This story is from a woman who emailed me and made me laugh. I think that some people assume if they quit drinking it will be required that they can no longer be sarcastic, edgy or even interesting because all they will be doing is drinking chamomile tea, reading uplifting literature and knitting while dreaming about the good old days that they could have a glass of Merlot when they fucking felt like it. Oh, they probably don’t swear anymore either. Luckily, I have found that to not be true and Amanda is a perfect example of sober doesn’t equal boring.
“My story is not unique; although while still in my addiction I thought I was completely alone. I had a privileged childhood, yes, I had alcoholic parents, but not the type wearing a bathrobe and screaming at me as I fled the trailer park. No, I really wanted for no love and affection at all. The fact that my parents were “night blind” and couldn’t drive me much after sundown, however, didn’t click until much, much later.
I always displayed alcoholic tendencies. From the very first time I drank, I drank excessively. Bad things would happen. Very bad. I remember combining a friend’s diet pills with some liquor at a pool party at 17 and falling flat on my face, breaking my two front teeth…nullifying thousands of dollars of orthodontia. I told my mother I was thrown against the side of the pool while “playing chicken” with the football players. “And, no, mom, you can’t call the parents about filing it on their homeowners’ insurance. They rent.” (And that was the beginning of the lies that so entwine with alcoholism.)
Fast forward to age thirty one. Newly divorced with a four year old and a one year old, I planned to prove to the world that my life was not over. I would NOT be the mom in the Laura Ashley floral print, running the PTA. I was going to be BALANCED and FUN. I would NOT lose my identity as a woman. My plan? Hire a fabulous nanny, hit happy hour a couple of times a week, and live it up when the boys were with their father on the weekend. That seemed to work for awhile.
From the outside, my life looked great. Beautiful home, precocious, catalog-cute children, great jobs. (I say “jobs” because I switched jobs quite frequently. I realize now that I thought that would “fix” me; make me happy. But now I know wherever I go, there I am.) I had it good for a single mom. My mother picked up the slack financially for while my ex-husband failed to pay child support. I was as secure as they come. And miserable. With a huge, gaping hole inside me that I continued to try to fill up with Chardonnay.
My father called me during this time and said he was checking into rehab. That he had been drinking excessively…hiding drinks during the day, and just couldn’t take it anymore. I remember being very upset, thinking, “Oh, God, are we going to have to start ACKNOWLEDGING this in our family? Shit.” I called my best friend, crying and told him about my father. He asked what I was doing and I said, “Having some wine.” I’ll NEVER forget him saying, “That shit’s hereditary, Amanda, I’m coming to get you for dinner.” Well, here we go.
But nobody thought I was an alcoholic, really. I would quit drinking for while, and restart. At the end of my alcoholic journey, my life consisted of work and snuggling up at home with some Chardonnay at home. Especially when my children were gone. Then I would talk on the phone. I had gained forty pounds.(I don’t understand people who lose weight drinking). What a social life.
I went to happy hour after a work event and ended up totaling my new car AND a police car on the way home. Nobody was hurt, thank God. Wearing my Tiffany blue suit and brown patent stilettos…I’ll never forget. But here’s the funny thing…even the policeman, the people at the jail, were extra nice to me, separating me. Saying, “You don’t belong here.” I don’t know what it is about my face that tells people, “She’s not an alcoholic; go ahead an enable her.” But I am. I am what alcoholism can look like. It’s a stealth disease.
It took me six months after that wreck to finally decide to do something about my problem. I checked into rehab on April 28th, 2009. I absolutely surrendered and said, “I can’t DO this anymore. I don’t care whether you think I’m an alcoholic or not, something’s gotta give here.”
The rewards? Happy children. Self esteem. A social life. Wine weight gone. Sober friends. And friends that drink….hey, I’m not the alcohol police. Please don’t label me as such. My mother got sober a few months after me. THIS is a life worth living. A NEW life…with NOTHING to prove.”
Please come meet more sober women here at the Booze Free Brigade -we want to help. And we are out there! Over 500 members strong just since we started in January! YOU ARE NOT ALONE.