On this day 5 years ago I woke up in a bed in mom’s house and it was not a special day. I had called in sick to work, again, and I was sweaty with a pounding head. The sun insisted on attacking my face. The bed was under the window, in prime sun-assault location. It was 10 or 11am. I probably heard a leaf-blower or gardeners, a car cruising by on its way to work, or somewhere, engaged in some life, somehow. My mother was at work. She let me come back to her house a few months earlier. My children were at school, though I didn’t drive them there and I hadn’t in months. Years?
My husband was at work. My dad and stepmother were at work. The whole fucking world was at work, or so it seemed. But I was in that bed, again. Twenty-nine years old at 10am in a bed in my mother’s house, shaking and sweating and not going to work, again.
More lies. More deceit. I knew that bed.
I rolled over and looked at the nightstand. I specifically remember rolling over and looking at the nightstand. Another day. Another 24 hours. Another span of failure, of deceit, of faking it. Another 24 hours of Tylenol and water and a shower, cigarettes and some food and smiling at my mom when she came home, pretending I was sober and she needn’t worry now. Another 24 hours of the haze in my brain, the low hum of failure rolling on and on and on in my gut until the whole thing is fog.
It clears with the first drink. Or it did, before, when alcohol still worked.
I had no idea why I lived the way I lived. I had given up examination. There was nothing left to explore, no corner left to illuminate. Five visits to rehab countless psychologists (DBT, CBT, Jungian, biofeedback!) psychiatrists and an institution of mental health – I take my pills to fix me. They never fix me.
I looked at the nightstand again. Books piled up. Glass of water. Maybe a journal I hadn’t written in. For years.
The sun keeping on and fucking ON and the cars going by and me, there, one more time a heap of not-in-the-world. Failure. Cannot hang. Cannot work, drive kids to school, be a wife mother daughter employee friend.
It crushed me, that truth. I have never felt a pain like the one that morning. I had never and probably will never again feel reality eat my heart and guts and soul into nothing. I writhed. I physically writhed under the crush of the other worldly.
I saw my life roll out ahead of me like a carpet might unroll across an empty room, or a street. A walkway. It went on for a long time, rolled fast and hard all the way to the end. I saw it all. I knew I would end up a desperate drunk. I knew alcoholism was THE ONLY OPTION FOR ME. I would die a useless alcoholic. And there was nothing, nothing I could do about it. Freedom was not for me. Life was not for me. I was not a victim. I deserved it. I made it. I lived it.
I am this. This is me.
I was out of moves. I was out of fight. I was out of new angles, approaches, bullshit. I had no new perspectives, ideas. I had not a single source of life.
The bottle killed me that morning.
You don’t have to stop breathing to die, you know.
It’s 8:49am on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
I can’t keep writing. I have to take a shower so I can get to work on time.
My kids had some eggs this morning, my mom drove them to school because she helps me out on Wednesdays. I brushed my toddler’s hair and yelled at my tween to get off her brother’s case. I reminded my son to brush his teeth. When the kids got in the car I yelled ‘Have a good day at school!’ I walked in the house and had a cup of coffee.
It’s March 5, 2014.
It’s the best day I’ve ever had.
VaginaWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 9:23
<3 "It's the best day I've ever had!" <3 <3 <3 No more words are even needed!~
james garrowFriday, 4 March, 2016 at 1:17
Loved your post about being 5 yrs sober…after 13 yrs I recently relapsed on pain meds…im back on track and solid…just wanted to say thanx for being real.our anonymity is beginning to be a silly idea for most…because most people are not in danger of losing shit for getting well..i had np issues with people knowing I was a gun toting sociopathic consumer of all things both powder or liquid..and today I am a father an ex husband a counselor and a genuinely good man who knows God and helps others return from a hell which seems inescapeable…a wise man once said its not important why you chose heroin as a coping tool. untill you get free of your chosen solution to a life of spiritual pain and childhood trauma you wont live to conquer shit…one day u will lol into a mans eyes and see the same hurt.tge same abuse and the same tortured helplessness and be able to lol into his soul and say…i was there..it happened to me and now I’m here with you…so…if you are ever I Victoria BC Canada….come to the discovery group(aka: Dunedin) and I’d love to give you a big hug buy you a coffee and show you my writing…my name I Jimmy Garrow and I have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state…
Check out. Rantingsofalunaticorrecoveryguru.blogspot.ca
WillowTreeWadeWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 9:38
I have been reading you a lot lately, after I discovered you and promptly read everything I could find written by you anywhere. This is the post that finally made me comment. This post brought tears to my eyes. I am so happy for you, and your family, that you have turned your life around.
SaraWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 9:38
You did it. And you are doing it. And so many of us are better for it 🙂
JCWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 9:41
Well put. Keep up the good work!
EmWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 9:53
Thank you for your honesty. It really helps me reconcile my relationship with my father and see deeper into the disease he had. He never did recover, but the older I get the more I see how trapped he was and why things happened the way they did. It helps. It sucks, but it helps.
KristyWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 10:01
Just lovely. I listened to the podcast last night – also lovely. Thank you for your story.
MelanieWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 10:11
God, reading that made my stomach hurt as I remembered my own morning, 5 years and 60 days ago. Congratulations. ‘Being sober fucking rules.
CarlisleWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 10:13
I thought when I saw the title, “How can you write a journal entry for an audience? How can you be raw and honest as you would when just scribbling on your own secret pages?”
And then I read it, and then I remembered, “Duh. This is Janelle. It’s always raw. She doesn’t hide from herself, from anyone.”
I remember those days. Waking up. Not remembering how or when or why I went to bed. Just being awake again. Alone. Someone might show up, give me a recap of the day before. But I wouldn’t remember it very well the next day. Yesterdays always seemed like they happened years ago, the day before yesterday was like a story I read somewhere. It felt like I would always be in some state of nauseated discomfort, bruises I didn’t remember, random aches.
I think about my life now, and I take a moment out of everyday to look at something new and say, “God, that is beautiful. I appreciate being able to see that. And be aware of it.”
This gave me chills to read.
peggy millerWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 10:20
Glad you’re here, glad you’re doing your thing. The world is better off that way. Plus, I totally made my mom hand salve this morning from your FTM recipe. But here in the mid-west, we call it hand goo. Rock the fuck on.
JessieWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 10:32
I am so very glad that you are now where you are now. All the best.
Lornadoone1972Wednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 10:36
I love your blog, I love your truth, I love that on days when parenting is a challenge I can read you and realize all mum’s feel the same from time to time and go through the same struggles… so many of us relate to you in so many ways… I am choked up reading this – we are glad you are here on 3/5/14 too!
KatyWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 11:04
I have actual tears in my eyes. You cow. You brilliant, honest beautiful cow. Thanks for making me ugly cry. Also this is weird, because I don’t know you, but I am so painfully happy for you, that whatever has been in your past, you have a beautiful now.
saraWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 11:50
Strength and Beauty: definition of
Sammy JoWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 12:05
Janelle, I just recently came upon your page on a link on FB. The posting about your addiction. It moved me, rocked me, actually. Then, I have checked out your blog daily since and joined to get your emails… I am a mom of 3 grown men (25, 22, 21).. One of my sons is an addict and your amazingness has moved me.. Thank you for all you give and those of us you touch my friend..
rock on…Sammy Jo
John E. KeatsWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 12:05
JessWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 13:05
Your story is so encouraging, and I hope someone reads this today that really needs it.
StephanieWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 13:17
Where’s the freaking ‘Like’ button? You need to install a ‘Like’ button!
Christine FoellWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 13:26
You are AMAZING. It’s like you dug into my soul and spoke my truth. Happy Birthday Sobriety Sister. 🙂
DaniWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 13:58
Great. I just got to work and while pretending to be useful, saw an email telling me you’d written a new post. Now I’m sat here teary-eyed trying to act like it’s work that got me so upset, and everyone here knows I don’t care that much.
Seriously, though. Thank you for your honesty, for your ability and willingness to lay out your soul in the interests of truth and for being a human being with human failings. Thank you for not hiding behind lies and omissions of truth and thank you for not pretending that everything has always been alright. Thank you for coming out from behind your cloud and for beating your gremlins so that you can give so much to your husband, your family and these strangers on the internet who rely on your words to make use feel like we’re normal and like normal and flawed is OK. Happy anniversary and keep loving now. You’ve earned it.
AndreaWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 18:14
Fairly new reader, first time commenter.
Congratulations. Reading your story brought tears to my eyes. I know it’s a long road, but your readers are so proud of you for what you have accomplished. I look forward to reading for the next 5 years!
KatWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 19:08
This post, like so many others, strikes such a chord. My mom is an alcoholic (now recovered) and while as a kid I just couldn’t understand, now as a mom myself I do. She did her best. A single mom struggling to survive mentally, emotionally and physically. Even when her best wasn’t enough, she tried. But reading your story makes me realize that what more could I actually ask for than her best? It doesn’t make it “better” or ok, but it does make it tangible. Thanks for keeping it real.
RachaelWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 20:17
This is beautiful. This is raw and brave and takes a whole ton of guts to shed your skin and let the world see you. I know – since following you, that you do this all the time, but this is personal, this is real, and for the record, it speaks to me. It probably speaks to a lot of people. My parents have both been alcoholics and drug addicts for my entire life, I know how it feels to have the bottle come before your kids, I’ve seen that bottle in front of me before. Your kids are so lucky and so blessed to have a mom strong enough to lift herself out of the bottle and smash what was blocking your way to them. Well done, well written and thanks for sharing!
MomWednesday, 5 March, 2014 at 23:28
I have no words, just tears of joy. Love Mom
jill (mrs chaos)Thursday, 6 March, 2014 at 11:29
I fucking love you. That’s all.
katrinaSaturday, 8 March, 2014 at 6:54
I am a recovering alcoholic with 2 children. I will have 6 years sober, God willing, on august 4. I love your blog and can relate to everything. congrats on your new life. isnt it amazing? 🙂
WendyMonday, 10 March, 2014 at 21:01
Glad you’re here. Glad you’re a mom, a writer, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and we get to read all about the success you’ve achieved, the strength you found. Thanks for sharing. Keep on keepin’ on. Life is hard. It gets us all down in our own way. You put it all so…truthfully out there. Thank you.
HillaryWednesday, 12 March, 2014 at 12:41
Your words are so important. Wish I could share with my patients. Love to you