Note from Stef: Two weeks in a row!! If you want to investigate your drinking or get support go to the Booze Free Brigade. Okay, here’s Lee:
Nobody knew I was an alcoholic. I guess they call it a “high bottom” drunk, but to me, an alcoholic is an alcoholic. The only difference between me and the obvious “under the bridge, drinking out of a paper sack” drunk is progression of disease and a great deal of luck. My name is Lee, I’m an alcoholic, and I belong here.
I never even had a sip of alcohol until I went to college. I was the “perfect” straight-A, star athlete kid in high school that never did anything wrong. My parents were not alcoholics, nor did they make me feel like I had to be perfect. We were a loving, middle-class family and I’ve never felt anything but full support from them. That being said, when I went to college, my first order of business was to escape my own self-induced perfection. I wanted to get drunk. I wanted to act irresponsibly. I wanted to not feel socially awkward. So, of course it’s very clear now– I was thinking like an alcoholic before I ever took a sip. And I did get drunk that very first weekend in college, and nearly every subsequent weekend for the next 18 years. The desired effect was immediate. I was social. I was a party girl. I was silly. And for just a little while I could leave the perfect little girl behind. Relief.
Some stories might take a turn at this point, but mine doesn’t. I continued to binge drink my way through college, graduate school, and early adulthood. I never lost my academic and athletic scholarships. I graduated with honors. I got the first job I applied for. And I did some ridiculously embarrassing things while drinking alcohol, but so did everyone else, so it didn’t really occur to me that I was a problem drinker. I drank alcohol to celebrate. I drank it to socialize. I drank it to relax. And I never ever ever drank just one drink.
What finally tipped me over the edge into realizing I had a serious problem was motherhood. Motherhood did two things to me in the world of alcohol. It made me drink more and more, and it made me want desperately to drink less. The stress of day-to-day life as a working mother drove me to reward myself every single night with “a glass” of wine. Of course, by glass of wine, I mean a bottle of wine. Or two. Secretively. I have no idea how the people around me didn’t know, but they really didn’t. At some point I switched to liquor just so I could reach the desired effect quicker. There were many times when I’d watch tv at night and the room would be spinning, yet no one seemed to notice. This is unbelievable to me to this day. When I got pregnant with my second child, I was so relieved. I knew I wouldn’t drink while pregnant, so that would “kick-start” my sobriety plan. I think I drank a “glass” of wine immediately upon returning from the hospital, and once I stopped breast-feeding a year later, all bets were off and I was in the throes of alcoholism. Nothing “bad” happened. No one complained about my drinking. I never got a DUI or got arrested. It doesn’t matter. I had a problem, and I knew it, and that’s the only thing that matters. That’s the only reason ANYONE needs to stop drinking.
The last few months of my drinking consisted of constant 3 a.m. panic attacks over what I’d done/said the night before, exhausting efforts to hide bottles, and weekly trips to liquor stores (never the same one twice in a row) to stockpile my supply. I gained a lot of weight. My blood pressure was up. I had constant heartburn. I knew I needed help. And at that point, there was no way in hell I was going to AA or anything like it, so I started scouring the Internet. I found this page, which led me to the Booze Free Brigade. I read but never posted. Finally I worked up the courage to reach out to one person. Just one person. Just one e-mail. That’s all it took to get the ball rolling for me– just reaching out to one person at a time, one minute at a time. She replied, and I started “talking”. It’s been almost six months since my last drink. I now attend AA meetings. I post on the BFB board. I read. I try to not forget what it felt like. None of this is easy, but it’s so much easier than the alternative. And I’m getting my life back and being the mother my sweet children deserve.