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Awake at Last

By: Gabriela Richardson

I had my first drink at 14 years old with my lifetime best friend. It was the grossest drink I ever had. It was vodka and OJ. It got me violently drunk and sick. I remember that day so clearly the drink did not taste good and was so strong. We never had any alcohol growing up in my home, but Heidi always did. It was summer break, and we drank a few more times; I also started to smoke cigarettes and a little Mary Jane. Drinking was not my thing, as it always made me feel sick, but it did help with not feeling awkward. I would always get so nervous around others, especially around the boys. Drinking always made me feel better, prettier, skinnier, funnier, and more accepted by others. When I was 17 years old, I got pregnant and married, so my drinking career was over for some time. The marriage did not last long, and I soon started drinking and hanging out.

I then met my 2nd husband. He was and still is a drinker. I drank some, but nothing crazy. By 22, I had two more kids; I had three young children and a ton of responsibilities. Drinking was the last thing on my mind. I was too busy with three young kids, and my husband drank enough for both of us.

At 25, I filed for divorce and left my husband. I felt that life had so much more to offer, and I would never have it with him. He was lazy then, drank too much, and would never help me with any kids or household duties. He never had extra money but always had a 12-pack in tow.

Fast forward to my thirties, I drank more consistently every weekend, and the results were always the same. I had a lot of fun! I would hang out, party all night, dance, and sing the night away, but when the mornings came, it was so awful I felt so sick and would not drink till the following weekend. With every year that passed, I drank more and more, and the more I drank, the more I self-criticized. Drinking was not big on my mother's side, but I believe they partied on my father's side. My dad passed away at the young age of only 37. He was intoxicated and got into a bar fight. He was stabbed to death, my poor grandparents endured the pain of losing a child, and my sister and I grew up without a man.

When I was 27, I met my third husband. On our first date, I got so drunk I remember sitting on the curb, throwing my guts out. I threw up all over my long beautiful hair. You would think he would say, "This chick is not for me," but he did not. He LOVED me and did so quickly. I loved him too. He was a great man who provided stability. We soon after got married and bought a beautiful home. We had great careers, nice cars, and lots of great times. My drinking career kept going strong. Although my husband did not like it, he would not say much. At 33, I had a baby boy. I felt my husband was so good he deserved to have a blood-born child, so I gave him one. Although I had everything, I was unhappy and drank more often to bear with my unhappiness. I always thought that my prince charming was out there waiting for me. However, I could never find him. At 36, I filed for a divorce. My life was flat-out too dull for my liking, and I needed to be free.

At 40, I started dating a young man 11 years younger. We had a blast. Every day was fun and most days were a party. My drinking career went up a few more notches. I drank on Friday and Saturday. Then Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I was an absolute professional drinker. I could outdrink everyone. My mom passed away when I was 41, and she hated what I was doing and how much I had screwed my life, and how much I drank. A week before passing, we had a big talk, and she said, "If you keep going like this, you are not going to be around for much longer." At 46, I left my boyfriend and got together with my now husband, David. David and I had known each other for a long time, so I did not have to explain anything. He knew me and loved me and loves me till this day.

At around 46, I prayed daily that God would deliver me from the Demon I had in me (alcohol). I wanted so badly not to drink and promised myself I would not, but I could not control myself. The wanting was so much stronger than me. I could polish three bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon all to myself. And I could drink a Vodka splash of soda like no other. I hated myself and the fact that I had no willpower to stop doing what I hated so much. My drinking issues were out of control, and even though I could drink more and more, it always made me sick, and I made so many costly mistakes. But by 4 pm every day, I felt better and resumed drinking. I hated not having any power and wanted to vanish my life.

At 51, God saved me and lifted the demon out of me. I was saved. I have been sober for over two years and have learned many things about myself. I let the process happen and have thanked God daily for freeing me from the jail I served for many years. Knowing that habits need to be broken to stay sober and creating new healthy habits is necessary. My backyard was the place I drank, smocked, danced, laughed, and cried. I did not step foot in the backyard for a year when I quit. I did not give a crap what the backyard looked like. I started to read and educate myself and worked hard to ensure I would never be in that JAIL again.

At 53, I can say that I feel so intensely happy about life for myself, my family, my career, and my puppies. Life is not always perfect, and I have challenges, but being drunk is not one of them anymore. I also found my prince charming. He has been with me for ten years and is a great support system. My adult kids have a bright future. They, too, are working on not drinking and being a better version of themselves, and my four grandkids will never say that old lady was always drunk. That memory will never be part of their life.

This was a very tough road for many, many years. Alcohol had robbed me of so many things. I made many mistakes that hurt me and my beloved family, but it was worth it. I made it, and it has made me who I am today. I want to help others make it too. My mission is to help as many people as I can beat this horrible addiction. We do survive, and we can create new memories. I started On The Mocks a year ago; we have hosted many AF parties and have seen folks have a great time without the liquor. It's a beautiful thing to see. It's about creating new habits. If I can do it, I promise you can too.

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