Meet Recovery Rockstar Tami
I am the product of the MTV generation, a real life video vixen. It was an era that gave rise to such greats as John Belushi and Richard Pryor. Aqua Net hairspray, lace gloves and bows, and mini skirts were a necessity to any young girl who idolized music icons such as Madonna. Ritz and glamour were in abundance. That was not the only thing that was. You see, I was born and raised in the heart of Sin City herself. I received my Master’s Degree in Partying, you could say, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
LIFE IN VEGAS
Being young and beautiful in Las Vegas definitely had its perks. Heads turned and red velvet ropes leading to VIP lounges opened up without ever questioning that you weren’t even out of high school yet. It was the age of the finest cocaine and Krystal Champagne ever made. Both were overflowing all throughout every club you entered. Beautiful men with money and power paired up with beautiful young women who were naïve and just materialistic enough to buy what ever bullshit they were selling.
My education began at the tender age of seventeen the first time I realized that my looks could get me anything I wanted, like a bouncer looking the other way so I could enter a nightclub without an ID. My teachers were such greats as Motley Crue and Aerosmith and countless other famous musicians and actors I got the chance to party with. There were numerous nights of endless limousine rides and being Lady Luck beside some high roller that were the norm, partying in high rise penthouse suites with rock star legends that today will remain nameless because a girl does not kiss and tell – at least not everything anyways. I lived a life worthy of a rock star, partying like one and partying with them. It was fun. No…it was a blast! I’d be lying if I said any different. If it hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have done it for so long.
Night after night you could find me stuck in a bathroom stall with three other girls snorting ridiculous amounts of cocaine off the back of a toilet. Checking each other for the famous white rims around our noses or stopping the annoying nose bleeds that happened frequently. I did more rails of cocaine than I can remember. I drank more bottles of imported champagne than I care to admit.
Cocaine is a very expensive habit. When a sugar daddy wasn’t available to feed me spoonful’s of the white stuff, I had to find a way to re-up and fast. The obsession for this particular drug is overpowering. It would resort in stooping to the junkie level of taking garbage can crystal methamphetamine to get by because it was cheaper. The high lasted longer too and it was more readily available. I became open to anything anyone had available. I explored all avenues from pills to ecstasy. There was no limit.
Never mind that I had two little boys at home that never saw their mother, or that someone had found me in the alley beside Circus Circus with a busted jaw from a party gone wrong, or that someone that I loved burnt a drug dealer for a large amount of money and I became the payment for the debt that was owed. Nothing outside of me could stop me.
There were two things that I said that I would never do in my addiction. I knew that if I did either I was as good as dead. When one of those became a serious option for me, I stood in a kitchen, tears streaming down my face, with a man I called my fiancée and told him that,
“I was born in hell and I’d die here if he didn’t get me out of here.”
One month later, I was packed up, with an eight ball of cocaine and heading to Idaho. I knew that once I got there I would have to change everything. One last hoorah for the road. I left the glitter of the Strip behind me, praying that something outside of me would stop me.
It did, two weeks later I found out I was pregnant with my beautiful daughter. I married that man, a “normie,” and made a life with him. I graduated college and settled down into the sleepy little town of Twin Falls, Idaho to play house. I stopped doing hardcore drugs over eighteen years ago and life was good.
THAT WAS UNTIL...
My husband was called to war. It was shortly after the Twin Towers fell that so did my life as I knew it. He left on an 18-month tour to Iraq and I was left behind to hold down the fort. By then I had adjusted to life in Idaho. We now lived in Boise and life was good. Until that call. Off on a plane he left with my heart and our future together.
I had managed to quit drugs without rehab or a twelve step program. I knew nothing of recovery. I even managed to drink on occasion, like a normal person. I could take it or leave it. I didn’t really like to drink. It never was my thing. I have only begun telling the first part of this story in my recent years. I tell it now because I see so many people come into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous claiming to be addicts and not alcoholics. I was once one of them. I once believed that the only problem I had was drugs.
It was only ten short months after he left that I fell prey to what I now know as King Alcohol. Who would have thought that liquid in bottle could be a person’s master? I know I sure as hell didn’t. I was a drug addict, not an alcoholic. Alcoholics lived under bridges. I was a functioning drinker who held a job and a home. I wasn’t one of them. Yet, deep inside I must have knew, because I swore off alcohol the day my husband left, out of fear he’d come back to his wife upside down drunk on a bar stool.
It was worse than that. After ten months of completely being free of any substance, I went for one beer on Mardi Gras with some friends. By Cinco de Mayo I was drunk under another man and by August I was leaving Sturgis with that same guy and five large black trash bags full of alcohol bottles. I don’t remember much of the rally.
As you can probably guess, my marriage didn’t last. Neither did my job or my home. It would take five more years before I got to the bottom of the last bottle I’d ever drink. That was nearly six years ago.
Like the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, women progress in their disease much quicker. That was my story. Most of my short years drinking full time was a blur. I tell people I started out with a princess drinking attitude served chilled like my Dom Perignon and before it was over I was digging in the bottom of my purse for change to buy a tall boy of Keystone Light beer.
The morning after my last drunk on May 20, 2010 I headed to the store to get a tall boy to ease the pounding in my head. A meeting schedule for Alcoholics Anonymous was strategically placed on the dashboard of my car. I like to say a power greater than me put my car in motion and passed the gas station with the beer cooler. It drove me straight to the rooms of AA, and a power greater than myself walked me through those doors, kept me in my seat for that hour, and had me raise my hand and admit,
“My name is Tami and I am an alcoholic”
for the very first time.
It has been a power greater than myself that has been there all along. It has kept me in the rooms, being of service to others like me and to my family and community. It has guided me every step of the way. I know that in and of myself I am not capable of staying free of any substance. I am powerless.
I have been blessed to have furthered my formal education, secured an amazing career, raised three beautiful children, and made a host of friends that I would not trade the world for. My list of blessings is endless and continues to grow even as I write this. Hell, I consider this opportunity to be one of them.
You may wonder how do I do it? Well, I understand that today I have a disease. I treat it as such. It will stay in remission as long as I take my medicine (which is working a program of active recovery) and staying right-sized with my higher power. If I follow a few simple rules, I am promised a life beyond anything I could ever imagine.
They said when I first walked into the rooms that I shouldn’t leave before the miracle happened. I can say today, that they have never stopped happening. Today, I am drunk on sobriety. I am high on life. It has been the most insane, terrifying, exhilarating, totally amazing, god awful tortuous, completely orgasmic ride. I can honestly say now that I wouldn’t trade my worst day sober for my best day drunk.
Tami Harper Winn is currently the featured blogger/contributing editor at Drunkless.com.