There is a moment in every life that will define what the rest of it will be like. I pray that moment has not come and passed me by, but I believe that it would be apparent. My life has slowly but progressively gotten better every year since I got sober.

After my divorce, I indulged. I became even more out of control, it was as if chains had been lifted and I was set free once again. All that really happened was I transferred to another prison. After a few months, I was emaciated. I could not eat, all I did was drink. I tried to convince the Army that I was not starving myself, I just could not eat – my hand shook at every bite and I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I lost 17 pounds in 3 weeks. The friends I lived with were worried, they saw something happening in me. I was labeled anorexic, medically. I weighed less than 90 pounds. I was ordered to see psych again. I rather enjoyed some of the attention, at least it seemed as though someone cared. I self referred to the Army’s alcohol and drug program on an outpatient status. It was nice to share stories, but I wasn’t really interested in getting help. I was just a part of something where we all had common interests – alcohol and drugs and partying. My perception was that no one was really trying to change, and I wasn’t going to be the only one for sure. There were just trying to satisfy the powers that be, commanders and what not, for transgressions they had committed. After a little while, the counselor in charge of my case recommended Track III, inpatient treatment. This seemed drastic. There had to be someone who needed that more than me. She was afraid for me and could see there was hope. She said I had a lot of trauma that needed to be dealt with and I was medicating and numbing all of that inner pain. (Like I didn’t know that, it was working for me). I agreed to go. If nothing else, it was a vacation from the structure and discipline I had actually come to appreciate.
I was supposed to be at William Beaumont Army Medical Center for 4 weeks. I was not an enthusiastic patient (attention seeker) when I got there. They wanted me to share things and complete assignments (work?!) that I thought had nothing to do with why I was here. No one was paying me a salary to devise these conclusions. I just offered them as a calculated opinion. Had I given it much thought, all of this would have made sense and may have saved me 7 more years of misery – but, that was necessary and all part of God’s plan, I am sure of it.

I learned a lot in that treatment center, but I hadn’t had enough. I began a relationship with a man that I met there. We were both stationed at Fort Benning (how ironic?) and both lonely. I suffered from terminal loneliness because I had a hole in my soul. I didn’t have anything that I could hold on to or turn to, so I thought. My new hostage and I took a long trip – 3 months across the country through Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and up to Vegas. I got pregnant on that trip and we turned back and gave in. He went to jail for some pending charges stemming from a crack binge of 12 days that included grand larceny. I was discharged and sent on my merry way – to where? I went to Montgomery, Alabama because I had an aunt there, my mother’s sister. She agreed to let me stay with her and I got a job right away. I managed to stay sober throughout the pregnancy, it was not even an issue. When this baby was born, something was different for me. This time around, I had all these feelings and instincts that came so naturally. I had a midwife and this child was born healthy, without medication, and peacefully. I was ready for this. I had prepared and educated myself as much as possible and I knew that I had to do this. There was no back up plan here. When Courtney was born I recognized what love felt like for the first time in my existence. I realized that my life had meant nothing before now. Nothing.

I moved out and got an apartment when she was 2 weeks old. We did fine. I was nursing and staying sober, going to work everyday, just being a responsible citizen. Her father came home when she was 10 months old and I immediately went back to drinking. The next few years were filled with the dysfunction that accompanies alcoholism and cocaine addiction. We were both out of control and I had started to use cocaine also. He wised up and left in 2000. I spun even more out of control. I reverted to the selfishness and indulgence that I had before, like a trigger had sprung and these defects just rose up again.

During the few years that we separated, I became pregnant by another man. I wasn’t ready for this at all. I struggled with trying to make a decision. I solicited the advice of some family members. Without considering that I was carrying a living being in my womb, the questions that came up were about my relationship and the fact that this man was black. Because I had no beliefs or foundation in faith, I was listening to the opinions and advice of other sinners. I had an abortion in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was only 2 weeks after my dad had gotten out of prison, and he went with me. It was awful and anyone that tells you it is not is a liar. It haunts me to this day. I remember the day that child was due, February 25, 2002. God forgive me.

I maneuvered in and out of relationships over the next few months. I stayed drunk and high. I had 3 procedures in the same year, knee surgery, a tonsillectomy, and this abortion which all required that I take pain medication post operative. I learned how to use that medication to make my other pains disappear as well, if I mixed my Budweiser with it, all of the misery seemed to drown.

I tried living with my dad after he was released. I thought it was the right thing to do and realized quickly it was not. We fought physically. I was a drunk and he was a drunk. There was too much resentment there and it was a powder keg waiting to be detonated. Thankfully we both got out of that one alive and chose to just depart from one another.

I had no stability at this point, nor had I for a while. I met a girl through a friend of my brother who offered me and Courtney a place to live, with her in a home that her mother owned. I was grateful because I hadn’t paid my rent in over a month and was going to be evicted. We moved in. We lived there for about 2 years and I was working as a contractor on the Air Force Base. Everyday when I got off work, I went directly to the store and got a 12 pack of beer. I had 2 down my throat before I got home and I only lived 4 miles away. I would go home and wait until the last possible minute to pick up my daughter from daycare. I was avoiding living life. I was shunning all of my responsibilities. I was a shell of a person. I drank myself into oblivion every night, so excited when the 18 pack was brought out because it meant I didn’t have to go back to the store that night, I would have all that I needed to get me through. It was awful and sick. I was beer bloated and disgusting, binging on cocaine and pills on the weekend. This particular weekend in April, I decided we needed to take a road trip. We left Courtney with my friend’s mom and 4 of us piled into my Mustang and headed to Orange Beach. We were staying in a “friend of a friend’s” condo. I couldn’t tell you all the drugs I did over the next 2 days, but my drug test did not lie. This weekend was going to be my last hurrah, and I didn’t even know it.

I reached a point that night that was a reaching through the flames moment. All of a sudden, the party was over for me. It was like the death of a life. I announced that I was leaving and if you were riding with me, let’s go. I drove 120 mph , high on crystal methamphetamine, all the way back to Montgomery. I got to my daughter and she looked at me like I was a monster. I broke down. I asked my friend to take me to my brother’s house and then to the hospital. I needed prayer and help. My brother prayed over me and came to the hospital with me. I was injected with Ativan and Haldol when I got there, so the next 2 days of detox are lost. My drug test was positive for Cocaine, Amphetamine, Benzodiazepine, Opiates, and Barbiturates. My blood alcohol level was .14 – and my last drink was at least 6 hours before that. This was April 25, 2004. My sobriety date is April 26, 2004. I am still sober today ONLY by the grace of God. Nothing I have done or will do can keep me sober, it is all because He has pardoned me.

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