Before I tell you about the big break up (the day that I dumped a full bottle of vodka on the rocks in my garden), here’s a little of the back story.
My sister died when I was thirty. We were best friends. It totally sucked. It was excruciating to experience. I hated pain. I’ve had lots of experience stuffing pain. Ever since my parents divorced when I was 3, I had become a master stuffer of pain.
Decades of pain had built up and now, this was just too much to stuff. I would shout away the grief whenever it crept up. Alone in my car was always the perfect place for a scream-fest. But it wasn’t enough to offer relief. I started using alcohol to numb the pain. Beer, wine, whisky, and vodka.
I had already lost myself in the chaos of motherhood—I had three toddling boys at the time—but my sister’s death put that process into high gear. Only, I didn’t know it, and nobody else knew it either. I created a façade that made it look like everything in my life was just fine.
Ya… I’m fine. I’m a Christian mom, married a long time, go to church, read the Bible. Come on. I am totally fine.
The truth is, my life was empty, and I was miserable. I didn’t even know it. I was out of touch with me. I got super busy numbing the pain in my life, and unwittingly all the joy too, with alcohol.
Just before turning 38, I gave birth to our baby girl. Surprise!!! Of course, I didn’t drink while pregnant. Nursed my baby too. Then BOOM! The economy crash of 2009 devastated my husband’s business and I continued to drink.
I kept busy organizing multiple refinances on the house to avoid the multiple foreclosures that were initiated by our lenders. I got good at hiding from the guys trying to deliver our foreclosure papers.
Our marriage was falling apart.
We argued all the time.
I yelled at my kids all the time.
My multiple attempts to quit drinking were a joke.
Eventually I met with a divorce attorney.
My life was unravelling.
I didn’t talk to anyone about my struggles, not even my family and friends.
I was living a big secret mess! My life was filled with anxiety, fear, chaos, depression, discouragement, grief, and hopelessness.
The burden of cooking and cleaning was too much. Helping kids with their homework was too much. Daily tasks were stressful. Too much. Anxiety. Exhaustion. I couldn’t keep my head above water. I lost myself. I hated myself.
Something had to change. This couldn’t be all there was. How was this my life? I had to do something different.
One day during another ugly argument with my husband, something snapped.
I decided it was time to break up with vodka—forever.
I took the nearly full bottle of vodka I had been drinking from that day out to my garden and I dumped it out. All of it. It took a minute or two because it was full. I stared at it as it hit the dirt and dripped over the rocks. I was determined to change my life!
And then. … Nothing. My life was still a mess. Nothing magical happened.
No curtain lifted, showing me the yellow brick road to my dream life. If the angels sang, I didn’t hear it.
You know what was magical though? I changed my trajectory. Big time.
It was 2010 when I dumped out that vodka. Things were the same at first. All the money problems, my strained marriage and stresses were still there, only I had sworn off my pain-numbing elixir.
Now I had to be willing to stop hiding, face my life, feel the pain, and be uncomfortable in order to move forward through the mess. I didn’t even know how I would do it.
I decided that I was willing to traverse the mountain of pain, buried emotions, broken relationships, and mess. All that stuff I tried to bury and run from. I embraced that life might feel terrible for a long time, and that was okay, because I wanted more than the miserable life that I had created for myself.
Over time, after days, weeks, months and years, the shift that I created in my trajectory has brought me to new, healthier, happier, and more hopeful places.
No more running and hiding from challenges, pain, heartache and obstacles. Negative emotions are a part of life. Bring it! And along with a willingness to experience the negative emotions, I have allowed myself to have purpose, repaired relationships, joy, and fulfillment Like never before. And the best is still ahead of me.