1 – My Story of Alcohol Addiction …
I took my first drinks of alcohol in high school. I had gotten myself a fake I.D. I would go to the store with the intent of buying alcohol. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. The worst thing that happened to me in high school as a result of drinking was that I got my dad’s pick-up truck stuck in the mud. It was around 11 o’clock at night and I proceeded to walk about 5 miles home. I was so drunk that I thought I could take the keys from the truck and start a car that was parked on the side of the road and drive myself home. Once inside the car I heard someone outside say, “Get the gun.” Upon hearing this, I proceeded to exit the car and run as fast as I could away from that house. The policeman came to my house the next morning as I had left my purse with driver’s license in the truck. He told my father about my getting into the car. My father took me to the owner of the car and made me apologize. I was mortified!
In college I had a group of friends that I partied with A LOT. Our schedule of drinking was every Thurs night thru Sunday night. I didn’t really get into trouble in college, but did a lot of drinking. It was at this time that I realized after 1 or 2 drinks all inhibitions and shyness disappeared. I became jovial and personable, and everything seemed right with the world. I could actually carry on a conversation with a guy. Being sober this was almost impossible because of my shyness. We all blacked out a fair amount, but there was always one of us who knew all that had happened the previous evening. We watched out for one another.
After college I moved to the Seattle area. I had family here and thought it would be a good place to find a job in my field. I did find a job, got married in 1988 and settled down. I had my son in 1991 and my daughter in 1993. I had a 10-year-old step daughter who lived with us. I drank very rarely while my children were small. For years I drank only on the weekends and would share a 6 pack with my husband on weekends. I didn’t start drinking heavily until my kids were in high school. It happened very gradually and over a period of time. One Christmas I had gotten lots of wine as presents. I felt compelled to finish it off. Each day after work I would come home and work on it. I progressed until it was gone. It seems about this time is when my drinking started to escalate. Many times I would drink every day after work. I began to look forward to it. On weekends when I was home alone (as my husband was working) I would start drinking in the afternoon. I would always have a list of chores to accomplish, but would only finish a few of them. When my daughter was in high school I had a bad episode. I had been to ‘happy hour’ with a friend and had downed many draft beers. On the way home I picked up a six pack, which I would frequently do. Once at home I continued drinking. I was outside smoking and tripped over a dog dish on the patio. The next thing I knew I was face down on the concrete. Blood was all over my shirt. I ran into the bathroom to clean up and realized I had chipped a front tooth, had a fat lip and black drinking. I was outside smoking and tripped over a dog dish on the patio. The next thing I knew I was face down on the concrete. Blood was all over my shirt. I ran into the bathroom to clean up and realized I had chipped a front tooth, had a fat lip and black eye. When my daughter got home that night she was very concerned for me and insisted I go to the E.R. I really didn’t want to go, but eventually relented. When my husband came home that night he was mad and disgusted with me, but did drive me to the E.R. They checked me out and gave me a head CT. Everything was okay. I felt like this was a wake-up call from God to stop drinking. I did stop for a while, but eventually I started again.
Through my teens, twenties and thirties, I never really had hangovers. In my forties this began to change. I would be tired and dragging the next day at work. There were times at parties where I embarrassed my husband from my drinking too much. He would always say “you don’t know when to stop!”
When “Total Wine” opened in Lynnwood across from the Alderwood Mall, I shopped there from time to time. I felt like a kid in a candy store. Once I bought about 5 bottles of different wines and spirits that I thought would be fun to try. I hid them inside a coffee table, thinking my husband wouldn’t find them. I came home one day the next week to find all bottles emptied and sitting on the kitchen counter. I was mad, but didn’t let him know it. My thought at the time was, I can always get more! However, I knew he was doing it for my own good.
Over time my husband and daughter became concerned about my drinking. My husband encouraged me to get help. I told my doctor I was drinking too much, but she didn’t really know where to refer me. Over the course of my drinking I have developed pre-diabetes and high blood pressure. I know that drinking is not good for either of these conditions.
