Archive for September, 2010
So, here is a great voice from The Booze Free Brigade (link down below). I love this story and I know some of you will see yourselves. That’s what it’s all about for me and all the other boozy mommies I know.
“No one told me I drank too much. No one told me I drank too often. No one told me that perhaps I “had a drinking problem”. Not a soul. And I believe to this day that if I had continued drinking, no one yet would have said a word to me. I had to listen to myself for years before I stopped drinking almost 28 months ago.
I have been married to the same man for 22 years. We have three children (8, 10, 14). I am a professional, with a lucrative career which allows me to structure my work schedule around family and personal activities. It also allowed me to structure my days around drinking and around the recovery time needed from a heavy night of drinking. What I couldn’t negotiate around were my increasingly alarming feelings of shame, guilt, worry, and fear.
The largest of these for me was “fear”. Now, I am not typically a person who navigates through life from a position of fear. But my drinking, THAT was different. My fear stemmed from the knowledge that waking in the morning and immediately thinking “when can I start drinking today?” and “what booze do I have in the house?” and “what time does my day start tomorrow?” (because that dictated how much I could drink that night) was not right. I knew this. I also knew having blackouts at an ever -increasing frequency and on an ever-decreasing amount of alcohol was not right. I knew being unable to remember having sex the night before was not right. (I only knew because my husband would ask me the next morning if I had liked it. “Oh, sure baby!”) I knew monitoring the days I didn’t drink, and feeling ‘pride’ about those days, was way, way wrong. So why was I fearful of these things? Because even though I knew these things and hated feeling that way, I couldn’t stop drinking.
As my life changed, my drinking changed. I had a family and work. This meant I went out infrequently and had to move my drinking to the home front. Sure, I tried to hide it from the kids. Kinda. Sorta. Ah hell, no I didn’t. They knew mom drank, sure, but the drunk, blackout crap? That was after they went to bed. (Usually……). And yes, my husband saw it. But it is a fact that those who love you don’t want to see your pain and mess and crap, especially when it is self-imposed and you are saying, “No, I am OK, I feel OK today, not too bad, just tired. Just let me lay in bed a little longer.” Those who love you want to believe your lies. And I hid a lot from him too. I stuffed empties under the trash, I drank a glass and refilled it to the same level when he stepped out, I lied about how much I had drank, I waited until he was out of the room to throw- up when hung-over.
Because it is a fact of life: addicts lie, to everyone. We lie to cover up our drinking and guilt and fear and drunken behavior. We can’t tell you all this, because you might tell us to stop, or to choose between you and the booze. Thank God my husband didn’t push me into that corner; I would have lied more to protect my drinking.
Oh sure, I tried all the drinking “control” tricks. “Have a glass of water between drinks.” “Wait 30 minutes between drinks.” “Only drink when others drink.” “Only drink at home,” or, “Only drink at social occasions.” But none of these “control” techniques worked, because none of them removed my biggest, scariest obstacle: my obsessive, compulsive and overwhelming thoughts related to drinking and alcohol. I was frank about this in my early drinking days, but I hid these feelings as I got older and no age-peers were around to share my sentiments: “I love drinking! I love booze! I love getting drunk!” In college, no one bats an eye when you say that. Others look at you oddly when you are 40 and saying those things.
I don’t know why I gained insight into my drinking 4 years ago. In retrospect, I now see that my life, outside of drinking, was really pulling together. I had found a satisfying level of spirituality, my sex life with my husband had improved dramatically and my workout routines were in full swing, leaving me looking and feeling amazing. All this “peaking” left my drinking, and all its associated negatives, highlighted and screaming for attention. I could no longer ignore my problem.
I went to my first AA meeting alone and unannounced to family or friends. I stayed sober for 7 weeks, but then went back out for 18 more months of drinking. On May 25, 2008, I had my last drink and began the 12 steps. I discovered my children thought I was working late when I said, “I am going to a meeting”. I explained that the meetings involve getting together with other people who used to like drinking, just like me, and that getting together makes it easier to give up something we use to enjoy; this answer has satisfied them.
