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Dancing On the Bar

Fast forward to six years after my first drink, and three years into active addiction: August 17, 2013. I remember it like it was yesterday – the day I hit rock bottom. I am lying on my bathroom floor in tears, writhing in emotional pain, overcome with hopelessness and despair, thinking how did I get here? How could something I love so much do this to me?

My addiction had taken over my mind, body and soul, leaving nothing but darkness and misery in its wake. I look in the mirror and see this shell of a person I haven’t known in years. I am worn down, exhausted and physically and emotionally numb.

I had just been arrested for the third time for a DUI on campus and was being kicked out of school for my third strike.

This time my GPA couldn’t save me. My parents couldn’t save me. Even my manipulative sweet-talking couldn’t save me. School had always been a constant in my life – the one thing I excelled at, drunk or sober, and gave me self-worth. I never realized it until that moment, but there was finally something I valued more than the bottle, and I was finally about to lose it. It was only days after my 21 birthday, a day I had been anxiously awaiting for as long as I can remember, and I was ready to give up. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been happy, and I was willing to try anything to save whatever remnants I had left of my life. My friends wanted their fun-loving Emily back, my parents wanted their daughter back, and me, well I just wanted my life back.

I called my parents and told them what had happened. I heard my dad sobbing on the other end – only the third time I’d ever witnessed him cry – it broke my heart. All the emotions I had drowned with alcohol over the past three years were flooding in all at once, and I could feel every ounce of their weight. Despite their disappointment and grief, my parents’ relief in my readiness and willingness to get help was evident. No matter how many times I had hurt them, lied to them or betrayed their trust, they were still there for me and were eager to get me into treatment. And I was ready to surrender.

Today, I am clean and sober. That is what matters most. In sobriety, I am restored to the version of myself that predated the stronghold of addiction. Better yet, I’m a more improved version of myself than I ever was before. I am caring, reliable, compassionate, resilient, studious, loving, faithful, honest and strong. I still make mistakes. I am still selfish on occasion, and a little stubborn. I still have days where I’m depressed and days where I’m anxious. I still stress about the future and how I will handle the real world after college.

I have endured loss, heartbreak, emotional breakdowns and illness.

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