He pulls me aside and he goes, “You can’t tell grandpa. You can’t tell my wife. If you do, I’ll go to jail and you’ll upset everybody. You’re going to break up the family,” putting it on me because it would be my fault and not him taking responsibility for his actions. That secret ended up carrying with me for a long time.
In about December of 2000, my aunt and uncle came back. They were like, “We can take another kid. We’d be happy to.” They’re pretty well-off. They both went to college and have nice jobs. They came back, gathered me up and took me with them. We ended up moving into a house in NorCal because they got a job up there. What originally started out with six kids with my two half-siblings, my older brother, my older sister, my younger sister and I ended up being just me and my sister with my aunt and uncle. My older brother and my younger sister moved back to Barstow with my biological parents somehow. They came and got custody of them. Meanwhile, my aunt and uncle got custody of me and my sister. My sister and I are much closer than any of the other siblings in my family.
We moved into NorCal. I was eleven, eleven-and-a-half. I haven’t been surrounded by addiction and violence my whole life, but I have been put into weird situations that have in turn made me a strange type of person. I didn’t learn to deal with things the way normal people deal with everything else. When I moved in with them, they had never had kids before. They had to figure it out as they went. They would come up with creative punishments which were always weird. If I didn’t turn in a homework assignment, I would have a TEA SPOT, which stood for Take Everything Away for a Short Period of Time. From Friday night until Monday morning, I would have to sit upstairs in this little office area. I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone. I wasn’t allowed to read anything. I wasn’t allowed to do any homework. I had to sit there by myself for two-and-a-half days. You couldn’t do anything. You had to sit there for two-and-a-half days not talking to anyone. Lunch and dinner was a peanut butter bagel and water. Breakfast was Cheerios and a glass of milk. Monday morning you finally got to go back to school. Those always pissed me off because it always seemed an overreaction to everything that was like a five-point homework assignment and I get an entire weekend taken away from me. On the other hand, I could have done the homework assignment and not gotten it. Mentally going through a TEA SPOT was not great.
It was mentally challenging to sit there by myself with nothing to entertain me for two-and-a-half days. Mind you, I didn’t just have one of these. I had a whole summer of them once. I sit by myself at the table not talking to anyone. If I was a minute late downstairs to be ready, I had to pay this glass pumpkin $20, $50. If I didn’t do a chore on time, I had to pay the pumpkin. They did the best they could. The pumpkin, when I graduated, all that money was given back to me. I’ve had a job since I was fourteen. To have the little money I’m making be put into this thing, it’s a punishment. I get the money back so it’s punishment? The same thing goes for the TEA SPOTS. I could have done the homework assignments, but I was like every other kid. I’m going to skip a couple of assignments. I am forever grateful to my aunt and uncle for taking me out of a situation that could have continued to be horrible. I don’t know what my grandpa’s daughter’s husband would have continued to do. Who knows? I could have gone back with my biological parents which also doesn’t seem healthy.
Even though things were weird and I still didn’t learn to be normal, which I always desperately wanted, I’m grateful to them and the opportunities that they’ve given me. I would not be who I am now without them. That’s all I wanted. When I was in high school, you still have those stupid homework assignments where you’re like, “Tell us about your parents. Tell us about your grandparents. Tell us where you came from.” I don’t know. We had this rule when I was in high school. Don’t ask questions. I don’t know anything about anything. You’re not allowed to ask questions. My aunt does not like her stepdad. He’s passed away but we weren’t allowed to talk about him. Even though he was my grandpa, you weren’t allowed to talk about him. I know nothing about him. I don’t know anything about my grandma because we weren’t allowed to talk about her either. My aunt doesn’t talk to her sister, my mom, at all. I don’t know why we’re not allowed to talk about it. I’m in this cave of mystery where I know nothing because I’m not allowed to talk about it.
Finally, I turn eighteen. All I wanted was to be normal. I’ve never been normal my entire life. I had the addicted biological parents. I live my grandparents. My grandparents always at my school it’s like, “Let me be a normal kid.” Then I lived with my aunt and uncle. I didn’t have the key to my house the entire time I was in high school. I’d sit on my porch no matter if it was raining. It didn’t matter how hot or cold it was. I’d sit there and wait until both of them got home because I took my bike one time without permission and got hit by a car. I ended up losing the key to the house because of that. We’re talking several years of high school and the entire eighth grade. Many years without the key to the house.
When I say things weren’t normal, they definitely weren’t normal. We had weird punishments. We had a no talking rule. I don’t know anything about where I come from or anything like that. I don’t know anybody on my biological dad’s side. When you talk about medical history, nothing, I have no idea. That’s something important to know. I turned eighteen and I got accepted into SDSU. I was eighteen at the time. From this point forward, I will call my aunt and my uncle my mom and dad because that’s who to me is my mom and dad. My dad told me, “Don’t go to college if you’re not ready,” but at the time that didn’t make sense to me. I was like, “That’s what you do. You graduate high school then you go to college.” Fortunately, because of my weird family history, I was able to get good financial aid because they want your biological parents’ financial income and I hadn’t talked to them since I was four. They didn’t reach out to me to be like, “How’s it going?”
The one time that my biological mother reached out to me was via Facebook and it was a message. She goes, “How’s it going?” I haven’t talked to this woman since I was four. The reason I’m not with her is that she was a drug addict and alcoholic and that’s the first thing you have to say to me? I never messaged her back. I was like, “I’m good.” I got good financially because I don’t talk to my parents. I don’t know what their income looks like. Since my aunt and uncle are technically only my guardians, I don’t have to put them as my financial guarantors. I got good financial aid which was bad because I went to San Diego and I went to zero classes. Not a single one. All of them were gone. I spent that money on rent and alcohol. I got down there and I couldn’t get into a dorm. A dorm probably would have been better because I would have been surrounded by people. Instead, I got an apartment where I had the liberty to throw parties and live a life outside of school, which is probably not what I should have been doing. My dad was completely right. I should not have gone to college if I wasn’t ready. Now, I know what that means. I’m like, “I should have waited. I should have saved the money because student loans are horrible.”
That started my drinking career. I remember starting to drink because I wanted to feel normal and I never have. Even in recovery, I still don’t feel normal but I embrace it now. The only time I could feel everyone likes who I am is when I was drinking. When I was drinking, I was grade A. Everybody loved me. I didn’t have to double think myself. I didn’t have to overthink how I was interacting with people because I don’t know why it was such a big deal to me when I was eighteen. It killed me that people thought I was weird and I can’t tell you how many times people are like, “M, you’re so weird,” and that killed me. Being called weird killed me. I could see what they’re talking about, and not in weird circumstances and stuff. In situations, I get weird. I’ll look at something, play with something or do something that’s a little bit weird and not what normal people would do.
