This story is from a friend of mine and I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty damn inspirational. She is lovely, hilarious and a great example of a life being lived well without booze.
At lunch the other day, I overheard two women lamenting over how one of their old college friends was ruining his life with alcohol. It was the classic tale; he had lost the beautiful family, the high paying job, the house in the hills and now a third DUI had landed him in jail. After twenty minutes of describing his wreckage one sighed and said, “He’ll never stop drinking. He loves it.”
I almost choked on my couscous. There are many reasons I gave up drinking thirteen years ago but “lack of interest” was not one of them.
I didn’t fall out of love with alcohol. Nor did I lose the life I had built, partly because at the age of 19, I scarcely had had the chance to build one. I got sober because one summer night I went out for one drink and ended up having one drink in every bar on St. Mark’s Place. The result was terrible alcohol poisoning, the kind that led me to a bathroom floor shivering under a hand towel with toilet seat marks on my forehead. My cell phone was screaming at me from my purse so I answered because it was the only way I could think of to make the noise stop. It was my father calling to invite me to lunch. For some reason I agreed on the condition that lunch was a plain bagel he would bring to my apartment. I had the special humility one gets after throwing up for seven hours, so when he asked me how I was, I told him the truth.
My sweet father listened patiently as I confessed to my obsession with alcohol, my despair over the lines in the sand I kept leaping over, and the possibility that I might marry a bus boy from Morocco for a couple thousand dollars. And then I said it, the three magic words, “I need help.” That is something I would not have said if he had come by even one hour later when I was feeling less desperate. I didn’t realize it then, but I gave my father a tiny, and I mean teensy tiny, window of opportunity, and he reached out and was able to pull me through to the other side. The next day I decided I had been dramatic. I called my father to tell him to forget what I’d said, but I was too late, I had asked for help and it was already on the way in countless different ways.
There I was, 19 and sober. I had stopped drinking a full two years before it was legal for me to start drinking. I was thoroughly disappointed. I had planned on being a nasty drunk when I grew up. I had been daydreaming about my 21st birthday party since I was 8. I was convinced that my life was over because I could only truly be myself when I was drunk. I understood sobriety was a gift, but I wondered if I could return it and get it again later when I was 35, you know, when I was “old.”
To date, I have the “highest bottom” of any story I have ever heard. Sometimes I hate to tell it because I wonder who wants to hear about the nightlife of a middle schooler. But when I want my bottom to seem lower, I compare my life then to my life today. I am a loving and faithful wife and have a solid and delightful marriage. I am somebody’s mom, which is an endless source of joy. I show up for work on-time and when I leave for the night I don’t have anything that doesn’t belong to me in my pockets. My parents can sleep at night. I am comfortable in my skin. I show up for life with dignity and grace and I never have toilet seat marks on my forehead. I love my life today and if I had waited for the day I stopped loving alcohol I would have missed all of it.
(From Stef: Gemma has a very cool website that sells greeting cards for sobriety milestones www.greetingsanonymous.com go check them out and send me one on May 22nd)
Booze Free Brigade is here.