I Fought Like Hell To Drive Out The Darkness

By Rachel Bailey

My name is Rachel, and I’m an alcoholic. I battle a cunning, shape-shifting disease; a disease that does not care if you’re a PTA mom or an attorney. Alcoholism does not discriminate, and it will creep in and steal away your soul like a thief in the night. I suffered in silence for years, quietly, progressively destroying myself. I was wrecked with pain and shame, crippled with fear and anxiety. I literally could not sit still in my own skin.

I do not like to speak in detail about my pain because it dredges up so much emotional vomit, but I do honor its place in my recovery. They were just seasons that I endured and survived.

Instead of seeking help, and processing the trauma from years of domestic abuse and a sexual assault, I just stuffed it down. Not long after, I became pregnant with my daughter Hadley. She became the ideal reason not to focus on healing myself or even admit what I had been through.

I dove head first into motherhood. I did it all the ‘right way’-the Pinterest and Facebook worthy ‘right way’ (because I had to get my self esteem/validation from somewhere right?). This worked for several years, distracting myself…filling the void…running from the inevitable. Unfortunately, escape is only temporary and the crash is inevitable. I had to learn the hard way that you can’t volunteer or PTA the pain away.  (It’s probably worth mentioning that during this time I went through an incredibly traumatic divorce from a malignant narcissist, whose favorite form of abuse was gaslighting).

With the onset of middle school looming and the ex husband wanting joint custody, my descent into madness officially began. That was my trigger…I know that now. I know now that I had no other identity than Hadley’s mom. I knew nothing of who or what I was. If I wasn’t a mother, then I was nothing. Right?

Weekend partying led to 3 or 4 day binges (the weeks Hadley was at her dad’s), which eventually led to almost nightly drinking myself into oblivion while my child slept down the hall. On the outside I didn’t “look like an alcoholic”…on the surface I kept my shit together (job, bills, carpool, groceries), I wore the mask of sanity well. Inside, though, I was so broken and hollow. I merely existed, walking around cloaked in a blanket of sadness. I cried myself to sleep every night…promising myself each morning that “I won’t drink tonight.” Some days it worked, but most days it didn’t.

My daughter saw me unraveling, strand by strand. I was a fool to think I was hiding it and the bottles from her (I mean she’s 12 at this point). I know she had to hear me stumbling around the house, ranting nonsense, breaking and dropping things while she lay in her bed. I cannot imagine how terrified or confused she must have felt.

This continued for about 3 more months, and it took her self-harming for me to wake the F up and see that I had a serious problem. That is the most devious thing about alcohol…I didn’t see that I had a real problem because I met all this mental criteria, this weird checklist in my head. It told me I didn’t have a problem because I’m still paying the mortgage, or because I’m still working every day. What should have signaled a red flag was the fact that I needed to make this checklist to begin with…I mean if you have to ask yourself then you already know the answer.

So I admitted myself to a 28-day inpatient rehab. Found a rockstar therapist and AA, where I found a sponsor, worked the steps, and attended meetings. I stayed close to the program for 15 months. Today, I am piloting my own recovery path, out loud and unashamed! Today, I am 911 days sober. I am humble, grateful, and happy.

It takes a mixed bag of tricks to maintain my sobriety, but I’ll be damned if I’m going back. I fought like hell to drive out the darkness, to slay my demons, to heal and to grow. I found strength and renewal in a higher power. I still see my therapist; I have an incredibly supportive partner, and we travel the world together SOBER! I have cultivated an amazing community of online support, and of course no recovery is complete without iron therapy right?! (gym). I put in the work, but the glory goes to God.

Through my drinking, I lost the woman I once was, but I quite like the girl who found her.

As for my relationship with my daughter…it’s in God’s hands now. But, I have so much hope for the future.

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Rachel Bailey

Rachel is  a southern girl, born and raised in Louisiana. She lives with her partner in a small country town, where she has the privilege of acting as a ‘bonus mom’ to his son. They love to travel and workout. She is a voracious reader and completely addicted to bubble water.

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