I like that it makes me unique. I’m a little weird. I’m a little goofy but it’s cool. That’s who I am. When I was eighteen, I couldn’t stand that. I had a way out. I could drink alcohol. I’m not sure why I was obsessed with the idea of whiskey, but I was. Whiskey is what I went for. I tried vodka. I hated it. I used to chase raspberry vodka with a bagel so that I could take more shots. I would do that super nerdy thing where you keep track on your wrist of how many shots you do and then you go, “I totally blacked out and I didn’t keep track of all of them. I took way more than this.” It’s loser stuff but it seemed super cool when you’re eighteen.
I ended up living in that apartment for a year. I have to say when I was sober, I still didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I was always looking for acceptance. I was always looking for attention. I always wanted to feel loved. I was far away from my sister, my aunt and uncle. I went to college with my best friend but she ended up finding her group of people. At first, I hung out with her but she had found her group of people. I wasn’t mad at her for it, but they weren’t my group of people. They weren’t my friends. I was the hanger on and they were her group of friends. At some point, I isolated myself and stayed at the house. Sometimes I can’t even explain the decisions I made. I never got a job while I was there because I was living off of financial aid until March.Everybody talks about everything. Click To Tweet
I ended up getting a job for about a month at a Jewish sushi bar. Two of my friends came and visited me at work and I gave them free food. It turns out the boss was there, the guy who owned the whole place watched me give free food to my two friends. He came up to me, “Let me see the credit card receipt,” because I pretended to run it in case anybody was watching and I didn’t. I was like, “There is none,” and he goes, “You’re fired.” That was the only job I had. I didn’t try to get another job. I was still running out of money and I ended up living on oatmeal for a couple of months until my sister visited and bought me groceries. It was horrible.
It must have been in July when the lease was ending. I sold my bed. It was an expensive bed. I bought it when I had financial aid. One of my friends was nice enough to buy it because they needed a new bed and I gave it to her for $500, where she would have to buy a new bed for $1,000. Everyone knows used beds only sell for $200 or $300. She was nice and she gave me $500. I remember the first thing I went and bought was Jack In The Box of my money and it was so good. I ended up moving back to Northern California. I ended up moving in with my sister. My sister got me a job working at a grocery store. We were both butchers’ assistants. People tend to like me right off the bat. They get this gut feeling about me. Even when they don’t like other people, they tend to like me. I have to say I like it, but the manager of the grocery store that we worked at, she hated everybody. She met me and she goes, “I want to give you a job.”
They had this work event. I don’t remember if I worked there at the time or if it was before I started working there, but we ended up going to an A’s game and tailgating. I wasn’t 21 yet. They were feeding me booze and I was drinking it hard. I hadn’t eaten anything all day, let alone water. We were doing the beer bongs. There was this thing called votang. It was vodka, Tang and vanilla. It tastes exactly Tang but it is strong and full of alcohol. I end up not only peeing my pants on the way to a porta potty because I couldn’t hold it. I’m completely drunk. I can’t even walk straight. I’m trying to get to the porta potty and I can’t. Logically, I decided to sit down and pee myself. When I’m sitting there peeing, which it’s dry cement around me. They can see that I’m peeing myself. The assistant store manager walks by and goes, “Are you okay?” I’m like, “Just fine. I’m peeing myself. Can you go over there quickly?” After that happened, I drink some more. I don’t remember this part because it was blacked out now.
We ended up going. The game had started so we were trying to get in. Everybody had to go to the bathroom. When I got to the bathroom, I passed out on the toilet and slipped onto the floor with my pants down. The store manager was in the next stall. I wore glasses and she ended up having to grab my glasses because they called an ambulance and all that stuff. I couldn’t see for two days because she had my glasses from saving me from my pants down passing out on the toilet, which should have been mortifying. It should have been like, “Wakeup call. Maybe don’t drink so much. Your boss, the person who is nice enough to give you a job, saw you blacked out on a toilet with your pants down. You had to go to the hospital for it.” That was not anywhere near my end. I did end up going to the hospital. The nurse was not nice and I remember that. I remember him not being nice. He was like, “I’m a dad. You’re going to pee in this little bin thing.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll pee in it. You don’t have to yell at me. I’m trying to sleep here.” I went to the hospital that time, it definitely was not great. That was when I was twenty.
I lived with my sister. We ended up moving in with her and her fiancé. I turned 21. Nothing too major happened. That was probably the healthiest I’ve ever been with alcohol. It was directly after I turned 21. I had a 21st birthday party. I flirted with some guys. I probably got a little bit too drunk but it was fine. We ended up moving out to Antioch because he had a house there. There was nothing too horrible. There was one time that we ended up going with a couple of our friends to San Francisco. On the way back, I had a bit too much and I ended up throwing up on myself in the car. There’s nothing spectacular, regular drunk escapades with your sister, your friends and whatnot. I was more concerned about dating, dieting and all that stuff. We got a new cat. Life was good at that point. I also decided that I wanted more. I decided, “Let’s give college another college try.” I applied to SFSU and I got in. I was accepted and I was stoked. I was like, “This is going to be my fresh start. This is going to be awesome.” I don’t even remember what I thought I wanted to be, but I was going to do a business degree or something. I moved from Antioch to San Francisco and that’s where everything goes haywire.
I still drink to feel normal. It works for a time being plus everyone loves being the center of attention, the life of the party and stuff like that. I moved to San Francisco. It’s the only other time I’ve ever had a roommate besides this, an actual roommate, not a housemate. She was gone the whole time but I also had other housemates. One of the other housemates was not mentally stable. He was getting in a fight with his girlfriend because she went drinking with me. We didn’t get too drunk that time but he was very controlling. He was pissed. We heard him hit her. We went to the bedroom. It turns out he had taken a mug and smashed it over her head. I’m not familiar with this. I’ve never been surrounded by violence or drugs, just weirdness. We were like, “You can’t do that. You’ve got to stop.” He pushes me into the bathroom and he gets really close to my face. He’s like, “I’m going to kill you.” He’s right there and I am not going to lie. I’m pretty brave but that scared me. I don’t know when I’ve ever been so scared. The second he left, I took my stuff and had somebody drive me back to my sister’s place because there was no way I was still going to live there. I was so terrified.
My parents allowed me to move back into their place because they wanted me to be able to keep going to school, which I was going to school. I was trying to go to class. I wasn’t going all the time but I was making an effort. They said I can move in with them as long as I still went to class and I was trying to get a job. I got a job at Nordstrom. At Nordstrom, I found one of my drinking pals and one of the pals that took me into probably one of the darkest depths of drinking that I went. We’ll call her N. She and I were trouble together. She usually worked a mid and I would close. The problem with that is we were drinking at work. When one of you leaves in the middle of the day and the other one stays until midnight, I have about five hours where I’m alone still drunk and still drinking. She and I would get hammered off of Seagram’s Seven. It was cheap and it did the trick.
