A Hard Lesson Learned

A Hard Lesson Learned

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. It’s been a long time since I’ve had anything to say.

I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to share this story. I’ve contemplated on whether or not it’s just too personal (sort of funny given all of the other stories I’ve shared). I’ve wondered if it’s too soon. It’s still very fresh for me, my emotions around this are still very raw. The amount of shame I feel is overwhelming. After much consideration I’ve decided that it’s for these reasons that I should share this. So here it is…

I’ve come to the realization, after many years of fighting it, denying it, arguing about it, and so forth, that I have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). I have battled with it for many years without even having much of an awareness of it, that is until the last couple of years.

About 2 years ago I quit drinking for about a year. It wasn’t that I drank all of the time, it wasn’t daily, it wasn’t even necessarily weekly, but when I drank…I drank…and I drove. I had endless conversations with many people about how dangerous it was for me to drive in that condition. I completely agreed. I was being very reckless, stupid, and inconsiderate; not only was I risking my own safety and life, but what was more, I was risking the safety and lives of innocent people. I had some very serious boundary issues around limiting how much I drank in a single event. So I quit. When I quit, I kept open the possibility of introducing alcohol back in my life once I felt I had control of my ability to consume responsibly.

After about a year, I felt I had it under control enough to set and hold boundaries around how much I drank in a single event. I felt I could have just one or two and stop. It had been a year after-all, I had this under control, right?

At first I did, but as time went on the same old behaviors came back. It was like riding a bike, as they say. Old habits die hard. I knew I had let myself go to far. I just kept telling myself that I will do better. I will reel it back in, but I didn’t. I would go for a few and end up drinking far more and for longer than I had intended. I still could not hold this boundary.

This time the lesson hit me hard…

 

 

…or should I say, I hit it hard?

 

This happened Saturday evening. I had been drinking that afternoon. It happened about a block away from home. I looked away for a moment, before I knew what was happening I hit the curb and the pole was right there. There was no way I could’ve avoided it. Well, unless I had been a responsible adult and not driving under the influence to begin with.

The police were called. I was cuffed, arrested, brought in to the station, and luckily released. I received my first and last DWI that evening. And as humiliating and shaming as it was, I absolutely 100% deserved every second of it, right down to smashing up my brand new vehicle that I have only made 2 payments on. I deserve to lose full privileges of my license for 90 days (I can get a limited license as of Oct 15th so I can get to/from work, court, probation meetings, as well as support groups/meetings). I deserve the fees and fines that come with a DWI. I deserve all of it! I did this to myself. Only I could’ve prevented this all from happening.

Someone very dear to me said, “this might be the best case scenario for what seemed inevitable”. I can’t recall words that have ever been spoken to me in my lifetime that are more true than those words…

…I hit a telephone pole not a person, no one was physically injured, including myself. The only damage done was to my vehicle and the pole. Sooner or later something like this was bound to happen. If I was stupid enough to drink and drive, then this was inevitable.

I am very aware of how lucky I am that this was all that happened. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if my irresponsible decision, to get behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence, had hurt someone. I am very aware of how lucky I am that I wasn’t hurt, I hit a fucking telephone pole!

I can live with, deal with, get through, and deserve all of what comes my way as a result of my actions and poor decisions. That’s on me.

I’m so incredibly grateful that I didn’t hurt anyone. I’m grateful that I didn’t get hurt. I’m even grateful that this is how it happened, given that it was likely inevitable. This is my rock bottom. This is my wake-up call. This is my slap in the face. This is my second chance.

I will never drink and drive again. This is a promise I am making to the innocent people that share the roads with me, to the people who love and care about me, and to myself. If I can’t drink responsibly, and keeping that promise means I never drink again, then so be it, I never drink again. The consequences of drunken decisions aren’t worth it, not to me, not anymore.

For anyone out there who doesn’t think this will happen to them…I didn’t think it would happen to me either. I smashed up my vehicle, got a DWI, lose the freedom to come and go as I please for 90 days, I have to take a DWI knowledge exam, I have to pay out a shit ton of money, I have to go to court, will get fined a shit ton more money, I will likely get probation, I will possibly even be court ordered to attend meetings or a class of some sort on alcohol abuse…even with all of this I consider myself lucky.

