Grapevine Online Exclusive

Published March 2011.

Web Exclusive: Young and Free

After two years in hell, a 15-year-old wants to help others.

"I have people who I can call when I’m having everyday problems"

My life when I was younger was always great. I had a good family. I was always a happy little girl. Once I entered middle school everything changed—I got diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and ADHD. So I started to already hate life and wondering, "WHY ME? I don’t want to be like this." I started hating myself at the age of 11, cutting my wrist, burning myself, doing anything to fill the empty whole inside of me.
 
Over the next year I found myself being curious about alcohol, and drugs, and cigarettes. By the time I was 13, I was drinking on the weekends and having a great time. The amazing part was alcohol filled the empty whole inside of me, and I didn’t have to let people know the pain I was trying to deal with because they didn’t see any of my scars on the inside like I had on the outside from cutting. I loved the affect alcohol had on me. Just like most people, I felt funnier, prettier, better about my self in every aspect of my life.
 
I was 14 when I started to drink more and more and smoking weed every day because it was the only way I could feel happy and good about myself. The alcohol helped with the depression and the pot helped with the anxiety—so I thought. But after months of consistently drinking I thought something was up with me. Every time I drank I was puking my guts out, crying or laughing. My moods were unpredictable, I would black out and I thought it was normal.
 
I wanted to be loved and accepted, and I found that in alcohol. I would switch from vodka to gin to rum to beer. I’m not really sure to this day why I did that but I believe I was trying to reassure myself I was okay and I was the farthest thing from a lame alcoholic because who’d want to be one of those? When I was 11, I would go to AA meetings with my dad, and I though you all were crazy, and I didn’t want to be one of you.
 
By my 15th birthday I was taking pills, still drinking and getting high everyday and trying to convince myself I was normal. I could no longer go to school if I wasn’t high. But suddenly I stopped going because I was trying to hide my addiction, and I would be rather high at home by myself. Suddenly I found myself drinking alone because I wanted all my alcohol and drugs for myself. Nobody else was worth sharing with. In October I got a tobacco ticket, which saved my life. I got caught smoking before school and I had to go to 10 counseling sessions at the sheriff’s department. I would lie to my counselor about my drinking and everything else going on with my life. But without that counselor, who knows if I would have ever made it to rehab?
 
My last night drinking, I wanted to go to a party. My parents said no because I got caught drinking two weekends in a row, and they said, ‘Hey if you smash your pipe and promise not to drink or get high you can go.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah I won’t drink!’ I was crying like a 2-year-old wanting to drink so badly. I had three hours to go to a party. I remember the second I walked in the door I grabbed a can of beer and was just chugging and chugging one after another until I was as drunk as I could get. I came home and I started throwing up for 12 hours. My mom saved my life that night. I don’t really remember anything after throwing up except that I admitted I was an alcoholic and I KNEW I had a problem. After 12 dreadful hours of throwing up and shaking, I was not able to talk. I couldn’t eat anything, and when I’d drink water, the next second it was thrown up on my floor. That was the worst day of my life, I’ll tell you that. I hit rock bottom. I shouldn’t be here today typing my story on a computer. The way my mother and family took care of me blows my mind away, after years and years of lying, stealing, getting in trouble, manipulating and the list goes on and on.

February 4, 2008 was the day that changed my life. It was also the best day of my life—the day I entered rehab. At the time I didn’t see it as the best day of my life but I am so grateful to have gone to rehab. Throughout my sobriety I have let all my secrets out that have caused so much harm to myself, because I heard what you don’t get over, you get loaded over. I was scared shitless to get drunk again. I don’t want to ever drink again because many people say to me, ‘You don’t have to go through what us old people have gone through.’ But I’ve gone through some things that nobody should ever have to and it was a result of my drinking, and I know if I never want those things to happen to me I should never drink again. Today I am a strong 15-year-old who’s recovering from a disease that kills and takes many lives.
 
Before I was living to drink and drinking to live. I don’t need that drink to get through the day, for the good times for the bad ones either. If I stub my toe, I don’t need to get drunk over that anymore. After inpatient I went to outpatient and my counselor had everyone go in the bathroom and look at ourselves in the mirror and say, ‘I love you.’ That was incredibly hard for me to do. But today I can proudly say I love everything about myself. Who cares if I’m not what you want me to be? I cared so much about what you thought of me, I would do anything to get you to like me. I am so grateful that I’m not that way today anymore. I’m such a grateful alcoholic. I don’t ever want to pick up a drink because I know that is never going to be the solution to my problems. Thank God I am an alcoholic because not only have I learned I never have to drink again—I’ve learned the most important things in my life. What other people think of me is none of my business. I have learned to love myself for who I am, and I know I can do anything I can if I set my mind to it. Today I have a wonderful relationship with God.
 
Today I have a wonderful relationship with my family. Also today I have friends who accept me the way I am, love me for who I am, and don’t want me for alcohol or anything thing else. Where in the real world I could never find that before? I have people who I can call when I’m having everyday problems, and it sucks for those normies who don’t have the Twelve Steps and the friends that I do in A.A. Because of all you alcoholics I’m happy to be alive. I want to give back everything I have learned. I am going to go through hard times in my journey through sobriety. I already have. My best friend, my dog, died in my arms one night after outpatient at rehab. Also I moved to Florida from California when I had 6 months sober. My fellowship and my family are there. I thought nobody here in Florida would understand me, and I thought I was going to be alone. But with the magic of Alcoholics Anonymous, the power of God, the belief in myself I know I’m okay today.

-- Jenn

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