This is the story of a friend of mine. She’s a woman who reached out to me when I first blogged about quitting drinking. This is the thing about us “quitters,” we are shamed, yes. We are sad, sure. But when we find the strength to fight, we also realize we have the strength to help other people fight as well. I truly believe that part of the lesson I’ve learned since admitting fully to myself and to others that I am an alcoholic is that I’m not alone. It’s a highly treatable condition. All I have to do is not take the first drink. Some people may think that I’ve lost myself or that I’m not funny anymore. That’s fine with me. If you read my next book you’ll see that it’s not true overall but maybe yes. Maybe I have let this topic overrun my blog because IT’S IMPORTANT. You have no clue how much mail I receive from women who are suffering and embarrassed and don’t want to admit how much they are drinking or that they need help. So if me posting a lot about drinking bothers you? There are a million other blogs to read. Now back to my friend. She emailed me a letter she wrote to her daughter after she stopped drinking and I posted it on DGDF. But she just sent me this which is more of her story. It rings true to me, I hope you too. If you want to talk to others you can join our Yahoo Group.
–At a certain point in the drinking of every alcoholic, she passes into a state where the most powerful desire to stop drinking is of absolutely no avail. This tragic situation has already arrived in practically every case long before it is suspected.
Pg 24 of the Big Book
But what about the real alcoholic? She might start off as a moderate drinker; she may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of her drinking career she begins to lose all control of her liquor consumption, once she starts to drink.
Pg 21 of the Big Book
These two passages in the Big Book are underlined, stared and re-underlined because for the last part of my drinking days, my “bottom” and into my sobriety I have struggled with the question: “how did this happen to me? How or when did I become an alcoholic?” At what point in my drinking days did things go wrong? Where and when did I tip over from the social drinker to becoming an alcoholic.
Was it when I had to have a drink while I was pregnant? Was is when I started drinking alone? Or was it before that even…the first time I got a real buzz and knew I wanted to feel that way again? YES. Like EVERY alcoholic, I reached a point sometime when drinking became more important than my relationships and I gave this obsession (disease, allergy or whatever we want to call) my whole self. And it couldn’t be
I had an “alcoholic mind.”
I like to think of the “wine cube” as my ultimate downfall. Knock if you want to…but I stumbled on it at Target…it was much easier to hide than bottle and containing four bottles of wine per box…I never really knew where I was in terms of a line on the bottle anymore. And with multiple cube going…white wine and two types of red…I could hide how much I was drinking from my husband. In the end I was drunk every afternoon and evening. The hand on the clock was a slave-driver as I refused to drink before noon.
My bottom came at 11:30 in the morning when I had fixed myself a juice glass of red wine and I was eating “lunch” with my daughter. She looked at me and said “Mommy why do you drink so much wine all the time.” At that point I knew the game was up. My husband might have been oblivious, ignoring or avoiding the issue, by my five-year-old had the courage to innocently take it on. It wasn’t so much that I felt caught as I felt like a mirror was being held up to me and I was being forced to look at it. I knew that if I continued to drink I would be a drunk mom…and I wasn’t willing to “fuck up my kids lives.” There are many reasons people stop drinking. In the beginning I did it because I didn’t want to be a drunk mom. Now I know that alcohol will consume ME…every bit of me if I let it…or I can have the life the Big Book talks about…the promises can come true for me.
I will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
The first and only call I made was to my therapist at the time…who I had been lying to about how much I drank. I was finally honest with her. And this is what she said… “Well kiddo, your game is up. You can call a friend of mine and go to an AA meeting. Or I think we are going to have to send you to treatment.” And with that, I made a phone call. I think at my first meeting that amazing thing happened that happens in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I knew I wasn’t alone.
I did not hesitate for a second when they offered the white chip. I was so relieved to start a new life with a group of people who had hope. I got up immediately when it was offered. I didn’t even know what I was agreeing to…I just knew I wanted to do it. Another major moment for me in my sober life was the first time I called myself an alcoholic. I was at a the meeting at St. John Episcopal. They went around at the end of the meeting and people could introduce themselves. As people who had not “shared” at the meeting spoke their name and those…..WORDS. I knew they were coming for me. I had picked up a white chip, but I had not said the words myself. I knew I would have to say it. “My name is R and I am an alcoholic.” Again, there was a huge relief when I said those words. I spoke them to a room full of perfect strangers…but I was again released to be “part of”…and it was like an enormous weight lifted off my shoulders…I was anonymous…but I had admitted to being “part of” the fellowship. It was a huge moment.
I knew from that moment on I had an alcoholic mind.I saw that “will power” and “self knowledge” would not help in those mental blank spots. –quote from The Big Book