Hi Everyone, I’ve just turned in a book and it robbed my soul of any more creativity for weeks and weeks but…I’m back now and ready to update my blog like a real blogger. But here’s the thing, from time to time I get a letter from a reader that I feel sums up a universal experience. It’s like everyone who is drinking feels like they are the only one, with their own “special circumstances” but as you’ll see, it’s not the circumstances that make us all the same, it’s the way we cope. And sometimes the way we cope is a result of something much deeper; a family history, anxiety issues, bi-polar etc. But what difference does it make really? If it’s time to stop, it’s time to stop.
I thank “Kate” so much for allowing me to publish her letter. As I explained to her, it will sure help so many of you to see that you are not alone.
Dear Ms. Wilder-Taylor –
I saw you on Dr. Oz and your story was just like mine (in many ways). Your image became the angel on my shoulder who began a competition with the devil (Mr. Sav Blanc) at 5:00 pm on the other shoulder. Angel (you) said, “Come on, just start today. You gave it up before you can do it again. Twins are no excuse. I have them too. Mr. B would say — “It’s only white wine. It really isn’t as much of a buzz as all the other stuff. You managed to get through the day. You deserve a little liquid calm.
I am a mother of three. I have an eleven year old diva who thinks she is so full of wisdom that it is a miracle I survived 35 years until she arrived. Then there are my nine year old identical twin boys who were a month premature but ended up with lots of scary health issues at birth. We almost lost them. When they came home and I recovered from the surgery, I started having my two glasses a night. As their physical health improved, we realized their developmental health was not where is should be. Every time some issue resolved and I thought we’d graduate to normal, a new issue came up and eventually the punch in the stomach: They have Autism — but it is the good kind (yippee) — Asperger’s Syndrome. I know a lot of folks have it harder than me, but it still sucks. As the wind was pulled from my sails, I started to drink more. Usually 3/4 bottle a night — gotta leave a little in the bottom so no one could say I’d had an entire bottle.
I quit drinking when they were two after my mom held up a bottle and a picture of my little girl and said “you pick.” She said, “You’re cute and delightful Kate, but you’re not when you drink.” There are plenty of anecdotes to demonstrate that – many like ones you’ve shared. I didn’t fall down the stairs, but back in 1994 at my future in-laws’ who could be mistaken for the Cleavers, I was so drunk I knocked over a bowl of potpourri and tried to clean it up with scotch tape so they wouldn’t notice. It was so pathetic. My father in law would walk by the door and hear me pulling strips of tape off. It was futile and they were gracious.
So, from 3/03 until 2/09, I was sober. Then in 1/09 my stepfather died suddenly. My biological father is in my life, but he’s quite busy with his other kids (he has eight all together ages 56-21) and his fourth wife now. My stepdad was my real father — the man who made me feel worthy and special. He was the real source of encouragement in my life. I suffer from anxiety, OCD, and depression. Mom is my other rock and she was grieving herself and seemed so slammed. When he was gone, so were all the “atta girls” a mom of three kids with special needs craves. Not to mention I really loved him and his country accent and stories of his farming buddies at the stock yard. No one got more joy out of selling a manure spreader (yes there is such a thing).
My husband is a great guy who works hard to take care of us all, but he’s not the type to sit down and talk about feelings. He’s great with the kids and I couldn’t ask for more. He supports all the special services the kids need and the many practitioners we have to support us. He works his ass off and when he comes home the last thing he needs is to hear me belly ache about how our son had a melt down on the school field trip.
He entrusts all the care and intervention for the kids to me — which is a full time job and can be highly emotional. Watching your child try to make friends and fail is heart breaking. As one of my boys was becoming more complex and heart breaking “do you think anyone would ever invite me to their home?” or “I wish God didn’t give me this life”… I used to wonder, “God why two children with autism?” Then I had an epiphany — while sober I’m sure… they have each other. I had my liquid friend and groovy new stem less wine glasses.
Like many women in my shoes, I never failed to get up and do what was expected of me. I never got hung over enough to interfere with my responsibilities. I took my SSRI and ibuprofen with my 3 cups of coffee and I was good to go. I suspect no one would have guessed I was having a huge battle of wills in my brain all the time and was riddled with guilt.
