My story starts at the bottom. The morning before I got entered recovery, my breakfast consisted of nearly a bottle of red wine and a few thick lines of cocaine. I got dressed, checked my teeth for lipstick and my nose for stray coke, put my laptop in its case, and picked up the paper on the way out to work at my big New York City law firm. I felt sick, afraid, and completely alone. I know now that I was wrong about the alone part.
More than 20 years ago, I became an associate at a big New York City firm and almost simultaneously spiraled into alcohol and drug addiction. I was 25 years old, with the ink still drying on my law degree. The work hard/play hard environment of a top law firm was intoxicating, literally. Long days in the office turned into long nights in the bars and clubs. Unfortunately, another long and stressful day in the office was always just a few hours away. It was a terrible dynamic for someone like me, with a Type A personality and a then-undiagnosed depressive disorder.
After a 10-year decline to the bottom of my addiction, I landed in a seedy New York City detox. When doctors strongly suggested a 28-day stay at a rehabilitation facility, I refused to go. It would have meant telling my law firm the real reason I had been out “sick.” Instead, I went to outpatient rehab two nights a week. One week and one day after checking into the hospital, I was back at work. It was not a smart approach after being diagnosed with a chronic disease. With the right mental health diagnosis and tremendous support, though, I celebrated 13 years of recovery in April.
When people learn that I’m in recovery, they often say that they wouldn’t have guessed “that” about me and that I don’t look like a “drug addict.” Somehow, I don’t think that similar comments are made to people with diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. And just like people with those diseases, we look like anyone and everyone else.
I wrote my memoir, Girl Walks Out of a Bar, to try to help the next person who suffers to know they’re not alone. You can be a nice girl from a nice family, a straight-A student and an overachiever, and still be a person with addiction. I want people to know that life can get better, no matter where you start from.
I never imagined a life without drinking. Now, I wake up every morning feeling grateful that I have been able to build a life in recovery, alongside tremendous people walking the same path. I want to help the next person to join us.