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Don’t Get Drunk Fridays: Susan’s* Story

This is another great entry from the excellent site for sober broads Crying Out Now. Next week I’ll be done with my book and back to updating more frequently.

Here I am, a big fat alcoholic, done with the alcohol and its rule over my dominion. I’m not literally big and fat, but when I consider my alcohol use, I sure feel that way. So, I was sober from 1993 to 2000. I was active in AA for at least 5 of the 7 years, but once I got married in 1997 (happily sober), and we moved out of state, I fell away from the program. My husband had no experience with alcoholism, or me when I was actively drinking. Since I quit when I was 23, and we moved to a fairly hard drinking state, it was easy to rationalize “just one”. Eleven years later, I’m quietly downing 2 bottles of
wine a night.

For awhile I told myself that just because I was drinking didn’t mean I forgot everything I learned in AA. I didn’t, but I just wasn’t ready to quit, mainly because my marriage has disintegrated during the past several years. It was going bad in 2001, and nothing has really changed. Two nights ago, while drunk of course, I told my husband that I knew I needed to quit drinking, but I didn’t know if I could tolerate our marriage without it. For the record, he has never objected to my drinking as long as I don’t hide it. But, of course, I still do.

When I woke up the morning after my confession, I had the usual internal scramble to remember what had happened the night before. I can’t tell you how many movies I’ve watched with my husband that I can’t remember anything about.

Luckily, today, I could remember. My first reaction was to apologize, blame stress from work, etc. But I realized I didn’t want to take it back.

It was true. I didn’t want this marriage as it was. I wanted the man back that I married. One of the AA phrases I learned, when you’re pointing at someone else there are three fingers pointing back at you. To do my part I have to go back to being the woman my husband married. I have to stop drinking. I’m ready.

I’m done.

I’m concerned about withdrawal after the past 8 years or so of drinking every night until I fall asleep (details). My tolerance is obviously high, I haven’t been hung over for years. God only knows what my liver thinks of all this. I don’t want to do rehab. I know how to do this, but the last time I quit I hadn’t been drinking that long, though the pattern was very similar. I didn’t have withdrawal then, I’m concerned I will now. My palms are sweating as I write. I know now that back then I was probably abusing alcohol, now, I am physically addicted.

Today I attended my first AA meeting in 13 years. How could I have forgotten so much? I didn’t have a day yet, only the desire to stop drinking. But I went to a Closed Women’s meeting. What I heard:

The steps. I am powerless over alcohol. I AM. Without a doubt, I am. God, had I forgotten the power of the steps.

God, or the god of my understanding, as I called him (for lack of a better pronoun). I have lost my spirituality and I miss it.

Yes, I said it: I’m Susan and I’m an alcoholic.

Someone said: “I’m an alcoholic, I will create chaos around me.” Shit, I’d forgotten that. No wonder my family life is chaos. Then I felt hope: if I stopped I could repair the chaos or at least deal with it SOBER instead of drunk.

The meeting topic? Acceptance.

Can I accept that I may have withdrawal problems? Yes, but I am committed to this path. I have an appointment with my therapist (of 8 years ago for marriage, not alcohol counseling, though I knew she specialized in that–REALLY???) and will call my Dr. to get some help and make sure I don’t have a seizure and scare the shit out of myself and my family. I promise this is not an excuse to drink. I have broken my silence.

As for my husband, I am asking him for time, and plan to get my own house in order before making any decisions there. I asked him the other night, drunk, why we have everything but we aren’t happy. Well, if both of us are creating chaos…what the hell else is going to happen?

Not yet free, but hopeful.

P.S. Mine is a cautionary tale. Folks who relapse move away from remembering they are alcoholics, and start hoping/thinking they can drink normally. We can’t. Not even one. If we could drink one, we wouldn’t be here. Even when I took my first relapse drink, I knew I was making bullshit excuses. Please. Don’t go there. Find a way to not drink: reach out to people who understand (Booze Free Brigade), go to a meeting, anything. I’m still in the jail. You do not want to be here. Don’t drink.

(Note from Stef: Susan* is now sober and doing pretty great – you can find her on the Booze Free Brigade)

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on May 28, 2010 4:28 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday9 comments  

9 Comments

  1. Ellie said,

    I so appreciate you sharing your story. I have times when I get that “I’m cured” feeling, and the only way to fend those off is to hear from people who have been there, done that, and have the courage to come back and tell their truth.

    You are so brave – and you’ve helped me so much.

    Thanks you!

    -Ellie
    .-= Ellie´s last blog ..I See You =-.

    | May 28, 2010 @ 7:28 pm

  2. a work in progress said,

    this is mt biggest fear…relapse. i have just over four years under my belt and whilst in some ways it gets easier it also gets a lot harder. i TOTALLY understand the complacency aspect – “i can manage this, where’s the harm in one”…I think the temporal distance is complicit in this deception. People often get concerned about my sobriety in times of crisis, worried that I will ‘drown my sorrows’ etc. to me the GOOD times are by far the most dangerous…far easier to slip because i think i can deal with it.

    the crux of it for me is the fear. people think i am strong blah blah for getting clean. Ha! i feel the thing that keeps me sober is the very very real fear of the alternative. the fact that i am fearful makes me feel weak. *sigh*

    i want to be able to not be fearful of it. to be strong enough to KNOW that i am ok.

    does that ever happen i wonder?

    | May 29, 2010 @ 1:11 am

    • a work in progress said,

      got lost for a minute!

      what I MEANT to finish with was an expression of gratitude for sharing your experience, and to wish you all the very best on your continuing journey.

      thanks :)

      | May 29, 2010 @ 1:13 am

      • Susan said,

        I don’t have a blog of my own so I have to troll my posts on other blogs for reactions. It’s somewhat pathetic.

        But I have a very strong opinion on this whole “fearful makes me weak” thing, so I must reply. Take a look at your greatest strength, the flip side of it will be your greatest weakness.

        Your fear is your strength in sobriety. It is what will keep you sober. I don’t put my hand on a hot burner because of the fear it will burn me. That’s not weakness, it’s survival. If I lose that fear, I may burn my hand, may get a scar, maybe get a secondary infection.

        Over time my fear of a burn has become more of a caution, but it is still there. Your fear of alcohol may mellow to caution over time, but it must remain a constant to stay sober.

        You ARE OK. Your fear IS your strength. Own it, sober sister.

        | May 29, 2010 @ 4:02 am

  3. seekingclarav said,

    Thank you for your words. Your courage to take your life back is inspiring. It’s hard not to think about relapse, and the what-ifs. I’ve decided that I can’t live in the future, all I can do is not drink today. So we keep trudging. Rooting for you.
    .-= seekingclarav´s last blog ..Because of the wonderful things that she does =-.

    | May 29, 2010 @ 2:20 am

  4. whoistankum.com said,

    Ways to Help My Marriage…

    I found your entry interesting so I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    | May 29, 2010 @ 10:21 am

  5. Em said,

    I love reading the personal stories in the BB, and I love reading blogs about sobriety and the journey it takes us on. Thank you for sharing your story. You are in my prayers :)

    | May 29, 2010 @ 12:47 pm

  6. WarsawMommy said,

    I hope the chaos is becoming more silent and still. Well do I remember how orderly my life suddenly seemed after I stopped drinking; then I realised that by stopping drinking, I halted the chaos.

    I’m thinking of you.

    | June 2, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

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