I can’t remember how old I was when I had my first sip of alcohol but I was young. Maybe 7 years old. My dad is an alcoholic and used to drink a six pack a night when I was growing up. Sometimes more. He had a very sad childhood and never dealt with his pain. He found his mother dead from a stroke on the shower floor when he was in 6th grade. She used to be a heavy smoker. My grandfather never seemed to recover from my grandmother’s death. He was a plumber and owed a six flat in Niles, IL. After my grandmother died my grandfather stopped working as a plumber and lived in one of the apartments of the six flat and lived off the rent of the other 5 units. He was a very bad alcoholic. He died when I was 1 year old and my dad was 25. I see how the pain of my grandfather was passed onto my dad and then onto me. It was my job within my lifetime to heal this pain for my future generations. Having children has been the biggest motivator for me to heal my soul. I don’t want to pass on my pains to my children and I would like them to live a beautiful life. When I was 7 years old, I remember watching a movie with my dad and brothers and I asked my dad about his beer. My older brother and I both took a sip. I remember us running to the bathroom spitting it up and trying to drink a lot of water. It was the most disgusting thing that I ever tried. I never want to drink one of these again, I remember thinking! Ha, yeah right!
I think the next time I had alcohol I was young again. I was about 14 or 15 years old. I went to parties with friends and right away I had experiences where I drank too much and blacked out. I was too young with no tolerance and had too much. Alcohol seemed to hit me harder than most people too. Being the rebel that I was, I continued to go out to parties on the weekends whenever our friend’s parents went out of town and left the kids home alone. When I moved to Barrington from Schaumburg, this seemed to happen more often. I started college and joined a sorority. In the sorority there were tons of parties. On our bid night I threw up three times and it was the big joke that everyone laughed about. I mostly went out on the weekends so that I could pass my classes but many times parties or bars had specials during the week too. We had a full bar at all of our football blocks and more.
Soon after I finished college and was working. I graduated during a high economic time. Everyone was getting hired and at record high salaries. I was 21 when I graduated college with a Finance degree, this was a damn miracle all things considering. I had other distractions too, like I fell in love with someone who was at another school 4 hours away and I dated him for 4 years. He was from Barrington but that is another story. We all had plenty of money to live on our own and to go out as much as we wanted. I got hired by a consulting firm called EDS to help fix the Y2K bug as I graduated in ’97. I was hired for their 2 year System Engineer Development program and I had to move to Santa Barbara, CA to be on-site with the client, Delco Defense Systems. It was like a dream! I had so much fun in California. I was outside year round and it was an amazing time of my life. I learned how to golf, surf, snowboard, play tennis, softball and volleyball. This may sound excessive but I was young with no family and these sports kept me out of the bars some of the time.
I had a job offer to move back to Chicago that offered to pay me double what I was making in Santa Barbara. After 3 years, I was missing my friends and family so I moved back. In Chicago there aren’t as many things to do in the winter as you spend 9 months of the year indoors. I ended up hanging out with my college friends and I became a weekend warrior. I didn’t drink a lot when I was working during the week but on the weekends I was definitely bing drinking. It was a miracle that I made it home sometimes. I passed out in taxi’s. I fell asleep at bars as some of them were open until 4am and I was always trying to stay out as late as I could. I would party with my friends and dance and live it up. The times that we would start to go out seemed to start earlier and earlier and soon we were starting as soon as we got off of work. At my job in Chicago, it used to be a private partnership called Anderson Consulting. It then turned public and changed the name to Accenture. When it was a private firm, there were many company parties that were catered with open bar at Cubs games, boat cruises, night clubs, 5 course meals at top restaurants, you name it and I was living it up. If my friends wanted to go out of town for a weekend at South Beach or some other city to go party then we did. We all were doing well with our jobs. It was fun to even hang out with my dad and drink. He was my buddy and we would talk for hours about everything. I would sleep in the next days and watch movies and simply try to recover with a pounding headache. I was wearing my body out and making all sorts of foolish mistakes. I saw this the most in my relationships with guys. I was jumping from one relationship to another and somehow always chose the wrong person. Something needed to change and deep down I knew it but I was still in denial.
I decided to get into acting to get over my fear of getting up in front of people. I took an improv class because it was something fun and social and something that didn’t involve alcohol. I loved it! I couldn’t stop laughing out loud! I also was selling real estate after work for 4 years at my consulting jobs and then went full time for 2 years after that. At this time I was an alcoholic and I was struggling to find sober activities trying to improve my life. I then met my future husband and at the time he didn’t even drink a coke. He didn’t drink or do drugs. He would ask me out on running dates or meet him at the dog park and I was relieved. I was excited to meet someone who wasn’t a big drinker. We moved in with each other right away after only 6 months and I was helping him start his dog training business. This was another exciting time of my life because I was so happy not to be working in a cubicle after 8 years in consulting, the real estate market crashed and I was starting to audition a lot. The dog training business was fun working with animals and I loved learning how to become an entrepreneur. Running the dog training business allowed me to have a flexible job so that I could be an actress in Chicago. I would work promotional jobs in between for extra income, work his dog training business and I would occasionally book an acting job. Life was good. I wasn’t able to shake my drinking issue though. We soon had two new musical theater roommates, (my ex was a musical theater major) and we were having theater parties! It was a blast. All these super talented people would come over to the house and play music all night. We had a fire pit in the back yard where we would have jam sessions and have dogs running around everywhere or in people’s laps.
