Throughout college I thought everyone drank like me. There were constant parties and nights at the bars. What I didn’t realize was that everyone else around me could stop when they needed to but I could not. I would drink to the point of blacking out until I got sick. The next day I would be so hungover that I would use the “hair of the dog” to offset my hangover and then I was off and running again for the rest of the day drinking. This became the vicious cycle of my everyday life.
I began teaching first grade and my drinking became an everyday occurrence. I would wake up incredibly hung over, and often times getting sick in the class bathroom before my students came in for the day. I was then responsible for eighteen little ones for the day, keeping them safe, and receiving the education that they deserved. While I was in the height of my addiction, I was also in the classroom teaching and fighting for my life.
The teaching profession as a whole is under-appreciated, underpaid, demanding, and stressful to say the least. Because of this problem drinking and alcoholism are very common in the profession. Myself and my colleges often hit the bars on the weekends, and always heard from others there that teachers were always the craziest drinkers there. This was also compounded by the fact that while in the classroom working with students, their parents and the staff we had to maintain a high level of professionalism, and the image of a sweet and innocent elementary school teacher.
No one wants to think the future generation of our country is in the hands of an alcoholic. The stigma attached to alcoholism is one that needs to change. But sadly even when you are clean and sober if you tell someone you are an alcoholic they picture someone who is homeless, living on a park bench. The disease of addiction does not discriminate, and affects people of all genders, ages, races, and sexual orientation.
My 30th birthday I hit my breaking point. I got so drunk that I blacked out, drank all of the alcohol in my friends house, stole money from her husbands wallet, and drove thirty minutes across town and woke up the next morning with no idea where I was or how I got there. I do not know how I did not kill myself or someone else that night on the road. I can't even describe the feelings of shame, regret, and guilt I had for my actions.I had no idea what to do but knew I had to do something. I could not go on living this way.
That summer I had been babysitting for a woman and her two children. After a couple of months of watching her children she came back home with her entire extended family. I asked what they had done and if they had fun. She responded, “Yes, I was picking up my three year medallion for AA.” I could not believe this woman who seemed to have the most perfect life and family was a alcoholic! I reached out to the woman I had babysat for and told her I needed help. That day she took me to my first AA meeting, I cried the entire time. I kept coming back because that’s what I was told to do and clearly any decision I made for my life was not the right one. The women in AA carried and loved me until I learned to love myself. Since that day I have been sober for three years.
I was sober barely thirty days the beginning of the next school year. I was teaching during the day, and then attending a AA meeting everyday after school. The students, their parents, and my colleges had no idea I was an alcoholic in recovery. I was so grateful that AA was an anonymous program and I did not have to worry about others knowing this part of my life unless I told them myself. I would go out with my teacher friends and would be the only one not drinking. I explained to them I had stopped drinking due to health reasons to protect my anonymity and my position in my profession.
This is what I choose for my recovery but everyone is different. After a couple of years sober I did decide to share that I was a recovering alcoholic with my closest friends. They could not believe I was an alcoholic because I seemed to have my life together. I explained to them that the life I had today was only because I working a honest program in alcoholics anonymous and their support in my journey was beautiful!
I now work for a digital marketing company where I am able to share my experience, strength and hope with other struggling alcoholics. My hope is that sharing my story will help to break the stigma that comes with being an alcoholic, or addict. If you are struggling and are sick and tired of being sick and tired there is another way of life! Through the 12 steps of AA, working an anonymous program you can begin to heal the wreckage of your past. This part of your life is something that you can choose who you want to share it with, and who you do not. Recovery is for you and so you can live the beautiful, healthy, and happy life you deserve!
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