In looking for treatment options, I went online and looked for local A.A. meetings and attended one on a Saturday morning. It was a woman’s meeting called “Women in Recovery”. I really enjoy this meeting and still attend every Saturday. I can feel the encouragement, positive energy and concern each time I attend. I got an AA sponsor and started working the Twelve Steps of the Program. I have made this meeting my home group and have a service position. With the help of A.A., I was able to cut back on my drinking, but was unable to get completely sober. Through the encouragement of my sponsor and others from AA, I checked myself into an outpatient treatment program for alcohol addiction. Here is where I learned about why I was drinking and how detrimental it is to your body. Through this 9 month program I was able to start building up sobriety time. It didn’t happen right away, I had a few relapses. I do feel like the treatment facility was instrumental in helping me get sober. Alcoholics Anonymous helps me maintain my sobriety. Today I have 2 years and 9 months sobriety and am so happy that I was able to break this addiction. I know this happened by God working through the outpatient treatment and my AA program.
Today my life is much different than when I was drinking. “I’m living life on life’s terms.” I am always mentally present for my family and friends. My relationship with my husband is so much better. My relationship with the rest of my family has significantly improved also. I feel 100% better physically and mentally. I would be lying if I said I don’t miss alcohol. I wish I could enjoy alcohol like a normal person, but I can’t. I know that I must stay away from it to avoid harmful health consequences and to maintain healthy relationships with family and friends. Alcoholics Anonymous has helped me in my quest to sobriety, and in return I enjoy participating in AA service. My involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous enables me to continue my sobriety and it helps the still suffering alcoholic out there searching for help too.
Eternally Grateful Recovered Alcoholic
2 – I Found my “Enough”
Drinking was fun for a while. I loved what alcohol did for me. When I felt the heat of the alcohol warm me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Instead of being the runt of the litter, skinny, and shapeless, with dull brown hair, I became tall, blond and with curves in all the right places…. or so I thought. Alcohol did for me what I could not do for myself!
I drank alcoholically, I believe, from my first drink when I got drunk at 15 and had my first blackout. I have never wanted just one drink. What is the point? Even today when I am in a restaurant and see someone with a glass of wine, and they only have one drink and then leave half of it…what is that about?
Alcohol was my best friend. I was able to talk to people and flirt with guys and dance the night away. I could drive better too because there were always more lines on the highway to choose from. I was able to relax and sleep. Today I understand it is called “passing out”.
I used good judgment when I drank too. That good judgment got me assaulted twice. At the time I thought it was just part of dating and drinking. Today I know it is date rape. When I look back at all the times I put myself and my children at risk because of my drinking I am amazed that we are still alive. God was truly working in our lives.
I worked as a bartender and cocktail waitress and I loved it. I was able to drink whenever I wanted, and I did. During work, after work in the bar I worked in, at home, in the car, alone, with others. With my kids present, at the park during soccer games my son played. At the beach with my friends and their kids…anytime, all the time, 24/7. When I took my boys out to dinner I would make sure that we always went where I could get a drink. My idea of a seven course meal was a baked potatoe and a six pack.
My dad was the alcoholic in our family. He was a binge drinker. He could stay sober for months and sometimes up to a year. Then he would take his paycheck and disappear for several days. So when I started drinking I knew that I was not an alcoholic because I drank every day, was able to go to work every day and supported my kids.
By the end of my drinking I was unemployable and miserable. Alcohol was no longer my friend. I was shaky, unable to sleep and depressed all the time. I got in the habit of calling the crisis center late at night and telling them all about my sorry life. They would call me back the next day to see if I was OK and I would not remember… I had called in a black out.
I was desperate and decided my kids would be better off without me. I tried to kill myself by taking 2 – 10mg valium and drinking ½ a bottle of Blackberry Brandy. I wrote a suicide note and put all my money on the counter where my 12 and 15 year old sons would find it. I lived next door to my mother and when my 15 year old found me and the note he went and got my Mom and they called 911.
