Throughout the process of treatment and recovery for my mental health, I have run into a big situation…. what to do with myself. I have not had a drop of alcohol in 190 days. I never realized how much my life revolved around drinking until I quit. No matter the day or occasion, I was going to incorporate drinking into it, one way or another. If we were going out to eat, the restaurant always had to serve alcohol.
On weeknights when I came home from work, I would immediately pop open a cold beer or a bottle of Merlot. My weeknights revolved around alcohol, drinking while cooking, sometimes passing out on the sofa later on, usually abandoning my husband and kids by doing so. My weekends were usually spent cleaning house and working through mountains of laundry… while drinking of course. When I was not out visiting with friends and drinking, I was at home drinking. The hardest obstacle I faced at home during the beginning of my sobriety was finding the motivation to clean my house without a drink in my hand. Cleaning no longer has the same appeal as it did before. Vacations were definitely times for intense boozing. If I went on a trip anywhere, I used the “vacation” excuse to drink from sunrise to sunset. Unfortunately, this means I do not have very many memories of my past vacations, but that was a sacrifice I never minded making.
The After Party
Sobriety is a beautiful thing. Being able to find joy and happiness without the influence of alcohol has been quite an adventure for me. Because of my horrific behavior and affair, my first several months of sobriety were much easier than the last couple of months. I was so focused on restoring my family and re-building my marriage with my husband during the beginning, that I did not have the time or desire to miss drinking. The stakes were just too high, and I knew that a drink would destroy everything I had worked so hard to rebuild. Eventually, as always, time changes things. With my marriage becoming stronger than ever and my children growing closer to me, comes the part of sobriety I was not prepared for… boredom. I am living in a permanent “closing time” state of mind and I cannot figure out what to do with myself. I have read so many wonderful articles and blogs suggesting hobbies and things to keep myself busy with, but I do not feel motivated to do any of it. Most days, especially weekends, I find myself pacing around my house, trying to come up with something productive to do with myself. Needless to say, every room in my home has been decluttered, cleaned, and rearranged. What does one do when there is nothing left to clean? I am sure that isolating myself and continuously working on home projects is not entirely healthy for my mind.
Am I Alone in Here?
It has been suggested to me
that I spend time with friends, to remove myself from isolation. To mingle with
other people means to expose myself to others. The idea of making new friends
is a scary idea to me because all my past friendships have ended in utter
failure, usually from my actions. How can I involve myself with other people
when I do not even know who I am as a person? Most days I feel lost and out of
sorts. If I am not the partying, drinking, good-time Savannah everyone knew…
who am I? One thing I am sure of, I am a wife and a mother. I have bonded with
my family so much throughout my recovery and venturing outside of my inner
circle feels like stepping out into the fire. How does one move on as a new
person, with nothing to talk about and nothing to relate to with others? So
many of my past friendships are the reasons why I believe wolves exist among
sheep. I have been manipulated, used, and torn apart… repeatedly. How can I
ever trust anyone outside of my family?
I recently stepped out of my comfort zone and attended a weekend retreat in beautiful Mentone, Alabama. The retreat was planned by my boss, who thought a weekend away would be a great break for the entire staff. I hesitated at first because I have not spent a night away from my family in a long time, let alone an entire weekend. My husband was on board with me going, which made me want to give the retreat a try. Going away to a remote, peaceful place in the mountains, was just what I needed to inspire me to do more with my life. I enjoyed exploring, antiquing, and dining with my coworkers. I loved watching my coworkers interact together outside of our work environment. I got to know them better on a personal level, adding a few more friends to my inner circle. I am not ready to venture outside of my inner circle, but slowly adding to it has inspired me to be hopeful. I am hopeful that I will come out of this funk I have been in for so long. I pray every day for forgiveness and guidance. I may not know who I am today, but I am finally taking baby steps towards the road of self-discovery.
“Sensitive people usually love deeply and hate deeply. They don’t know any other way to live than by extremes because their emotional thermostat is broken.”
Shannon L. Alder
My Secret Weapon
“You are so pretty”…. Words I have heard my entire life. Most people love to receive compliments on their appearance. Who wouldn’t? Flattery, even just a smile or a second glance, can be a great self-esteem booster. There are people who claim not to care about appearances, but I believe a certain level of vanity lies within each one of us. But what happens to the unhealthy mind when this happens? In my experience, beauty can be a dangerous weapon. Being beautiful does not guarantee you will get everything you want, but the odds are definitely in your favor. A sick mind is not equipped to handle such a powerful weapon.