My biggest payoff? Every time my husband says, “I like that you don’t drink now.””
Check us all out at The Booze Free Brigade if you’re looking for support
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 25, 2010 12:50 am
• Don't Get Drunk Friday
And then school started and mommy finally rested. I can’t believe that I somehow managed to get through the past year and still be here to write about it. Of course in the moment I just figured that life is hard and will always be this hard and I will never again smile or laugh or read or exercise or eat a fruit sweetened cookie without being forced to stand in a dark corner of my kitchen stuffing it in my mouth lest I’m spotted and three children pull it from my mouth and stuff it in theirs.
What I’m saying is, my life hasn’t been all that fun. UNTIL NOW. Those bitches started school last week and today, for the first time, they went without crying. And I am at peace.
Who knew? Who knew that I was so jacked up with anxiety from having to leave a traumatized child crying at preschool every day last week? Intellectually I knew that they were in good hands. My brain told me that they were going to have a great day and that being in school with access to finger paints, magna tiles, blocks, trikes and loving teachers was nothing to freak the fuck out about. unfortunately, my brain was not in direct contact with my heart which hurt for Matilda who cried mercilessly for me. When I came to pick her up she was so relieved it was heart breaking. “Mommy came back!” she screamed at me while throwing herself into my arms and refusing to end the hug for forty-five minutes. “Mommies always come back! Mommies always come back! Mommies aaaalways come back!” She repeated this like a mantra or like Dora might say “Swiper no swiping, Swiper no swiping, Swiper nooo swiping.”
It made me so sad.
“Yes, Mattie. Of course I came back,” I said burying my face in her curls -curls that smelled like fresh air and water soluable paint- two things that school is providing that I’m not. I have to wonder if the kids with separation anxiety might actually think that when you drop them off there’s a chance that that is their new home. Do you think they take it that far in their heads? Like mommy has found a place that can provide more consistant parenting and good toys so now they will just be living here with their new mom, Giselle and assistant mom, Karina? That they will from this day forth have all their meals and naps and bedtime routines happen from this new place? Do they seriously wonder if we’ll come back for them? It breaks my heart to think my tiny lady would for a moment not know that I’m coming back for her and that she’s supposed to be having a good time not worrying that I’ve abandoned her.
I suppose some kids need to be trained to a new routine and others, like Sadie, just go with the flow. I understand Mattie’s point of view because I have a ton of anxiety (shocker!). I get Mattie which actually makes it tougher because all that empathizing can only make it worse for her if she can sense it. I had to be very controlled in my response to her meltdowns in the morning. Inside I wanted to grab her and tell her how much I love her and that if she really didn’t like it she didn’t have to stay in school, that mommy never wanted her to be sad for one minute. But instead, I told her I was coming back and that I knew she was going to have a great day. Also that there would be ice cream later.
That was last week and yesterday a little. Today, she was fine. And I can breathe and even go to the gym. But let’s not get crazy. I’ll start with breathe and work my way up to exercise.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 21, 2010 5:35 pm
It’s Friday again and you know what that means: Don’t DRINK! Caroline was kind and brave enough to share her story with the rest of us lookie-loos and potential or current alchies. Thank you Caroline.
“One drink is too many . . . 100 is never enough.
When I was younger, ever since I can remember, my mother cautioned me about the evils of alcohol. She would tell me tales of her father and his constant struggle with the bottle that ultimately killed him. She told me, too, of my own father and his father, who were both raging alcoholics who became violent when under the influence. Because of my father’s alcoholism, my mother left him before I was born, and I never met him until I was 14 years old. I ignored her, telling myself that I was nothing like them. I was a good kid who always earned great grades, who studied hard, and who had dreams of becoming an attorney. Nothing would change that.
