I was a binge drinker from the day I started at 16 years old, but I loved it and could get away with it when my responsibility level was low. College was a blur.
When I was finally enrolled in law school and started cashing huge student loan checks, my financial problems seemed to be solved. I could charge bar tabs like crazy with seemingly no consequences. It was like free money. Not to mention that law school introduced me to a new group of friends that liked to drink like me. There we were, Thursday nights drinking until the last train, or Monday afternoons just having a cocktail with lunch. I also loved the Saturday night keggers with drinking games, which competitive law students like me prefer to win.
The hangovers started getting worse. I would wake up with bumps and bruises and scratches on my body and face that I could not hide or explain. People would tell me in the morning about the destruction I had caused the night before, but I was now getting to an age where I couldn’t laugh off these embarrassing scenarios. I was finding receipts for bar tabs of bars that I didn’t remember going into the night before. I would wake up in strange places, not knowing where I was. And though my dating preference was someone intelligent, handsome and suave, I managed to be dating a short, fat, bald-but-hairy attorney with a napoleon complex and severe anxiety at a law firm where I clerked: he liked to buy me free drinks.
Plus, the loans started adding up and my grades were not going to land me a job at a top law firm; I couldn’t even stay awake in class most of the time. I was starting to feel helpless and hopeless. I was starting to think about suicide. I drank to make myself feel better and important and sexy.
Luckily, I never killed myself. Even more luckily, I never killed anyone else. I often drove when I was drinking. My last night out, I realized I could have killed my best friend by my drunk driving, though I could have cared less about myself at the time. I went to a twelve-step meeting the next night. I was 25 years old, and I thought my life was over.
At that meeting, I met someone who reminded me of the type of girl who I wanted to be, except she didn’t drink or do drugs anymore. I heard the story of someone who was 19 years old and two years sober. I called my friend, Lance, who was one year sober that night and Lance told me to attend four meetings that week. I told him that I was busy with school and he told me to just follow his directions. I don’t know why, but I did. In that week, I met a lot of really nice, caring people who told me to “keep coming back.” I attended a meeting of young people in that twelve-step that was probably 120-young people strong.
I started “working the program” and, consequently, my life became city-wide huge and full and busy with friends around every corner of the city. I truly finally began to feel useful and important. The question, “When are you going to be able to drink again?” began to be replaced by the simple statement, “She’s a non-drinker” as my first year of sobriety progressed.
Currently, I have over five year’s sobriety. I called the Lawyers’ Assistance Program to let them know because they have always been there for me since I became sober.
I am looking for a job right now. The economy in both real estate and law is in the gutter, but I’m not worried. In fact, I’m more worried that I’m not worried. I attend meetings almost every day, if only to get me out of the house and in the world. I have money in the bank and I have a lot of supportive people around me. I have proven to my family and myself that I am a capable, resourceful young, sober woman. I have no tangible reason to think my life is in danger, unless I pick up a drink or drugs.
I have seen people in recovery go through hard times—more than I even want to think about—but they have persevered through it all with the strength that they gain from their higher power. Though my rent, bills and student loans are sometimes overwhelming, I take them one day at a time and am grateful that I currently have money in the bank and the sense to make decisions that are positive in my life. I have faith that my higher power is going to take care of me and give me exactly what I need, without me even having to ask for it as long as I stick around and follow the suggestions of the program.