Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: northern AZ
Alcohol affected my life from my earliest memories. Dad was an alcoholic who abused my mother until she left him and, in the process, my sister and me because he kept us from her. After she left, I filled her shoes in many ways becoming my sister's surrogate mother, keeping house and becoming Dad's punching bag. I was alcohol's victim before I ever tasted it.
By 17 I had my first drink and didn't stop at one continuing to blacking out. By 19 I had joined the Navy and drank my way through the nearly 4 years I was on active duty. Drinking, however, I never thought an issue since I surrounded myself with people who drank as much, if not more, than I did. No one beat anyone nor did they have to crawl across the floor to bed as I remember my father doing. That's a yardstick I always carried in my head and, so far, hadn't met anyone who behaved like he did. The spin disease of "differences rather than similarities" had already set in. I didn't know that even having these thoughts should have been a red flag. So life continued to college, marriage, having kids with alcohol always present. After I married, we were doing cocktail hour before dinner, wine with dinner then after-dinner drinks. It was just a life-style to me. I mean, wine was our hobby..... attending wine tastings, trips to vineyards where we purchased it by the case having a wine cellar and a library full of books about it from wine history and vineyards to plant grafting... the whole nine yards. Wine along with the gastronomic life was part of the culture of New Orleans where my husband and I lived. Never mind that "wine with dinner" might be two people each consuming a whole bottle of it themselves on top of the hard liquor we had consumed before dinner. And I still wasn't an alcoholic, in my mind, because I never drank, hard, around my kids waiting until they were safely tucked in bed before beginning the serious drinking ritual.
Those kids kept me a "controlled drunk" for awhile. Drinking was never a "problem" until I was a single mom raising my kids with no child support with all those stresses and wanting to drink more but still keeping it away from them. I was already finding that hard to do when the last one left the nest. And that's when my drinking really started escalating. It began innocently enough I guess with what I later deemed alcoholic co-workers encouraging me to join them for Friday Happy Hour after work that the trouble started. By then, I was in my mid-40s when a woman's body doesn't handle alcohol that well to start with, lonely without my kids, somewhat bitter toward life and scared though I didn't know it. I was pretty much a walking ball of fears that I pushed so deep I didn't know they were there but medicated with alcohol. I was afraid of life really... of people in general because I still didn't trust them from the days when no one came to help hearing my screams as my Dad beat me, winding up old and alone because I sure didn't know how to pick men or winding up a bag lady maybe due to living alone and a possible illness hitting and everything falling apart. I was never one to live one day at a time. I was always aware of what could happen tomorrow and lived with in a kind of quiet, lonely, desperation. So, loner that I was with many fears to hide, attending those Happy Hours meant I would rush home to have a couple of drinks before showing up with my "happy face" on.
It didn't take long partying like I did until I was drinking alone at home. I had found the magic bullet to all my fears... the ones I didn't really know I had not being into much self-reflection. I would only have two drinks of my drug of choice, scotch on the rocks, alone in the evening. Yeh, that's what I told myself not facing that those two drinks were mugs of it with very few rocks that left me walking into walls on my way to bed. That went on for several years with me escalating toward my bottom, walking away from people who tried to talk to me about my "drinking problem" and jobs where my coping abilities were becoming more exhausted due to medicating my feelings when God put me right where He wanted me... in a work situation where about 80% of my co-workers were AA members. ;-) God bless my boss, an old timer AA guy, who was clever enough to talk me into going to Emotions Anonymous knowing that I could at least admit to myself that I did have an emotional coping problem. Well, by the time I completed my first assignment there, getting near the bottom of the piece of paper I was writing on and ripping it with my pencil I was so angry, I KNEW Emotions Anonymous was not for me. I mean getting THAT angry computed "I NEED A DRINK!" so I hit the scotch and, bingo!... light bulb moment... well in hind sight... there was a glimmer of truth shining through my drunken armor. So the next weeks were like in the movies while I tested that glimmer but it wasn't a movie.... it was my very real life. I began driving home from work telling myself, even out loud, I would not stop at the liquor store and finding my car parked in front of it as if it drove itself. Buying the bottles and dumping them down the drain as soon as I walked into the house. Sitting at my table with an un-tasted glass of scotch that comforted me just to pour it and a shaking hand on the phone but not being able to call AA Central. I don't remember how long that went on but it was a living hell of mental obsession and physical desire to drink.
Finally, in desperation, I did make the call and two gals picked me up and took to a Waffle House nearby. Two hours later they dropped me at home with instructions to not go in the house but get in my car and head for a meeting place that was open 24/7. Listening to them, I still wasn't SURE I was an alcoholic. I was dwelling, like alcoholics do, on the differences and not the similarities. The memories of my Dad were still blocking me from KNOWING I was an alcoholic. Funny how we alcoholics do that number on ourselves... grabbing onto even the least little difference to prove to ourselves we don't have a problem but this difference was BIG for me. So weird jumping from a shaking hand on the phone to... hmm... I'm not sure this fits me. But, I thank God today that something in me told me to do what those two gals said and I drove to the meeting place where there was only one person there. He greeted me, gave me a cup of coffee and excused himself to call some other people to come to create a bigger meeting than just the two of us. When those several people arrived we sat at a table and that man shared his story. His story sounded a lot like my Dad's and the one other woman sounded a lot like me so when it came my turn to talk, I faced the fact that I'm an alcoholic and introduced myself as one taking the First Step. Surrounded by people like myself who seemed to genuinely care, there was no shame but relief. After the meeting, the woman stayed there for hours with me and, finally, talked me into joining her at a nearby motel she was grateful to be living in as she had been living on the streets before it and I stayed there for the next 3 days where we talked, prayed and read the Big Book. Looking back, I'm sure my boss was smiling when I called in with some fabricated story I was so adept at providing.
