Was I aware of the terrifying fact that I had a drinking problem? Conscious long prior to my surrender? Of course I was. At nineteen I recall questioning a co-worker about liver function?
Geographic moves, quantity control, variations of the type of drink; beer or wine instead of liquor. Control had been defeated, repeatedly. Even through two cancer scares, and alcohol evident injuries. I still succumbed to the false euphoria that accompanied my "habit."
Why were my own measures to quit unsuccessful? Independently, I simply was not strong enough. I didn’t have the strength it required to get sober. I was beaten down by years of self-inflicted shame and despair. Even the day I finally hit bottom, I couldn’t stand up and face my own demons. I would have rather danced with death than reach out for help and start the hard work toward a better life.
My 15 year old daughter recently wrote a narrative for a class. I was stunned by her version of my bottom; as it is still a day I can barely recall. Astounded by the parallels of her story and mine through her observations of disbelief, anger, depression.
We both resolved to dig deep and surrender to the task at hand. I have been saved twice.
June 8, 2014, by her resolve to power through a terrifying situation.
Today, with the help of my higher power.
I thank God for this “small, weak, brunette teenage girl” and her insurmountable strength.
Indeed she was, and is, strong enough.
This Mother's Day weekend, I am blessed to celebrate totally present, with both of my girls...if not for their will to pull me through those few dark hours, I wouldn't be here.
NOT STRONG ENOUGH
“I guess you could say that for my image (a small, weak, brunette teenage girl) I don’t seem like the kind of person who can handle much or stand up for something. I couldn’t possibly be a strong person. I used to think that was true. Until one day there was no other option but to be strong.
My freshman year of school was a bad one. I had such a tough time in school and emotionally because everything in my life was happening at the wrong place and the wrong time. My family had divorced when I was eight years old and my dad moved out of the house. Me and my sister had shared custody with both of them week on and week off. This went on for a while even when my dad moved around. My dad had moved twice before my mom and him made a deal that he would take the house we were living in, and pay of all the debts on the house. My mom was having a hard time with money so she couldn’t refuse. My mom found a house to rent and then we lived there for about four months before we got kicked out by the landlords because other people put up an offer to buy the whole house. We ended up living in Belgrade where it all started to go down hill.
A lot of things happened when we were in Belgrade; I’m going to spare you the drama and keep the story short. My mom got stressed out from driving me and my sister everywhere all the time (my school, her school, my cheer practice, football games, etc.), we were having a hard time getting money, my mom started to drink, she also was taking prescribed pills from the doctor (which we didn’t know were not the correct prescription until about 1-2 years later) which were not treating her well, and I was getting depressed.
When all of this was happening I would forget things I at my dad’s house in Bozeman and I would tell my mom we needed to get them, so I would ask her to take me there. Because it was such a long drive my mom would lose her temper and yell at me for not being able to remember things and I would just sit in the car and say nothing the whole way there just knowing it would get worse if I said anything. Life went on like this for a while until we finally found a house back in Bozeman!
We moved into our new house in less than three months and I finally felt like things were going to get better. And they did… for a while. Life was more normal for me since we lived closer to home (Bozeman) like we did a couple years before we moved to Belgrade. And my mom got her mood in shape for the time being. We loved our new house, and then it all started back up again. My mom got stressed and drank, I thought this was normal. My mom drinks, my dads drinks, my moms friends drink and I would always see people around me drinking. It happened at all occasions. Whether it was watching a movie or going to a party there was always alcohol there. So I didn’t worry too much about it. When I really started to worry about it was a few months after we had settled into our house.
My mom had been at her friend’s house for a few nights drinking and crying because one of her friends died at work. After that for a couple of weeks all she did was cry and take naps. I remember when she woke up from the naps she would be all loopy. She would have this overconfident attitude and kind of act like a teenager. I hated it. I would tell her that I didn’t like her acting that way and to stop it, but sooner or later I realized that it wasn’t really in her control. She took at least 2-3 naps a day and always woke up the same. I told her that I wouldn’t allow her to takes naps anymore and sooner or later I felt like the adult of the family. It continued like this for a few more weeks when she finally cracked.
One day we were at her friend’s house and she was having more of a tough time than usual. We ended up staying there most of the day until it as a couple hours until sundown. We headed back home, and as soon as she went upstairs she got in her bed and started sobbing. It wasn’t little tears like usual. She had her face covered with mascara and she was crying so hard that she a struggling to breathe. I sat with her in her bed and my sister was standing at the doorway. She was scared, I could tell because she was close to crying herself. I told her to come over to the edge on the bed and tried to calm both of them down. I was talking to my mom for a while and she wasn’t calming down. I know my mom well and I could sense that something was very wrong. I asked her once more,”Are you ok?” she just kept sobbing and answered no. I said, “Mom. Promise me you won’t do anything stupid, ok?” she laid there sobbing for a bit and then replied, “I can’t promise Emma, I can’t”. At this moment I knew that this was serious and something needed to be done.
I just sat there on the bed and thought about what I could do but I never took my eyes off of my mom. I knew I couldn’t do this by myself anymore and I needed professional help. Who could help me? Who can I trust? Who is available? All of these thoughts were rushing into my head and I had no idea what to do. And then after thinking for a while I remember that I saw a commercial on TV telling people about a suicide hotline. I knew I had to call them but I didn’t want my mom to hear or she would start panicking because she didn’t want any help. I needed someone to watch her while I went outside to call them. I knew that the only person who could help me was my little sister. I held her shoulders and looked into her eyes and said, “Jessa, you need to understand that what I am about to ask you is very important and very serious. I need to go downstairs and make a call I need you to stay up here with mom until I come back up. If she gets out of bed or tries to do anything I need you to come outside and tell me. Do you got that?” She didn’t understand what was going on but I think she could tell I was very serious. So she just looked at me with big eyes and said “ya."
I went downstairs and looked up the suicide hotline on my phone. A lady answered and started asking me a lot of questions. We were talking for a while and then she came to a conclusion that I needed to contact the Hope House. It is a place by the hospital that helps people get back to their original state. I wasn't old enough to drive so I called my dad who came over and I called my moms friend and told her to come over. They both arrived around the same time. My mother was hysterical at this point because she didn’t want anyone to see her like that. My mom’s friend took her to the Hope House and my dad took us to his house until she got better. I was still trying to grasp on to the idea of what had just happened. I remember sitting in the front seat of my dad’s car on the way over to his girlfriend’s house. I had no emotion. I was mad at myself for not reacting the way I thought I should. Eventually I cried a little bit but I was still surprised at how well I had handled the situation.
This was a moment I was strong. It took me a few months to figure it out but I realized I am stronger than I thought and it changed the way I view myself. It turns out that the worst became the better. My mom didn’t really want to commit suicide, it was just a big cry for help and she ended up getting the help she needed. She figured out she had a bad doctor and he gave her the wrong type of prescription and that is why she was so loopy after she took her naps. She stopped drinking and started to go to AA (alcoholics anonymous) and now her life is better. I love my mom, and even though that was a very scary situation, it helped both my mom and me.”