Dr. Carolyn Baerg looked me square in the eye and in her rich West African accent said, “Miss Melissa, something was out to destroy you.” She said it so matter-of-factly that it hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. Her strong eye contact, the conviction in her voice, and the fact that I secretly think my doctor is Nigerian Royalty all added to the dramatics of the situation. I will never forget that moment. She was completely right, something was viciously and relentlessly trying to pluck me from existence. That something had been myself.
On August 2nd, 2016 I experienced a wake-up call so intense that it shook me to my core. I immediately accepted the consequences of my decisions and feverishly repented on my mistakes. The only logical action moving forward was to promise myself that I would never indulge in any mind altering substances again. I have kept that promise to myself and on August 3rd, 2018 I celebrated two years sober. It has been the most rewarding decision and investment in myself that I have ever made. Within that last two years I feel that I have worked towards finally living the authentic life that I was designed for. I’m willing to share my story of evolution up to the very moment that closed the cap on my drunken essence. Here’s the story of why I decided to get sober.
Before I get into the details regarding my sober awakening, I want to go back a few months prior. By this point in my journey, I had become a professional at self-sabotaging every aspect of my life including my relationships with others. It was time for things to change and I distinctly remember the moment where this started to happen. The specific incident entailed a weekend long marathon of day drinking, patio hopping, and “living our best lives” in downtown Mankato, MN. Saturday night was drawing to a close and my friends were nowhere in sight. I was standing alone waiting in line for a cab. It was in that moment amoungst the late night drunken banter, short mini skirts, and the smell of booze on everyone’s breathe, that I found myself reflecting on my life. All of the sudden I felt this overwhelming sense of loneliness and regret. I had realized that I couldn’t stand the person I had become and was trying to fill a substantial void with the very poison that had created it. I was running from myself and had neglected to nourish my emotional intelligence for over a decade. I had spent nearly 14 years of my life embodying the “party girl” persona which is just a very romanticized term for someone with an addiction of sorts. Looking back on this specific moment, I see it as a foreshadowing for what was to come. The universe had finally had enough of my BS so it plucked me from my life as I knew it and placed me on a completely different course.
Before this pivotal life-changing moment would occur, I had to experience the blood-spitting, fire-breathing, rock & roll fury of KISS. Every party girl has to go out with a BANG, amirite? KISS’s Freedom to Rock Tour was at the Verizon Wireless Center and a good friend invited me to tag along. The show was on a Monday night and I was coming straight from a long day at work. Rather than have my friend pick me up, I decided it would be best to drive myself. I mean, how crazy could my Monday night get? Not even thinking twice, I drove my Chevy Malibu to the very depths of Mankato’s “Bar-muda Triangle”, I parked my car, and then met my friend for dinner and pre-concert drinks.
Before I go any further, I’d like to really drive home how irresponsible I once acted. I’ve been prescribed Lithium for 6 years now for the treatment of Bipolar disorder. As some may know, Lithium and alcohol affect the Central Nervous System. The side effects when used together may include dizziness, concentration problems, impaired judgement and thinking. Basically, I should have not been drinking.
Back to KISS! We rock & rolled all night as we continued to dance and drown ourselves in a sea of black leather, face paint, and an excess of booze. I will admit, this wasn’t the worse was to celebrate the end of an era. After the show we ended up going out to the bars, cause hey, it was a Monday night! At this point I vaguely remember calling the guy I was seeing to ask for a ride home. He didn’t bite. The night was ending and apparently I was getting antsy to go home, this is where things get blurry. For some reason I made the executive decision that I was sober enough to drive home.
Although I don’t remember actually getting into my vehicle I do remember when I started to gain clarity. I was driving down Belgrade, only a few miles from home, when I saw a pair of headlights coming directly towards me. (or so it seemed) In the most uncoordinated fashion I quickly swerved to my right. I went completely off the road and onto the curb, where I was graciously stopped by a lamppost. In complete shock of what had just occurred I opened the car door and to my surprise a man was frantically running towards me. “Are you okay? Should I call the police” he said. He looked like he had just witness a train wreck and in some sense he had. I remember just staring at him speechless. My car was completely totaled yet I had miraculously made it out with no broken bones or bruises. Officers from the North Mankato police department showed up and performed the field sobriety test. It was very obvious I had been drinking. I was very fortunate to not have to spend the night in jail, but I did however have to call my parents to come pick me up. I’m really not sure which option is worse.
My decision to drink and drive was a very expensive lesson learned and a life experience that brought me a great amount of shame. The thought that weighed on my heart the most was the possibility that I could’ve hurt myself, or more importantly someone else. This experience impacted me so deeply that I knew I could never let it happen again. This felt like my last chance at turning my life around so I decided I would let it be the end of a drunken era and I have no intentions of looking back.