ABOUT CONSULTING WATCH! ARCHIVES CONTACT SUBSCRIBE

DGDF: Sara’s Story

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. – Anais Nin

Today is the day. Tuesday, October 11, 2011. I want to remember this day forever.

The day I decided to stop drinking.

The sunrise was beautiful this morning. Possibly the best one I’ve ever seen. Pink and blue hues in the sky sprayed with just the right amount of clouds, the brilliant orange sun barely peeking over the fall trees, as if uncertain of making its appearance.
There are knots in my stomach. I can’t breathe (allergies). I am on my period.

I am incredibly exhausted from being awake all night, tossing and turning and trying to banish the unwanted thoughts that kept racing through my head, taking up space where happy memories should be.

I look like absolute shit; my face is broken out, there are heavy purplish bags under my eyes, my hair is frizzy and disheveled. I am wearing an oversized Nike sweatshirt belonging to my husband, stained because of me, a constant reminder (as if I need one) of how I’ve continually let him down. But not again. Not again.

Not ever again.

I am terrified. I have never been in control of my own life, never been in the driver’s seat, always a passenger, always letting someone else or something else take the blame. I can’t do that anymore. I can’t live like this anymore. I can’t.

I joke around a lot and talk about drinking more than I actually do it; I exaggerate when I’ve had a bad day and say things like, “I want to drink my body weight in alcohol,” and it’s funny. I’m being sarcastic and it’s funny, and everyone laughs. Except it stopped being funny. I can control myself some of the time, which is why it’s been so easy to rationalize why I continue to drink, not to mention that I live in a town where drinking is practically mandatory, and raging alcoholics are accepted with open arms. I blend in here. Alcohol is socially acceptable. It’s the times that I don’t stay in control that outweigh the times that I do – those are the times that, at this point, have accumulated to an incredible number that I don’t even want to think about. It’s killing my marriage. If this were reversed, I’d have left Andy by now.

I have used alcohol as a scapegoat, every time. I could do anything with it. I could be invincible whenever I wanted – do, say, or act however I pleased when the numbing liquid flowed through my body. If I offended someone, “I was drunk. That’s not the real me. It was alcohol.” If I did anything bad, it was the reason. I’ve relied on it. It has been a friend. A friend who’s always been there for me, no matter what. And breaking up is hard to do.

I am absolutely shaking with fear that I won’t be able to do this, that I’ll fail. I’m ashamed. I’m embarrassed. I’m hurting inside. Badly. I’m so very sorry for the things I have done to people I love, afraid that they won’t accept me even if I quit drinking, afraid to become who I really am instead of who I am with alcohol.
I have never been so scared in my life.

I’m afraid to face the truth and push denial out of the way, because to do that means I was wrong all these years, wrong for thinking I was okay, and wrong for thinking I could control myself. To admit that I was wrong means all those years, all those incidents shouldn’t have happened, and that means I have regrets. And I want no regrets. I feel guilty. I feel like a scumbag. I’m open about everything in my life, including my depression (which drinking exacerbates) but this, for some reason, ties my stomach in knots. I’m so afraid of what people will think. Maybe because bipolar disorder, though not fully understood by the general population, at least, I think, seems more like a disease to people; they view it as something beyond a person’s control. Alcoholism, I feel, is looked at by many as a weakness, a sign of making bad choices, not necessarily a disease, even though it’s been proven to have genetic predisposition involved, as is the case with me and my family.

Of course, depression runs in my family too, and I have obviously been self-medicating for a long time now. It’s the first thing I reach for, my go-to, my trusty friend. With a glass of wine I can feel good again. It’s a great feeling. It’s the nights that the glass turns into two glasses, then a bottle, then two bottles…the nights I’ve blacked out, remembering little, if nothing, about a majority of the evening, wondering what I said, what I did…who I did it with…the horrible dread of trying to recall the next day, what took place the night before, the hangovers lasting days – those are the reasons I want to quit drinking. At this point there are no benefits.

But mostly it’s my marriage I want to save. I have an incredible man and he does not deserve this. There are a couple of other reasons too, and it’s a knife through the heart to hear them ask why Mommy won’t get out of bed. No, it’s not every day. It’s not even too often at all in the minds of many, I’m sure. I know there are so many people who are in much more advanced stages of alcoholism than I am. But this is not their life. This is my life. And I know I have to do this if I want to keep it. I want to be a better wife. I want to be a better mom. I need to be a role model.

I know in my gut, with every fiber of my being and pound on my body, that this is the only solution left. I’ve tried limiting drinking to weekends, drinking only at home, drinking only a certain kind of alcohol, drinking only for a certain number of hours – I’ve tried everything. I’ve taken “breaks” from drinking before when I’ve been spiraling out of control; I’ve “slowed it down.” But once I started again, I ended up right where I had been. I know I can’t just “take a break” this time. I know my addictive, all-or-nothing personality, and telling myself I can stop for a while and then set limits once I start again does not work. I’ve tried that. It’s a slippery slope. I’ve exhausted the options, made the excuses, and fiercely embraced the denial with a warm, tight hug every single time. This is it. This. Is. It.

