I am The Daughter of An Addict

It is fascinating how when your heart truly breaks you can physically feel the sadness in your chest and stomach. My mother was the first person to ever break my heart. The woman who carried me inside of her womb for 9 months where I listened to her heart beat, the woman who was supposed to protect me at all costs, is the one that has hurt me the most.

I am the daughter of a drug addict. 

Addiction echoes from the pasts of my family members, some succumbing to the awful disease. It courses through my veins, handed down to me like a dark omen. In homes where one parent abuses drugs or alcohol, children are twice as likely to develop addiction disorders.

My mother was “Room-Mom” in Kindergarten, coordinating all activities for my class. She was also a Girl Scout cookie slinging machine when I was a Brownie. Stunningly beautiful, extremely smart, and the best singer in the world in my opinion.

That same Mom fell apart after she and my Dad divorced.  Our home turned into a revolving door of strange men. Men who would spent the weekends spent with my Dad locking her in a closet and beating her senseless. She tried covering the bruises but she was battered badly.

Mornings became empty, she was no where to be found, leaving me to call for help to get my sisters and I ready for school and daycare.  Her mood would swing violently from crying and sad to angry and resentful, which she would usually take out physically on me. Anything in her reach could quickly become her weapon. I’ve been kicked in the stomach, my mouth busted open, thrown across the room, landing on a hot vent. From a young age and even into my 20’s she’s been physically abusive.

She would lock us out of the house on hot days so she could “clean” aka “do meth.” We’d beg for food, water, attention, anything from her. Neighbors quickly became the ones to open the doors to feed us, let us spend the night, or let us in when we got home from school because we were locked out sitting and waiting on the cement not knowing if she would ever come home.

I didn’t understand what “normal” was. Normal for me was my Mom being awake for days, locked in her room ignoring us. Normal for me was waiting for days for her to return when she was “just running to the store for milk.” Normal for me was warming up water in the microwave to make a hot bath because bills went unpaid. I was constantly tardy or out of school completely. My self esteem was shattered.

Meth had taken the Mom that I loved and turned her into a stranger. Eventually, she relinquished her duties as a mother and my sisters and I moved in with my Dad when I was 11. We traded one bad Mom for a bad Step Mom. My mother had supervised visitation with us and was ordered to take regular drug test. That was too much for her, so for years we only saw my mother on holidays and some weekends. My Dad gave us stability. For the first time in my life it was normal. I went to school on time, had nice clothes, went on camping trips and to the lake on the weekends. We had a nice house with our own rooms home cooked meals around the clock. We had a HOME.

TURNING POINT. I was 19 in 2008 when she was arrested and went to jail for a few months. It was a cold December day when I was taking my final exams in college when my Mom called and said, “They let me out of jail today, I need you to come pick me up.” I finished up and drove the hour back to my hometown. I was so engrossed in my school work and working as a preschool teacher that I did not visit her but once in the 5 months she was in there. She sat in my car and said, ” I think I am done with this.”

REDEMPTION. My mother cleaned her act up. For the first time in my life, I had a real Mom. We talked on the phone everyday. I could depend on her to show up on my door step with soup and medicine if I was sick. She had her own place, she had a job, she was a Mom. We would hang out and go shopping, binge watch The Real Housewives, sit by the pool and talk about celebrities. She became a Grandma in the meantime and was AMAZING at it. She said this was her chance to redeem herself. She hosted extravagant holidays and celebrations, took us on vacation, she loved being a Mom for once. It’s easier when all of your kid are grown.  She was loving and encouraging, she was present. That was the greatest present she ever gave me in my entire life…for 6 years.

RELAPSE. I never thought the day would come that I would be on cruise in the Bahamas in 2015 and my sister breaking down and divulging that Mom was using again. I was angry and sad, I was hurt. I had no phone service in the middle of the ocean and couldn’t pick up the phone to scream at her. I was shattered. I had noticed she started acting odd here and there but never in my wildest dreams would I believe she would be Meth Mom again.

