Vanessa is the Founder of Reject the Riot, and she's awesome. It's really cool to have her as a friend - especially the fact that she's way out in California, yet we walk the same path called sobriety. Follow her on Insta @vanzsetfree, and definitely check out her website!
Let's start at the beginning.
I grew up in a super normal, middle-class family. I was spoiled but unhappy, all of the time. I needed a drink before I even knew I needed a drink. Restless, irritable, discontent -- this was me even at 5 years old.
Both an overachiever and the black sheep of my family, I did a lot of weird and stupid and pretty impressive shit. But still, nothing could fulfill whatever emptiness I internally felt.
I started drinking when I was 17, stealing my dad's brandy and drinking it in my room alone. My justification was that everyone needs a nightcap and this was mine. It provided me a sense of ease and comfort, immediately. I enjoyed that. I started seeking other things to give me this same sense of ease and comfort.
Since I figured it wouldn't be realistic for me to be drunk all of the time (little did I know...) I started finding remedies for my crippling anxiety and depression in other things. Soon I was filling the void with boys, self-harm, reckless behavior, and creating chaos in every relationship I had with another person. I was a massive drama queen. Like seriously, I'm surprised anyone from this time period even still talks to me.
Soon, I was introduced to cocaine and that happened for like, a year. Then I started drinking, hard.
I remember one of the first times I realized that I wasn't a normal drinker, my best friend's boyfriend whispered behind my back (while I drunkenly danced alone like a fool at a party at 5 am) "I've never seen her like this before, do you think she's OK?"
The drinking continued. Black out nights. Then after parties, in the mornings, I'd continue the party alone. The humiliation and degradation that I experienced in my twenties would be enough to shame anyone into sobriety. Everyone except me. I just drank more, slapped on a smile, and faked my way through life.
See, I lived a double life. I really did. I had this professional career in real estate during the week, and every night I was getting shit-faced drunk and getting kicked out of cabs and spit on by boyfriends because my level of self-worth was so low, I didn't think I deserved any better.
To say I was a hot mess is a hot understatement.
August 27, 2015, I went to court for a DUI and a bunk domestic violence case. The judge threw the book, the bench, and the whole court room at me and I was sentenced to time in jail. I begged and pleaded for a treatment program and was granted it, but only for the last 90 days of my incarceration and only if I pled guilty to the domestic violence crime that I didn't commit. (I had a really abusive and controlling boyfriend at the time that had just relapsed on heroin and methamphetamine, he called the cops on me and said I'd attacked him because I wouldn't give him my phone to look through.) I pled guilty and served my time and went to treatment.
At this time, I felt I had truly surrendered to God. He placed people in my life to guide me to a sober happy healthy life.
I had nine months sober before I relapsed.
That one night of a relapse taught me a lot about my dis-ease called alcoholism.
1) That I was alcoholic and could not manage my own life.
2) That no human power could relieve my alcoholism
3) That only God could help me now.
That's all in Chapter 5 of the Big Book, by the way. Something I'd heard over and over in meetings but had never paid attention to.
So I fought for my sobriety. Just like I'd fought to stay drunk 24/7, I fought to be sober 24/7. I went to 90 meetings in 90 days. I got a new sponsor. I started working the steps.
I started DEPENDING on God. Not believing in him, not trusting in him, but full-blown dependence on Him.
True, I only have 6 months sober. But man, I have 6 MONTHS SOBER. After a RELAPSE. The happiest 6 months of my life, too. No, it hasn't been easy but with God's grace and direction, it has been a perfectly orchestrated experience meant only for me to live. I thank God every day that he's trusted me with this one "wild and precious life" so now I try to give back.
I started Reject the Riot to help others in their quest for sobriety and encourage and promote a life of sobriety. Life really can be fun sober, guys. It really can.
Your life truly means something. God has created each of us and has such a special purpose and vision for each of us, it is perfect in it's creation, just like you. All you have to do is ask God to help you be the man or woman He created you to be.
Thanks for reading. <3