I am very scared. What do I do? Can I still have fun? Will I fit in? Will I always feel awkward now? Do I attend AA meetings? I’ve always thought of alcoholics as people who get up in the morning and have to drink. People on street corners with tattered clothing and bottles hidden in brown paper bags. People who in general seem much more “out of control” than I am. I’ve never thought of myself as “one of them.” As it turns out, there is no exact alcoholic profile. I am one of them.

I’m not sure where to go from here, how to go from here. My path has not been marked out yet. I know that I do need to go from here, though, and take the path I have never taken. In order to save my marriage, my family, my life, I can’t stay on this path. My therapist said just as much a few weeks ago, when I had, once again, vowed to be better. Yet somehow, some way, no matter what precautions I try to take, no matter how much I worry and think, and try, really, really try…I somehow always take a detour, and I’m back on the old path again. That path has now been blocked off, eradicated, and filled in with the grasses and weeds of yesterday. I know I have a problem.

So today, I am going down a new path. The path of sobriety. It’s surreal. Alcohol has been such a focal point in almost everything I do. It’s very hard to imagine my life without it. It might not look like to others that I even have a problem, but I know I do. I’m scared that people won’t be supportive, and I’m scared to be this honest and vulnerable. I don’t know exactly where I’m going yet, but I know where I’ve been, and if none of it had happened then I wouldn’t be where I am. And that is at a point of great change. Everything in my life has lead me to this point. Everything.

My name is Sara, and I’m an alcoholic.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on October 14, 2011 3:00 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday12 comments  

12 Comments

  1. Tara said,

    Hi Sara. Welcome to the club. I have been where you are and can remember the fear. It was really only when the fear of what would happen if I kept drinking became stronger than the fear of quitting, that I was able to do anything about it.

    I went to AA meetings. They really did help (and still do help) even if I complain about them alot. I ask for help as much as I can. And I’ve learned to be patient with myself (which is different than excusing the inexcusable).

    I wish you peace. Things will improve. That I can promise.
    Tara´s last blog post ..Quitting: Just Do It!

    | October 14, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  2. Mrs D said,

    Hi Sara..I took the big scary step 2 1/2 months ago. I’m obsessed with it, my newly sober life. It petrifies me, I’m living in fear of going backwards but at the same time feel strangely liberated and free. I want to throw my arms in the air and yell “YES!!!!!!!!!!!” and maybe I will soon when I feel I can let my guard down. I’m still worried I’ll get that ‘drinkers amnesia’ and forget why I absolutely had to give up the booze. But we can do this! I’m with you all the way. xxx
    Mrs D´s last blog post ..Stock take..

    | October 14, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  3. Amy Hatvany said,

    Sara,

    Your stunning post gave me chills, brought me right back to the place where you stand – the place where I was six years ago.

    I never thought I could figure out how to navigate my life without that enormous goblet of wine in my grasp, but I have. I reached out, asked for help and the hands of all the women who have gone before me were there. I’m reaching out to you now. We all are. You don’t have to go through one minute of this alone.

    You are brilliant and beautiful and amazing. Admitting this to yourelf is terrifying, but you are braver and stronger than you know. You can do this.

    Much love sent your way,
    Amy

    | October 14, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

  4. Bridgette said,

    Sara,

    Your story is my story. Read my DGDF from about this time last year. My husband is wonderful and was pretty much the only reason I was able to finally be honest with myself. It’s scary and uncomfortable but there are parts about it that can be so, so empowering. You can discover- weddings, parties, holidays, dinners out and major milestones aren’t really l that different without alcohol. Except that you don’t wake up in a haze of guilt, regret, shame and discontent. Once you get through all the firsts sober, you realize that all you ever had before was a barrier between you and reality- something that made you less present, less aware and less connected to those around you.

    Be proud that you have the guts to write what you wrote, do what your doing and acknowledging that you feel what you feel. Many alcoholics never get to that point, ever, in their disease.

    Well done.

    | October 14, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  5. Stella said,

    Sara,
    Wow, your post really hit a nerve with me. I have quit drinking for “the month of October”, taking yet another break with the thought I can return to maybe just drinking Prosecco over the holidays, nothing else, bla bla bla. Yet this whole controlled drinking does not work. I know this, and still, I too am scared to commit so completely to a life of not drinking. One day at a time, right? Thank you for your post. I related to every single sentence. You are so not alone. You have encouraged me to stop fooling myself. Thank you.

    | October 16, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  6. Elizabeth said,

    Incredibly brave and honest post. You have so much more knowledge and awareness about alcoholism that I did before I stopped. You are ahead of the game! I wish you peace and joy in sobriety. It is much better on the other side!

    | October 16, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  7. Lara said,

    Sara,

    I remember that feeling of hopelessness and defeat. I also remember the guilt, shame and remorse. I have been clean and sober for 5.5 years now. It has been the hardest work I ever done but the pay-off is indescribable. I have attended meetings since I got sober and the women in the rooms loved me until I could love myself, accepted me right where I am at and given me a compass for life.