I am no stranger to relationships. Ever since my elementary days, I have been obsessed with love. Though it was just hand holding and playground hangouts back in those days, “going out” was a big deal. I was drawn towards adventurous types, so my boyfriends were usually popular and attractive. This behavior followed me all through school. I cannot tell you how many boyfriends I had up until the age of fifteen because I went through so many of them. I always felt the need to have a boyfriend, so when I was bored with one, I dumped them and moved on to the next. I can count on one hand the number of times I was actually dumped. I used to think that if I had been broken up with more, I would not have continued down the path of destroying others…. but I do not have that same perspective anymore. I think that I would have continued to do it anyway, because that is who I was. By high school, I began dating and getting involved in much more serious relationships. My sexual desires at this point were high and finally being fulfilled. I was completely out of control.
My first high school beau was a senior. I was a freshman, so the idea of dating an attractive, popular senior was a dream come true. I felt like I was capable of anything. It did not occur to me that I was playing with emotions I was not mature enough to handle yet. I also did not realize how powerful my level of passion was during this relationship. This guy fell in love with me, in an extremely unhealthy way. Once he graduated, things changed quickly. I was no longer interested in keeping him around because what was once a booming relationship of convenience (popularity) was now verging onto creepy grounds. He became very possessive of me and jealous of my time if ever it was spent with others. My days were consumed by other people though because I was quite the social butterfly. I was in high school and was not ready for “forever”. I eventually wanted to start seeing other guys. I should have done the right thing by simply breaking up with this guy, but it was never in my nature to keep things “simple”. Instead, I decided to hurt him so he would hate me and leave me instead. How did I do that? I slept with one of my new friends, someone he was jealous of and hated. Not only did I cheat on him cold-heartedly, but my accomplice and I decided to pay him a visit right after our little excursion to tell him about it. How I did not wind up slaughtered in a ditch somewhere, is beyond me. I was stalked, however, for a while after this unfortunate event, and it traumatized me and my family. I could hear the high pitched sound his muffler used to make, driving up and down my road every day and night. I could also hear it buzzing around the school when I was there. The sound of that muffler still haunts me to this day. Was I scared enough to take a break from relationships for a while? Not me…
I went through another round of boyfriends, again, before I fell head over heals for my next big romance. He was everything I wanted in a boyfriend, and he was crazy about me. My parents were more accepting of this relationship because he was only a year older than me and he was kind and respectful. My dad enjoyed his visits when he would come over, and my mom loved how he meshed perfectly with our family. He was going to be my “forever”, I felt it in my heart. My faith in this relationship was destroyed quickly though when he decided to get together with one of my best friends during a drunken race weekend. I did not break up with him after the discovery of his unfaithfulness, though I should have because I could not get over the pain it caused me. Instead, I held it over his head for the remainder of our relationship, which lasted another two years after his little indiscretion. Why did I hang on to something I could not make peace with? We continued to make wonderful memories together over the next two years, but we also made very bad ones as well, mostly driven by me. I was so obsessed with the love we had for one another and the passion we shared, but the scar he left on me destroyed me beyond repair. Why did he stay with me? I will never truly know the answer to that question. I made this guy miserable almost every day because I could not let go of my jealousy and resentment over what he had done to me. He had a song for us, We Bury the Hatchet by Garth Brooks. As I am writing this, I can still hear him singing it to me. He was never untrue to me again, and we tried to pull through the madness together. Even when he graduated, he made plans to stay around while I finished up my last year of school so we could start our life together. One night, while out riding around together, he stopped his truck and proposed to me. I accepted his proposal, so happy in that moment because I loved him and I wanted to marry him, but that elephant in the room continued to linger.
Why could I not move on past my bitterness? Why did I not leave him? One day, I finally lost control of my emotions. An opportunity presented itself to me, a chance to sleep with one of his best friends. I welcomed the affair with legs wide open. After confessing my infidelity to my fiancé, he was still willing to stay with me and get through the hard times together. As happy and willing as I should have been to make up and get past all of the bitterness, especially because he was willing to work it out with me, I could not bring myself to do it. So, I slept with his friend one more time, broke his heart again, and forced a breakup. It was not until six months later, after missing him tremendously and battling with myself over my poor decisions, that I attempted to get back together with him. What I discovered though, quickly shattered my heart. He was involved with another woman and she was pregnant with his baby. I could not believe that some other woman had taken my place in his life. He informed me that he was going to marry her because it was the right thing to do. There was nothing more I could do, at least nothing civil. It was really over.