The first time I can remember drinking, I was fourteen years old. I don’t remember what we drank that night, but I do remember that I did not stop until I was violently ill and passed out. That was the beginning of a pattern that never changed during my drinking career. I did not drink often, but when I did, there was no “off switch.” I rationalized those early experiences by telling myself that the rare blackout was not a problem.
In college, I drank nearly every night, which came with daily hangovers, unexplained bruising, and even a chipped tooth. When my employer noticed the problem, she told me that she would fire me if I didn’t stop. So I did. Amazed at how easy it seemed, I used that to reinforce my own claim that I was nothing like other members of my family. For years, I drank so infrequently that I soon forgot those early problems that should have been a sign for me. Instead, I told myself that drinking as I did, at parties, was appropriate, even if I did get sick and pass out. My motto was, “Never drink at home, never drink alone.” It seemed to work, and I went on to graduate from college, graduate school, and law school.
In 2004, I went to work at a law firm where most of the other attorneys had a fondness for “happy hour.” I returned home from my first happy hour completely drunk, and I had left early. Stupidly, I told my roommate that I would need to drink more often to build up a tolerance to keep up with them. Within months, I was arrested and received my first (and only) DWI. Instead of taking that as a sign, my arrest simply pushed me into isolation. Instead of going to happy hour, I drank at home, alone, forgetting my early mantra. Eventually, my roommate left. My mother, who moved in with me briefly also left, telling me that she wouldn’t watch me kill myself. I was alone, trying to find that perfect combination of alcohol that would allow me to get drunk without hurting others and myself.
I wanted to control my drinking so badly. I tried drinking just wine, or just vodka, which seemed to work, until I woke up from a blackout one night lying in a pool of blood. Finally, I settled on beer, which I told myself should work, since I despised the taste. Nothing worked, and eventually, I found myself taking a handful of Benadryl when I got home, hoping that I would pass out quickly and wake up with no hangover. I was killing myself. In April 2007, mere weeks after I had purchased my first home, and just over a month before my wedding, I called in drunk and quit my job. I thought my career as an attorney was utterly destroyed. Then, when I got married, I believed his presence would change me, but by August 2007, I was taking so many pills and was drinking so heavily, I realized, in a moment of clarity, that I would one day go to sleep and never wake up.
That is when I sought help.
It was not easy to admit to a roomful of people that I am an alcoholic. It was mortifying, but I remember hearing promises that things would get better, if I would simply commit to working a program of recovery that required me to follow simple instructions from one who shared my disease.
Three years later, I know that, because of that painful admission, “I am an alcoholic,” I have my career back, and it is thriving. I have become a mother to a beautiful little girl who has never seen me drunk. I know who her father is, and when she was conceived. I am a wife. I have made peace with my past and made amends to those I had harmed. I am no longer isolated from the world around me. I have friends, and I have the respect of my family once more. I have been given the opportunity to help other women, passing on knowledge that was given so freely to me. I am no longer ashamed of my past mistakes. Most importantly, I am alive to experience the many blessings that are present in my life on a daily basis.
When I first got sober, I mourned the loss of alcohol as though it were an old friend. Now, I rarely think about alcohol and the importance it once had in my life. I find myself consumed with living the life I have been given one day at a time, with all the joy and pain that entails, free from the alcohol that would have taken everything from me, had I not sought help. For that, more than anything, I am truly grateful.”
Caroline can be found at her blog www. Attorneyatmom.blogspot.com
and as always, if you join our Booze Free Brigade Yahoo Group you will find a lot of women committed to helping you quit drinking, helping you recognize if you have a problem and walking the same path.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 17, 2010 1:58 pm
• Don't Get Drunk Friday
So this is someone I know personally and he’s helped me in more ways than I can say. It’s just that there are certain people who “get it.” They aren’t judgmental, yet they don’t let you get away with bullshit either. And the story…it’s not my story…and it is exactly my story. You’ll know what I mean.