These days she is homeless, she’s always the victim and never the perpetrator, she can be found in the back of gas stations playing illegal video gambling machines at any hour of the night. She believes gang stalkers are after her and the government is watching her. She’s late to holidays if she even shows up at all, she forgets me and my sisters birthdays. She forgets she gave birth, not even a phone call, we forgo reminding her these days.

Most heartbreaking of all is seeing her repeat the same patterns with my nephew. He is always trying to call her, asking her to spend time with him. He sits at the window waiting for her car to pull up but she doesn’t show. I remember being that little girl at the window wondering if I would see her again.

Today, I struggle with co-dependancy and abandonment issues. I struggle to find a sense of family and normalcy. I constantly seek approval and search for a nurturing attachment in any relationship, especially in mother figures. When I love, I love unconditionally and fiercely because I know what it feels like to have love ripped away.

Today, I am a recovering alcoholic addict. I sat across from my therapist after I got help for alcoholism. She asked me where my anger and hurt was coming from, why did I think I was suffering aside from Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism? I sat in front of her and said, “My mother.” Session after session I argued with my therapist about setting boundaries. Session after session I had rage and tears and had to remove myself from the room, shaking, crying. Session after session I’d find myself sick to my stomach and trying to make excuses for her behavior. Even after therapy, I had to learn the hard way how to detach myself from her. The more I tried the more it was like clinging to shards of glass shredding my hands, I had to let go.

Today, I set boundaries with my Mom and have nothing to do with her. Being the child of an addict is the most heartbreaking experience. It has been 24 years of chaos and turmoil and my recovery is more important than a relationship with her at this point.


5 Things I Learned In The 1st Year of My Sober Journey

August 19, 2017 I reached the one year mark since I fully committed to my sobriety. I had been trying ruthlessly since May 2016 and it took me another few months to admit total defeat. Below you will find 5 things I learned in my first year along with a book or podcast I can associate to the subject.

Today, I am 15 months into this journey and I am still learning new things about myself, about addiction, and about the sober community.


ONE | Progress not Perfection. This is a term you will hear often in the community. Practice makes perfect. I call my first year my “Sober Journey” because that’s exactly what it is, a journey to sobriety. My first year included relapses, or what they call “Going back out” in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Here are a few pieces of advice I received from some of my Sober Sisters (See #3)

  • “You are not defined by your relapses, but your decision to remain in recovery despite them.”
  • “It’s not about the number of days in a row. It’s about surrendering, committing, falling, and getting right back up until one day we don’t fall anymore.”
  • “Don’t let your relapses erase your successes.”
  • “Every part of our recovery journey is something to learn from and grow from.”

Book- ” The Easy Way to Control Alcohol” by Allen Carr


TWO | AA is not the answer for everyone. I went back and forth with this one, I have successfully fired 4 sponsors. I have committed fully to AA, then I backed out looking for alternatives to AA and the traditional 12-Step programs, then I returned to AA, stopped going again, and now I go a few times a week. For me, the meetings work and I choose to go on without a sponsor for now, but I have incorporated other means of getting my Sober Journey on (See #4)

  • Celebrate Recovery. A-Christ Centered Recovery Program.
  • Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery). I was introduced to this program in Detox and followed this in my 6 weeks of Intensive Outpatient Program, I still have my relapse prevention plan and workbooks from these and I reference back to them often.
  • HIP SOBRIETY (hipsobriety.com | @hipsobriety on Instagram) Holly Glenn Whitaker created her own modern self-directed recovery program and now offers classes, blogs, programs, and more. She’s pretty awesome.

Book- ” Undrunk: A Skeptics Guide to AA” by A.J. Adam


THREE | Sober Sisters. I remember walking into my first AA meeting absolutely terrified. Palms sweating, heart racing, bouncing my feet, wanting to jump from my seat and fly out the door immediately. Then something happened after I picked up my first white chip. Women of all ages came up to me, introduced themselves, hugged me, gave me their phone number and ended the conversation with, “I am happy you are here, keep coming back.”