Typically, in most scenarios, there is a rebound or two after a big break up. For me, it was more like a rebound odyssey. I dated different people, back to back and simultaneously. I also began dating men outside of my home state. I traveled to New Orleans a good bit to visit family, and during these trips, I would go out to bars and mingle with the locals. I met a few interesting characters on my trips and loved them all. Everything about that lifestyle was appealing to me, so I fell hard into the bar scene while I was there. I had a couple of rendezvous with one man I really liked, which led to an unexpected pregnancy. While I was fully prepared to take on motherhood, at the bold age of eighteen, the chance was taken away from me when I lost the baby three months into my pregnancy. Some people say it was a blessing, but I was not convinced. I had been on a wild roller coaster ride for a while and the idea of settling down and calming down began to sound like the right thing for me. After losing the baby, I continued down the path of self-destruction. I continued to make trips to New Orleans, and met my next big relationship soon after. Little did I know that this relationship would completely change my life, again.
He was not the kind of guy I would typically go for. In fact, the night we met, I was interested in pursuing his cousin, who was more my type. After returning to my barstool from my bathroom run at the bar one Saturday night, the bartender informed me that there was someone interested in me and scoping me out. She introduced us and I wound up going home with him that night, of course. What I expected to be a one night stand, slowly blossomed into summer love. I loved how this man was so connected to the New Orleans life. He was also a family man and enjoyed hanging around our families. My family, however, was not accepting of him. They continuously told me that he was not right for me. I was stubborn though, and always willing to prove everyone wrong. Even though I came back to Alabama to begin college, I dropped out after my first semester so that I could move to New Orleans. I left without letting anyone know my plans. How typical of me, right? New Orleans was where I was meant to be. I moved in with my boyfriend and his mother, after trying out a few different living arrangements with family and friends. The insanity I endured while living with his mother forced me to look for another place to live, so I found an apartment of my own to move into. I was working full time at that point, had just been promoted, and was registered to begin college by the fall of 2005. Things could not have been better…. until Hurricane Katrina hit. The hurricane destroyed everything, including my apartment. I was forced to move back to Alabama, and I brought my boyfriend with me. We moved into a small rental house back in my little hometown, and slowly began falling apart as a couple. He was not happy living with me in Alabama, and I began to resent him over every little thing. He had lost the spark in his eyes, and was beginning to encourage me to spend time apart. The timing could not have been worse though, because I got pregnant. During my pregnancy, we continued to grow further and further apart. Maybe my family was right, maybe we were not as compatible as I originally thought. He eventually left me, after I caught him sneaking around with another woman. He did not leave me in a civil way. When he realized I knew about his affair, he aggressively pushed me down while trying to retrieve his cellphone from my hands, causing me to go into pre-term labor. Yes, I was a victim of domestic violence. I wound up alone and seven months pregnant. I had to move in with my parents because I could not support myself. This was one of the lowest times in my life. Little did I know, this would not be the last of my adventures with this guy.
Marriage of Convenience
I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, with my mother in the delivery room. My ex did not even know I was giving birth. I sent him a picture of her after she was born and he eventually showed up to see her. His hospital visit was short-lived because my mother ran him off. My mother was a bit controlling and was not going to have him popping in and out of our lives. I did not appreciate that kind of love then, but I understand it a lot better now. Against my mother’s wishes, I eventually went back to my ex, three months after our daughter was born. Living with my mother, while trying to be a mother myself, was rather difficult. It was either leave her, or destroy our relationship for life. I moved into a duplex with my ex and we got married a month later. The marriage was more of a living arrangement rather than a union of two people who actually loved one another. I resented everything this man did and he hated everything about me. Our marriage came to an end just a few years later, after I found out about his third affair. Yes, he had a thing for other women. At this point, we had two daughters, ages three and one. I separated from him and we agreed that would be the best thing for us. We continued living in the same house until we could come up with separate living arrangements. Then, there he was….
Wes was not someone new to me. I knew him from high school. He was that kid that never came to school, but when he did, you noticed his presence… at least I did. He was mysterious and shy. He was also a musician, a guitarist. I knew he liked me when we were younger. He used to look at me and smile when he would run into me in the mall, which was quite often because I was big in the mall scene. I worked at our local supermarket and he used to come in every time I worked. No matter how long the line at my register was, he would always wait in it just to talk to me. I was so into him. One night, after getting off of work, Wes met me out in the parking lot by my car. We did not say much, we just moved in really close to one another and began kissing. Then we parted. I never saw him again after that. He moved to Nashville and fell into the music scene. Six years later, and here he is asking me how I am doing on my Facebook page. I immediately took an extreme interest in him. I wondered where he was, who he was involved with, if he still remembered me…. thoughts I could not escape. I learned he was separated from his wife and was going through a divorce. He immediately expressed his interest in me once he realized I had feelings for him. Things happened quickly after that. My love for this man took over every part of my life. I moved myself and my daughters out of the house with my ex and I moved in with Wes, who had moved back to Alabama from Tennessee after a few amazing encounters together. We were head over heels in love.
