Abby Wambach has had an incredibly volatile year. The retired United States soccer star admitted in September that she abused alcohol and prescription pills for years. Fast forward to the present, and Wambach is now married (to a Christian blogger) and sober. She also doesn't appear to miss soccer at all, which seems surprising at first glance for such a big part of her life. But with more thought, it makes sense exactly because it was such a big part of her life.
Throughout the ordeal of getting sober, Wambach said there was a lot of introspection. "I accepted who I was, the mistakes that I made," she told The Associated Press. "The number one thing I could do for myself was to start loving myself again. The choice to do that saved my life." Wambach married Glennon Doyle last month. Doyle may not be an international soccer superstar, but she is a New York Times' bestselling author, speaker and activist who created Momastery, a popuiar blog for women. One of Doyle's posts has been shared more than 4 million times.
Before meeting Doyle, Wambach's life was threatening to spiral out of control. She was arrested in Portland on a DUI in April 2016. She took to Facebook to apologize for her mistake. Some praised her recognition of herself as a role model that should be held to a higher standard, whereas others found the apology insincere. However, it wasn't until her memoir, "Forward", came out in September of 2016 that the full extent of her troubles were revealed. Wambach detailed a harrowing ordeal with the prescriptions pills that come from the physical abuse of being a professional athlete and the alcoholism that fame can bring about. Wambach pleaded guilty to her drunk driving charge, and she entered a diversion treatment.
"Thinking about the DUI, and thinking about how I wanted the DUI to impact me, it was an intentional decision to make that moment into the best thing that ever happened to me, a start to a better life," she said. "I couldn't anticipate over a year later the joy I would feel now. I'm just so grateful because I just did it one step at a time, and I did it without hiding."
Since then, Wambach has made lemons into lemonade. She saw her lowest point not as a pit, but as an elevator.
"That night getting arrested was one of the best things that has ever happened to me," she said. "Because if I don't get so publicly shamed and publicly humiliated, I don't think I wake up." Wambach was a role model throughout her soccer career. The 36-year-old played internationally from 2003 until her retirement last year. And although she (deservedly, by her own admission) may have fallen out of grace, she's taking her hardships as an opportunity and a challenge to go back to being the positive influence that she wants to be.
"A year and a half ago when I was really struggling and pretty sick, if you were to tell me I'd be a stepmom and sober and living in Florida and as happy as I've ever been, I would have called you a liar," she said. "We've got a 14-year-old, an 11-year-old and a 9-year-old and these are the best teachers I've ever had." There is no question that Wambach will try to return the favor.