For some reason, I️ find mostly women in a lot of my meetings and did not realize how much we hid our problems. Today my sobriety community extends outside of the 4 walls of AA. I still keep in touch with some of the girls I met in detox and the biggest surprise was on an app I use every single day…Instagram. There is a massive community of people in recovery on Instagram. I follow so many women’s journeys, they follow mine, we share funny recovery memes, we admit when we need help, we encourage each other, and we relate on so many levels. I have a recovery-only Instagram, follow me @chicsobrietist.

Book- “Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink and How They Can Regain Control” by Gabrielle Glaser

FOUR | Complete Immersion. The addictive personality in me extends into my recovery. I obsess everyday and have an insatiable hunger to learn more about addiction and sobriety. I want to learn WHY I am the way I am, what caused it, what are the statistics behind it?

I’m what they call “Dual Diagnosis” or “co-occurring disorders”- which means I experience mental illness and a substance abuse disorder simultaneously. According To The National Alliance on Mental Illness, people experiencing a mental health condition may turn to alcohol as a form of self medication to try to improve their condition, which is what I did. It wasn’t until my mid 20’s I started seeing a doctor for my mental illness, and it wasn’t even until last year I was Dual Diagnosed.

I read books, research articles, listen to podcasts, and talk to others about their journey. I have immersed myself into my sobriety. I wake up and read the AA Daily Devotions book, meditate and pray, listen to sobriety podcasts in the car or while I am working. I engage with my Instagram community every single day and try to post daily. I keep a gratitude journal, reference The Big Book (AA), and check in on my sober family by picking up the phone.

I keep a running list of new sober-related things I want to do. Because of this, I have found transcendental meditation classes, sober yoga, weekend sobriety retreats, and NETFLIX even has documentaries on sobriety, addiction, alcohol, and prohibition.

Sobriety is the #1 priority in my life because without it, everything else falls apart.

Podcast: HOME by Holly Glenn Whitaker on SoundCloud and The Recovery Elevator by Paul Churchill on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher 

FIVE | The best apology is changed behavior. If you’re like me, you spent a lot of time being in denial, hiding things, being dishonest, doing uncharacteristic things to keep everyone from knowing what you thought was a secret. Before I even decided to go to treatment I always said, “I’ll do better, drink less, party less, moderate myself.” I failed each time, so when I committed myself fully my family and friends were still weary to trust me and believe I was serious.

I’ve made exceptional progress even though I’ve relapsed. Not everyone is going to want to be along for the ride. I’ve had “friends” try to talk me into drinking again, I’ve had people tip toe around me like I am a fragile anomaly, and I’ve had people just blatantly walk away from me when I relapsed.

Some people will never understand the journey you are on and what it takes each and every day to overcome it. The only way you can prove yourself is to pick yourself up and keep going, keep persevering and working hard, keep going to your meetings, keep being honest, and keep “one day at a time” in your mind.

If someone loves you unconditionally they will meet you on your current level in your journey. Make amends, keep your promises, and keep the lines of communication wide open. I still have friends and family members say to me, ” you’re so different, we crave to be around you, you’re so calm, you’re such a positive person, we like the sober you better.” So I keep proving to them everyday that I am sorry for hurting them in the past but by continuing to stay in recovery and loving myself, it allows others to love me as well. To love the real me, as I am today.

Book: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey I love how he covers the principles of character ethic.


The Dry Drunk

I knew I was an alcoholic for a few years before I accepted defeat on August 19, 2017. That was the day I landed myself in the hospital and eventually chose to willingly sign my rights over and enter into detox program followed by 4 weeks of an outpatient program. I vividly remember my hands shaking incessantly, the nurse had tears, and I signed my name on that line.

That was a life changing day.

Detox was overwhelming, from 6 am to 10 pm I was in classes to learn about addiction, healthy coping mechanisms, and meeting women on the same page as me. The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) was where I spent 4 hours a day, 7 days a week and endured behavioral therapy. I learned about codependency, how to create a Relapse Plan, getting to the bottom of my addiction, the “Why.” I left outpatient with a new sense of being, a clear mind, nervous but so excited for my future with sobriety. I thought just attending AA would keep me on the straight and narrow and I couldn’t have been more wrong. My first thing I got wrong was failing to keep a sponsor.