This man was my soulmate and I knew I was meant to marry him. We were so young, so unprepared, and so impatient to be together and to have a family together. We got pregnant almost immediately. Being pregnant with our baby was the most joyous, but also most stressful time of my life. My ex was outraged at the fact that I was having a baby with another man while I was still “married” to him. He immediately threw the “separated” status out the window so that he could milk the victim role. Needless to say, it was an ugly divorce. Wes and I eventually found stability once my divorce was finalized and we planted roots down in our little hometown. We welcomed our son into the world in November of 2011 and we could not have been happier to complete our little family. We could finally begin living the amazing life we always talked about living. We were also finally able to get married. Oh, what a joyous day! The day I married Wes was truly the happiest day of my life. Who would have known that I was cursing my love to live a life of misery with me?
Why Does He Love Me?
I do not deserve the love my husband gives me. I have been ungrateful of his love for me for almost nine years, and it took me almost losing him to realize how blind I have been. Wes has been with me during good times, and believe me, there were many of those. There were also many bad times. It is the bad times that have truly tested our willingness to fight for our love. I am often told that I am an intense individual, that I exhaust people…. but Wes has always been up for the challenge. During my last horrific episode, I began to see a different side of my husband that shook me to my core. I saw my husband losing faith in us. I was finally exhausting my love to the point of where I might actually lose him. Wes has been such a strong rock for me through all of the hard times, and now I am watching my rock begin to shatter. Why have I caused so much damage and destruction to our marriage and to our family? I love this man more than I could ever explain, but I am the one causing him the most harm.
Pictures tell stories of their own. I believe there to be truth in that. During my manic highs, I was big on taking selfies. I always included someone in them, because it would “look like I am seeking attention” if they were just of myself. Ugh, was I that naïve? Anyway, I would like to share a few photos taken during my manic highs. Captions will explain the situation, but my husband’s face says it all.
The day I almost lost my love was the day that changed my life, forever. I had been on a manic high for several months and I was hitting the party scene intensely. It was summer time and I seized every opportunity to spend time outside, on the water, drinking my life away. I was so full of myself during that time. I found myself acting flirty with any man who would pay me any attention. I still loved my husband and wanted to be with him, but I reveled in the attention I was getting on the side. With all the partying, came the affair. I welcomed an affair with a friend’s husband, even though I never wanted any bit of it. It was never a sexual affair, only an emotional one, though it had the potential to be one if I continued spiraling out of control the way I was. I knew I was heading down a road I did not want to go down, so I stopped drinking alcohol, two weeks before the affair came to the light. Quitting drinking was one of the hardest things I had to face, until my husband found out about the affair. The moment that happened, I immediately wanted to take away every bit of his hurt and pain. I felt my heart shatter into thousands of pieces. Why did I hurt so much? I wanted the affair, right? No, I did not want to have anything to do with another man. I thought the day I fell in love with Wes was the best day of my life, but then we had a son together, we got married, we became a family, and we built a life together…. all of these moments have been the best moments of my life. Why did I attempt to throw everything I loved away over someone I could hardly even stand? What was wrong with me?
He Loves Me
After everything I have put that man through, he still chooses to be with me. After the affair was out in the open, he took charge of our marriage and our home, and he made our world so much smaller. In doing so, we were able to focus entirely on us and our family. We had so many hard days, days that will forever leave scars on our hearts, but in the midst of all the darkness, we also had days of pure love and happiness. He lifted me up, even when I felt I did not deserve it, and gave me strength to hang on. I spent days just hanging out with my husband, something we have not done since the beginning of our relationship. We fell in love. Again. Some days are still full of silence. That elephant still lingers in the room. Fortunately, especially since I have been accepting treatment for my disorders, those days grow a little further and further apart as we go. We’ve had to widen our circle a bit, because life forces you to be part of the outside world. With this comes a trust, a trust not just from him to me, but from me to him as well. He must trust that I mean what I say when I say I will be forever faithful and true, and I must trust the same from him. He could easily “one up” me and be completely justified by it, he certainly has received advances in the past, but that is not what love is. I will forever be grateful to have a man who loves me the way Wes does. He is truly my soulmate.
I can never drink again. I know the consequences. I know, through the recovery and treatment process I am in, that drinking is something I will never be able to do again. I am aware I used it as a crutch, to feel good every day, and to cover anything up that was killing me inside. In doing so, I almost lost everything I hold dear to me. I also know that my situation is more than just an addiction problem, it is a disorder. So today, I will live, I will love, and I will try. That is all any of us can really do. Live it one day at a time.