We worked in a huge mall in San Francisco. We’d find one of the bathrooms downstairs. We’d lock ourselves in the stall. We’d drink in about ten minutes, back and forth. That seems like it would be fun, but once you started you can’t stop. We’d be taking ten-minute breaks to go smoke a cigarette. To go get shots, to go get another bottle. It was bad. She would leave and she would go home. Now I’m alone and I’m drunk. I want more. I want to get drunker. There were days I don’t even know how I got home honestly. I would come to work almost all the time praying that I did everything I needed to do to not get fired. Usually, I was proud of myself because even drunk me knew how to get the job done. That’s what I always said like, “Drunk me knows how to get the job done.” I would be drinking by myself a lot. I would go across the street to the liquor store and hang out there with the guy who ran the liquor store for two hours doing nothing, just drinking and smoking cigarettes. I wasn’t a smoker, mind you. Nobody in my family I grew up with smokes. I wasn’t a smoker but I liked to smoke when I drink. If you’re drunk all the time, now you’re a smoker. I would be smoking and drinking. I never liked how the smoking made me feel but I did love how the drinking made me feel. At the beginning when I would smoke and when I drank, it gave me that next level of drunk. You’d be buzzed, then you’d smoke and you’d feel next-level drunk.
Towards the end of my drinking, smoking put me in a blackout. Smoking is horrible. I’ve never looked up why it does that but it is terrifying what smoking does to you when you drink. I was a chimney. I did a job where we didn’t have to be closely managed. I would stand far away from my manager when they would show up like, “I got you.” At that time, I considered myself a functional drinker at work. I wasn’t even an alcoholic at that point, I didn’t consider myself. I was like, “I know I drink a lot but I want to be the party girl. I want to be the girl who would do anything.” I was like, “You can always count on M for a good time.” I was that girl. I will always go out with you for a drink. I don’t say no to drugs. I never got into hard drugs but cocaine, you got it. I will do a line with you in the bathroom, “Let’s do it.” I’m the party girl. I’m the loud girl. I’m the funny girl. I wanted to be it all. I wanted to be everybody’s it girl.
Almost every night after work, we were going to the Castro. There was this little hole in the wall dive bar that we’d go to. They had $2 beers. For $5, you could get a shot and a beer. They had food. I was there every day. I bring people all the time. I was getting free drinks. They knew me there. I didn’t have to flash my ID or nothing. I was well-known and I liked it. There were cracks in the façade. There were definitely too many times where I couldn’t even get out of bed because I was too hung over. Towards the end, I started drinking a lot by myself and it never went well. I always wanted to be the girl who wears black, who wears leather and who doesn’t take any rubbish because I was always halfway there. I’m pretty self-sufficient. I have great boundaries. I don’t need other people. That’s how I was raised.
I’ve seen my mom create boundaries my entire life even if they didn’t make sense, they were there and she will enforce them. That rubbed off on me. I was halfway there but I wanted the other half. I want to be cool that everybody wanted to be me and wanted to hang out with me. I thought it was cool to go to a bar and drink by myself. The image in my head looked great. It’s not. I would get so drunk that I would lose bags of stuff. When I say bags of stuff, I’m talking iPads, iPhones and rent money. I’ve lost entire months of rent because I was walking on the train tracks and it’s gone. I must have tripped and it fell. My drunk self didn’t see it and I kept walking home.
There have been times where I took a taxi home. On the way out of the taxi, I tripped and everything scattered on the sidewalk. Instead of picking it all up, I passed out on the sidewalk for about two hours. I woke up, got everything, put it in my bag and went upstairs. I had been arrested one time for public intoxication, which I still believe is BS because I was sitting outside waiting for this guy. I wasn’t being loud or anything. I was sitting there drinking some sake. There was this Japanese guy and he was teaching me a couple of Japanese words, “You’re drunk, you’re friendly.” This other guy walks by and I offered him some sake and he goes, “No.” Turns out that guy that walked by was the apartment manager and he called the police. I didn’t get arrested. They put me in the drunk tank.Living in a constant state of stupor is horrible. Click To Tweet
That time I lost my glasses, I couldn’t see for two weeks because I didn’t have any glasses. I am the queen of losing stuff when I get drunk. I can’t tell you how many iPhones I’ve lost because I’ve fallen asleep on public transportation and somebody took it. I was drunk in a cab and I left it. I was drunk in a bar and I lost it. The excuses, they go on. I figured this out because I had to go back to my apartment and pack up. I was reading my diary. I was wondering why I was missing some games from my Game Boy. It turns out I got drunk one night and I lost the games. It makes me wonder like, “What else I’ve forgotten along the way?” One thing I’ve always prided myself on is having a great memory. Alcohol strips that from me so badly. It’s like, “You barely remember your own name? What happened yesterday? I don’t know. I have no idea.” Long-term, short-term, it doesn’t matter. When I read that, my mind was blown because I’d been looking for those Game Boy games for a while. I was like, “Where could they have gone?” I ended up happenstance reading my old diary. There it is an explanation where these games went. I lost them when I was drunk. When I saw it I was like, “That checks out.” I lost everything. I’ve lost jewelry, money, phones, dignity and the whole thing all gone.
There are two times that stick out to me. I would always meet people. I dot people when I used to drink. Because I drank alone, I’d find somebody else who was drunk and then take them with me. It didn’t make any sense. They’re not real friends. I met this one girl. We were drinking. That’s the only way I can explain it. She and I went to a liquor store and got some alcohol. There were these two other girls behind us in line. They had some alcohol with them and they’re like, “Do you want some of ours?” She and I were both, “Yes, absolutely.” The last thing I remember was taking a drink of their alcohol. Turns out they’d put something in the alcohol. I wouldn’t even call it a blackout because it wasn’t self-induced, they’d put drugs in our alcohol. I woke up and I had vomit all over me. All of my stuff was taken. I was looking around. I’m in the same little cubby thing as this homeless guy. I don’t know where I am. I was like, “What is happening?”
I look at the guy I’m like, “Why am I here?” He goes, “Those two girls jumped you.” I was like, “I’m sorry, what?” He goes, “Those two girls they jumped you. They took everything. They searched all your pockets. Everything’s gone.” The homeless guy gave me his blanket. He felt so bad for me. My phone, my money, all of it. The worst part was I had been losing so many phones that my mom had given me her back up until I could get a new phone. They stole my mom’s backup phone and have to tell her like, “I lost another phone,” and I couldn’t.
I don’t even remember to this day if I was honest about how I lost it if I told her I was drunk or I came up with some story. The stories got so creative because I couldn’t be honest with anyone. I couldn’t be honest with how drunk I was getting all the time. This wasn’t even the worst of my drinking at all, “I was so tired from work I fell asleep on the back of the bus. Some guy took it and he ran off. I chased him and I had filed a police report.” You didn’t do any of that. I was coming up with all these and it’s hard to keep up with them. Before I was trying to cover up the drinking, I was an honest person. People come to me because they appreciate my honesty and my forwardness. You know you’re going to get God’s honest truth from me. You know you’re going to get 100%. I don’t BS. I’m not good at making things foofy. You want the truth, you come to me. At this point, it was hard to keep track of all my lies. I felt bad because I’m lying to the people that I care about the most. If I lied to the people, then I don’t care about you.
