Neither regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it –
December 3, 2020 – I thought I could not tell a single beloved colleague about this significant part of my life I have to struggle with daily; I felt so alone. I had not accepted that I was sick.
I continued with my sobriety journey, feeling isolated, knowing my family was far away. I hated that when I needed my mother’s hug or my sister’s hand on my shoulder, all I could get was a phone call. I was able to lean on my then-boyfriend, as he was also in recovery and understood the daily work it took to stay sober. As the virus reached Kentucky, I assumed we were going to have an extended spring break. I anticipated an excellent opportunity to catch up on work. I hoped to build further on my relationship, get some well-needed rest and have an excuse to order food from local restaurants.
Quickly the truth was becoming apparent. This quarantine was not going to end anytime soon. I began missing my old life; the quarantine shattered my routine that was so vital to recovery. This new normal that was encroaching became terrifying as the many restrictions further physically removed him and me from our support systems. We entered grocery stores, fearing infection to get necessities, scrambling to get essential items such as toilet paper. Life became increasingly depressing for the two of us, and he relapsed. He struggled; he cried tears of shame and guilt, tears that I had experienced so often. One morning he said he would run out to the gas station and he would come right back. He never did. I went looking for him at his apartment and knocked. No answer. I called his phone. I could hear it ring, but he didn’t answer. I banged on the door, I yelled but no response. I grabbed a fire extinguisher to beat his door down. A neighbor called the police on me, and when they arrived and got the apartment door open, I heard, “there is a dead male”.
Everything was a blur until the coroner let me in. I saw him lifeless, and there went my sobriety. At that moment, I thought my dreams of a future vanished, dreams of marriage and a family, just gone. I was utterly devastated and horrified. I couldn’t have my family rush over to help me because of COVID-19’s travel restrictions at the time. Since then, I have gone back and forth, fighting the battle of my addiction to alcohol. Since the spring, I’ve experienced seven hospitalizations with stays from three up to 35 days. My summer of 2020 was a complete blurred wreck that almost killed me, and I would have accepted that fate at that time. However, each time I fell, I was able to get back up with others’ support, and as the fog cleared I tried my best to move forward.
Yet, the grief was too much, and I would fall again. Thankfully, COVID-19 allowed for remote work, so I decided to risk travel to leave Louisville to stay with my family. I sought their help because I could no longer try to do this recovery work daily on my own.
Ever since I’ve started to feel better, I have had more solid days than rocky ones. Each time schools were possibly gearing up to return to in-person classes, I noticed that panic filled me. The idea of being forced to return to Louisville for work permanently triggered my trauma. I tried once to go back, and it was a failed experiment.I knew that I narrowly escaped death over the summer. Going back to Louisville would have set me up to die by prioritizing my career. So I finally decided, FINALLY, to truly embrace my recovery. I decided to let go of this beautiful thing called teaching that has consumed every part of my being and resigned. My last day is Dec. 4.My dream is to attain long-term sobriety, and I believe one day I will, but just for today I choose to live in recovery until I fall asleep. I will fight my alcoholism daily. I no longer live in fear of anyone trying to “out” me.