Note from Stef: About nine days ago, I received this letter from a blogger. I was moved by her honesty and eloquence and wanted very much to be able to post her words. I felt that where she was in her struggle would help more people than she could ever know. So I asked her. And she said yes. And, guess what, there is more to her story, but we’ll begin here:
“I have suspected (waaaay in the back of my mind) that I need to quit
drinking for a very, very long time. Years. But I never told anyone
because I didn’t want to be held accountable. I didn’t want the
pressure of failing in front of people. When I quit, and I fail, I’m
the only one who knows. I’m the only one I let down, or look stupid in
front of, or whatever. I just can’t stand the idea of people
whispering about me, judging me, looking at me. Also, I don’t know if
you realize this or not, but when you quit drinking you can’t drink
anymore. Fuck me!
Something changed for me in the last year or so, though. It’s subtle,
or maybe it isn’t, I don’t know. I’ve started to confide in a couple
of people, be more honest with myself about it, think about it and
analyze things and wonder more openly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still
horribly secretive and sneaky about the whole thing, but the idea that
I may have a problem is a permanent resident in my consciousness now,
even if I make her sleep on the couch.
There are many things in my life that allow me to continue drinking
this much (a loving but very passive husband, friends who tell me I
don’t have a problem, a writing career that’s 100% flexible in terms
of schedule and obligations, kids in school, etc) but one of the
biggest is that I haven’t been able to identify with any drunks I
know. I’m not those guys. I am highly functioning. My drinking is not
affecting my relationships or my work. I’m not driving drunk, I’m not
hanging out at the bar, cheating on my husband, embarrassing myself
publicly, [insert additional stereotypes here]. I am nowhere near a
But then you quit drinking, and I saw myself a little in your story.
And I saw myself in some of the news reports surrounding your story.
And I’ve been following it all with great interest. Great interest.
and then, this summer, I read a book called Drinking: A Love Story by
Caroline Knapp. And I saw myself so clearly in the mirror of that book
that I freaked out and I dropped it and it shattered and though I’ve
continued drinking I am still stepping on the shards every once in a
while, and today, reading Heather’s admission, was one of those days. And I’m bleeding.
This summer after I read that book I went to a meeting and it was
exactly what I’d worried it would be and I never wanted to be around
those people ever again and I ran. I called my best friend and I said,
“Please tell me I’m not an alcoholic so I never have to go to another
one of those meetings ever again.”
And then I got drunk and I woke up that night at midnight hating
myself and I DM’d a friend much the same way I DM’d you. So, I mean,
I’ve done a little bit of reaching out. But I’ve done a lot more
continuing to drink.
My situation is so much like Caroline’s it’s shocking. I feel in my bones
everything she is saying, and I have said and done almost all of the
same things exactly. The thing that really struck me in that book, and
the thing that really struck me about what another friend told me on the
phone, is the sudden and sharp downward spiral. Caroline said she
“maintained” for a couple years, and her maintaining was 4-5 drinks a
night–that’s where I am right now. Then, all of a sudden,
she began drinking two bottles of wine plus hard liquor every single night? To me, that’s shocking—and then I think, wait, how long have I been at 4-5 drinks? Was there a time I thought that was a shocking amount too? And I can’t remember.
I think I still don’t believe certain things. I must not truly believe I can’t stop, or that I’ll hit that downward spiral.
Worst of all, I don’t think I believe that I can handle the day-to-day of parenting, particularly from 3-6pm. At 3pm I get a craving so hard I can barely move.
And so, today, after this whole dust-up with Heather’s confession, I’ve done
a lot of nail chewing and then I quickly made dinner at 3:45pm (!) to
try to fill the craving because when I’m full I usually don’t want to
drink as much (which is why normally I put off dinner until I’ve had
my fill to drink) and now I’m sitting here with hot tea on the couch
and thinking this is yet another time where I talk about quitting but
don’t do it.”
That letter was from Maggie. And I couldn’t be more proud. Go see for yourself.
And as always, if you need help from the Booze Free Brigade, we’re here.
Just keep sharing. You’ve already taken your first step!
It sounds like you *are* making strides. It’s hard to take the first step. It’s hard to admit what is really really difficult to admit.
If it helps, I was scared shitless of being sober. I was afraid that I wouldn’t know what to do, how to act, how to…well, BE.
Stefanie has done such a great deal here getting everyone together, supporting each other.
Reach out if you want – it’s hard at first.