I woke up on a slant board at Harborview hospital getting my stomach pumped out and was sent to detox. While they were pumping my stomach they described in detail the contents of my stomach and they were not kind in their attitude of this lush wasting their time. They also told me that I had enough alcohol in my system to kill me 5 times over. So, had I not tried to kill myself, I would have passed out and died of alcohol poisoning. This was just one of the many miracles in my life.
When I first got to AA I was not an alcoholic. As I sat in the rooms of AA and listened to all the losers and lowlifes, I started hearing some similarities. I kept coming back until I caught alcoholism! I spent my first 3 years of sobriety in a fellowship hall. I was told that I needed a sponsor so I started listening to the women, and was told to look for someone that had what I wanted. (I would rather have had a man.)
I found a woman with 3 years of sobriety and she was laughing all the time! That was what I wanted, to laugh and have fun. I could not imagine a summer without a cold beer or dancing without a few drinks in me. This was my first sponsor and I chose her because she knew how to have fun.
I started drifting away from the program and was living with a man who was also in recovery. It seemed that because we had each other we didn’t really need meetings. For 5 years I rarely went to a meeting and was on a very painful “dry drunk”.
When I was about 8 years sober I was driving Duane’s car and stopped to fill up the gas tank. This was when you first had to pump your own gas and I could not figure it out. A young station attendant (he looked about 12) asked if he could help me and pumped the gas for me. While he was pumping the gas he asked if I knew Bill W. I said that the name was not familiar – he then asked me if it was my car and I said no, that it belonged to my boyfriend. So he asked me if my boyfriend was a friend of
Bill W’s and I said that he had not mentioned him. He took my money and came back with my change. He said that he was asking because of the AA stickers on the car. I said “Oh, that Bill W. – of course – I am 8 years sober!” I had not been going to meetings for 5 years and had lost all of the tools that the program had given me.
I had an older sister that was late stage in her alcoholism. I wanted to do an intervention on her, but in order to do that I had to reconnect with Alcoholics Anonymous. So I got back to meetings, going every day and did an intervention on her. She went into treatment and when she got out she continued to drink. Within a year she died from this disease and I asked myself – did she die so I could live? The intervention on Lorraine got me back into the program.
It was time to find a sponsor that would really make me work. I was at a woman’s retreat and found Linda. At 10 years of sobriety I started doing my step work. I thought I was pretty special and that all of my problems were because of others. Page 62 of the Big Book tells me that selfishness and self-centeredness is the root of my troubles. It also says that I am driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self-pity.
I had to look at my character defects of: gossiping, being judgmental, controlling, cowardly, dishonest, having expectations, which for me are premeditated resentments, being inflexible, jealous, self-righteous, vengeful, a victim and martyr. Being prideful, angry and greedy.
What a wonderful gift being able to look at myself with honesty for the first time in my life. It is such a blessing to see the things in me that I can change through the steps and tools that the program has given me.
I sat in meetings for a long time and did not take a drink, but I cannot say that I was truly sober. For that I had to find honesty and I could not find honesty until I finally was able to do the “working” steps that set me free.
I have been married and divorced 5 times – what can I say, it is a gift! I have heard it said that we don’t have relationships as much as we take hostages and I believe that is true for me. I was always looking for someone to make me whole, to make me enough and when they did not measure up to my expectations, I said goodbye. What I believe today is that I just don’t play well with people of the opposite sex!
The program has given me the ability to have a successful business, to have a wonderful sponsor and to sponsor some awesome women. To have great relationships with family and friends and to be a friend to myself and to know that today, I am enough. The promises of the 9th step are coming true for me. I can honestly say that I do not have a fear of financial insecurity as long as I have money – I am still working on that one! Today, thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous, I do not have a drinking problem, but I still have a thinking problem and the tools given to me through the program help me with that and with “living life on life’s terms”.
Sally C- 6/29/77.