By Holly Ash
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My name is Holly, I am an alcoholic.
I am 43 years old and I have been sober for seven years. twp months, 26 days, eight hours and 32 minutes, at the time I started this paper. Unless you have been there you do not understand the significance in each of them numbers, because at any time they can all go back to 0 in a matter of one drink.
Who I am now
My purpose for writing this post is to help someone, whether it is a person who is out of control and maybe even knows in their heart they need help but won’t get it, or someone who has a loved one in this situation. I’m not an expert but by telling my story and giving you some resources, I offer you hope.
A little bit about who I am now and then I will get to who I was. I am a mother of four children of my own and I’ve been blessed with two children from my fiancé; all are grown and have lives and families of their own now. We have four beautiful and spoiled grandchildren. Our families have been put through all the issues any other family have gone through. I am a Computer Aided Drafting technician. I love what I do and I try to do it the best I can. I am also a server at a bar close to where I live. I volunteer as much as I possibly can for charities that are very near and dear to my heart, Rainbows for Kids, Toys for Tots and benefits around my neighborhood.
Who I was
So now you know a little about who I am let’s get to who I was. Some of the issues I have dealt with in life, I know I brought on myself. There are no parents to blame here, I had an amazing family. You always hear about someone who had a terrible childhood, well that is not me—and maybe it’s not you.
As far as my family, get ready for some confusion. I have two moms, three dads and a lot of siblings. I am adopted by my dad, but my step-dad raised me. Throughout my life, all of my parents have always been friends and we all did things together.
And things can happen in the best of families. When I was eight I can remember being at a Pig Roast and getting dad’s aunts and uncles beer from the cooler; when I did I made sure to grab two instead of one because I took the second one and went to the river and drank it. My love for the taste of beer started young I know.
Next I discovered the liquor cabinet and that vodka looked like water. The funny thing about schools, they want you to eat your lunch, but they never checked to see what you had to drink for lunch. I would take vodka and orange juice in my thermos.
As I reached pre-teen years, I found out I was adopted and started to rebel by sneaking out of our house to go to high school parties. I got into drugs and went down a bad path which led to skipping school and suspensions.
I was a mess and my mom and step-dad could not handle it anymore. I was breaking up their marriage. So I was shipped off to my dad and step-mom’s house, which I did not like.
I became a cheerleader to get some new party buddies, but unfortunately it produced the same results. I was in trouble all the time and my parents’ life-style did not fit into mine.
I left home at 15 got a job that paid well: a pole dancer. The good thing for me was they expected me to drink and I proceeded down another bad path.
I had my first child in 1992. In my heart I knew my lifestyle was bad and I hoped this baby would change my life for the better. I thought, “he is my baby, I love him I will quit drinking, and partying to make sure he is taken care of.” But it didn’t happen.
Back then the baby’s biological father was not a good influence and I had left him when I was five months pregnant to marry someone else. All that thinking the child would change me went down the drain when I would leave him with a babysitter to go out drinking. This became a pattern and I had four children and though I did not drink during the pregnancies, I would pick up once they were born.
I loved my children and made sure they were taken care of but my bad decisions caused me to lose them to DFS (Division of Family Services) in 1995.
I decided to clean up my act again. Still dancing, I made sure I was able to take care of my baby; I found another place to live, and a car. I worked hard to get my boys back.
I did not think my drinking had anything to do with any of my problems. I had my daughter on August 17, 1995. I tried respectable jobs like waitressing and working in a factory, but every time I did, something would happen and I would have to leave work to take care of the kids. I ended up working at the bar so I could feed my kids and pay my bills.
By the time I was 23 I had four kids. I had never particularly wanted children and even took birth control and here I was. I was upset, despondent, didn’t know what to do, so I drank to take the pain away
The bar was my home away from home, I spent more time working while the kids were with their fathers, and I made the money. This is when another bad path started.
I got my first DWI when I was 25 and my second one when I was 26, my third one when I was 27, my fourth and final one when I was 32. I paid more than $30,000.00 in fines and attorneys’ fees. I attended AA and SATOP– and everyone was telling me it has to stop, but I was still drinking.
(SATOP is the Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program for DWI offenders who are referred as a result of an administrative suspension or revocation of their driver licenses, court order, condition of probation, or plea bargain (statutes). SATOP is, by law, a required element in driver license reinstatement by the Department of Revenue.)
There is a lot more, but or the purpose of this article we’ll leave it at that. I had no idea how much I had hurt my children and family. I had two divorces, but the second marriage lasted 12 years and was full of drugs and violence. My children watched us drink, yell and fight. One night it escalated so bad that we ended up in the front yard and the neighbors thankfully called the police.