I BECAME THE DRY DRUNK I was an alcoholic who was no longer drinking, but I wasn’t really working my recovery or the steps. I stopped going to meetings as often as I used to. I was just taking it day by day proud to be sober another day (Just for today), I had abandoned the search for the WHY. Without fail, when life started getting hard, I found myself with a bottle in hand. When I slipped and fell down the rabbit hole, I knew I had to get right back up and do things differently.

I started creating my Recovery Portfolio (as Paul Churchill from the Recovery Elevator Podcast says. I started keeping track of how many hours a week I am committing to my sobriety and what I have done for others in their journey.

– I got myself back into meetings, this was my first order of action.

– I started my Chic Sobrietist Blog and Instagram (@ChicSobrietist). I have connected with nearly 500 strangers who I can turn to daily and watch their progress. We exchange ideas, stories, recommend recovery/self help books & podcasts, positive affirmations, recovery humor, check on each other.

– Listening to podcasts in the car. My job requires a lot of time on the road, so I spend a lot of time listening to the Recovery Elevator & Home (from the women at Hip Sobriety)

– I revisited my IOP workbooks to remind myself of the WHY.

– I start my mornings with meditation. I use the Headspace App as I was a beginner.

– Reading Recovery/Self Help books.

A few I recommend:

Undrunk: A Skeptics Guide to AA by A.J. Adams- Allen Carr’s “Easy Way to Control Alcohol”

“Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink—And How They Regain Control” by Gabrielle Glaser

“Daily Reflections: A Book of Reflections by A.A. Members for A.A. Members” (I start each morning with this)

“This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol: Find Freedom, Rediscover Happiness, & Change Your Life” by Annie Grace

– Made a list of my “Recovery Team.” The important people who support my sobriety and I can call when in a time of need or in case of emergency.

– Recently joined a pilot sobriety program where I attend 3 weeks of webinars and group discussions. At the end of the 3rd week we ( test group of 35) are going to give our feedback to help this company create a program one can purchase that fits individual needs.

– I journal intensively. Each day I wake up and write down 5 things I am thankful for (Gratitude Journaling), I write down my thoughts on topics for my blog, interesting things I hear on podcasts that I want to research more, I scribble down titles of books, any thing that triggers me throughout the day, what I am feeling and how I can find a solution. I pour my raw emotions onto paper.

– Created a list of goals, 95% of people who do not physically put their goals into writing, do not reach them. I set my goals out in 30/60/90 day intervals and I revisit them weekly to make sure I am on track.

– I surround myself with people who support my cause.

I recently received a message on Instagram from ThriveSober which is a cause to, “Hoist a new flag for Sobriety & Build a Movement to raise humanity and serve those ready to THRIVE.”

The message: “Truly humble and grateful for the follow Lyss! We love what you are doing for the world! Welcome to the Tribe and a Thrive On”

I am hoping one one small voice my help change someone’s life that is battling addiction, for them to know there is a way out and it beyond the most amazing life you will ever discover when you recover!

Let’s talk about relapse statistics…

Once you got sober how many people told you that relapse is a just a part of recovery? Did you ever hear in your AA Meetings that the 9th month (green chip) is the hardest to get and is the one that is most rarely picked up? I, along with many others I’ve met through my journey, have heard these things repeated in different groups, by sponsors, and even facilities.

I don’t 100% agree with this and here is why.

According to studies, 80% of patients with alcohol addiction relapse in their first year. If you can do math, that means 20% stay sober. The numbers get better though, don’t fret. After the second year, relapse rates drop to 40%. Patients are 40% less likely to relapse after two years of sobriety, this is big. That means it gets easier. This rate drops even further after 5 years.

I was a part of the 80%, I relapsed in my first year. If you are not in active recovery, you are in active relapse (even if you haven’t taken a sip yet).

