In my mind, I’d done everything I was, as a faithful Mormon woman, “supposed” to do. I was married in the temple. I attended church regularly. I prayed, read my scriptures, paid my tithing…all the things I was taught would bring me true happiness.
I wasn’t happy.
Every time I heard “multiply and replenish the earth” I started crying. Nothing in my Mormon upbringing had prepared me to give birth to a dead baby. I was supposed to stop taking birth control, get pregnant and then have a baby. End of story. Nobody mentioned the awful things that might happen between point A and point C.
God told me to multiply and replenish the earth and I tried, dammit. What kind of messed up God tells someone to do something and then totally messes with them?
I was disconsolate. I was livid. I was miserable.
I had a plan.
I’d done everything I was “supposed” to do, but it obviously wasn’t working for me. Now I would do whatever I wanted, because really, it couldn’t possibly get worse.
So I went to a bar. I chose it carefully, because I had no idea what I’d be like or what might happen. I just knew there was the potential to feel better. I went to a bar where I knew the bouncer–we’d been on a few dates before I got married–and I felt like I could trust him to kind of watch over me.
Darin, if you ever read this…thank you. For more than I’m willing to discuss on a public forum.
I don’t remember what that first drink felt like, but it must’ve been decent, because it wasn’t my last.
I learned to drink.
I learned which drinks packed the most bang for my buck. I learned which ones made me gag but were totally worth it because once they were down they made me feel warm and fuzzy and like everything was okay in the world.
I didn’t drink every night, or even every weekend. Most of the time I was achingly sober, which gave drinking an allure that seemed not only difficult but pointless to resist. Why would I not do something that brought me a moment of respite?
I’ve had a lot of trite phrases thrown my way during this whole journey, and this is the one that always makes me laugh: “It’s not true happiness. When the glow wears off, you’ll be even more miserable.”
At that point there was no such thing as more miserable, and if I could get 30…60…120 minutes where I didn’t think, I’d take it. Anyone who throws that phrase around has no idea what true depression feels like, and I’m happy for them. I’d prefer nobody feel that way.
So I drank. And I distanced myself from my husband, my family, my church. I still participated in all the things I had before, but it seemed empty. That was the one problem with alcohol–it wore off, and I certainly couldn’t spend every waking moment drunk. After all, that’s what alcoholics do, and I certainly wasn’t an alcoholic.
I couldn’t admit that I was drowning. I had to be strong, because that’s what you do when horrible things happen. You pull on your big girl panties and press forward. You don’t say that all your dreams and hopes for the future vanished overnight and now you feel like there’s nothing to live for.
That might make other people sad, and I was sad enough for everyone.
Luckily, I found a solution. I didn’t have to drink all the time, because there was something even better! It was cheaper, more accessible and, best of all, every bit as legal as alcohol.