I began my day by getting ready for work. I did not dread the day as I used to, especially considering it was a Monday. This day seemed a little more tolerable. Maybe the new medications were helping me after all. Today was a big day for me though, because today was the day I would meet my therapist. I took my doctor’s advice and sought out a therapist for counseling. Finding a therapist within my insurance company’s network was quite a tedious process. First, you must call a counseling hotline number provided by the company. A “counselor” chats with you and probes you to see what type of counseling you will require. After several days of playing phone tag with the counseling service, they finally provide you with a therapist in your area. My therapist was only a five-minute drive from my office, so that seemed very convenient. My boss warned me about attending a therapy session during a work day with intentions on returning to work. She was worried I might be too shaken up to come back. I assured her I would be able to handle it. I’ve been through the worst, right? Piece of cake.
I can’t find the place, damn it. The directions were quite clear, but I still wound up sitting in the wrong office. I texted my therapist to let her know I was here in the waiting room, and she responded with, “You’re in the wrong building…”, crap. I finally make it to her office. Her office is a tiny house right behind the office I was originally in. It is an older home, complete with a therapy dog named Maddie. My therapist is seasoned. I am not opposed to seeing an older counselor, I mean, she’s been around for a while and has probably seen a lot. Her experience may hold the knowledge I need to help me through this hard time. “Have a seat”, she says as she places her hearing aids into her ears. Well, this looks promising.
The session began as I expected it would. My therapist asked me general questions about myself, my family, my job, etc. She then asked me why I was there. I explained to her that my doctor referred me due to my depressive state and my mania. When I used the word mania,she rolled her eyes and asked me why I would use that word. I told her that I could not think of a better word to describe the way I feel. She then began to ask me to give her a few situations that have me feeling depressed. Oh, where to begin. I began with my heavy alcohol abuse and reckless lifestyle, including a heartbreaking and unfortunate affair, then I added my career suicide to the mix. I began telling her the story about wanting to drive my car into the trees and she stopped me. “My dear,” she says, “You do not need counseling right now, you need serious help.” She then begins to tell me that she wants to admit me into the hospital to help stabilize my crazy. Okay, she did not use those exact words, but she may as well have. She insinuated that I was subconsciously committing suicide by starving myself…. the nerve of her! I told her I would go, with no intentions on following through with it, and she called my bluff immediately. She encouraged me to go see my doctor since I refused to go to the hospital. That, I will do. I am so panicked at this point and I would say anything to get out of this woman’s house. As I am leaving, she informs me that she will be contacting my doctor to let him know the right course of treatment for me. My Lord, this woman is trying to have me committed!
I got to my doctor’s office and signed in. I called my hubby right when I left my therapy session and he packed up his stuff at the office so he could meet me at the doctor’s office. He is always so worried about me, that loving man of mine. I did not even try to stop him. I needed him. Why would my therapist scare me like that? What if she is right? What if I am starving myself subconsciously to end my life? So much confusion and paranoia right now! Wes, my hubby, showed up before I was called back from the waiting room. He sat there with me as I attempted to whisper the full details of what happened into his ear. He was confused as well. “Mrs. Daniels”, the nurse calls out. Thank the Lord. There is nothing worse than being trapped in a waiting room, full of people, while you are crying about something extremely personal. “What brings you in today?”, she asks me. I respond with, “My therapist told me to come see my doctor so that I can be admitted into the hospital”. My doctor came right in and said I wasn’t going anywhere, not unless I truly felt like I might hurt myself. My weight has dropped down to 113 pounds (I am 5ft 7in, so 113lbs is extremely underweight for me) and my blood pressure was high, just as it has been over the last few visits. I am falling apart. My doctor probes me for details regarding my visit with my therapist. I told him everything. “You overwhelmed her. You are a very overwhelming individual.” My doctor understands me, so he knows that I unleashed my twisted life onto that woman. No wonder she wanted to admit me into the hospital. You would think a seasoned counselor, like the woman I met with, would be better equipped to handle overwhelming individuals. I mean, she has been around for a long time and must have worked with all kinds of different personalities. What kind of therapist can only handle simple situations? Why would a less complex individual even need therapy? I guess these are questions I will never know the answers to.
Meds and Chill
My medications have been changed again. My doctor explained to me that we are still going through the process of identifying the right medications to balance out my chemical levels. He increased the dosage of my antipsychotic, he insisted I keep using the muscle relaxer, and then he added an anti-depressant and a nerve pill. I have never been on so many pills before. I have been prescribed numerous medications in the past, but my stubbornness never allowed me to follow through with treatment. None of this seems natural to me, and I have never been a fan of “big pharma”. My doctor also recommended I use a psychiatrist as opposed to a psychologist or licensed counselor. With the types and dosages of medications he has me on, a psychiatrist is now completely necessary for treatment. I have always been so hard-headed when it comes to therapy because I have always felt like it was more of an endless money pit than productive treatment. I give in though, because I cannot keep going down the road I have been on. I do fear that one day I will sink into that dark hole and never come out again. I love my family too much to ever hurt them that way. So, today I will take my meds and chill…. and again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day….. Will I ever feel normal? I do not think so. What is normal anyway? Life has the potential to be so beautiful. So here I am, living it one day at a time. I will say this, I feel better today than I did yesterday. As my doctor would say, “That is a small win, and I’ll take it”.