That was about 28 years ago when some loving, caring, AA members went the extra mile and began to change my mind about people and I began loosing my fear of them. They were the reason I grabbed AA with both hands reading every pamphlet I could get my hands on and the Big Book, attending at least one and usually more meetings every day and began looking for a sponsor. I found one in my first 30 days and she told me I had been blessed with "willingness." I guess she was right because I truly was willing to do whatever it was going to take and get on with it as fast as I could. On the flip side, I was adamantly NOT WILLING to be controlled by alcohol any longer and if that meant I had to do the dreaded 4th Step... well, let's get on with it! The day I did my 5th Step with her I received my 30-day chip that night. I remember coming home from that meeting and being terrified because I was sobbing uncontrollably and couldn't get to sleep. Did this mean I was going to drink again? I called my sponsor at some wee hour telling her I couldn't stop crying and was scared. She told me I was experiencing joy! In my mid-40s and the first time I experienced THAT! The sense of accomplishment, the chip, the sound of 50+ people clapping and the beaming smiles on their faces... not to mention the hugs after the meeting! Yes, JOY!!! Something good but so foreign it was frightening and I needed the voice of experience to calm and assure me.
The meeting place where I got sober closed down, I moved, my sponsor died (sober of "natural" causes) and, long story short, the meetings dwindled with a marriage (to a normie) and raising three step-grandchildren who were 1, 2 and 3 when it began.. not an easy task for someone in their 50s by then. Finally, there were no meetings but I worked my program daily and had many, many, sponsors in the form of the 24-Hours-A-Day book given to me as a gift from a fellow alcoholic. Can it be done the way I've done it. Sure it can if the desire and willingness are there... though I don't advise it especially if you're a people person. The fellowship of AA is a wonderful thing and there just is no better support system.... well human that is. Let me explain that. During my first 30 days, though I was doing everything suggested and then some and it was working, I couldn't shake the taste of scotch well past the expected time for that if its present. I had called my sponsor with many questions about what was happening to me in the early days like the drunk dreams, sober black outs, etc, but I was too embarrassed to ask about that taste... maybe I was ashamed of it or felt guilty about it like I was, somehow, cheating. Besides, I knew what she would say... same thing she always did... "pray about it" and I had done that already many times. So, I called her, half-way angry because I knew what she would say and it didn't work. Well, she said just what I thought but added something. She said that sometimes, even after we're far along in the Steps, we realize we never really took the 3rd one. It had happened to her and she was the most spiritual person I had ever encountered. She asked me if I had actually gotten on my knees and completely given up my will.
After I hung up, I knew she was right. I hadn't, as yet, trusted enough to take the leap into His hands. Feeling alone on this earth like I never had before... an existential moment I guess... I faced the fact that I was STILL afraid. But, this time, it was a newly realized fear. I was terrified at the thought of finding out there was no God or that He wouldn't be there for me if I reached out to Him. It felt as if I might die really without exaggeration. But, finally, on my knees, I reached out asking God to remove the taste of booze from me if He really wanted me to never drink again... to help me out a little... and in that instant, before I was finished asking, the taste that had plagued me was gone and I later learned that the desire for alcohol or obsession with it left also, so far, not to return. There's more that happened along with this but I want to keep it private.... just between Him and me. Its not necessary to share that, in particular, believing, as I do, that He provides a unique experience for each of us. He tailors our experience for whatever we need. However, it adds up to me no longer believing He exists because I was told that or because I wanted to believe it but knowing He does. In place of the faith I may once have had, I now have knowledge. And, having had that experience, I learned to depend on His protection and trust Him completely. He proved what His will for me is by granting my request, and then some, and I maintain my sobriety, partially, in gratitude to Him for not only saving me from the horrible path I was on but for just being there for me.
So, I've traded drunken armor for spiritual armor. In looking back, outside of having my children, the most important thing I've ever done in my life was making that call to AA Central 28 years ago and being willing to sit at a Waffle House with two alcoholics and then do what they told me to do. That, along with what I learned was God's grace, led me to meeting so many wonderful people in AA including a sponsor I will forever be in awe of. The love, generosity and kindness I've found within the rooms of AA not only helped me want to better my life but healed it and gave me a faith in humanity I could never have imagined. I am, truly, one grateful alcoholic.
__________________ Be someone you want to be around. Workin on it.
Last edited by Opivotal; 03-09-2017 at 11:27 AM.
Reason: correct title format