I would tell N the things I would do and she and I would laugh about it. We’d go get even drunker. I wasn’t lying to her because to her it’s another drunken story. I got jumped, which sucked. It still didn’t hit home for me. Then this one time, I know I was drinking at work. I blacked out. The next thing I know, I’m coming to in a car. I don’t know the guy who’s driving it. I freak out. I’m like, “Let me out of your car. I don’t know you. Please let me out.” I get out of the car. When the door closes, I realized that I left my entire purse in there. There is an iPad in there. There’s money in there. There’s everything in there. Fortunately, I had my phone and I had my keys on me. I didn’t lose those. Once I got out I was like, “I know where I am.” To get to my apartment, you have to go over this street. It looks like a freeway but it’s a street. You walk over it. You’re on the other side. There’s my apartment. It’s perfect. I know where I am. I’m going to start walking. I start walking over the little hill thing.
About 25 minutes later, I realized I’m walking barefoot on the freeway. This was not where I thought it was. I had entered the freeway and I’m now walking in the middle of the freeway. I don’t know where I am. Cars are honking as they pass me. I turn and then there’s this car. They pull over there and there are these two guys in there. They’re like, “What are you doing? You’re in the middle of the freeway.” I was like, “I am.” They’re like, “Get in our car. We’ll give you a ride home.” I’m in the middle of the freeway. I don’t have a choice. I’m still drunk. I’m like, “I’ll get in the car.” These guys drive all around downtown. The one guy gets dropped off and then the other guy goes and parks and pulls out a meth pipe. He started smoking meth in the car. Mind you, I don’t smoke meth. I don’t do meth. I’m like, “What is happening?” Then he goes, “You’re going to light it for me now.” He gave me the lighter and he made me light his meth pipe. He goes, “If you light my meth pipe, we can go home now.” I was like, “What is happening?”
I’m so far from home that I can’t get out and get lost. I don’t have any money on me. I was like, “Fine.” I’m in the back seat. He’s in the front seat. Finally, he stopped smoking meth. We’re driving around and I’m still drunk. I end up passing out. When I wake up, he’s masturbating in the front seat. I was like, “What are you doing? Are you serious right now?” He goes, “Yes, when you bent over I saw your panties.” I was like, “I want to go home. You made me light your meth pipe. Now you’re jerking off in the front seat.” He goes, “Would you believe if I told you I haven’t done this in several years?” I was like, “No,” and then I look around I’m like, “I know where I am.” I’m still drunk though. Instead of being like, “I’m out,” I was like, “You either drive me home right now or I’m getting out and walking.” I don’t know why that’s an ultimatum for him, but he ended up driving me to my house and dropping me off. I never saw that guy again. That was a crazy thing. I go to bed and I wake up. I end up not telling my sister about this for a long time, but I tell N. We laugh about it because we laugh at all of these stories because they’re ridiculous.
There was one time that she got too drunk and I was trying to get her home. She punched me straight in the face and I got a black eye. That was not fun. We had tons of stories like that where either she’s overly intoxicated or I am. Mine go to the extreme. I was walking on the freeway. That still blows my mind. There was a time when I first moved to San Francisco. My sister broke up with her fiancé. She ended up moving in with me, which I thought was going to make me the happiest person. I love my sister. She’s my favorite person. She’s funny and she’s smart. All I ever want to do is spend time with her but the drinking got in the way. At a certain point, I was like, “You’ve got to get out. Go find your own place.” I got tired of her always caring about me. It gets in the way of you doing what you want to do. When people care, you’ve got to make excuses. It was either create space between us or lie to her. I didn’t want to lie to her. I’m tired of lying to the people that I love and who love me too. I told her, “I don’t want to text you goodnight anymore. If I don’t text goodnight then you’re worried about me.”
Nowadays, that would never be a problem. If she wanted to text goodnight every night, we shouldn’t have to be required to say it. I didn’t want it to be a rule then because if I blacked out and didn’t say it, I didn’t want her to worry. The amount of time that I showed up drunk and covered in vomit on her door was so much. It didn’t equate. Either I want space or I need her. I kept doing it and I feel so bad about the amount of stuff that I put her through, it was crazy. She definitely didn’t deserve it and she didn’t know how to handle it. She’s a hurty and anxious person and to be like, “I’m not going to tell you where I am anymore, that I’m safe or that I’m alive. Deal with it.” That’s BS. I wanted freedom. I wanted to do whatever I wanted to do and I didn’t want anyone to tell me any different. I needed to feel normal and I was going to do whatever I needed to do that. I wanted to feel I was on top of the world and screw anybody who got in the way. She was always cautious. I wanted to try cocaine and I wanted to be out partying. She wanted to be a little bit safer and I was like, “God.” I needed that freedom.
I ended up getting fired from Nordstrom. We’re so shocked. I spent a few months finding another job. I ended up getting a restaurant job. I was hired as a host. About a month later they made me a manager. That’s quite a big leap. They liked how I did my business, I get it done. The restaurant business is full of alcohol. It is full of drugs. It is full of miscreants. It’s full of sex, booze, parties and all the wrong things. That’s when everything started to rev up a little bit. Looking back now, you can see it. Now having gone through treatment and all that stuff, you can see a glaring signals and all of the signs. I was blind to it. When I went from host to manager, it played with my whole wanting to be accepted thing. All these servers and bartenders don’t want the girl who is a host telling them what to do. I desperately wanted friends. I wanted to be liked. I wanted everyone to know how great I was. Instead of being a good manager, I was a good friend instead. I drank with them. I did drugs with them. I went out with them. I didn’t ever get them in trouble for all the things that I should have. As a manager, they got themselves in trouble but being on time, not doing the correct thing, all of that stuff. I never did anything. I never fold up. I let them do whatever the hell they wanted. I did the manager stuff. I count the money, all the paperwork and stuff like that. I wanted to be friends with all of them so bad that I never followed up.
We were all getting super drunk at work. We used to have a code word for cocaine. Whenever anybody would go get some coke we’d say, “Do you want some steak tacos?” That meant, “I have coke. Would you like some?” Me and another manager, he was way heavier into the drinking and the alcohol than I was at that time. He couldn’t even go a day or an hour without drinking on the job or he’d start shaking. He would do coke all the time. I used to do coke with N. I tried it first with her and I loved that. I thought it was great but I started to use it too much so I stopped. I was like, “I’m good.” I would hate to become a cokehead. God forbid I have a problem. God forbid I end up like my biological parents. I ended up stopping all that. I don’t want to be that person but drinking never occurred to me like, “Maybe I should slow down a little bit,” because it was a part of my identity. It was a part of who I was. It was part of how I define myself. I could drink anyone under the table. I’ll drink anytime, anywhere, it doesn’t matter. I’m the fun girl. That was who I was. If I didn’t have that, what did I have?
