"My avatar of the Cheshire cat is so appropriate. I really came from a Wonderland—and of course I was the perfect Alice."
Married for 25 years in December
Retired executive retail buyer
Sober since November 1987
Currently living in Highland Beach, FL
I really don't know where to begin because I don't know when my addiction began.
Was it always there in my blood waiting for a trigger (I don't know what that trigger was)? Was it an insidious growth like a tumor that began to grow into an alcoholic cancer over time? I really wish I knew that exact moment when I went from a normal earthling to an alien only enjoying that foreign dimension that seemed so much more adapted to my way of thinking or, actually, not thinking. That special place only a bottle of Scotch could transport me.
I lost my father when I was six and grew up pretty fast. Walking a line that was protected only on one side by my wonderful mother. That other side kept me "always in control," afraid to ask anyone for anything, because God forbid I might owe them. Perhaps that is where the mindset began, because a wall went up, one that protected me from feeling—loneliness, pain, sadness, love and, most of all, vulnerability. At six I was mentally a 45-year-old graduate of life in a Twilight Zone of my own making.
Considering how well I protected myself, I also protected my mother from my father’s unimaginably cruel family. I was quite the little attack dog.
Anyway, fast forward to high school, college and a successful career that spanned the wonder years of Woodstock, disco and AIDS. Although I think each year I drifted closer to the edge, I finally met the black hole of my new dimension in the mid-seventies and I must say it was a hell of a ride. I actually thought I had it all in this new world—looks, brains, charm, popularity. I also knew every Disco between New Jersey and New York. God, I was spectacular! I could get anything I wanted with those abilities at my disposal...and I made the best use of them.
I often say now I was one of the lucky ones whose damaged brain hurt no one but myself, since I was single and owed no explanations to anyone for my actions. So I lived in my own dimension which at that time was pretty crowded with other so-called friends for companionship. We were all running away from something.
My avatar of the Cheshire cat is so appropriate. I really came from a Wonderland—and, of course, I was the perfect Alice.
The year of 1987? I, for the life of me, do not know how it happened but I found myself smoking three packs of cigarettes a day, going out every night to a different club, where of course I knew every other drunk that was there. But I had become so tired of my blackouts and apologizing for the previous night’s actions. Maybe it was the humbling experience of an apology that slapped me in the face and woke the control freak up in me.
The turning point for me was running my very expensive car into a building (at least that is what I told the police). They of course described it as someone’s home who could of been killed. Of course, I fled the scene and how I drove home is anyone's guess. The next day I woke to see a huge dent in the top of my hood and a partial missing fender, not to mention half a tree attached to the back of the car. Wake-up call! Long story short, I turned myself in, went to court and somehow got off. Oh, and they had my fender.
Here is where the journey back to boring Normal World began. It was all the “what ifs” that came to visit me in the following weeks. My mother was the most special being in my life—to hurt her in any way was the only code I could not break. So the thought of me driving drunk, hitting a car full of children, killing them and me surviving would have literally killed my mother and damaged me irreparably. I knew it was only a matter of time. For so long, I had gotten away with hurting no one but myself. That was now close to changing and my struggle up the hill out of the black hole began with that realization.
Funny, I went to a counselor about my smoking, and she was smart enough to know I was in the middle stages of alcoholism and had to get that under control before I even began to think about the smoking excuse.
That was 1987. It has been 25 years and I have never looked back. I couldn't. I found I had to get up each day and make it through just that one day, and repeat that thinking for the next 25 years.
I think the hardest thing about not drinking is looking at the big picture and thinking, "Oh my God, I will never be able to have a drink, have fun, party, etc.” That is just too much to think about. Instead, micromanage your sobriety and take baby steps. I did find I had to let go of my "drunk friends" in the end. They were just too much temptation.
As they say, there are "a million stories in the naked city." We will all find our own way back to sobriety...and do it any way that works for you. Even though we have wonderful support groups, this is one journey (like death) we must go through alone. However, when you come back from this journey, you will truly know and love yourself—imperfections and all. Trust me! I am my own best friend and would like nothing better than to just hang out with me.
Keep the faith. A better life awaits!
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