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.