When I started working at the restaurant, my other manager he would get an eight ball and we would do it all sitting in his car. That will mess with you. You go back into work. You want a shot. You want a cigarette. I’m outside chain-smoking because my mouth is numb but it feels great. I want to smoke. I want another shot. An hour would have gone by I’m like, “What is going on?” All of a sudden, we’re closed. I’m drinking stuff from behind the bar to stay drunk. It’s 2:00 AM. I can’t buy alcohol anywhere. I’ll drink the stuff at work. I was not a good employee by any means. I couldn’t be because I was desperate to fit in. I would hang out with the kitchen guys. I would hang out with the servers.You are your circumstances, your experiences, and the people who raised you. Click To Tweet
It’s taken me to realize none of them were my friends, not even a little bit. Not in that they didn’t care about me. They cared about me at that moment but not long-term. Not in the way that friendship does. It was more they wanted something to talk about. I was the next best thing to talk about. Believe me, I gave them the stuff to talk about. That’s not on them, that’s definitely on me. After things happen, because of Facebook and Instagram, you always want to keep in touch and see how they’re doing. I kept these people around me for too long when all I have associated with them are these bad memories of being too drunk. Doing the wrong thing and doing too much coke. The restaurant industry is hard and fast. It’ll chew you up. It’ll spit you out. You’ve got to be careful. I wanted to be chewed up and spit out. I wanted to go do the drinking scene. I want to do the drugs. I wanted to do all of it.
At a certain point, I was like, “Enough is enough. I don’t like who I am as a person. I’ve got to start doing better.” I got a better restaurant job but I told myself, “I’m going to stop smoking,” because where I was going to work, if you wanted to smoke, it would take you fifteen minutes to get outside to smoke. I was like, “This is a great opportunity. I’ll stop smoking. I’m going to do all the right things at work like no shady stuff. No drinking at work. No drinking their alcohol. None of that.” I was going to start making more money, being a better friend, being a better sister. It all started out great.
I’ll rewind a little bit. I ended up dating a guy that worked for me at the restaurant. He and I, as all love stories start, were drinking together. I believe our story started with me throwing up on him. The best of love stories start that way. At the time that he and I started hooking up, I lived with one of my other managers. She was not a very good person, but I didn’t realize that at the time. I was a huge fan of her. I thought she was great. I thought she was the coolest. It was in my best interest to be around her. The reason I ended up becoming a manager was that I hung out with her and I told her, “If you guys need help, let me know. I’d be happy to be a manager for you guys.” I ended up getting it because she suggested me to one of the regional managers and they’re like, “Let’s interview her,” and they liked me. I was like, “I’ll be around her and I’ll do whatever she wants. I’ll be a great friend and all that stuff.” It turns out everything was about her.
My nephew ended up dying in 2014. I saw that as a personal thing. I wanted to handle it personally. I wasn’t close to him but that was still shocking for me. She went and told everybody. I couldn’t believe that she would do that. She ended up telling my regional manager who pulled me aside to talk about it, which I thought was incredibly inappropriate because I was like, “I didn’t tell you this. She told you this. I don’t need you talking to me about this in any way, shape or form.” That’s the person she was. She would say stuff to get attention. I thought I was being slick by dating the guy from work. We’re not supposed to date managers and employees are not supposed to date. I would have him come over to my house all the time. She would go walk the dogs and smoke. I’d sneak him in and we’d be in the other room. He would Spider-Man his way out of the building on the outside on the ladders, from the ladder to ladder. It was our hard-little secret. Turns out it wasn’t that much of a secret. Everybody knew. Everybody talks about everything. I found out a couple of years later that he was telling everybody.
He and I ended up moving in together. We lived in an SRO, single room occupancy. You share a bathroom with a bunch of people on your same floor but you have your own room. He and I lived together there. We were not healthy for each other. We did not eat well. We did none of the right things. We were together out of convenience. I’d never had a real boyfriend before and I wanted to see what it was like. It’s not great. We tried to make it work. There were some big things that were never going to work. He was one of the first people to tell me to my face, “You need to stop drinking. You have a problem.” I did not want to hear that. I would tell him that I feel I have a lot of issues and I want to go get help like therapy. He told me, “That’s stupid and you shouldn’t do that.” I had a cabbie pull me aside one time and be like, “You shouldn’t be with this guy. A guy who tells you not to take care of your mental health probably isn’t the guy for you.” He comes back all like, “What did you say to my girl?” and he was trying to fight him. I was like, “This is so embarrassing.”
Another big thing was he wanted to own a gun and I said, “I don’t feel comfortable living in a house that has a gun in it,” and he brought home a gun. I said, “What is this? You need to respect my wishes because I do not feel comfortable.” He told me that he brought it to his friend’s house. That it was all good and it was gone. I trusted him. Weirdly enough I don’t have trust issues. I take people at face value because I assume you’re telling the truth. I certainly don’t have relationship issues. I wouldn’t be with you if I didn’t think that you were 100% with me. I’m not going to go through your phone. He always wanted to go through my phone, which is ridiculous. There was nothing wrong with him doing it because he was going to find anything, but I knew that was an unhealthy boundary. He shouldn’t be doing that. We’d fight a lot about stuff like that because it’s like, “Stop wanting to go through my phone. Stop making me defend myself. Stop making it look like I’m guilty because I don’t want you to go through my things.” He recorded me one time when he went to work. He had an iPad and he put it on record the whole time to see if I was cheating, which I wasn’t. I should have broken up with him when I found that out. We weren’t a match. We were trying to make it work so hard and it wasn’t.
I ended up starting my new job at the new restaurant and I was trying to be better. I was working thirteen-hour days five days a week. Coming home, I was tired. I’m coming home at 5:00 in the morning, tired and stressed. He would want me to make him dinner, a sandwich or something. He only worked five hours a day and I’m like, “You want me to make something for you?” I always had to tell him where I was. That’s when his and my relationship started to not work so much. We ended up moving out of the SRO. The day that he moved out, he moved all of his stuff out. He walks back in. I’m crying because I know it should happen but I’m still sad. He looks dead in the eye. He reaches on top of our closet, which I couldn’t reach the top of because I’m short. He pulls down the gun. He looks me dead in the eye and then walks out the door.
I couldn’t believe that this whole time instead of being honest with me and instead of getting rid of the gun, he put it on top where he knew I couldn’t reach. He knew that the whole time and yet he would call me not a liar but he would always be questioning me and doing stuff when in actuality he’s the one doing shady stuff. I find out when we were first together, he’d slept with somebody else. It was crazy but he was the first person to tell me I got to get my drinking together. I would wake up and he would be like, “Do you remember?” and I’d wake up in a great mood. I’m like, “Give me a kiss,” and he’s like, “You don’t remember last night, do you?” I’m like, “No.” We would get in fights in public. I would tell him he doesn’t care about me.