Take my advice, don’t risk it, it’s not worth it. There are so many options out there other than having to drive under the influence. Call Uber, Lyft, a relative, a friend. Hell, walk home…just don’t get behind the wheel. I promise, this can happen to you. If you’re like me, it’s inevitable, just a matter of time and you may not be as lucky as I was. You are the only one who can prevent it from happening. Don’t be like me; don’t push your luck because that shit always runs out.

I hope by sharing my story that maybe, just maybe someone will read it and decide not to get behind the wheel under the influence. Maybe together we save a life or two or more. If my story can stop even just one person from driving under the influence then putting my shame and humility out there for all the world to see, isn’t for nothing.

*Side note: If anyone who reading this has any judgement towards me, I completely get it and I don’t blame you. But know this, whatever judgements and/or negative opinions you may have of me about this, I promise you the ones I hold for myself are far worse.

  • Dani

Feeling Loved and Appreciated

Feeling Loved and Appreciated

Today is my last day as a Chemical Dependency Technician at the treatment center I work for. I will be starting a new job in an entirely different field on Tuesday. My new job is an incredible opportunity. It is nearly twice the pay and I will get full benefits; that’s not something to turn down. However, there are things that no other company will ever be able to give me that I’ve been given here.

I’ve worked at the treatment center for a few days shy of 7 months. In that time I have met some of the most amazing people and, in many ways, my life has changed because of these amazing people.

I now have a much better understanding of my drinking problem as well as my sobriety. I have no shame that I fell victim to this disease rather I am filled with a sense of pride in myself that I’m now sober. Being with these guys 40+ hours a week has been so encouraging for me.

I have so much respect for these guys and anyone else who takes on their ugly disease that is addiction. These guys are so much stronger than they get credit for. They fight for themselves every.single.day. They fight to beat the disease, they fight to take on past wounds they buried with their addiction, they fight to see their children, they fight for their relationships, they fight for their sobriety, they fight to like themselves and perhaps one day even love themselves, they fight to get their lives back, they fight for their lives. Can you imagine the strength it takes to fight all of these things day after day? How exhausting it would be?

I’ve seen grown men come in looking pretty rough, feeling defeated, needing help, some with terribly shitty attitudes, walls up, closed off, tough exterior. The ones who make it through the program tend to be be the complete opposite when they leave than they were when they came in. It has been both an honor and a privilege to watch so many of these guys transform right before my eyes; to listen to their stories, their struggles, their feelings and to be witness to the “ah ha!” moments; to watch them start winning in life; and to see them become healthier and happier.

I’ve listened to these guys, I’ve given my opinion, I’ve shared some of my personal life experiences in an attempt to help them, guide them, and/or to let them know they aren’t alone in whatever it is they are going through. I’ve ached so deeply for them in their struggles and I’ve been over the top excited for them in their wins (I do my best not to let them see my raw emotions, boundaries ya know).

I’ve listened to them laugh together and encourage each other. It doesn’t matter how many times I experience moments like that, I can’t help but to smile. Or to hear a father talking to his child on the phone in such a kind, loving, and compassionate way. To hear them telling their children they miss them and love them. These guys warm my heart pretty regularly.

I feel I am a better person for having met these guys and for having worked here. My time here has been relatively short lived, but the way things have played out, it seems whatever my purpose for being here, has been fulfilled. I’m not sure if I was lead here for their sake or for my own, maybe both. Based on the lovely comments written in my card from the guys, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been of some help to some of them. I wonder though, if they have any idea how much they’ve helped me?

Card From Clients

I’ve met some of the coolest, kindest, loving people here. I’ve had some of the most amazing and deep conversations with these guys. I’ve had an impromptu song about me sung to me, I’ve had one of my favorite songs played on guitar and sung to me, I’ve been offered a night out to the theater for a play/musical, I’ve had magic tricks performed for me (real magic and funny magic), I had a gentleman who was a visitor here earlier this week recite a poem to me that he had written (the poem wasn’t for me, he just shared it with me), I’ve been offered almost every type of food you can imagine, I’ve been humored by many, and challenged by a few.

This job, though only 7 months long, has hands down been the best job I’ve ever had. They say when you love what you do, it isn’t really work. For me, being here for these guys wasn’t work, it wasn’t a job, it was an honor. These guys will forever hold a place in my heart.

For all of the above reasons, for making themselves vulnerable to me when they certainly didn’t have to, for sharing some of their stories and pieces of their lives with me, and for everything else they’ve shown me, taught me, and for the gift of watching them grow and become healthier, thank you! Thank you for letting me in to your lives and for touching mine so very deeply.

With Love and Respect,

Dani