A few signs:

* Skipping AA meetings because you think you have a handle on it

* Not getting a sponsor or keeping one

* Not working the steps

* Failing to call your support system

Those were my signs.

Also, the 80% rule makes it seem like it’s okay to be a part of the majority. The point I want to make is to be the 20%, the change, the minority. Set an example for others, call fellow sober friends you might think are close to relapse, be aware of the signs and catch yourself before you fall.

If you do fall, the most important thing is to not give up, don’t call it defeat. Stand back up, get to a meeting, admit it happened, don’t harp on it, and keep going. A relapse does not erase all progress.

I don’t know what do with my hands…

In early sobriety I didn’t go anywhere. My Grammie forced me out and we went to a TGI Friday’s near my college. I specifically asked to be sat away from the bar and told them to hold the drink menu. Guess what the first question when you’re a female that is not drinking? Oh, you’re pregnant, congrats. 😳

Since then I’ve encountered many times I’m in a setting where drinking is the norm. I’ve been in NYC and flipped my wine glass upside down to not be served while everyone else imbibed. I’ve went to the lake with family as they drank beer and it didn’t bother me. In my early sobriety the holidays were coming…loved ones drinking didn’t bother me, although they checked with me if it was okay.

I drank alone when upset. When I was surrounded by loved ones, I didn’t care if they drank, I woke up the next morning happy and healthy, sober.

I had to eventually go to parties, events, and celebrations where drinking is the “goal”. You go to get wasted or escape. Sparkling water with lime…club soda, Mocktails. Anything other than alcohol, I needed something in my hands to make me feel like I was a part of something. My ex boyfriend…I bought drinking paraphanelia, whiskey glasses with the maps of where he traveled. He had expensive liquors sitting in my floor for 2 weeks awaiting shipment to him. I didn’t care, I boxed it up with popping bubbles (great addiction) and sent it off.

Alcohol was an escape for me. When I slipped, it was because I was stressed and lonely. It’s not a fun thing for me.

So next time you “Don’t know what to do with your hands”

1- Pray (best thing you can do with your hands)

2-Order a Mocktail (my favorite a bartender served me in East Atlanta had Root Beer and Orange Bitters)

3- Sparkling Water… just be boujee.

4-If you’re uncomfortable…leave. Real friends won’t encourage you to break sobriety.

I remember the first time I drank by myself…

In the Spring of 2011 I was 23 and had just left a tumultuous relationship that was full of infidelity. After 4 years, I waited out my lease only to pack up and move back to my Dad’s house with my sisters.

My house was always a fun party. One we would drink all night, have bonfires, vodka slushies on tap, beer funnels, golf carts, and a swimming pool with the loudest music on the block and all the NOPI cars parked down my street. Damn “race kids” pissed my neighbors off with their massive exhausts and bass.

One particular morning, I had woken up and still felt the empty sadness in the pit of my stomach, nothing could numb it. I had no appetite, the exhilaration of the night before was gone and I was downstairs getting orange juice when I noticed we left some bottles out. As I went to put them back in the cabinet I took one look at the clear liquid and remembered how numb I felt the night before.

I stood in my kitchen that morning by myself and chased a shot of Everclear with juice. It was the weekend, I was off work. So I used the excuse, “I could just lay by the pool all day at my house and we drink.” I downed another and called my friends.

That became my very first excuse to drink not only alone but to seek out people to do it with me so I wouldn’t feel so “alone”.

The decision I made that day left me on the wildest ride of my 20’s for the next 6 years. Sure, I had drank before that, but I had a tendency to be prudish when it came to drinking. My Dad used to always joke that I was the, “lamest kid ever” because I SHUT DOWN my very own Graduation/Birthday party in 2006 when I saw my friends drinking while shooting pool in my basement.

That warm Spring Day is the day that Dr. Bob (btw, do you know him? If you do, send me a message) in AA would say that my “allergy to alcohol” came to surface.

Thanks Everclear.

Wait, no.

That’s not right.

Thanks 23 year old Alyssa, please hold yourself responsible.