Outside Looking In
Editor's note: Trigger warnings for mentions of alcohol abuse. Thank you to Wrae for sharing your story and road to resilience.
On the outside, I look like an everyday mom of three. I'm about 5’2" with six tattoos and eight ear piercings. I have short curly black hair and dark brown eyes. I'm pretty funny with a loud voice and laugh. I'll talk all day long about my kids, cats and books if you ask.
On the inside, however, you would have no idea of what I have battled through most of my life. I've learned to hide it in many ways- eating, writing, a really good poker face, exercising and alcohol. The last one really got out of hand. I didn't see it that way, but everyone else around me did. I didn't care one bit when people in my life started commenting on my drinking- it was a lot of fun and I needed the outlet. I had pretty much stopped the other outlets.
My marriage was falling apart. My husband had become increasingly emotionally distant and abusive. He was also verbally abusive. That will tear you apart inside in ways that are unexplainable. I was dealing with our son’s special needs (ADHD and autism) on my own. I had a stressful but still great job. Yet, I felt like nothing inside. I felt like I was worth nothing and had nothing to give anyone else. Alcohol brought out my funny side. It helped me escape for a while. I just kept drinking.
Another thing happened during this time- I fell in love. I never, ever planned on falling in love with another man while married (who does?) but it happened. Jake wasn't perfect, but neither was I. He helped me regain my self-respect, self-worth and so much more.
In September 2015, he died by suicide and I drank even more to cope. I was devastated by Jake's death and I didn't want to face the pain I was feeling. The days without him were too hard. I drank most days and the hangovers were awful. I went into therapy a month later when I realized that this grief was something that I could not get through on my own. I had other issues to tackle.
I continued to drink throughout the next year, but I began to cut down. My grief began to ease as my life began to make sense again, including my marriage. I went to my doctor for lab work at the end of 2016 and I received news I was not prepared for- my liver was damaged. My doctor, who was well aware of my drinking habits, alerted me that if I stopped at that point, my liver would still be able to repair itself. If I didn't, my liver would continue to deteriorate.
My sobriety date is 1/1/2017.
This has not been an easy thing- I really do take it “one day at a time”.That phrase is tattooed on the inside of my left wrist. It took months before I could go to a sports bar or be around others that are drinking in a social setting. Thankfully, I have a lot of supportive friends and family.
The most helpful person outside of my friends and family is my amazing therapist. She has guided me through two of the hardest years of my life.
Through therapy, I have learned my triggers for anxiety and depression because they both led to drinking. I've also learned new coping skills, and they include adult coloring books, reading, music, meditation, deep breathing, yoga or going for a walk. Talking things out is also a coping skill but this one is still in progress. I have also worked on my self-esteem, self-worth, with a bit of anger management thrown in. I'm not always the best at caring for myself, but I am on the road to being a better and happier person. That is what matters the most.
- Wrae Sanders
Louisville, KY, USA
From Louisville, Kentucky, Wrae Sanders is a mental health/parenting blogger and a mom of three. She enjoys reading, coloring and true crime podcasts. Her favorite color is pink and she has a BA in Clinical Psychology from Spalding University.
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