“I haven’t had a drink or a drug since January 1, 2004 and that’s the longest sober time I’ve had in more than forty years. I started drinking a little in my teens, just so I would fit in socially, but frankly I would rather have had a coke or a milkshake back then. During the college years my drinking and the drug use really picked up. I went to NYU in the sixties and started to drink and smoke marijuana on a daily basis. I really had a lot of fun and never thought of it as a problem and certainly had no intention of quitting. In fact, just the opposite happened; as time went on I drank more and more. I also smoked more marijuana and tried other drugs like LSD, mescaline and cocaine.
After graduation I got married and started working in New York, and although the drinking and drug use continued to escalate it never really seemed to get in the way of my career. As time went on I quit using the heavier drugs but continued to drink and smoke marijuana daily. When I reached middle age I was able to stop smoking marijuana by force of will power alone. However, during these years I started to lose control of my drinking and it really worried me.
Every so often, in my middle forties, I would stop drinking just to prove to myself that I wasn’t an alcoholic. It was troubling to find that although I could stop, I couldn’t stay stopped. This baffled me since I had been able to give up marijuana, and all the other drugs by sheer will power. Time and time again, during the next ten to fifteen years, I would quit drinking and stay dry for as many as six months at a time, but would eventually pick up again only to find that my disease had progressed even while I was abstaining. By that I mean, when I started to drink again I would drink more each day than I did before I stopped.
I found that drinking, which started as fun, progressed to fun with problems, and then just problems. Although I never got arrested for drunken driving, or lost a job, or a relationship, or a house, or a car, I did lose my self-respect. I felt only a very weak person would find himself unable to control or quit his drinking.
Completely demoralized and fearing the long-term health effects of decades of drinking, I got up on New Years Morning, January 1, 2004, and made my umpteenth New Years Resolution to stop drinking. I did very well sticking with it until mid April, when I got the overwhelming desire to drink. This was terrifying to me. I was afraid that if I drank I would never be able to stop again. I was at a crossroads. I couldn’t drink and I couldn’t not drink. I did have friends who had gotten sober by going to Alcoholics Anonymous but that wasn’t for me since I didn’t think I was an alcoholic and I knew there was that “higher power” thing in there and that was a non-start for me. However I was desperate and I was willing to go to a meeting with an open mind.
I’m not going to promote AA here but I will say that I love it and I know it has saved my life. My experience has been that if you have a desire to stop drinking, are open minded, and are willing to go to any lengths to get and stay sober, then AA will work for you too. My name is John and I’m an Alcoholic.”
As always, there are women standing by at the Booze Free Brigade to chat with you if you are wondering if you might be one of us.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 10, 2010 2:56 am
• Don't Get Drunk Friday
How do they go from this:
while I’m not looking?
I was a little nervous taking my big girl to school for her first day of Kindergarten today. That’s not strange. But what IS strange? She wasn’t. This girl who has had so many fears (rational and irrational), who has a list of worries a mile long, who is as empathetic as the day is long, who loves loves loves to dance herself silly to Hannah Montana when we’re all alone but who is anxious about being spotted in her underwear when a friend comes over, this girl was not scared to go to Kindergarten. My baby who thinks people are making fun of her if she has a little cream cheese smear on her chin, who gets sad when she doesn’t get enough attention, who asks me over and over “were we invited?” when I take her places, who gives her sisters hugs for no reason, who gets Matilda a band-Aid when she has a boo boo, who tells me “I like your eye shadow, mommy” but worries that her dress looks funny, didn’t even blink an eye that today was her first day at a brand new school. And afterward?
“I wasn’t even nervous, mama! I had a great time! Helena even sat next to me. She wasn’t sitting all the way next to me but then she scootched over because she wanted to be all the way next to me. Isn’t that great?”
Yes, it is great, sweetheart. It’s so great.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 7, 2010 9:59 pm