A New Graduate Speaks
An address to the court at the therapeutic court graduation ceremony
I thought and thought about what I wanted to say today; the usual thank you’s just didn’t seem to be enough. I want to share my story with you, because it’s good for me to talk about how I came to be here and also because someone may hear something that makes a difference for them in their life.
I’ve never been suicidal, but a year and a half ago, I was in such a dark, desperate place, I often thought, please God, take me away from here. I have to say that this was the lowest, most painful time in my life. I was very ill, my health deteriorating, my children showing physical and emotional signs of neglect stress and trauma, but I couldn’t see it because I was in such a cloud, all I could think about was drinking to numb myself. I surrounded myself with people I didn’t know and who were not my friends to try to feel better about myself, while pushing my true friends and family away. I would wake up after being out all night, trying to remember what I did and couldn’t. I knew that my life was out of control, but thought I could hide it from those closest to me. But those closest to me were suffering along with me, especially my children who watched as I tried to drink myself to death, not understanding, thinking that I was going to die like their father, grandfather and grandmother had just done. I realize the trauma I put them through and now see how they reached out to me and cried, confused and scared. All of my friends and some family tried to reach me during this time, but I closed the door on them. I didn’t want them to see me like that, but they did see and they were never very far.
I continued on this way for a while, just trying to get through each day. I quit a wonderful job I had for 7 years, because I thought I could. I was going to retire and stay home with the kids. I thought it was the right thing to do: they needed me. What happened though was that I was never home. I was out in the bars drinking as often as I could and driving, putting other people and myself in constant danger. My kids were being cared for by someone else. It got to the point where it was even painful to look my kids in the eye. I was working on my Master’s Degree in Business at the time, and quit taking classes, justifying it by saying what do I need my master’s degree for now, I’m a stay at home mom, everything is fine. I quit going to the gym, and justified it by saying I don’t need to lose weight, look how thin I am. The reality was that I wasn’t eating and looked horrible. Yeah, I was thin because I was drinking more than I was eating. I slowly cut back the time I was volunteering at my kids’ school until I was rarely there. Homework with the kids at home was not a priority any longer: I was busy sleeping it off while they took care of themselves. They were failing in school. My daughter came home with the math assessment: she got 6 out of the 50 problems correct. The school counselor, teachers and principle were all worried about my son, recommending further counseling, ADD assessment and resource help. We missed so much school and I didn’t even care as I went further into depression and drinking. My kids went right along with me, becoming more and more depressed. They got to the point where they hated even getting up and going to school because we were so behind, they couldn’t do it, and still that took a back seat to my drinking.
When I finally hit bottom, I was sitting in my crashed car, drunk, looking at the damage I caused, thinking this is finally it. I’m done. I knew I was finally going to stop, because the courts were going to make me and I needed intervention desperately. I thought, why did it take this, but in a dysfunctional way though, this is exactly what I needed. I needed help because I wasn’t able to stop on my own. I knew this was the divine intervention I had been thinking about. I was sorry for a while that it had to be at others’ expense and suffering, but I was finally able to see clearly after a few days, more clearly than I had in the last year. I thought about all the pain I had caused others, what I had done, and knew that my life had to change if I wanted to live to see my children grow and be with them instead of in jail, or worse, dead.
So when I was told about the Wellness Court, I jumped at it, to stay out of jail at first but soon because I knew this was my chance to make a monumental change in my life and my kids’ lives. I knew that if I did this, I had a good chance at having a wonderful life ahead of me. I cannot put in words for you the wonders of these changes over the last year and a half. It’s overwhelming what has taken place for me and my family, with the structure, oversight, support and help of this program and all of the people involved with this program. I see all of you now, sincerely caring for someone like me, supporting me, and wanting me to get well and it has changed my life. If you were to have asked me a couple of years ago if I could ever feel this free, this secure, this healthy, fulfilled, happy and confident, given all of the trauma and alcoholism throughout my life, even my years of sobriety in the past when I though I was happy, I would have told you no, it’s not possible for someone like me to be in a place like that. I can’t, don’t deserve it. Well, I’m there and it’s because of this program and the people in it. Because my sobriety today means more to me and has priority over everything else in my life, and it will stay that way. I’m finally convinced and accept with happiness that AA works. It is a wonderful and fulfilling way of life. I am a grateful alcoholic and can look anyone in the eye and say that today, because I’m finally free and I have so many wonderful things to look forward to. Most important now is being a mom again, and being a good mom.
We’ve only missed 4 days of school this year. My daughter came home with her math assessment last week. She missed only 6 out of 50 this year. My son joined math club because he’s so confident now. He’s not behind any more and can do all of his work. His teacher says he is a different boy than last year, and that whatever we are doing at home, keep it up because he is doing so great. There’s no more need for resources, or talk of assessments. We do all our homework and then some every week at home. I’m at school so much, they gave me a job as a bus monitor this year. I’m involved with my community council and volunteer when AWAIC Shelter calls me. I’ve finished three more classes towards my master’s degree during this program and started working as a grant writer last year, helping a long time family friend whose health is failing. I’ve been able to repair and work on the important relationships in my life. I’ve realized and am grateful for the healthy and supportive friends around me who stuck with me and helped me through these last three years. The relationships I have today with my friends and family are more caring and loving than ever in my life. I believe that this was all meant to be and that a power greater than me was watching over me and has been with me all this time and will be with me forever. Thank you, all of you. My children thank you. My family and friends thank you. I am so lucky to have had this opportunity. I’m not going to waste it.