What does the semi-colon mean to you? Is it a form of punctuation, or does it mean something else? For me, the semi-colon means that one part of my story was written, and my “sentence” could have ended, but instead, I put a semi-colon after that sentence instead of a period, essentially allowing the sentence to continue it’s statement.
Throughout my late teens and early 20s, I became wholly and hopelessly addicted to alcohol. I could not imagine life without it. I was fearful of life without it. I didn’t want to experience life without the dulling, numbing effects of alcohol. I tried and tried and tried as hard as I could to stop drinking, but within days or weeks, I would resume drinking, and every time I went back, it was worse than before. The emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, and financial destruction was insurmountable. The allure of alcohol, mixed with other mind-altering substances, gave me reprieve from my ever-growing list of grievances, including but not limited to: (non-existent) relationships with friends and family and significant others, financial stability, credit card & student loan debt, the black hole of loneliness and depression, the constant static and self-berating, internal battle thoughts in my head, the feeling of “is this what my life is going to be like forever?”
The attraction and effects of alcohol worked so well at first, and then, I was constantly chasing the golden glow of being buzzed. After a while, I was in a cycle of drunk, sleep, withdrawal, drunk again, sleeping again, withdrawing again. I’ve been in the hospital and detox more times than I care to count. The only way out of this prison caused by alcohol and my own sick mind seemed to be suicide. I felt like it would be easier than trying to stop drinking again, trying to repair relationships and damage I had caused while addicted. I tried, more than a few times, to drink myself to death, hoping I wouldn’t wake up, leaving my body behind and praying it wouldn’t be my parents who would find me. I had thoughts of running out in traffic, hoping to put myself in a coma, just for a while. I had thoughts of hanging myself off the balcony outside. I had thoughts of cutting myself, hoping to bleed out… not even sure if I cared who found me, dead or alive.
At the very end of my drinking days, I set out on a mission to kill myself. At the time I was back home with my parents, and we were in a constant battle about my drinking. Many people and professionals had written me off as a lost cause, but more importantly, I believed I was a lost cause. I believed with my whole being that I was worthless. I set out one morning at 6 AM and headed across state lines to Wisconsin, where booze sales are legal at 6 AM. I bought myself wine and beer and set out on a drive into the depths of country roads in Wisconsin. I drove around drinking, screaming to myself, sobbing, and shaking while gripping the wheel “I HATE THIS! I HATE MYSELF! I AM A HORRIBLE PERSON!!!!” The last thing I remember is parking in a state park parking lot, crawling into the back seat, drinking and drinking and drinking and taking more pills, including benzodiazepines.
The next thing I remember is waking up, handcuffed to a hospital bed. I was looking at myself from above, with disgust and pure hatred. I had never felt so awful in my life, and I knew something bad, really bad, had happened.
Only when I read the police report did I realize what a fucking monster I was that day.
I drove through an innocent bystanders’ yard, destroying landscaping and trees. This all happened on a Monday, and I am significantly fortunate, and eternally grateful, the children of this household were in school, saving me from driving over them in a belligerent and blacked out state.
That day was the last day I ever drank. May 9 of 2017. As of today, I am sober for 1 year and 292 days. As I approach 2 years, I am amazed at what I can accomplish in sobriety.
I have become a youth volleyball coach, an artist, a loving friend, daughter, and granddaughter; I have become a productive member of society again, and I show up. I show up for my friends, family, and my job. This is the longest I’ve gone with the same job, and I am PROUD of who I am today. It is something I never thought was possible.
In the end, I am grateful that my life, however hard I tried to end it, continued. Therefore, the semi-colon represents my recovery and the continuance of life. The continuance of being me, finding out who I am, and rebuilding, piece by piece, all the things I destroyed in my addiction. I am still repairing everything I burned into ashes, but I somehow find the strength to keep doing it, every single day.
My mission is for people to know, whether they are having a bad day, struggling with mental illness or addiction, or having the misfortune of loving a child, sibling, or friend who struggles with any of the aforemented afflictions, that they are not alone. However bad you think you are, however hopeless you feel, you can recover. We can recover and we do recover. It is hard work, but the work is so worth it.