He always hated that I told him that I don’t care if I’m going to die soon, die young because we’re all going to die sometime and I never expected to live that long. It’s true. I never expected to live that long. I don’t know why but I had this sneaking suspicion that I’m going to die young, with no backup evidence whatsoever. It’s a crazy thought. I told him that once and it pissed him off. I wouldn’t want to stick around and be with him forever or whatever. Apparently, when I got drunk I would taunt him about that. I’m sure he never told me the full story because I can’t remember, but I know how he manipulates the truth. I’m still waking up from a blackout and I have no idea. It was not good. The number of times we were in public and I’m screaming at him or he’s fighting with me over nothing.
When I first started at the new restaurant, I did well. I did stop drinking for a while. Even though he wanted me to quit drinking, he would tell me that I wasn’t that fun because I didn’t want to go out drinking because I was tired. It was weird and backward so we ended up breaking up. After we broke up, I ended up moving in with one of my co-workers because he worked in the kitchen. He was a kitchen manager and I was the front house manager. We go through the same stuff, we tend to have the same schedule. It was perfect. We could commute to work. He and I would drink together after work sometimes. At first, it wasn’t that bad but then life catches up with you in weird sorts of ways. By this point, I’m 27, 28. I feel a lot more comfortable with myself. I’m coming to terms with the fact that I am weird and that’s okay. I still do things a lot of times to feel like I have friends or to feel popular. Drinking for me is an absolute crutch. My anger as well, I wouldn’t say anger management issues but I have a short temper. I use it as a weapon. I use it to keep people at bay because if you’re mad at them, it keeps them on their toes. I know how to use it to manipulate people, I always have and I’ve always used it that way.
I don’t feel proud of myself at this point as a person because I tried to go back to school and I had failed. I have a ton of student debt. If I’m being honest with everyone, I have $43,000 in student loans that I have to pay back. What that $43,000 in student loans bought me is an addiction to alcohol. It bought me coke and bought me a ton of alcohol for a long period of time. I realized that I don’t like being a restaurant manager. I start to hate myself because I realize I don’t have a chance at another career unless I stick to this. This is one of the only careers I can have without a degree and go far and make a ton of money. Money for me was a driving factor for a long time because my biological parents are poor, but my aunt and uncle who adopted me, my mom and dad, are well-off. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to make a lot of money.
In my head, I’m correlating the two. You guys are not successful and in my head you guys are losers. You never tried to do anything with yourself. On the other hand, we have people here that have a great work ethic. They have a lot of money. They seem happy to me. They’ve been together forever. That’s what I want. I correlate being a winner and being successful with money. You can’t have one without the other. You cannot be successful if you do not have money. The idea of being successful without money was hard to wrap my head around.Your surroundings are who and why you are. Click To Tweet
I was making myself do this and I was breaking my back for this company. I was working thirteen-hour days. I was there until 5:00 in the morning. I was doing all the hard work. I was doing the backbreaking work. We’d be scrubbing dishes, labeling stuff, covering stuff and cleaning stuff until 5:00 in the morning only to wake up to a text at 7:00 AM that said, “You left two dirty dishes.” “With how hard I worked, that’s all you have to say to me?” It was supposed to be a motivational technique. Tell them they’re not good enough, they’ll work harder and it worked. I was there. I was doing it. I kept doing it. I was making myself miserable doing this because I couldn’t imagine a life outside of this. What am I going to do, a customer service job forever? That’s what I’m going to do forever, the thing that I hate. This is my only chance to move up to corporate because I knew I couldn’t do college. I don’t have it in me. It’s not going to happen.
To deal with the stress, my roommate and I were enablers. We both deal with the same stress. We’re like, “We’ll get drunk together,” but the problem is he would drink and go to bed. I would drink and drink until there’s no more to drink. If I blacked out between now and the end of the bottle, I’d wake up and finish the rest of the bottle. I’m not going to work with this much Jameson left. That’s going to be gone. It got to the point where he’s going to work hung-over, I’m going to work still drunk because I’m going to find the rest of the bottle. I’m going to finish it before we get in the cab to get to work. The quality of my work went down a whole a lot.
Towards the end, I was almost having an identity crisis because I knew I didn’t want to do this. I knew this would make me miserable for the rest of my life, but I knew to quit would make me miserable. I’m stuck between this rock and a hard place. I’m getting drunk all the time. I would hide shots in my boobs because they’re big enough. I can walk in and I’d go to the bathroom, take the shots and get back to work. I’m showing up drunk and I’m staying drunk. It’s getting to the point where I drink to forget what I did and then I’ll do something else stupid so I’ll drink to forget that. It’s an ongoing thing.
Towards the end, I don’t respect who I was as a manager. The team members deserve better than what I was giving them. I couldn’t give them better. I had to keep not feeling stuff. If I felt anything, I’d feel embarrassed and tons of regret. There’s no way. I’m that type of person where I will get to a decision and it’s happening now. I can’t wait to do it. I can’t think it through. Once I’ve made up my mind, that’s it. It’s final. I showed up. I took everything out of my box and threw it in a bag. I did inventory for them. I did the right thing. I’m not going to screw them over that bad. I threw all my stuff in the bag and I left. Somebody text me like, “Why is your box empty?” I was like, “I quit,” and then my dad called me he goes, “You probably shouldn’t quit right off the bat. You should probably give them two weeks’ notice.” I was like, “Okay.” I was sick and they wouldn’t let me stay home and take care of myself. I had strep throat and they wouldn’t let me stay home and take care of myself. They’re like, “We’ll see you tomorrow.” I have strep throat. What part of, “Can I take care of myself?” do you not understand? I text him I was like, “I still don’t feel well and this is my two weeks’ notice.”
I thought quitting was going to be the thing that would save me. It turns out when you quit the job that you thought was the only career you could ever have without a degree, you feel like a huge loser especially when your next job is a cashier position. I was a manager of a $21 million restaurant and I’m ringing you up for $7.51. I did not feel good. I would try to control my drinking. At this point, I still haven’t come to terms at all with the fact that I have a drinking problem in any way, shape or form. I know I probably drink more than normal people and I knew that I drink for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t like, “This is problematic.” I still thought I can stop whenever I want. I’ve got control over this. I would try to drink less. It would work for a little bit, but then there would come these binges. I would start drinking and I wouldn’t be able to stop. I would show up to work drunk, which makes no sense. I don’t know why I can come to work drunk, they’re going to now. I’m doing my best but instead, I never got fired. I tried to stay one step ahead of the curve. I’d quit. I would tell them, “This isn’t the job for me.” I quit before they could fire me. I was like, “You’re not going to fire me. I’m too smart for that.” I end up quitting three jobs. I found this great job. It was easy. It paid well. It gave me sick time.