It didn’t take long until a friend gave us marijuana. At this time I didn’t smoke weed for 6 years. I was never a big weed smoker, I was always more of a drinker. I really wanted to slow down my drinking because it was affecting me in a negative way. After 3 years of dating we get married and I’m pregnant. I had amazing self control when I was pregnant. I was able to quit everything. It was also the start of my health journey. This was not an overnight thing for me. My health journey is something that unfolded for 10 years and I did slip back into my addictions after birth. Becoming a mother was a huge motivation for me to heal. I had another baby and quit until after the birth of the second baby and then started again after a year or so. I was more careful because I didn’t want anything in my breast milk. I focused on eating healthier because I couldn’t control my substance abuse yet. I began making green juices and became a vegetarian after reading a raw food book and watching Dan MacDonald videos on youtube. I was getting chronic sinus issues that I wanted to heal. Changing my diet was hard and I didn’t worry about my drinking or marijuana use. I was just happy to eat healthier. This whole time I still loved my athletics and was always doing something. I was always discipline about working out. I did either sports, aerobics, running, triathlons and eventually yoga. I wanted to be healthy and I saw how my mother was suffering with her health and I didn’t want to suffer like her. I wanted to help her.
With added responsibilities of being a mother I slowed down drinking and was smoking marijuana mostly at the end of the day. All that really ended up happening was that I transferred my addiction for drinking to a different addiction of smoking weed. I was smoking on a daily basis and it wasn’t long before I couldn’t get high enough. I ended up getting a divorce and started living on my own again for the first time in 10 years. My mother needed help and I offered to help her and have her move in with me because my dad went into assisted living for Alzheimer’s. I was strict high raw plant based vegan at this time. I really wanted to be healthy and healed except my addictions seems to follow me around like demons that I couldn’t shake. I was in a yoga teacher training program and I didn’t realize how much pain I was in. Every weekend that I went into this yoga teacher training I would cry. It was funny because I thought that I was already healed and so enlightened only to be humbled once again. I didn’t just cry, I was sobbing like a water faucet that I couldn’t turn off. I had to heal my soul. I had to find god. I had to find forgiveness as I was holding a lot of anger. I had to forgive myself. I had to find my authentic self once again. Somehow I lost the authentic Amy.
I saw a Facebook post that someone posted about quitting drinking for 30 days right after New Years, 2019. I was thinking to myself, I can do 30 days. Sure enough I made it! I was feeling so good that I slowed down smoking weed too. Before I knew it, I quit smoking. I was completely sober and not pregnant for the first time since I was a young teenager! Holy cow, how am I going to have fun? How am I going to find the fun Amy that seemed to come out when I was high? What I realized is that I had fear to become the fun Amy without some kind of substance. I was shy, insecure and lacked confidence. Somehow through my yoga practice, I developed stillness and I had wonderful mentors who really supported me and loved me. My internal strength grew. My yoga practice grew. My meditation practice became consistent. Just like how dance saved me from cocaine, yoga was saving me from my addictions. Somehow I was becoming whole after all those tears that came out and I started liking myself a lot. I was discovering the real Amy by being alone without the influence of others. It was a lonely time for me but an incredible amount of spiritual growth happened.
Sober life has been amazing! It has been anything but boring. All of a sudden, I found time that I needed to get my career goals done. I found a laser like focus that I never had before. It feels like I was living in a fog and the fog has been lifted and I can see clearly for the first time in years. I love being sober! I am able to listen to my intuition as I am more conscious. How can you even become multi-sensory when you consciously put yourself in an unconscious state? I couldn’t do it. Substance abuse was a distraction. Eventually the high ended and I couldn’t maintain it all the time. I wanted to evolve my soul, become present, become awake and feel joy all the time. I desperately wanted to heal. I have a lot of responsibilities. I’m now a care taker for three people plus helping my mother with my father in his assisted care. In the process of working on my career, I feel my soul getting stronger and I feel success coming as I’m taking the steps that I need to take to get there. Success doesn’t come because you want it. You have to work for it, step by step by step. Forgiveness has been powerfully healing for me. I was angry with people that I loved and it was hurting me. Now nothing seems to matter more than these people that I love and serving them. In the process of healing myself, I am learning how to heal others. I have been doing Assisted Thai Yoga with people where I stretch them in yoga postures. Every single person that I have worked with suffers or is in pain in some way. I have a compassion for others that I never had before. My fear and insecurities changed into compassion and love. So many people are hurting and need love and compassion. You would have never known that I was suffering so much when you saw me because my pain was internal. I see people’s fears and demons which is the unhealed parts of their soul. I can help and this is becoming my life’s purpose.
Becoming sober has been the best thing that I have ever done. If you have never tried it, then I invite you to try it for 30 days. If you can make 30 days then try 60. I think it helps to go long enough to see how life is different over time. Best wishes to you all on your healing journey. I hope this story helps you find some internal strength to find some time for sobriety or to find compassion for someone who may be hiding their pain behind substance abuse. I want to continue my sober life. I am still early in my process as it has only been four months. All I know is that I like my life more than I ever did before. Sending you all much love, kindness and an incredible amount of compassion and love from this humbled yogi. Peace, Peace Peace!