On a cold January afternoon with fresh fallen snow on the roads, a hopeless drunk was behind the wheel of a car. With her two small children nestled in the back seat after an afternoon of ice skating, she blacked out and hit a tree. The memory of that day used to haunt me, the day I drove drunk and critically injured my five-year-old daughter. The day my entire life flashed before me.
My husband and I were fighting. We were always fighting lately, but we had never fought like this. I didn’t understand what was happening with us and the more I tried, the more frustrated I became with our relationship and the less I started to care about it. The stress of my failing marriage and kids were becoming too much for me, and I was losing control. I began drinking to relax, calm my nerves after a bad day, or an argument, anything. I wanted to tune the world out and forget that being a mother and a wife was hard. It was easier to hide.
For the better part of two years I was lying to everyone about my drinking. My depression took over, and I deliberately pulled away from everyone I loved. My husband and I co-existed in our home. We were no longer sharing our lives or our bed with one another. I had this raging compulsion to drink all day long, every day.
My whole focus was my drinking. I was fired from my job, gained weight and was failing miserably at most of the relationships in my life. The one’s I did manage to maintain were with the person on the bar stool next to me. My ego did a great job justifying my poor behavior by insisting it was everyone else who had the problem. I was fine. I wasn’t bothering anyone. I was only drinking. No one could have saved me from what was to come. The accident was inevitable.
I needed to face the truth and the truth is … I am an alcoholic. I had a problem. Admitting my life had become unmanageable was a start. Being honest enough to say something had to change was the first authentic action I had taken in a very long time. I had loyally been relying on booze to get me through my day, but now I would depend on faith.
The odd part for me was how trusting I was. How willing I was to make the shift. I didn’t know how I was going to stop drinking. Truthfully, I didn’t believe I could. But I was willing to give it a try, and that is all I needed. Once I was willing, I was hopeful. Being hopeful or having hope for something better is powerful. A calmness came over me and gave me faith to believe I would make it through whatever was to come. My drinking, my marriage and the accident, it all started to make sense to me. All my questions of “why” were finally being answered.
This was my second chance. My “do-over” as I call it. My opportunity to be truer to myself. It was the divine plan of my life in action. It was me standing in my truth freely and faithfully.
I am an alcoholic. A grateful recovering drunk who is walking confidently into the future because I have learned one of the most profound truths about myself through this journey … that I am not my past, I am not my mistakes, and I am not hopeless.
Amy Baumgardner is the author of From This Day Forward, A Love Story of Faith, Hope & Forgiveness. Amy is married to Matt, and they have three amazing kids together. You can follow more of Amy’s story at mattandamyb.com.