My husband is one of those one of those annoying people who can drink two or three glasses of wine and never be buzzed. He can leave a glass half empty when he’s had enough. He too drinks every day, but responsibly. In the 16 years I’ve known him I have never seen him polluted. His personality doesn’t change. He’s just himself and it makes me so jealous! He can enjoy the wonderful flavor of chocolate with a nice red. I am unfortunately not able to allow this simple pleasure to pass my lips unless it’s a whole bar and a bottle.
I became more and more thirsty for relief of the anxiety, grief, sadness, poor self esteem (did I mention I’m not a wrinkle free babe anymore?). By March of this year I was back up to the almost bottle a day mark. Weekends were justification for a more than that. I was missing the “rules” I made for myself. It was hard to enjoy any of the deliciousness in those dry wines with a citrus finish. I knew my mom was crushed knowing all too well my penchant for excess. My ever-wise daughter had picked up on my drinking and badgered me daily about it. As we’d watch our favorite show “Dr. G Medical Examiner” my budding little pathologist would point out the necrotic liver of a patient and ask if I had a fatty liver yet. Imagine an intervention facilitated by and eleven year old. Insane. With the help of her therapist, I put in place some boundaries and we told her that her caring was nice, but grown-ups get to decide and that mom could be responsible. I couldn’t follow my own boundaries and became the master of rationalizing.
So, your appearances on TV and your blog stuck in my mind. Then, one day one of my sons came out of school with his pants covered in blood from his nervous habit of picking his skin till it bleeds. I initially thought he had been in art class and gotten into the red paint. When I realized he had managed to escape all the safeguards his teacher and I put in place, my Pavlovian sp response was “I need a drink and its only 3:00”. I couldn’t figure out how I would make it until 5:00. I drank through that weekend, but the nagging feeling that I drank to cope wouldn’t let go. I decided I had to quit. I knew the only way to assure that I followed through was to tell people that I was quitting….my husband promised me not to let me off the hook. I called my mother — the relief in her voice was like a bolt of energy to inspire me to follow through with the promise. I spoke with the women in my weekly Bible Study Group (yes, I thought somehow I could trick God – after all, he forgives me and knows I’m human) and asked for their prayer. Then I prayed to God – take this craving and urge from me.
God has a sense of humor. We never know how he makes his will unfold. The next day I got wicked case of strep throat. I was sick as a dog for seven consecutive days – and yes, the craving was gone. He mercifully made those first days a non-issue, albeit in a physically painful way. I sweat out the booze with my fever and by the time I was well enough to face a day healthy without a drink, my mind was prepared and clear enough to fight.
That was 10 weeks ago. I never have done AA – I read a lot on line for support and your column is my first spot when I need a boost. I am committed to being there for my kids at 100% — to the extent a 46 year old can be. If I ever feel like I’m crashing, I will go in a flash, but for now my 12 step program includes: (1) My Lord and his grace, (2) one husband, (3, 4, 5) three great atypical kids, (6) steadfast and unconditional love from extended family, (7) great and loyal friends, (8) one high maintenance dog, (9) diet coke/coffee, (10) Wellbutrin, (11) dark chocolate and (12) funny blogs of others in the same boat (misery loves company). My extended steps include guilty pleasures like the real housewives and fashion awareness – Clinton and Stacey – I love you!
Stephanie – never worry about being the woman who always talks about not drinking…you are saving families and women and after another — including me and mine.
God Bless you and your readers –
Thank you so much for pointing out the impact on my girl. She is one of the primary drivers for me. I don’t want her to have a list of embarrassments of her mom to look back on — outside of saying my red patent leather rain coat was “too flashy for a mom picking up at Catholic School.” Thankfully in all this time she hasn’t seen me drunk and stupid.
Thanks also for letting me know that seeing your mom take the important step to stop made a difference for you personally. I so hope that rings true for my gal. She’s a pistol and has so much great ahead to share with the world.
Thank you for this post – you are so honest and brave. Reading this helps me, too, because when my brain wanders into that “maybe I wasn’t SO bad” territory, posts like this remind me of all I stand to lose.
You are also a shining example of how we can always pick ourselves back up – with honesty, self-awareness and a good sense of humor we can do anything.
Thanks so much, and I wish you all the best!
