Recovery From Madness

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When I was about 9-years-old, I became conscious that eating candy—lots of it, made me feel better. Like how I imagine a teddy bear might feel as it is being made and filled with stuffing and that stuffing was fluffy pieces of love.  Not long after, I realized the attention I got from boys not only made me feel better, but by using that attention, I finally had control of something in my life. 

Then, when I was 13-years-old while sitting in a cold field, the other kids giddy with excitement, I discovered that if I drank enough alcohol it helped me feel nothing and I could rest. The relentless madness in my head would stop, the tension my body felt from trauma would melt away and I could forget how completely lost, and alone I was in the world. That is how I lived for the next 7 years, one way or another, using at least one of those escapes in order to simply exist. My brain did not have the capacity to think past getting relief, my body could not handle anxiety without a chemical, my soul was turning black, the light almost completely extinguished.

There is no earthly reason why one day when I was 20-years-old, I was given the ability to see, hear, and feel that I was no longer in control of when or how much I drank, that I was killing myself with alcohol, and I would never be free from that trajectory. I do know that insanity is the reason I still gave pause after knowing the truth in my heart, and actually considered that perhaps death might be preferable to giving up the only way I knew how to live.

Despite myself and because of merciful grace, I have not had to drink alcohol since 1993. I have wanted to on occasion, mostly in the beginning when it was hard to watch my peers meeting for happy hour after work, and then as a mom missing out on wine o’clock. I don’t stay in those moments very long though. I had crazy, wild, fun times while drinking, but it was just a bonus to the sweet magical relief that was always my first priority and that will never change.

While recovery from alcohol consumption has been black and white, there is no reason why I would “have” to drink.  Relationships however… Who would I be without the rush, drama, distraction, assumption of control, and dark isolating shame that happens in my body, and mind from a co-dependent (have I had any other kind) relationship?

A husband, boyfriends, lovers, hook-ups-eventually, they all stopped being a salve, instead, I was feeling anger, shame, regret, and disappointment, a heavy, painful burden in the light of faith I was experiencing from the other brave new decisions I was making to grow beyond trauma-based patterns. Not enough to change those patterns immediately, but enough to see these emotions as outliers from the glow of peace and contentment that was happening within me.

Incredibly, in the last year, I have been given the opportunity or, well, lack of choice actually, to find out what it feels like to be alone and at peace, instead of giving away pieces of myself, I gathered them close. In an unbelievable plot twist, a pandemic has had the final say. Life is too precious to waste in the company of anyone that could jeopardize my life or those I love, so I stay at home. I am home.

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Trish Hecker

Trish Hecker is pursuing her BA degree in Liberal Studies at Antioch University Santa Barbara. After a 17 year absence from college, she decided the time was now to fulfill her dream of finishing her BA. The MA program in Social Sciences with an emphasis on Women’s Studies at Antioch will be the next step in her grand plan. Her writing credits include Ladies of the Valley, an online publication that presents the victories, trials, and tribulations of women living in the valley, and how they overcome the challenges they face in their journey. Trish is a 47-year-old divorced mom of two teenagers, lives in the Santa Ynez Valley, and firmly believes in order to live life fully, on occasion, we must be willing to leap out into the unknown.

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