    I hope that you are able to ask for help and also accept it.

    Good luck

    | October 17, 2011 @ 12:56 am

  8. Sara said,

    I just wanted to thank everyone who commented on my story. Thank you so much. It means a lot and has really helped me.

    | October 17, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  9. heather said,

    hi sarah,
    I stopped on september 25th, 2011.
    it is hard, awkward, emotionally painful, exposing, and wonderful. your story is mine,
    I wish you good luck. and, just a detail, it took about two weeks for me to be able to ‘get through’ the 5-7 p.m. block w/out caring that I had no wine, and no headache. and now I find I am smiling a lot more. I think: is this me, smiling and laughing? I had not realized how not joyful I had been.
    I got through the first few weeks day-by-day, and focusing on the wonderful fact that I was PRESENT for my kids: I’m reading this bedtime story sober! revel in that. it will get you through to the next day. I have not gone through all the ‘firsts’ yet, by a long shot, and appreciate all the comments made above, too.
    One day at a time, I’m getting that now.
    we should be friends.

    | October 17, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

  10. laura said,

    Hi Sara,

    I, too, just quit drinking, for what I pray is the last time ever. Every single sentence you outlined is me exactly. I have tried to quit for the last two years playing the same games you did with drinking on certain days at certain times with different drinks. Maybe I’m afraid that I’ll be alone because everyone I know, and everywhere we go, socializes with alcohol. Will people plan without me now because they want to go to wine tastings and pairings? Will they all want to go on vacation with me because I’m not “as much fun” anymore. My husband, too, is a saint; and I don’t know if I could have handled the situation had it been reversed. It took my 18 year old this year to write me a very long, non filtered note detailing my ugliness in the evening and reminding me how I pass out everynight by 7:30, just when we try to sit down as a family. She begged me to get help for my younger two kids at home. I did go to rehab for two weeks, which helped teach me coping skills and what my triggers are. within a couple of months, I was back to my old ways. I worked hard all week and wanted “my reward” for working hard all week. By this time, my ten year old had caught on and asked to smell my breath. Dear Lord…what have I become? I prided myself on being such a great mom and wife in the past. But, I have become a different person, one that can’t focus, blackouts everynight, awakens with the thoughts of who did I text, email, facebook…what stupid things did I say or promise…So much remorse and guilt that I can’t bear it anymore. what kind of mother and wife am I being to the most important people in my life. What am I trying to avoid is the biggest thing I’m facing now? I started going to AA, but can’t be consistent with all my kids schedules. they are a great group of women though who will listen anytime you call. I have since started seeing a therapist one on one and she has put me on meds to help with my cravings. It has been a blessing in disguise. There are so many women like us. We are not alone…And, we will preservere. Wish we all lived in the same area. Would sure be nice to hook up. I know support is key with this ongoing battle of ours.

    Anyways, thank you so much for sharing! Good luck to you!

    | October 29, 2011 @ 2:50 am

  11. Catherine said,

    Hi Sara
    Can I tell you how grateful I am that you wrote this post? I am sitting here nursing a hangover and am battling the notion in my head whether I am an alcoholic or not! Your story is so similar to mine – can go a few weeks, or even months to prove to myself I can “control” my drinking….but I always end up right back here – hungover, shameful, tired and discouraged. You words have given me the courage to really admit the truth. Thank goodness I have an amazing husband and a wonderful therapist already in place because …..

    Today is Nov 1, 2011 and I have a drinking problem and am an alcoholic.

    Please keep me posted on your journey!
    Best of luck!

    | November 1, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  12. Jen said,

    Wow wow wow. This really struck home for me. Thank you for being so open and honest. It gives me courage to do the same. I think I’m close to liberating myself as well but I will have to admit that I’m so scared and ashamed. I guess I just dont want to admit to anyone else that I finally realize that my drinking is a problem. I feel embarrassed that I let it get to this point but I guess it’s better than feeling like a complete ass the next morning for saying or doing something stupid while drinking. That should be more embarrassing! And it is. And one of my main motivators for wanting to quit. The first motivator would be for my kids. My mother is an alcoholic and I know what it’s like to grow up with that shame and hurt. I do not want that for my kids. I really should know better. I too want to be a better mom and a better wife. My family deserves more.

    My name is Jen and I am an alcoholic. It is Nov 2, 2011. I have been sober for only 2 days but Im going to try. I’m going to really try.

    Good luck to you Sara. Thank you for sharing. Keep us updated on your progress!

    | November 3, 2011 @ 2:37 am

RSS feed for comments on this post

Subscribe

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

peel n stick customized labels

use the code babyonbored and save 10%


Gummi Bears Should Not Be Organic: And Other Opinions I Can't Back Up With Facts
Buy the Book:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

I'm Kind of a Big Deal
Read an Excerpt!
Buy the Book:
Amazon | B & N

It's Not Me It's You
Read an Excerpt!
Buy the Book:
Amazon | B & N

Naptime is the New Happy Hour
Read an Excerpt!

Buy the Book:
Amazon | B & N

Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay
Read an Excerpt!

Buy the Book:
Amazon | B & N