.-= Ellie´s last blog ..Giving Over =-.
Thanks for sharing the email. I don’t battle with alcohol – my battle is with food. Yet, I still enjoy and appreciate reading the struggles and survival stories of addiction.
.-= Melissa´s last blog ..seven years. =-.
Thanks so much. I can’t wait to read your story. Food is so tough…we need it to live and it is everywhere we are. I’ll keep you in my prayers. I’ll also think of you as I try not to replace the sugar in my wine with the 6 sugar free fudgesicles (only 40 calories each for a total of just 240!). OCD is a terrible thing!
Stef she’s sooo right, you give all these women so much HOPE, inspiration and movtivation, a quiet place to start from…
and Kate, thank you for sharing all that with us, thank you for being brave enough to take a first step….wishing you much success and love deep down inside your soul.
Robin O'Bryant said,
I personally don’t have a drinking problem but I always read Stefanie’s blog, because she is awesome and brave and so are you.
I read your entire letter through tears. I can’t imagine the struggle of two special needs children and battling an addiction at the same time. You deserve a gold star!
Prayers for your continued sobriety!
.-= Robin O’Bryant´s last blog ..FYI =-.
Thanks so much. It means a ton to hear supportive comments from people who don’t struggle with addictive personalities. I’m looking forward to reading everyone’s blogs too. Bless you.
Kate.. I can’t even tell you how much I needed to read this tonight. The reminders… the moments… Like I think Ellie said, it helps when I have that tendency to think “oh, I wasn’t that awful…” how easy we forget those awful moments.
Thank you so much, your honesty, your story. Sending you prayers and all sorts of good thoughts
.-= Corinne´s last blog ..A non Boot Camp post, sort of… =-.
Bless your heart. I wonder if we could have a “My moment was more embarrassing than your moment” forum. Honesty may reveal a some dirt, but it is so cleansing. Talking to you all makes my heart feel light. Kate
Kate — Thank you for sharing — I needed your post today! You are brave, super funny and so honest.
Ginger, Lisa Rae, and Sue — everyone who has written me. Thank you so much. you change lives. You can count me among the ones you pushed over the correct edge.
Sue — I had to ponder, grieve, and find the right time to stop. Like Stefanie said… when it’s time to quit, it’s time to quit. Your time will come. If you want to talk, please get my e-mail from Stefanie. I’m happy to talk since my wounds are still so fresh.
Lisa Rae @ smacksy said,
Brave and inspirational ladies.
Thank you and thank you.
.-= Lisa Rae @ smacksy´s last blog ..Concepts =-.
Belly Girl said,
This gave me chills. Amazing story, Kate…thank you for sharing. You are giving your kids and yourself the best gift possible.
.-= Belly Girl´s last blog ..Bring on the heat =-.
Thank you Kate and Stephanie for your words of honesty and hope – hope that I, too, can overcome the dragnet of alcohol in my life.
I just wanted to check one you. I hope you are feeling stronger. Your word dragnet has stuck in my brain. I’ve been feeling it this weekend a lot. So know even though I have taken this step, I still crave and have to dismiss that craving every day. My daughter who inspired me left for her first sleep away camp today…. 3 weeks. She told me as much as she didn’t want to bum me out, she wouldn’t miss me at all. I thought, here I gave up the booze (my companion) for you and your brothers, and you can leave and not care at all. Go figure. Alas, diet coke will have to do. Must run… my son is whining — he has the audacity to want lunch! Hang in there! Kate
“I suspect no one would have guessed I was having a huge battle of wills in my brain all the time and was riddled with guilt.” – I can relate to this so deeply. I am in the “high bottom club” as well and often think I could go back with out a ton of immediate damage. I know that is not true, and at times I find the devil on my shoulder. Stefanie is one of my angels as well, I am glad you found her and I wish you much continued success!
.-= seekingclarav´s last blog ..Birthdays and Boulders =-.
Kate (and Stephanie)-
Thank you so much for your bravery, compassion, and openness. Your words impact so many. It is such a relief and blessing to know that we’re not alone. I, too, was/am a high bottom alcoholic. After 7 sober years, I got off track and am still struggling to get back on. I still don’t understand WHY I blew it. This Friday blog is a lifesaver for me.