Around this time I thought, “I might have a problem,” because I ended up FaceTiming my parents and being like, “I have a problem.” They suggested AA and I was like, “Okay.” I went to one meeting. It was not for me. I was like, “This is weird. This is super religious.” It was demeaning. It was held inside a church and I was like, “I don’t think so.” Instead, I did the SMART program or at least I started to. I didn’t follow up at all. I was like, “I’m going to quit drinking for a year. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to quit drinking for a year, that way I can get back in control of my life.” I wasn’t super far off the mark with this one. I knew that if I could start to fix things in my life and be proud of myself, I could do better. The problem is I became a dry drunk. I wasn’t working on any of the problems. The only thing that I had to be proud of was the fact that I wasn’t drinking, but I did. I stopped drinking for a few months. I felt more clearheaded. My memory was starting to come back, that memory that I’m proud of. I’m pretty sarcastic but I’m pretty whip smart too. I can come back with a response like that. I lost that when I was drinking because I had trouble thinking of words a lot. I was like, “Never mind,” and I couldn’t think of it. It’s not funny when you’re like, “Never mind.”
It was coming back to me. I was feeling good. I start to feel left out because all my friends were drinking. I thought I have a couple months under my belt. I’ll drink a little bit. I’ll drink for this week and then I’ll go back to it and I’ll finish the year. I went back for that week and that was the worst week of my entire life. I have never been drunk or blacked out for so long. I hid bottles. The problem also with living in San Francisco is they deliver alcohol to your place. I didn’t know how to drive. When I was a kid, one of the punishments that my parents had for me was, “We’re not going to teach you to drive anymore,” so I never learned to drive even though it’s something that I’ve always wanted. When you’re too busy drinking and feeling sorry for yourself, you don’t tend to go out there and accomplish things in life. I never got my license. I don’t have any DUIs. I’ve never been arrested. I got put in the drunk tank at one time but I don’t have any charges. I don’t have drunk in public. I don’t have any of that. My name’s not in the system for any reason and mostly that’s because I could order and I could say, “Bring it to my couch.” I could order endlessly and I wouldn’t have to go anywhere. I would get it delivered to my door. I would order and order.
When you’re ordering, you’re ordering a handle and you’re like, “I can’t handle a handle. I’m going to die if I drink a handle.” Instead, I would I would get the little 250 milliliters and I would hide one. I’d drink this one and then once that one was done, I’d wake up. I’d find the next one and I’d start drinking that one until I blacked out. I’d wake up and I’d do it all over again. I ended up going into one of the longest blackouts and I drank until I couldn’t physically drink anymore. I stood up and that was the moment in my life, the exact moment that I knew that I had to get help. I stood up and I looked around me. I’d quit my job yet again because I was too drunk to go in. I was honest with her too. I texted her and I said, “I can’t come in because I’m too drunk. I apologize,” and I avoided talking to her ever again. I didn’t have rent for the next month because I spent every penny of it on booze. You’re paying double when you’re getting stuff delivered because of the delivery fee. The amount of money I wasted and then the food for when you’re hung-over it’s horrible or the Ubers to go get it.
I stood up, looked around me. This was March 2018. I hated everything that I saw. I saw myself. I saw everything that I had worked for slipping through my fingers. I didn’t have any money. I couldn’t pay rent. I feel a sense of responsibility to my roommate. He’s one of my best friends. We’re on the lease together. I can’t screw him over like that and get us kicked out. I had a bank account closed because I couldn’t pay it. I wasn’t able to hang out with my parents or my sister because I was ashamed of myself and everything that I was going through. I didn’t have a job. I couldn’t be around my friends. I didn’t feel I could be my true self around my friends because I’m continually getting drunk. I don’t have anything to offer in the relationship because all I am is a drunk. I hated it. I was like, “Maybe I need someone else to help me.” I started to look for rehabs. I didn’t want to do outpatient. I knew that I needed to do something where I moved in not only because I needed the intensive care, the attention, the constant supervision.
I wanted to leave San Francisco. I needed to leave San Francisco. I couldn’t stay there and be ashamed of myself. In order to get better, I knew I had to be at a place where I didn’t feel judged. Nobody knew what I’d done, where I had been through or any of that stuff. I could start clean. That was important to me. I don’t know why, higher power stuff here. I chose Santa Cruz. I didn’t choose any other any other city outside of Santa Cruz. I called places in San Francisco and in Santa Cruz. Here’s what they don’t tell you about getting help. It is hard. You can ask 1,000 times for help and receive 1,000 noes. That to me was frustrating. I’m calling and they’re saying, “We’ll give them a call,” because I didn’t have insurance. I barely have any money. I have a little bit left in this medical account that I had at the restaurant. It was about to expire soon so I was like, “I’ve got to get this going.” I was getting so frustrated because every single place was a no. The only yes I got was from New Life in Santa Cruz. I went to go sell some of my stuff to pay. I figured if I get into a place in Santa Cruz, I’m going to need a bus ticket. I don’t drive. I’m certainly at this point not going to burden anybody that I know with getting me there because I know I have to do this myself. I have to get myself there and do this myself so I can show people I want this and I am worthwhile.
No one was still getting back to me. It’s super frustrating. I still hadn’t heard back. Everyone had said no. I sold my stuff. I was at McDonald’s. I’m sitting there. I’ve never been homeless. I’ve been far from homeless. My parents were pretty well-off. I’ve been fortunate in my life to never be anywhere near that. My low, my down and out, my lowest point looks different than other people’s because of the quality of life I’ve been very fortunate to have. I knew I was at my lowest point when I thought I was going to be homeless. That to me was unacceptable. That was embarrassing to me like, “How am I going to lie to my parents about this one? How could I possibly lie to them?” What’s the lie going to be? I had a plan too. I was going to join a gym and I was going to keep my stuff there because you can shower. You can sleep there, you can work out and you can shower and go find a job until you can get money for an apartment. I had a plan because I couldn’t fathom the idea of being an actual homeless person. I don’t know if my family would have let me do that but I wasn’t about to test it. I was ashamed of myself at that point. I couldn’t imagine that anybody else liked me. I thought I didn’t like myself because no one else liked me. I thought no one liked me because I didn’t like myself. It was the total opposite.
