This is a friend of mine. She doesn’t have a blog. But she was willing to share her story because I asked her to and I told her it would help a lot of people who might be struggling. L is gorgeous, she’s bright, she’s lovely inside and out -also, she used to be drunk a lot.
“Hello, my name is L and I’m an alcoholic. When I first uttered those words I collapsed into a puddle of tears. Failure loomed in front of my eyes in huge red letters. Mother? Failure. Wife? Failure. Community-Role Model? Failure. Daughter? Failure. Friend? Failure. For years I had fooled everyone into believing that I was a success and now my failure was obvious to everyone. I felt exposed, ashamed and beaten. I couldn’t find comfort or refuge in those words. Hello, my name is L and I’m and alcoholic. It was to me, an admission of guilt. A confession, without the salvation. It was the end, I thought. My life would never be the same.
I really did have this great looking life before. I had a smart, successful husband, who appeared to be devoted to me. I had two beautiful children. I was active in the school community. I was the consummate hostess, a weekly entertainer. I saw my mother regularly and spoke to my father (long distance) once a week. What could possibly be wrong?
What people didn’t see was that I was exhausted from having two boys who never slept – one year apart. That I had to get drunk in order to be intimate with my husband (every Friday night, like clockwork). And I’m not just talking sex. I mean anything that required more than our usual “niceties. I couldn’t be honest about my feelings. (I tried desperately to stuff them with vicodin and ambien), But before I could “get it up for him, I had to have wine or some other “husband-approved” adult drink to lube me up.
And it didn’t stop there. Once that proverbial dragon was awake inside me I had to be high (or at least buzzed) to interact with anyone. I waited anxiously by the phone to hear that my refills were ready. I was a master at manipulating front office staff and more than three doctor’s offices. I was also adept at manipulating pharmacists and pharmacy staff (I had one pharmacy delivery-driver who would okay my early refills for me without calling the doctor first. We never discussed it and I never asked him why he took such a huge risk for me, but I happily over-tipped him every time he showed up at my door!). Lunch dates; play dates, dinners out, dinner parties. You name it; if I was there I was either loaded or going through withdrawals. At the end, neither was okay. Both were scary and depressing.
I guess I knew what I needed to do before my assistant (who was in program) pointed out to me the obvious: My life was falling apart. And although I hadn’t actually lost anything, I was just holding on by a thread. I was so full of fear and self -loathing that I turned it on her. I hated her for her honesty. To the point where even after I decided to check myself into a 40-day treatment program, I fired her first. (Obviously it was to her that I made my first “amends” after my release). But when I went to rehab, I thought she was wrong. She said that I needed to get honest. I didn’t need to get honest. I just needed a break. I totally thought that I would go back to using and drinking again when I got out. Only this time I’d know how to control it.
My journey in to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous was actually the beginning – and not the end, as I’d feared. It was the beginning of real honesty. No matter how yucky it felt or how petty it made me sound, I learned to tell you the truth. Like the time when I felt it was time to tell my newly ex husband (emphasis on Newly and EX ) about my new boyfriend. I actually thought I would stop breathing. I squirmed through that first confession like I was getting a rabies vaccination. It felt wrong and disloyal to tell the truth about something that could hurt this man that I’d loved for so many years. I wanted to run. I wanted to tell him I wasn’t really serious with this guy. But I didn’t. I told him the truth with love and with out (very many) apologies.
Once upon a time, failure, for me, was a dirty word. In sobriety I’ve learned that my inability to protect my family from my disease wasn’t a failure. It was a life lesson. I am truly powerless over alcohol. Who knew?!?! The uncomfortable, squirmy, truth is, I’m pretty much powerless over everything. I’m no longer ashamed of my failures. Some of them are laughable. (Most of them actually). Some of them are difficult. All of them are lessons for this alcoholic. It’s not how often I fall, but how I rise afterward.”