I am sending in the paperwork to (hopefully) get my license back next Friday. I have been hounding my friends for letters to send with my packet and what they have wrote has made me cry and my heart swell. My son even is writing me a letter 😭I'm not sure if it's allowed but I wrote my own damn letter. Writing and reading this has made me realize just how darn crazy myjourney has been.
I got my first job in a restaurant fresh out of high school. Looking back I can say with complete certainty that is when my drinking problems started. While not full-blown alcoholism it was an issue that caused numerous problems in my life. We would regularly drink during the week, and I would often black out. Binge drinking was considered normal.
After having my son in 2008 and moving to Chicago in 2009, my drinking seemed to be under control. I was able to hold a great job, and life was finally manageable. Upon moving back to Michigan in 2013, my drinking picked up right where it had left off. I was regularly drinking and blacking out more nights than not. My OWI in 2013 wasn't the wake-up call I needed; neither was driving my son to school so hungover I could barely function or getting fired for more than one job. I was drinking 5-6 times a week and managing my hangovers with copious amounts of Adderall. I was slowly killing myself. That lifestyle landed me in the hospital with kidney and liver pain, and a doctor told me if I didn't get my drinking under control I would be dead in 5 years.
It wasn't until 2017 when I made a decision that would rock my world and change my whole life that I realized just how bad my drinking problem had gotten. I chose to get behind the wheel after closing the bar down and drive home. I got hit by a semi, fled the scene, and my son watched me get arrested. I realized my life had spun so far out of control and was completely unmanageable. I did not know who I had become and realized I had lost myself in a haze of alcohol and Adderall. I was an alcoholic.
Sobriety Court brought me to AA and I found myself at the North Club. When opening up about working in a bar and the unique situations in recovery that arose from that I was reprimanded and shunned, told the token “clean people, clean places” and that I didn't stand a chance at recovery unless I quit my job. Met with similar reactions in Life Ring and Smart Recovery I learned to go to meetings, get my slip signed, and never talk about my career choice. It was hard to open up and be honest about my recovery, and I felt I was missing a huge part of the healing process.
I started searching for a group of people in the food/beverage/service industry (FBSI) near me, but sadly none existed. There are less than 20 worldwide. For an industry consistently in the top two fields suffering from addiction, I found this insane. After reaching out to friends in the industry I knew were sober and those who mentioned they had similar issues with traditional recovery groups it became clear Grand Rapids needed a group like this. Beer City Recovery was born. A grassroots movement to help workers in the FBSI suffering from addiction by offering a safe judgment-free zone to talk about the issues they face working in an environment surrounded by their vices.
In 2017 we had our first meeting and continued weekly meetings held in whatever spaces we could get for free. Local bars and restaurants were so supportive donating back rooms, event spaces, and offices to our cause. I quickly realized this was my passion. I was helping people and in turn, supporting myself and my recovery. I continued with AA, but BCR was the driving force behind my recovery. Unfortunately, Sobriety Court would not recognize the meetings as a valid recovery group.
During my time in Sobriety Court, I trained for and obtained my recovery coach certification to further my career path in the recovery community. BCR meetings continued, and I graduated Sobriety Court on March 28, 2018, early and without a single violation. Sobriety Court was one of the hardest things I have ever completed but it changed my life.
I am not the same person I was 2+ years ago. I have changed mentally, physically, and spiritually. I lost 50lbs and gained some serious coping mechanisms, and with therapy and doctors have gotten my mental health under control. I went from having my name used a measurement of drunkness (“Nanc drunk”) to the person who people come to when they think they need help to get into recovery or help them navigate the court system. Most importantly I have become the present parent that my child deserves. On 2/12/19 I submitted paperwork to make BCR a nonprofit. We have big dreams of helping support members of the FBSI and their families through addiction and recovery and create a safe supportive environment for the community at large. In can in all honestly say that making that choice to drive and getting hit by a semi, while was an absolute idiotic choice, was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I don't think that without the rigidity of Sobriety Court and the not so gentle shove into recovery that I could have gotten to where I am today. I have no intentions of throwing away the magnificent life I have created in the last two years to drinking or drugs.