Believe me, I know.
Ann's Rants said,
You’ve created a safe place and a structure for people to make change.
Thank you for helping my friends. I’m so grateful for this week.
Congrats, Maggie, and kudos to Stefanie for creating this new space for important 12th step work. It’s really inspiring!
.-= abdpbt´s last blog ..Real Stuff =-.
Aimee Greeblemonkey said,
I am so proud of her too. So. proud.
Maggie, I feel like I just met my identical twin, separated at birth or maybe more like my siamese twin, connected at the head and the heart. I’ve been peeping into this site since Monday and may just have to declare this Day Two. My (“loving but passive”) hubby and I went out to eat last night and I had an Izze and he never asked why (did he notice?) but I KNEW. I’ve known. That’s how much I heard you. There’s some crazy cosmic stuff going down isn’t there? Thanks for the unbelieveably resonant post.
Maggie, dammit said,
Gail, I was dry for two days before I had the moment of peace and clarity and confession with my husband I describe on my own blog. I was secretly
dry, I was “I guess this is day 2.” Email if you need to explore it
further. okayfinedammit [at] gmail.com
I got really emotional reading your post. I read Caroline’s book in 1997 and it hit me like a ton of bricks – I was at the 2-3 glass of wine per night stage. I even wrote in my journal, after I read her book, “I feel like I’m standing on the edge of something dark and scary and if I’m not careful it will swallow me whole.” I remember thinking “I feel the SAME WAY about alcohol that she does… I need to be careful.”
I drank for 10 more years. Each year got just a liiiiiitle bit worse, until the last two. Just like she describes I crossed that invisible line and my life fell apart.
I think you are amazing and strong and brave to have the courage to face this now and to talk about it openly – you will be helping SO MANY people. I know I’m not supposed to live in regret (I’m 2 1/2 years sober now) but I really, really wish I had read a post like your way back when. It could have saved me and my family a lot of pain.
Thanks so much for sharing. You’re incredible.
.-= Ellie´s last blog ..Take that, Failure =-.
Your words have such a deep and resonating impact. Thank you for sharing!
.-= Cynthia´s last blog ..The Quiz…Part II =-.
maggie, dammit said,
Thank you all again. SO much. I wish I had better words.
.-= maggie, dammit´s last blog ..Nine days sober. =-.
I am suffering as you are too. I’ve been fortunate enough to have found awesome groups. I hear a lot about the “yets”. I know that is my future if I don’t make the changes I need to. Strength to you.
Great post Maggie! Your honesty and bravery helps all of us who have not hit a bottom but have decided to quit because we know we are going to down the drunk path. Kudos!
I just wanted to say thank you for your bravery and your willingness to see that drinking doesn’t need to hit rock bottom for it to be stopped. I’m not an alcoholic, but I’ve seen family members and friends in that situation. Also, I’ve read Knapp’s book and I can attest to how powerful it is, although I can’t imagine how that must feel to see yourself through her memoir. If you want to read more by her, I’d suggest “Appetities.” However, that is equally as powerful. Good luck on your recovery.
.-= Shannon´s last blog ..Pet Peeves =-.
Her Bad Mother said,
You guys. You’re heroes. For real.
I have to not drink. It’s not something that I talk about, but it’s something that I do, or not do. I have to not drink because it’s a struggle to not do it to excess. Oh, sometimes I can manage the glass of wine here, sip of brandy there, the one-off martini. But it’s a fight to leave it at one, so I avoid it, mostly. Conferences scare me, because it’s harder to draw the line, because of the peer pressure, and because if I really get started…
Fuck. Getting confessional, aren’t I?
Anyway. Thank you, and Maggie, and everyone who’s honest about this.
Thanks for sharing your story, Maggie. I believe one of the hardest things about addiction are the stereotypes out there – so it is easy to stay in denial and also impossible to relate to them. I think what you and Stefanie and others are doing is a hugely important help to the rest of the world.
.-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Writing Sucks =-.
10 months yesterday. Whew. LOVE Maggie! Thanks for sharing, going in search of Caroline Knapp’s book today!
Since I have stopped, which is 6wks yesterday, I’ve gained 6lbs! I started eating earlier to starve off the urge to drink! Now I’m screwed! I can’t win. But I guess it beats the alcohol!
P.S Tomorrow is Don’t Get Drunk Friday – YAY!
.-= Brooke´s last blog ..Wow =-.