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Two Years Sober

“Miss Johnson, Miss Johnson, what is your phone number?” the police officer in my living room asked.

I remember rubbing my hands through my hair and trying so hard to remember my phone number. Simple question but I was so intoxicated the numbers weren’t coming to mind. “Just give me a second and I’ll tell you”. The number never came to mind,  he asked how much I had to drink that day. I could remember that, or at least somewhat. What I could not for the life of me remember is where my son was. I had called 911 to report him missing. Local police along with the Oklahoma University police surrounded my house and were up and down my street trying to find my son who was 7 at the time. My daughter who was 4 at the time had to be picked up by a friend from the YMCA, I had left her there after closing time. 

My son called my from the karate studio where I had left him to play, the cops picked him up, packed the kids bags and put them in the back of the police car. I stood on the sidewalk watching them drive away, drunk and an emotional mess. “You HAVE to surrender” my friend told me. A few women who were sober were there, they had come to be with me in my drunken mess that I had just made. “I don’t know how!!” I told her. 

That was May 18, 2015. A day I’ll never forget.

I remember the days leading up to that day. I had been struggling internally for a while. I had been barely keeping my head above water, it was only a matter of time before I went under. It felt to me I was under so much pressure, I felt like I was being pulled in so many directions expected to be so many things other than what I was. I didn’t KNOW who I was. My recovery didn’t feel like mine! The man I was dating wanted me to be one way, my sponsor wanted me to be another, a toxic friend wanted me drunk,  it felt like I was being pulled in every direction. Not only that, my son was out of control. I was at the school every other day if not everyday. At the time he was taken he was only allowed to be at school until 1030am because he was too much for the school to handle. There I was trying to be everything and do everything to everyone and for everyone, not knowing that I could only survive that way for so long before I drowned. 

The night before they were taken I remember standing in my living room about to go to the bar, I knew what could happen, but I was already under water and I needed air. The next morning I woke up still intoxicated but I wasn’t ready to face myself. I kept drinking. I wasn’t ready to face all the stuff that I was trying to drink away. Until I had to. 

 I’ll never forget standing on that sidewalk in front of my house, a sobbing drunken mess, watching my kids be taken away. 

I remember standing in front of the same judge I had once before deciding where my kids would live once again and thinking to myself “This is how it is when I drink, it’s always been like this and it always will be, but not only do I suffer consequences, my kids do too.” I didn’t realize it at the moment, I was in too much pain, but I surrendered. I finally threw my hands up in the air and said “YOU WIN!” 

May 19, 2015 is my sobriety date. Two years sober. Wow. I don’t remember ever going that long without numbing out somehow. 

The night I made the decision to blow up my life, the night I drowned, I remember the pain I was in. I remember knowing that it would all go away with just one drink, even though it’s never just one drink, but I didn’t care. I wanted to not feel anything. The next morning when I woke still intoxicated I remember not being ready to come down from that high. I had done this so many times, I knew all the stuff I was trying to drink away was still there waiting for me, I had only pushed it to the side, all the pressure, stress, frustration, resentments, they were all still there! Not only were they still there, but now there was guilt, shame and remorse piled on top, not just from that night but from every other night I did and said things I regretted. It was heavy. And I wasn’t ready to feel it. 

These past two years has been about unpacking the guilt, shame, and remorse. Unpacking it little by little, sitting with it, feeling it, learning from it. It’s been about acceptance. Accepting that I can NOT drink without bad things happening.  It’s been about forgiving myself. Forgiving others for not being who and what I thought they should be. It’s been about loving myself and others just as we are at this very moment. It’s been about sharing my experience with others so they don’t feel so alone. It’s been about setting boundaries, letting go of friendships that don’t serve me anymore, and listening to my inner voice instead of the loud voices outside of me. It’s been about paying it forward to other sober moms out there with my nonprofit. It’s been about owning my story, holding my head high and showing others we don’t have to be ashamed anymore. It’s been about rebuilding my relationships with my kids. And WOW, what an amazing relationship we have today. It’s been about living my life the way it feels right to ME, nobody else, just me. Most importantly, it’s been about creating a life I don’t want to escape from. 

That’s a good feeling!

Im not saying this sober life is easy, I still have my struggles, I still have days that suck, I just don’t have to drink over it anymore. I don’t have to numb out. I now know that it will pass and that drinking will only make it worse. Took a long time to get to where I am today, and there is NO way I’m going back. I’m not sure I’d make it back from another relapse and I’m not willing to risk my life and my kids lives, it’s not worth it! I already know where drinking takes me and it’s a miserable path, I’m ready to see where this recovery road leads. 

I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for me and my kids. I’m looking forward to connecting with many more sober warriors living life out loud. The sober life is a good life, just took me a while to figure it out. Takes what it takes!

Melissa Johnson