Editor’s note: This post is part of the Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program’s Stories of Recovery blog series. TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance use or mental health issues. Call or text TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP) and find more information at tlaphelps.org.

I had my first drink when I was 16 years old, and I was in heaven. That feeling of escape came almost immediately, taking me away from the problems I could not confront at home. Growing up, I was often told I was too sensitive expressing my feelings was never permitted. In fact, I was shamed when my feelings came out. So, I internalized my feelings for years, wanting to please others—particularly my family of origin—when that was impossible, because they were sick too! The more I internalized, the more I drank. A couple of doctors and counselors in my undergrad and law school years advised me I had a drinking problem. No matter, I thought, because I could not imagine my life without alcohol.