A Hard Lesson Learned

A Hard Lesson Learned

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. It’s been a long time since I’ve had anything to say.

I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to share this story. I’ve contemplated on whether or not it’s just too personal (sort of funny given all of the other stories I’ve shared). I’ve wondered if it’s too soon. It’s still very fresh for me, my emotions around this are still very raw. The amount of shame I feel is overwhelming. After much consideration I’ve decided that it’s for these reasons that I should share this. So here it is…

I’ve come to the realization, after many years of fighting it, denying it, arguing about it, and so forth, that I have an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). I have battled with it for many years without even having much of an awareness of it, that is until the last couple of years.

About 2 years ago I quit drinking for about a year. It wasn’t that I drank all of the time, it wasn’t daily, it wasn’t even necessarily weekly, but when I drank…I drank…and I drove. I had endless conversations with many people about how dangerous it was for me to drive in that condition. I completely agreed. I was being very reckless, stupid, and inconsiderate; not only was I risking my own safety and life, but what was more, I was risking the safety and lives of innocent people. I had some very serious boundary issues around limiting how much I drank in a single event. So I quit. When I quit, I kept open the possibility of introducing alcohol back in my life once I felt I had control of my ability to consume responsibly.

After about a year, I felt I had it under control enough to set and hold boundaries around how much I drank in a single event. I felt I could have just one or two and stop. It had been a year after-all, I had this under control, right?

At first I did, but as time went on the same old behaviors came back. It was like riding a bike, as they say. Old habits die hard. I knew I had let myself go to far. I just kept telling myself that I will do better. I will reel it back in, but I didn’t. I would go for a few and end up drinking far more and for longer than I had intended. I still could not hold this boundary.

This time the lesson hit me hard…

 

 

…or should I say, I hit it hard?

 

This happened Saturday evening. I had been drinking that afternoon. It happened about a block away from home. I looked away for a moment, before I knew what was happening I hit the curb and the pole was right there. There was no way I could’ve avoided it. Well, unless I had been a responsible adult and not driving under the influence to begin with.

The police were called. I was cuffed, arrested, brought in to the station, and luckily released. I received my first and last DWI that evening. And as humiliating and shaming as it was, I absolutely 100% deserved every second of it, right down to smashing up my brand new vehicle that I have only made 2 payments on. I deserve to lose full privileges of my license for 90 days (I can get a limited license as of Oct 15th so I can get to/from work, court, probation meetings, as well as support groups/meetings). I deserve the fees and fines that come with a DWI. I deserve all of it! I did this to myself. Only I could’ve prevented this all from happening.

Someone very dear to me said, “this might be the best case scenario for what seemed inevitable”. I can’t recall words that have ever been spoken to me in my lifetime that are more true than those words…

…I hit a telephone pole not a person, no one was physically injured, including myself. The only damage done was to my vehicle and the pole. Sooner or later something like this was bound to happen. If I was stupid enough to drink and drive, then this was inevitable.

I am very aware of how lucky I am that this was all that happened. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if my irresponsible decision, to get behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence, had hurt someone. I am very aware of how lucky I am that I wasn’t hurt, I hit a fucking telephone pole!

I can live with, deal with, get through, and deserve all of what comes my way as a result of my actions and poor decisions. That’s on me.

I’m so incredibly grateful that I didn’t hurt anyone. I’m grateful that I didn’t get hurt. I’m even grateful that this is how it happened, given that it was likely inevitable. This is my rock bottom. This is my wake-up call. This is my slap in the face. This is my second chance.

I will never drink and drive again. This is a promise I am making to the innocent people that share the roads with me, to the people who love and care about me, and to myself. If I can’t drink responsibly, and keeping that promise means I never drink again, then so be it, I never drink again. The consequences of drunken decisions aren’t worth it, not to me, not anymore.