Everyone has desires, goals, and dreams. As kids, we draw out big plans for our lives with our dreams. I was no exception. I wanted to be a storm chaser (yes, I was a kid when Twister came out), a famous country singer, a paleontologist…. the list goes on and on. I never realized I would wind up in the industry that my mother always told me I would be in. Ever since I can remember, my mother has told me that I would be a dentist. She had a dream about it one night when I was a toddler and the prophecy was then passed on to me. As a kid, I did not see myself growing up to be a dentist or working in any kind of medical field. I wanted the glamorous life and that did not include wearing scrubs and working with patients. Dentistry it was though. How did she know? I have always been aware of my mother’s strong intuition, but this was just uncanny. I love telling that story to my patients when they ask me how I wound up in dentistry. I, however, am not a dentist. I am a dental assistant.
I fell into dentistry during an erratic time in my life. I was 20 years old and no stranger to the night life. I was waitressing at a saloon and was staying out late, every night, partying with my coworkers. To say I was making poor decisions would be a massive understatement. The party was always on when I was around. Unfortunately, this also meant being exposed to a ridiculous number of drugs and alcohol. One day I woke up, after crashing for three solid days to sleep off one of the parties, and I realized I was spiraling out of control. I decided to make a big change and I was officially on a mission to take better care of myself. I took a chance on a local dental practice and got the job. Everything was perfect with my new position. I made decent money and only worked Monday through Thursday. I felt like my life was finally shaping up. The timing was perfect too, because what I did not realize when I left the “party scene” was…. I was pregnant. My first couple of years as a dental assistant were amazing. I had a knack for working with patients and I began to fall in love with the art of dentistry. By the third year though, something changed. I lost the desire to be there. I cannot remember the exact moment I began looking for an escape, but it happened by my fourth year with the practice. I found myself skipping work to sit at home and do nothing. I had an easy excuse at that point, because I just had my second baby. Nobody questioned me, they just assumed I was being sincere when I called in sick or when I blamed it on my kids. I finally exhausted this method and concocted a plan to escape. I made the decision to quit my job and go back to college. It was the worst plan for anyone in my situation because I was separated from my first husband and we were going through the notions of divorce. I did not let that influence my decision at all though…. I quit my job.
Just Passing Through
Eventually, I went back to work as a dental assistant. My time at the next practice was so short-lived, it is not even worth listing on my resume. I was pregnant with my third baby during that time and I did not want to be there. I never got the chance to come up with a reason to quit because my son gave me a reason the moment he was born. My son was born early, resulting in many complications with his respiratory system. Due to the scary conditions of his birth and the long road of recovery ahead of him, it was necessary to stay at home with him because he was not healthy enough to go anywhere until he was bigger and better equipped to handle an illness. I happily obliged. Once my son was cleared to go to daycare, I went back to work. The next dental practice I joined was one of my favorites. I meshed so well with the doctor. She was laid back and easy to work with. My first year at her practice was amazing and I even considered enrolling in hygiene school so I could become a hygienist at her practice. Hygiene school was not something I ever desired. The idea of working in such a repetitious manner never appealed to me. I preferred the excitement of emergencies and the unknown. My interest in that route peaked though and I was excited about my dental career. Something happened during my second year of working at her practice though. I lost it. I cannot recall the moment I faded away, but it happened…. again. I began calling in sick all the time and even racked up a few medical bills just to prove I was sick. I did not want to be there. But why? I had such a cozy spot and I loved my job. Why was I so unhappy? During this time of despair, I came up with a new plan of escape. I was going to go back to school with the purpose of going to dental school. I was going to fulfill the prophecy. I mustered up the courage to push the plan onto my fiancé, and he was nothing but supportive. This man has been the biggest supporter of my life since we got together in 2011. Oh, how I love him. Anyway, a month before my college classes began, before I could even turn in a notice at work, I was involved in a car accident. I sustained significant injuries to my back and was immediately pulled out of work. My fiancé gave me the opportunity to do what most mothers only get to dream of doing. He offered me a chance to be a stay-at-home-mom so that I could recover and heal. I was so excited and grateful. My wish came true! Was I happy that a car accident bailed me out of something I was so desperately trying to get out of? Yes, I was. I never said that out loud, but it crossed my mind often. What is wrong with me? Why would anyone be grateful for an accident that really hurt them, just to get out of work? I am not okay.