I just could not get my life together, I’d try to start over but always the old habits would come back. No matter where I moved or what I did to start over it was always the same. Finally, my oldest daughter did not want anything to do with me. Later, she could not find it in her heart to forgive me when I had apologized.
It all finally reached a climax
When I turned 35, I put myself into rehab. Not 100% sure of the date but in May I went to Bridgeway, I will put information on Bridgeway at the end of this article.
Even in this desperate effort I managed to mess it up.
My mom had gotten help from a man who worked with drug court and he told her that rehab would only work if I truly wanted to quit, and I truly did want to quit.
Well guess what? I got into another bad drunk situation involving my ex-husband and crashed my car trying to get away from him. This enraged him and he became violent. The next thing I remember from that terrible time was I had my phone and there was only one phone number I could remember and it was Bridgeway.
I called them told them I was drunk and I needed help. That night I was put into a cab and delivered to the doors of the people who help saved my life, and I pray that anyone reading this who was in a similar situation can learn from me and call Bridgeway or another rehab facility.
I really don’t remember much else, but when I woke up and I realized where I was and what I was doing there, I felt ashamed. I felt unworthy. I felt useless and I was scared and withdrawn for a few days.
I started going to the group sessions closed minded and thinking “I am not like these people I can handle this I just needed to dry out for a bit”. Listening to other people talk they started telling my story with different names. They started sounding like they were in my life, which was impossible because I did not know them. So I actually started to participate in the group sessions. I started to tell my story (which is a lot easier than writing it. I realized that I was not alone. I WAS IN REHAB FOR 28 DAYS.
Consequences of Rehab
In order to go to rehab I had to give temporary guardianship to my sister so my girls could go to school. My sister who was in charge of my girls kept them for three months after I got out just to make sure I was ok, Then they came back to live with me.
After I was home, I thought I had this thing licked and went back to work at the bar. I was not drinking and stayed sober for three months until I took that one drink, that turned into two and so on.
If you have tried to quit and relapsed, don’t give up, keep trying. Many people don’t succeed on their first try, but many people, including me DO succeed. I had one more last straw and that involved a boyfriend. Once he realized I really was an alcoholic he told me he was not going to put up with a “drunk” for a girlfriend.
That really hit me.
I have had a lot of people tell me that I was hurting them by my drinking and it did not bother me –my mom and dad, my kids. But for some reason his words triggered something in me. Not the fact of him walking out, but I think it was that he thought of me as a drunk and did not wan someone like that in his life.
It turns out this guy, who I had only known for a few weeks, saw something in me and wanted to be a part of my life.
If I wanted to quit drinking, he wanted to support me and I let him. My daughter and I moved into his home he took a blind leap of faith that I was a good person and I was worth helping and supporting.
I spent my next six months sitting around the tables at AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) as a friend of Bob’s. (I’ll put info on AA at the end of this article also)
I case you do not know who “Bob” is, he is the DR who started Alcoholics Anonymous. That fellowship—the friends of Bob– helped me to find my self-worth again, gave me the tools to stay sober and to better my life.
I sat around those tables and listened and talked and was getting mentally stronger by the day. Finally, I quit going to AA on that regular of a basis so I could live my life, I went back to school and got a degree, I found a job, I followed the steps of AA to the best of my ability, I still go to meetings when life is to good or too bad.
Going back to school and getting that degree not only made me more proud of myself but it put me in front others who could see this “new” me, the one who cared about things and put forth a lot of effort. I met people who respected me and it made me want to be a better person.
I go to AA meetings when life is to good, because I do not ever want to think I am strong enough to handle another drink, I go to remind myself that one drink can send me into a spiral of problem again, and I go when life is really bad because drinking is not going to solve the situation.
It took me a long time but I finally realized that.
A support system is the most important part of staying sober, that man is now my fiancé and continues to support me, he and my family are by mys ide when I have bad news good news or just need to vent. He and my family help keep me sober.
People say getting sober is easy it is staying sober that is the hard part, and they couldn’t be more correct.
I try every day to be better person, so for the last seven years three months 13 days 10 hours and 45 minutes I have done the best I could to help whenever I can, I volunteer whenever and with whoever needs me at the time. Helping others helps me.
I am not perfect but I am sober and I am loved, I am here to help whoever needs it.
My story is not over yet.
My name is Holly and I am an alcoholic…
Bridgeway Behavioral Health has been the provider of choice for addiction and trauma services in the St. Louis metropolitan region since 1978.
The compassion and credibility of BBH staff and partners are what make the agency a leader in the field of Addiction Treatment, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault services.
Through partnerships with a diverse set of human service organizations Bridgeway expands its capacity to serve and learn. To help an individual is to serve a community and we are committed to making their community a better place through the work that they do.
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