For anyone out there who doesn’t think this will happen to them…I didn’t think it would happen to me either. I smashed up my vehicle, got a DWI, lose the freedom to come and go as I please for 90 days, I have to take a DWI knowledge exam, I have to pay out a shit ton of money, I have to go to court, will get fined a shit ton more money, I will likely get probation, I will possibly even be court ordered to attend meetings or a class of some sort on alcohol abuse…even with all of this I consider myself lucky.

Take my advice, don’t risk it, it’s not worth it. There are so many options out there other than having to drive under the influence. Call Uber, Lyft, a relative, a friend. Hell, walk home…just don’t get behind the wheel. I promise, this can happen to you. If you’re like me, it’s inevitable, just a matter of time and you may not be as lucky as I was. You are the only one who can prevent it from happening. Don’t be like me; don’t push your luck because that shit always runs out.

I hope by sharing my story that maybe, just maybe someone will read it and decide not to get behind the wheel under the influence. Maybe together we save a life or two or more. If my story can stop even just one person from driving under the influence then putting my shame and humility out there for all the world to see, isn’t for nothing.

*Side note: If anyone who reading this has any judgement towards me, I completely get it and I don’t blame you. But know this, whatever judgements and/or negative opinions you may have of me about this, I promise you the ones I hold for myself are far worse.

  • Dani

It Feels Good

Over the last few weeks I’ve received a lot of positive feedback and compliments. I don’t generally know how to react in the face of these things, other than to smile politely and say thank you. I deeply appreciate all of the kind words, but I’ve always struggled with accepting and believing the compliments I’m given.

“How could I ever be good enough for anything?”

That’s just one of many questions that tend to run through my head when I’m given a compliment or positive feedback.

I’m learning to stop questioning my worth and to accept that perhaps, I am good enough!

A couple of weeks ago, a coworker of mine told me that she’s heard nothing but good things about me throughout the company and that the head of another department inquired about me.

Last week, a coworker sent me an email telling me the she appreciates me. I had helped her with a couple of different things and we worked together to get a couple other things figured out. The email she sent me simply said, “I appreciate you.” It is amazing how just 3 words can have such a profound impact on a person. “I appreciate you”. Those may be my new favorite 3 words. We all need to tell people this more often. It feels good to be told!

Another co-worker, last week, told me I was a genius. I think it’s safe to say that I am not a genius, but his expression of gratitude was warmly received.

I was even referred to as an amazing woman last week. This might be another set of words to add to my favorites list.

Then today, a meeting had just ended and I was walking back to the cubical farm with another coworker that I don’t generally see much of, but we’ve always gotten along quite well. She is a speed walker like none I’ve ever seen. She jokingly picked up her pace as we walked together. We talked about her steps per day, and asked each other how things are going. I told her I was good and had no complaints. She then said, that she has heard nothing but good things about me and that I am doing a great job. Apparently there is lots of buzz about me throughout the company. As we parted ways, she said, “I tell them I agree!”. We laughed and thanked her.

Whether there is all this buzz about how “great” I am or not, it is definitely nice to hear that some people think I am doing great.

It’s nice to be told that I’m appreciated.

It’s nice to be noticed.

In some ways this feels very new to me. It’s not like I’ve never been complimented or anything. History has shown that I do tend to rise in whatever I do, without intending to. I’ve been told several times throughout my life that I’m one of a kind, that I’m a special person, that there is something about me,  that I’m easy to love, and easy to fall in love with (if someone could find my “person”, let her know that, and send her my way, I would much appreciate it).

I’ve always struggled to believe and/or understand what it was about me that people saw. What are they seeing that I don’t? What is the “something” about me? What makes me one of a kind or a special person? Why am I easy to love and fall in love with?

I’m learning that maybe I don’t need answers to those questions. Maybe I just need to accept that what people say is true, whether I understand it or not. I’ve been told these things repeatedly throughout my life, there must be some truth to it, right?

So, I’m just going to accept it. I’m going to embrace it. I’m going to be grateful for it. I’m going to take joy in knowing that there are people who have been, currently are, and will be in my life that appreciate me, just for being me, and that’s pretty fuckin awesome!