From Broken to Blooming: My Story
Bloomin’ Ash signifies rebirth.
My name is Ashley. I'm in my early thirties, and I've been sober since May 2015. Alcohol was my drug of choice. I use this blog to document the lessons and experiences I go through as a woman and mother in recovery, and maybe share some inspiration along the way.
My name means “from the ash tree” or “ash tree grove”. I feel like I have been completely reborn through the process of recovery. There are multiple symbols for rebirth, but since my name means ash tree, I picture a tree growing roots and sprouting through ashes.
Today, I am not a broken woman. By the grace of God, today I am whole.
Alcohol was my best friend.
It was my solution, it was the thing I started turning to in order to change the gross way I felt inside. I drank to fit in, I drank because it was fun and it felt good, and now I see that I also drank to hide. I drank because I didn’t know how else to be “myself” in social gatherings, and then I drank because it took away the depression, the anxiety, the pain. Temporarily. All of that hit with full force, and tripled in strength, not long after each drinking session.
I drank even when deep down, I didn’t really want to. I drank even when I knew better, when I had important meetings early the next morning. I drank because to hell with it - I’m a grown woman and grown women need their liquor or wine or whatever. Right?
Turns out, I’m a grown woman who was hiding behind an escape that never fulfilled its promises. It promised to make me funny, charming, calm, happy, sexy, intriguing, interesting, cool, a badass. Instead, I was a messy insecure shell of a woman, and all of those promises were nothing but empty illusions.
I didn't drink every day, and I didn’t get wasted every time I drank (though it got more and more difficult to manage that). I wasn’t what most people would think of when you think of an alcoholic - not unless you knew me well, and spent time with me on too many weekends or vacations. Then, you might have seen the red flags if you were looking.
But even though I didn’t hit some of the more dramatic situations that you often see in addiction - I knew. I knew I was about to enter even darker territory if something didn’t change, and blackouts were becoming a serious problem. It’s not cute or fun at all to wake up without any memories, except a few vague shadows, of the last 10 hours. That didn’t always happen, but when it did, it should have been a wake-up call. I stayed in denial for a few years.
Once I’d had a drink, all bets were off. I was becoming afraid of what the weekends held, whether or not I’d remember anything or not, what I would do. Sometimes it would be a lot of fun, nothing bad would happen, I’d have a great time. Other times, not so much.
I had my rules - I didn't drink and drive, and I didn't drink around my 3 beautiful kids. As long as I didn't break those rules, plus a few other rules I had, I could tell myself that I didn't have a problem. Until I broke all of the other rules, and the only ones left to break were the truly dangerous ones and thank God, that’s when He made me see that I’d had enough.
God opened my eyes in May of 2015.
He snatched me up and He kept me sober even when I didn’t think I’d make it through the week, or weekend, or birthday party, or wedding, or holiday. He reminded me to rely on Him, not a liquid that really only poisons my mind and soul.
There was a time, right after my divorce, where I only got to see my kids every other weekend. It only lasted 4 months, because their dad has his own problems and I was able to get them back, but those 4 months might as well have been 4 years. I quit drinking right before I had to file for emergency sole custody, and I had no idea I was going to have to do that at the time. I consider that to be God's perfect timing. He made sure I was ready (as ready as I could be). I've had sole custody ever since.
God also made sure I found some meetings with a bunch of other people - other “shipwreck survivors” as some of us call ourselves - who know exactly what this is like, and what steps to take every day to stay in recovery. I'm so thankful for those people, and I try to continue giving back what has been so freely given to me.
My sobriety is one of the greatest miracles of my life.
Recovery has given me clarity of mind, serenity, peace. I know who I am. This new life has brought me all of the things like alcohol promised me, but never could deliver. I can make plans, wake up without anxiety and regret.
I say what I mean, and I keep my promises. My children know that if I promise something, I’ll do it. I can trust myself again, and that is an amazing feeling. I actually have healthy boundaries these days.
My girls know that I don’t drink, and why. My son will too, when he's older. We talk very frankly about a lot of these issues (age appropriately), and I can only hope it will help them since addiction/alcoholism definitely runs in the family on both sides for them. My husband is a fantastic support for me. He believes in me even when I don't know if I do.
I write this because you never know who might need to hear it. It’s possible to not drink. Not only is it possible, it might even be the best thing you could ever do for yourself. You don’t have to feel like that anymore. I don’t worry about forever - I focus on today, and the days have added up quite nicely. One day at a time.
There are a lot of us out here doing this recovery thing one day at a time. I'm not a "sober guru" or anything like that, but I help where I can, and I hope you can find some encouragement here (whether alcohol or drugs are issues for you or not). I hope my words help somebody else move forward one day at a time.