I had pushed everything to the absolute limits that I could without hating myself. Honestly at this point, I wanted things to end. I wanted to die so I wouldn’t have to experience this anymore, so this would end. I wanted it to end already. It was a miserable existence, drinking all the time. When I first started drinking, I thought it was awesome. You’re drunk and all this stuff. Living in a constant state, in a constant stupor is horrible. It’s not a quality of life that I wish on anybody. A self-induced stupor is horrible. You know that you’re doing this yourself and they make it seem so easy, “Just pull yourself up. Pull yourself out of it.” There are so many issues behind it of where I am and why I’m here that I have to work on first. I needed to work on those things. Being a dry drunk doesn’t work. You got to work on the issues behind it. You are your circumstances, your experiences, the people who raised you, your surroundings. All of that plays into who you are and why you are.Loving yourself is a huge part of recovery. Click To Tweet
The amount of self-hatred I had at the end was insurmountable. I couldn’t imagine that anyone loved me still. I thought my parents hated me. I thought my sister hated me. I couldn’t see why they would love me because I’ve been a bad person. I’d been flaky. I’d been a liar. I know they’re not stupid. They know I’ve lied to them. I’m at McDonald’s. In my head I’m like, “If I’m going to be homeless, this thing that I never thought I’d be and is horrible, I might as well get drunk so I don’t remember that I have to be homeless.” I was thinking, “I’ll hide in my room so my roommate can’t see me.” He sees that I’m drinking again and I was like, “There’s a liquor store up the street. There’s a liquor store over there.” I’m planning what size bottle I’m going to get because I still wanted money in my pocket when I become homeless for food or whatever.
I’m standing up to throw out my tray and the intake supervisor calls me right when I’m standing up to go get more alcohol. Not before, not after. As I’m making up my mind to go get more alcohol, she calls me. She goes, “We might have space for you.” That was the first yes I’d heard. I was like, “Are you kidding me?” On top of that, that medical account that I had had $733 in it. Do you know how much it costs to get into New Life? $700. That for me was such a huge sign that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to do. I’ve never been drug tested before. When I went to treatment, I did it on my own terms. I’ve never had to go to jail or anything like that. I don’t know how drug tests work. I’m thinking they can go far back. I was like, “I’ll make sure not to drink because I don’t want to not get in.” I ended up taking three different buses, Amtrak, BART and walking to get there. It takes me five hours to get there but I did it. I packed my suitcase. I packed all my stuff. I found a roommate for my roomie so that he didn’t have to move out. I did all of this. I wanted this so bad because I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I knew I’ve always had potential. I’ve always seen who I could be and that wasn’t it. I hadn’t met my potential yet. I knew I had to be a different person. I couldn’t spend the rest of my life or even the rest of my twenties. I only got a year left but I can’t spend the rest of my twenties wasting and doing this. I couldn’t.
I get to New Life. Part of the reason I excelled there were three reasons. I put myself there. I chose to be there. I searched for this place. I was stoked when they said yes. The only other place that said yes was a person who called me. I was looking for places. This person called me in June and was like, “Do you still need a place?” If I’d still been out there drinking, I would be dead by now. Thank you for your help, but no, I don’t still need a place. I stopped drinking in March. I got into New Life in March. I wanted to be there. I live here. I’ve agreed to these rules. I’m going to do well into that because I know I agreed to that. I’m going to follow him. I don’t make my own rules. Otherwise, I would live in my own house. I do well when there’s outside supervision and doing well and all that stuff. Lastly, because I knew if I didn’t do this and I failed or my definition of fail, I would be homeless. That was not an option. That option didn’t make sense to me. I don’t know how to do it. I couldn’t do it. I said no. I went to New Life and it literally changed my life.
The Twelve-Step Program when I first got there, I definitely thought it was religious. There’s still a part of me that thinks it still is. I didn’t find it, it was there all along. I knew it was there all day long. I cut off the communication. Drinking, you can’t hear your higher power. No ifs, ands or buts about it. You’re deaf. I always had a higher power. I’ve always believed in a higher power so that one was easy for me. I don’t believe that I’m the highest thing out there. That’s stupid. Look at me. It did seem religious but you know what I knew. I knew if I went in and I rearranged my thinking if I took what they were telling me and I made it self-applicable, I could make it work for me. Everything they said didn’t have to be 100% true but I had to make it work for me and that’s what I did. I took everything that they said and I learned something from it. Even if it wasn’t exactly what they were saying, I made it apply to my life and I made it work.
I had several months in October. That time has flown but I have done more in those several months than I have in the many years of my life. I got my license. I learned to drive and I got my driver’s license. I start real estate school next week so I can have a career that I don’t need to go get a degree for. I’m a manager again at a restaurant so I can do the job that I know I am capable of doing and can do it well and be successful and do the job that I’m supposed to do. I show up. I’m on time. I’m responsible. I have a purpose. My dad used to talk to me about priorities and how I didn’t have mine straight. I didn’t know what he meant because I felt like I was always focusing on all the right things. The problem is I wasn’t doing all the right things. Even though I think about all these things I should be doing and my focus is always on it because I’m like, “I need to do this,” it doesn’t mean I was doing it though.
Now, I am doing the right thing. I’m always doing the next best thing. When someone asks me to do something, I say yes and I show up. I show up on time. I offer to help when I can. I do the best that I can every single moment. I’ve never loved myself as much as I love myself now. That has been a huge part of my recovery. I’m so far from the person that walked in those doors. I’m full of hope. I would be dead without this program. I’m eternally grateful because it’s been a complete 180. A huge problem that I used to have before with myself is that I would say I wanted to do something or that I would do something and I would never do it. I couldn’t even trust myself because I can never seem to follow through because drinking would always get in the way.
Nowadays, I don’t even know how I had time for drinking. My life is full in such an amazing way, it’s beautiful. There’s never a day that I’m not doing something. I’m doing this. I’m doing meetings. I’m doing work. I’m going on a road trip with my sister. Stuff like that, we would say we would do it, but we’ll never do it. Now we’re doing it. I get to go driving whenever I want. Life is beautiful now. My vision was shaded before, I couldn’t see anything clearly. My priorities are in line. I’m grateful. I’m humble. I’m happy. I could not wish for anything more. It’s been 29 years to get here, but I know that the journey that I took to get here was what it was meant to be. Every step of the way from my parents being drug addicts to being molested to living with my aunt and uncle who had weird rules, my best intentions at heart to failing out of college to all of that led me to this moment here and this amount of happiness. That’s what I got.
Thank you so much, M. How wonderful. M is a client at the Gault House in Santa Cruz Sober Living Environment. She’s 29 years old. I am proud to have you. Thank you, M, so much for joining us at the show. To our audience, we wish you to stay sober and happy. Thank you.
Michelle is a single woman aged 29. Michelle has worked her way up within the restaurant industry, from a hostess to the restaurant manager. She has made many of the mistakes that are commonly made within a management position, such as; wanting to be liked, socializing with employees, drinking with employees and dating employees. Michelle has over $40,000 dollars in student loan debt and she plans to stay within the restaurant industry in order to pay off this debt. Michelle’s honesty in discussing her journey into alcoholism is exceptional. Michelle has a positive attitude that shows the miracle of human spirit. Get inspiration from Michelle’s as she shares her compelling journey.
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