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Don’t Get Drunk Fridays

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
rock bottom.

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.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on January 29, 2010 7:09 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday29 comments  

29 Comments

  1. Screwed Up Texan said,

    Oh, thank you for posting this. I drank for about year, the first time I had ever drunk, and quickly gained an addiction to it. 4-5 drinks was the norm for me. Then it got to the point where I began hiding it from my husband so I wouldn’t have to hear him tell me how I needed to stop. Then one day I woke up. I don’t know what made me or why, I just did. I cant imagine going years through such a terrible addiction.

    | January 29, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

  2. Diana said,

    I read Caroline Knapp’s book years before I had the courage to admit my addiction, but I saw myself so clearly in her words. I read it again in rehab. It is a really powerful book.

    Thank you for sharing your struggle. As I said on your blog, I will be thinking about you.
    .-= Diana´s last blog ..I may need to get a life =-.

    | January 29, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

  3. Javier Mendoza said,

    WOW, That is so great and I am glad to see you share her story. Everyone needs to hear this story and I believe it WILL help many others come to the same conclusion. More writing like this needs to be available. Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Javier Mendoza´s last blog ..Our Newest Addition to the Family =-.

    | January 29, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

  4. Brooke said,

    Yes, it’s Friday. Finally!! Thank you so, so much Maggie. I wish you the best. I too loved Caroline Knapp’s story. Though after reading it, I googled her and found out that she died of lung cancer. It killed me thinking about the part where her mother told her to quit smoking, and she said her mom was referencing the wrong addiction. In the end, it wasn’t the drinking that killed her. Well, I guess that isn’t very uplifting to us boozers. Oops.
    .-= Brooke´s last blog ..Want, want, want =-.

    | January 29, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

  5. MommaKiss said,

    That is so real and honest and open and it’s going to reach so many.

    | January 29, 2010 @ 7:55 pm

  6. maggie, dammit said,

    Thank you so much, everybody, and thank you Stef for this forum. When I rattled off that email to you in a 3-minute wave of bravery I never for a second considered it would ever be publicly read. I can’t believe that was only just over a week ago. I can’t believe how much my life has changed.

    Every word I have ever read on this blog about alcoholism has helped me. Please keep speaking out, everybody. You never know who is listening.

    Thank you.
    .-= maggie, dammit´s last blog ..Nine days sober. =-.

    | January 29, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

  7. Momwith3boys said,

    Holy Shit! You are talking about me!!! I relate to EVERYTHING you said.
    Everything! Day 14.

    | January 29, 2010 @ 9:35 pm

  8. Heather of the EO said,

    Yeah…ME TOO.
    .-= Heather of the EO´s last blog ..On both sides =-.

    | January 29, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

  9. seekingclarav said,

    Wow, Maggie. How deeply your story touched me. I could go on and on about the many ways I relate, and I mean for days! Thank you for allowing Stefanie to share this letter, you have no idea how many people you will help and inspire. And thank you for mentioning Heather. She too, is a soldier.

    All my best wishes for you!
    .-= seekingclarav´s last blog ..And this too shall pass =-.

    | January 29, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

  10. Catherine said,

    Excellent post, Stefanie.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Start Your Engines! =-.

    | January 29, 2010 @ 10:05 pm

  11. Anon said,

    Stefanie,

    I saw you speak at this past year’s BlogHer and I LOVED you and had this vodka with me and thought it would be the best present ever to give you. But, I chickened out and never got up the nerve to approach you.

    Shortly thereafter, you came out with the big announcement about how you drank too much and how you were going to stop and I felt like a HUGE fool; I was utterly relieved I had been a chicken and sickened because I saw so much of myself in your story and I didn’t want to admit it.

    I’ve read Maggie’s story and I’m struck yet again by how her story is mine and I just keep fighting it. I told her today I just wasn’t ready to stop drinking yet and that’s a lie. She knew it for what it was but she rocks and she didn’t press me.

    Every day I think about when I will have that first drink. Some days it’s 6pm. Some days it’s 11am. But I always have it. Unless I’m out and then I mentally freak out.

    Today, my husband gave me $30 to spend on Valentines stuff for the kids while he’s gone for the weekend. I went to “the store” while he was home to watch our children and bought a cheap bottle of vodka so I would have money left over for the craft projects and I hid the vodka in the floorboard of my SUV until my husband was gone.

    I have officially become THAT person and it scares the hell out of me.

    I’m sorry for writing a post in your comments section, but you and Maggie are amazing and hopefully, soon, being sober won’t scare me quite so much.

    | January 29, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

    • Elizabeth said,

      Just keep sharing. You’ve already taken your first step!

      | January 31, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

    • Amanda said,

      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.

      | January 31, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

  12. 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.

    Ann

    | January 30, 2010 @ 12:16 am

  13. abdpbt said,

    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 =-.

    | January 30, 2010 @ 12:19 am

  14. Aimee Greeblemonkey said,

    I am so proud of her too. So. proud.

    | January 30, 2010 @ 4:36 am

  15. Gail said,

    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.

    | January 30, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

    • 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

      | January 30, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

  16. Ellie said,

    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
    .-= Ellie´s last blog ..Take that, Failure =-.

    | January 30, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

  17. Cynthia said,

    Your words have such a deep and resonating impact. Thank you for sharing!
    .-= Cynthia´s last blog ..The Quiz…Part II =-.

    | January 30, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

  18. maggie, dammit said,

    Thank you all again. SO much. I wish I had better words.
    .-= maggie, dammit´s last blog ..Nine days sober. =-.

    | January 30, 2010 @ 8:29 pm

  19. Meai said,

    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.

    | January 31, 2010 @ 4:13 am

  20. Elizabeth said,

    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!

    | January 31, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

  21. Shannon said,

    Maggie,

    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 =-.

    | January 31, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

  22. 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.

    | January 31, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

  23. Rebecca said,

    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 =-.

    | February 1, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

  24. Gretchen said,

    10 months yesterday. Whew. LOVE Maggie! Thanks for sharing, going in search of Caroline Knapp’s book today! :)

    | February 2, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

  25. Natika said,

    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!

    | February 4, 2010 @ 5:32 am

  26. Brooke said,

    P.S Tomorrow is Don’t Get Drunk Friday – YAY!
    .-= Brooke´s last blog ..Wow =-.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 3:09 am

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