My story is one of recovery and redemption. As far back as I can remember, I always felt like I never fit. Never fit in with people. Never in control of my emotions. Something just wasn’t right. As a kid it was easy for me to “know” what was wrong. I grew up in a very abusive and alcoholic home. "Of course there is something wrong with me," I thought. I was the weird kid with bruises that was always doing something bad. I thought I was bad.
Everything came to a head when I was fourteen. I was a latchkey kid with way too much freedom so I found myself hanging with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble. So much trouble that my mom sent me to Los Angeles for the summer to stay with my dad. A few weeks after that, she passed away. Her life was taken by another person. This SHATTERED my world. I was now living with a new family: my dad, step mom, older brother, half siblings, a four year old and a newborn. I had to start over with this huge gaping hole left inside of me.
From that moment until my late twenties, I spent my time running and changing. I called it being a “gypsy,” but now I see I was avoiding life. My gypsy ways eventually brought me to Chicago. My life was spinning out of control as it had for years. I was a bartending party girl. I was out all night avoiding real life and slept all day until I had to work. Then, a miracle happened: I met my husband.
We met working together at a restaurant. Despite my obvious flaws, he saw something in me that I didn’t think existed. His family took me in open-armed. And, I found God. I kept up the partying ways in the relationship until after we were married when we found out that we were expecting. I thought, “This will fix me, slow me down.” And it did. For a little while. Then, life came flooding in.
There I was a wife! And a mom! Not only can I not control my life, but I have to raise another life? Keep her safe? My daughter brought me so, so much joy. She taught me that I could love in a way I never knew existed. That was amazing, yes. But, this broken part of me still clung on.
We started going to church shortly after my daughter was born. My husband realized that I was suffering from postpartum depression and needed community. I absolutely loved it there! I found a small group of moms and we banded together. We did book studies and just lived life together. This is where my recovery started. Thinking things were on the mend, we had another little girl two years later. Deep down for me though, life was still teetering between “wonderful” and “terrifying.” I was really good at pretending it wasn’t until I couldn’t pretend anymore.
My depression eventually took over. My husband worked really long hours so I was home alone quite often. I just couldn’t cope. So...I started relaxing again with wine after I put the kids to bed. It worked for a little while. I continued going to church and hanging out with my moms group. God was healing SO much inside of me. Yet, at the end of the day, my gremlins came back. It got to the point where I felt like I was two different people. Erin, whose life had been turned upside down and completely wrecked by God’s love, and then the BAD Erin. I didn’t let many people see the second one. No matter how hard I tried, the second Erin, the bad Erin, started getting stronger.
I knew I was a good person, yet I couldn’t stop drinking. I started hiding how much I was drinking from my husband. My depression came back full force. I had to fight off the urge to hurt myself. I hated myself. I stopped showing up for life. There was a day where all I could do was sit on the couch with my hands in a fist so tight that the skin on my palms broke. I changed diapers and fed the kids but that was all I could do.
And so, I got to the point in February of last year that I started thinking my family would be better off without me. Those thoughts scared the living daylights out of me. I had to stop and close my eyes every few minutes to tell my brain to shut up. It got so loud in my head that on February 10th of last year, I started drinking in the morning. I was so sick from drinking the night before that I needed to level out. I could barely breathe. The thoughts of self harm were super powerful that day. It almost felt like a manic episode. I took one look at my kids and my husband and just knew. It was time. I went to my husband and said that I needed to go to a twelve step meeting. This thought had been in the back of my head for years. I have many people in my family who are in recovery so I knew one day I would probably have to go too. So he threw me in a cold shower, looked up a local meeting and I took a cab.
Sounds pretty simple right? That night is when I finally surrendered to God. I just couldn’t go any further the way that I was going. That night saved my life. Through doing the work of my twelve step program, I have finally become the person God meant me to be. I wake up in the morning now with that sense of peace and God’s Grace that I never thought possible. I have mended relationships. I have become a better mom. I have found that I really do deserve to have a full and meaningful life. I have become wholehearted. I have met other moms who have struggled with the same things that I have in my program, and that made me realize alcoholism wasn’t the end of the world. It is a disease. I wasn’t BAD. I just suffered from an illness. What a relief that was!
I started shedding layers of pain and shame. I stand tall and get to show my daughters what it is like to be a woman of God and to live life with integrity. As I write this, my heart is so full it almost hurts. I am beyond grateful for my life. I am beyond grateful for the people who helped me get here. And if life is this amazing after only a year and five months, I can only imagine what it will be like for years to come.