On December 13, 2017 I woke up in a strange place, to the sound of unfamiliar voices, dazed and confused, surrounded by nothing but darkness. In my barely conscious state of mind, I thought I had been kidnapped. The reality of it was; I could no longer see. My vision was gone. I was blind. In that moment, I think I would have rather been kidnapped but if I’m being honest, losing my sight probably saved my life. I had been struggling with addiction and alcoholism, on and off, for over 10 years, continuously giving in to temptation and then drowning myself in it; never knowing limits and always losing control. It was mostly substance abuse in my younger years, but my usage became minimal as I grew older and then eventually stopped all together. Trust me, it wasn’t as simple as it sounds but believe it or not, its not the most relevant part of my story. It wasn’t the drugs that got me; it was the alcohol. It was no secret that, although off the heavy stuff, sober living just wasn’t going to work for me, I needed something to make me feel differently from the way I did, so I turned to alcohol. Legal, accessible and socially acceptable, I had myself convinced that this form of self medicating was OK because it wasnt as bad as what I used to be doing. I couldn’t have been more wrong. No matter the substance, I was an addict without control. Ofcourse I didnt see it that way at the time. When I was 23, I found out I was expecting my first child and I was thrilled. Putting down the booze didn’t feel so hard when there was a a baby to think about so thats exactly what I did and on June 2, 2010 my beautiful baby boy was born. He was perfect and between settling into motherhood, daily visitors and catching sleep whenever I could, I was plenty distracted with no extra time for thinking. Ofcourse once things began to slow down, the feelings of not wanting to just simply be me returned and so did the taunting thoughts of how easily I could fix that problem with just one drink. So I caved, somehow forgetting that theres no such thing as ‘just one drink’ for people like me. I did the best I could to “drink responsibly” but to me that just meant I wasn’t drinking during the day. Still, I never skipped a night and I always over did it. My son was 5 years old when he was put under the temporary custody of his aunt and I was no longer able to see him without supervision. That destroyed me. I desperately wanted to do fix all of my mistakes and do everything I could to get my baby back; but I still kept drinking. At the time, I was staying on a friend’s couch and given free use of their spare vehicle, so I took a job at the local 7-11 which led me to the next chapter of my life. I met a great guy there and he truly wanted to help me be better. At the beginning of our relationship, he shared with me that he would never be able to have children, which wasn’t a problem for me because I was in no position to be having another baby any time soon. You could only imagine our surprise when just a few months later, I found myself pregnant. He was excited. I wasnt. Unfortunately, and for unrelated reasons, our relationship ended shortly after an we didn’t speak for the remainder of my pregnancy. I was back on my friend’s couch; homeless, jobless and still without my son. But I was sober. So i threw myself into that, attending group meetings and individual counseling sessions right up until June 7, 2015 when my beautiful baby girl was born. She surprise us, arriving 3 weeks early, resulting in a 3 week stay at the hospital where we waited for her to gain her strength and meets all of the requirements for us to go home. During our time there, by the grace of God, my son was given back to me, joining us at the hospital, staying by my side for the remaining 2 weeks until we all went home together as a family. We went back to living at my mother’s house, which was the home I grew up in, and the absolute best place for me and the kids to be at that time. Things were going great. I was working, I had both of my babies and I had remained committed to my sobriety. But ofcourse, like most humans, I began to feel lonely, so I looked to the world of online dating. Right away, I began chatting with a guy who appeared to be a perfect match and one of the very first things I told him was that, for personal reasons, I didn’t drink and I did not want to be with anyone who did. He should have walked away right then and there, he didn’t even know me, this was just day one of texting; but instead he chose to lied. Three months later, after real feeling were involved, I found out he was a full blown alcoholic. Thats when I should have walked away, but instead I stayed. I stressed to him, numerous times, that I could not drink, listing the reasons every single time; it takes over my life, I lose control, it makes me mean and so on but instead of supporting my sobriety, he encouraged me to drink. I mean, misery loves company, am I right. I’ll never forget the day he just so casually asked me, “do you want to have a couple drinks tonight?” I knew what would happened, I knew it was going to end badly and I was making a terrible mistake but regardless of all the things I knew, I said yes. And just like that, everything’s I had worked for was gone. That was truly the beginning of the end for me and from that day on, every single part of my life slowly started to fall apart. DHHS opened a case on me, I was arrested for a DUI that took place with my son in the car, my children were taken away from me, the state was charging me with jeopardy, I lost my license and because of that, I lost my job and this was all one right after another. I was looking at atleast a year before I could even attempt to get my children back and the list of requirements to be met were no joke. I was being watched from every angle and everyone was counting on me to get it right. More than anything, I wanted to succeed and I was trying, I really was, but the damage I’d done was too much to handle, pushing me down into an even deeper hole. I was doing alright, living mainly at my boyfriend’s house and starting a new job at the Aroma Joes across the street but we all knew that, for numerous reasons, that house was a dangerous place for me to be. One of the biggest reasons; it was right next door to a 24 hour Cumberland Farms that had just recently started carrying liquor. In early December 2017 I had just started my job at Aroma Joes so when my boyfriend and his kids were leaving to spend the weekend with relatives, I stayed home. Drinking was all I could think about as I sat at home alone. At some point i switched from harmlessly thinking to actually doing an everything’s is a blur after that. I don’t know if I had a seizure or if I had possibly fallen down and hit my head but I guess I was totally incoherent. Somebody called 911 and I was taken by helicopter to Maine Med, with alcohol poisoning, in diabetic ketoacidosis as well as septic shock. The doctor told my mother that she better get there now because they didn’t expect me to survive the night. They said there was nothing more they could do for me. By some miracle, I survived. Even the doctors couldn’t explain it, deeming me a medical marvel, it was a legitimate miracle. I was barely conscious when I first opened my eyes and none of us were aware that during my struggle to survive,, my optics nerve had been permanently damaged, leaving me completely blind. It took me a few days to come out of the fog I was in and fully understand what had happened. I think most people thought that this was going to destroy me, but instead it was the opposite. I was grateful to be alive and blessed with a second chance. It has been exactly 3 years and I’m still very much sober, my kids are both here with me on a regular basis and things are one thousand times better today than they ever were when I was drinking. I’m still in the process of figuring out who I am and what I’m meant to be doing but I’m hopeful that things will only continue to get better from here because life isn’t just about darkness or like, rather it’s about finding light within the darkness.
Photo credit: Image courtesy of the storyteller.