My first couple of years staying at home with the kids was everything I hoped it would be. By the third year, after my parents moved several states away, I began abusing alcohol again. After witnessing me sink into the lowest low I had ever been in, my husband gave me an ultimatum. I could either check myself into rehab, go back to work, or lose my family. My reckless behavior had taken an enormous toll on my family and I knew I had to make a change. I decided to go back to work. I joined a practice with a new doctor who was just getting started out there in the world. The first couple of weeks were tough as I adjusted back to working again. I can remember sitting in the parking lot crying on the phone to my husband because I did not want to be there. Something did not feel right. I stuck it out though, with my husband constantly encouraging me to overcome my anxiety and doubt. Before long, I was back on top of the world again. I worked so well with my new doctor and he recognized my skills and abilities to be valuable, so he promoted me to be the manager of his practice. I was ecstatic! I felt like all my hard work was finally being appreciated. I thrived in my new role. My boss then took on a second practice and eventually merged it with a third practice. I felt like I was unstoppable during those days. The work was endless, and I was drowning in every bit of it, but I did not care. I was on fire!
One can only be on fire for so long before they burn out. I was no exception. During my second, and final, year managing the practices, I lost it. I became easily frustrated over anything that came my way. I began to resent so many things about my job and even the people involved with it. I cared about those practices and my position in them so much, but I was not doing well handling the stress of it all. I was paid very well to cover the excessive work I endured, but I have never been one to be swooned by money, so I began to rebel against it all. I started looking for reasons to skip work, again. I began abusing alcohol and spiraled out of control…. again. I turned in my notice a couple of times, never leaving because my boss needed me, and I was naïve enough to think he could not handle it without me. The third notice was the final notice though, and I walked away with no regrets. I say I have no regrets, but I am lying to myself.
So here I
A 33-year-old, part-time, dental assistant. Exhausted and burnt out beyond repair. I went back to my favorite practice when I left the big, multi-practice nightmare. I knew my husband would not be okay with my desire to drop everything and stay at home again, so I thought this might be my way out. I embraced this change, even though it was a big step down along with a massive pay cut. I considered it to be a break for myself. What I did not foresee was my inability to come out of the funk I was in. I did everything I could think of to make myself happy again, but it did not matter. What I thought would be a good solution now appears to be more of a band-aid that was placed on something broken. A band-aid will cover up the break, hide it for a while to make it look okay, but true healing will never happen until the break is reset. My life is being held together by band-aids right now. How do you reset what has been broken? How do you move on when you cannot make sense of why you gave up in the first place? I have asked myself these questions recently because I am realizing that I am far from being in a good place. I wear many masks though, so I have it covered. For now.
If you ever enter my mind Stay there, you’ll live To fend it off and fool them all Stay there
Wake Me Up
What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just be okay with my life? I have a beautiful life. Beautiful family. Fun hobbies. Interesting job. Exciting goals. So why do I feel unhappy? Why do I keep doing things that hurt the ones I love the most? These are questions I often ask myself.
Yesterday changed my life.
My alarm goes off. I cringe. I have not slept a full night in so long. As I debate on whether I will get up to wash my hair or just hit snooze to rest a few more minutes and resort to a messy up-do again, I realize it is pointless to attempt to fall asleep. I still do not get up. I tell myself that today is going to be a better day than yesterday. I’ve always been the type who believes in the power of positivity. My faith in that is diminishing these days though. I roll over and look at my husband. My Wes. Oh, how I love him, but oh the anger I feel towards him. Why do I resent him so much? I truly believe this man is my soulmate. Why do I hurt him the way I do? I slump out of bed. Damn dogs. I wanted these dogs more than anything. We went through a few family pets before we found the perfect fit for our family. A German Shepherd named Shelby and a black Labrador named Winnie. They have been the bane of my existence for years though. I cannot even walk a few steps from my bed to the bathroom without tripping over the lab and being trampled over by the shepherd. Beasts. I quickly throw my scrubs on and attempt to do something decent with my hair. I have not worn makeup in over 5 months, so that is beneficial when I barely have time to breath. I am a dental assistant. A 33-year-old, part-time, dental assistant. After 10 years of working in the dental industry, from assisting to managing multi-practices, this is where life has placed me. Back at square one. I cry. Why? Why can I not just be grateful for the job I have? I love what I do. I am good at what I do. So why is it never enough? Why did I walk away from a position I considered to be so big? I say I have no regrets. Why can I not stop obsessing over it though? Ugh! No time for unpleasant thoughts. My family needs to wake up and get ready. They will be rushed now because I wasted so much time fretting over my job in the bathroom. Again. Bleh. I make my hubby’s coffee and I begin the weekday task of waking the kids up for school. The TV seems to be acting up again. No volume came on when I turned on the news. It is going to be one of those days, again. As everyone begins getting ready, I slip into go-mode and life is a blur until we get ready to walk out the front door. My husband works from home most of the time and was dressed to go in to the office today. I did not realize he was working at the office today. He had already planned to work from home today so our daughter could stay after school for her tech team meeting. Why does he stress me out like this? Oh, he says he did not forget and is coming home after lunch today? Why can he not just stay at home altogether to reduce the risk messing up? Why does he insist on driving an hour into Birmingham just to turn around 3 hours later to come back home? I just cannot let this go. What nonsense! At this point, my patience is gone, and my anger level is outrageously high. I get in my SUV, kids all buckled in and smiling, and I back up into our flooded front yard. Before I speed off, kicking up mounds of saturated turf, I make sure my husband is watching because I want him to see just how angry I am.
