My wine glasses got bigger, my world got smaller.
I started drinking more when I didn’t plan on drinking at all. Weekends started on Tuesday.
A glass of wine started to look good in the morning. I drank from extra-extra-large wine glasses so, I could say, “Well, I drink one glass of wine a night. ”
I drank alone, but didn’t count it as “drinking alone” as my husband and two young daughters were upstairs – asleep. And I was with my dog, my faithful yellow lab. Certainly I was not alone. I was social, I was fine. I was NOT an alcoholic.
And then, more than 11 years ago, I bottomed out. All my excuses for drinking alone, a lot, and without my own permission, ran out.
I came to the morning of Halloween 2004 and found that in my quest to drink the night before, I’d neglected to take my daughters trick or treating.
There was no rehab, no DWI, no arrest, no drama. There was the simple truth that booze had become more important than my two and five-year-old daughters.
That was it. No more, no less. I felt the lowest I’d ever had in my life. The worst. The bottom. Desperate.
I’d always known where Alcoholics Anonymous meetings were held; each Sunday I knew one took place at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover.
I went. My husband dropped me off with my daughters strapped into their car seats and I begrudgingly walked in, horrified, terrified, more scared to be there than in part of any Halloween horror story I’d ever heard.
I walked into a meeting, sat down and cried. A lovely woman welcomed me and I sat, feeling my world was at the absolute end.
The speaker that day was a beautiful woman who talked of finishing off other people’s glasses of wine after hosting dinner parties. She talked of filling her Duncan Donut’s cup with booze so she could go to her sons’ basketball games.
I gasped; she was telling my story; I’d thought I was the only one who’d ever drank from others’ glasses, who hid their drinking, who was, horrors of horrors – a MOM who drank. I picked up a twenty four hour chip. I sobbed.
I decided to give AA a go. I went to meetings around the Seacoast and continued to hear stories, continued to realize I was not the only one who’d ever questioned her relationship with booze.
I identified. I got a sponsor who was simply someone with a little more sobriety than I who helped me navigate this new world of not drinking, of staying sober, of learning about the disease of alcoholism.
And it wasn’t easy. I missed my wine. I tossed my wine glasses. I loved the ritual of drinking; I stopped going to restaurants with liquor licenses.
I loved a good party; I did not host the neighborhood Christmas gala that year. I felt lost; I went to lots of meetings. I was confused; I asked questions. I drank a lot of coffee, I met women like me. I cried. I laughed. I called my sponsor. I hugged my dog, my girls, my husband. I didn’t drink.
Days have turned into years. I still call my sponsor and I don’t drink.
Today. The obsession has lifted and I no longer want to drink. I don’t miss the hangovers but I can glorify a lovely glass of Merlot in a heartbeat.
I still want to drink like the women on Sex and the City; they make it look so easy. But I’ve learned it’s simply not a good idea for a gal like me to drink. At all.
I sponsor women who want to get sober. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.
I stay close to Alcoholics Anonymous as I’ve found it to work and when I tell my story, I am reminded how close I was to losing so much. I hadn’t lost a lot…yet. But I’ve learned in AA that “YET” stands for “You’re Eligible, Too.”
If I pick up a drink today, those girls who are now teenagers will meet an entirely different mother.
If I couldn’t take them trick or treating all those years ago, there’s no doubt in my mind that today, I’d be that mother in jail, dead or simply too drunk to pick them up on a Friday night, to take them camping or New York City, to share their lives.
I’d have missed so much. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, even in my sobriety, I hear whispers of, “You weren’t that bad. C’mon, you can have one.” And then I go to a meeting where I learn what happens to those who stop going to meetings, who forget where booze brought them. And it’s never, ever good.
So, today? I don’t drink, attend meetings, reach my hand out to another alcoholic – even if they look like me with the lovely wine glasses, delightful yellow labs, seemingly glorious lives.
Alcoholics can and do look a lot different and a lot alike. But what I know for sure is now that my world has transformed – one day at a time with the help of sober men and women and a program of recovery, I have so much to live for.
Just for today, my wine glasses are gone, my world is huge, my life is not perfect but so much better than when I was drunk, alone, with my only friends – the bottle and my yellow lab.
InDepthNH.org launched Breaking the Chains to give voice to people who are recovering from addictions. Breaking the Chains also provides information about where to seek help whether your drug is alcohol or heroin. Email email@example.com to tell your story. We use first names when appropriate for this column only.
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