I made it to the stop sign at the end of my street. What did I just do? Have I lost my mind? What grown ass woman tears up her own front yard in a fit of rage that was triggered by almost nothing? I am losing it. I feel it. I have hit rock bottom. It is raining a good bit and the kids are being so good and quiet. I begin to imagine driving my car into the trees alongside the highway. WAIT! This is madness. I do not have thoughts like this. Look at my beautiful babies. Why would I ever think a thing like that? I drop my kids off at school. If traffic is decent, I might actually make it to work on time. Work. Another trigger for me right now. Why can I not seem to shake the negative thoughts that keep taking over my mind? Anyway, if I just hit that tree hard enough, it will all be over. No more worries, anxieties, insecurities, pain, suffering, fear….no more hurting my family. But wait, that would hurt my family the most. Maybe if I just ran away. Where is that damn reset button? Life has that…right? I’m losing it. I called my husband. “I cannot do this anymore”. “Come meet me”, he says. I am floored that he actually stopped at our morning meeting spot, even after I peeled out of our yard like a psycho. I needed him though and I was so relieved to hear that he was still hanging on. I do not remember the drive to that gas station. Life has become such a blur lately. Wes tells me that he cannot help me, but he wants me to get help. I know it is time. I have cracked, again. I drive to Urgent Care to see if my doctor is there. He is because he is amazing like that. After 2 hours of taking my doctor on a roller coaster ride from hell with me, he makes a recommendation. He asks me if I would be willing to experiment with something. He wants to put me on an anti-psychotic. I am not a stranger to mood enhancers. Unfortunately, I have gone through many phases in my life when others would push me to get help. During those times, I was always placed on the newest drug to help “bring more balance” to my life, whether I was higher than any mountain or in the lowest of the lows. I never gave any of those medications a true chance because I always felt I knew better. I always believed that pharmaceuticals were more of a racket than a blessing. Of course, the doctor wants to put me on a medication that will require frequent visits to his office to “check in”. Of course, it is necessary for me to see my doctor every month, because that is normal…. right? Not! To me, this story is as old as time. Another intelligent individual using their skills and position to trap others in a place where they become dependent on something. I have always believed I was stronger than that and that I could overcome any struggle if I really tried. Again, my faith in what I use to believe has been fading away these days.
I did not question my doctor too much about our little “experiment” and he probably did not have any more time to spend with me considering I came in unexpectedly and cried to him for 2 hours. Bless that man. I nod and throw in the towel. I am desperate for help and will try anything at this point. I pick up my prescriptions and drive home. I look at the medication cocktail he wants me to try and I am somewhat floored. One is a nerve pill, one that we have been trying for a couple of months and found that it actually helps me. The other is one I have not heard of before. I do a little research on it. It is mainly used to treat Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Autism in adolescents. What? Why would my doctor put me on something like that? Why was he really asking me all those questions earlier? He asked me a few questions that did not appear to be relevant at the time. Or were they relevant?
When I think back to the many doctors, counselors, and nurses I have cried to throughout my life, I wonder…Were they all suggesting the same thing? I have been on this roller coaster of mania for as long as I can remember. I am aware that I am an exhausting woman. I have been told this by anyone who has ever loved me. I often wonder how anyone can truly love someone like me. I try so hard to keep the peace and to bring stability to my life, but I am the one who also destroys it all. Why do I bring so much destruction to my life and to others? I love my family so much, but why do I hurt them so?
What if I have been battling against something I am not capable of battling alone? What if life does not have to be this way? Is there really hope for me? What if I slip into the darkness again and never come back out? Will I ever be okay? Questions I have asked myself before, but now I am asking them with a new perspective. I am beyond ready to get better. I pray for recovery and stability. I pray for strength for those who love me and choose to suffer with me. Above all, I pray for forgiveness, every day, for the life I have recklessly lived.