Elizabeth D.’s Story
Ninety-one afternoons ago, I went to a happy hour that changed my life.
Leading up to it, it was clear that I wanted a change. Sick of the lonely bottles of wine, I switched to vodka so that I wouldn’t see my own empties in the recycle bin.
As we raised our girls, I never hid my drink or even tried to control it. But now, the situation had crossed into very sad. Despite my huge career, I was now a very buzzed drunk who would zone out every single evening.
Back at happy hour, I poured down vodka with abandon at an upscale bar with old friends and colleagues. We seemed smart, beautiful and funny with the friendly bartender attentively pouring booze out of backlit bottles anytime we held out our glass.
Within a while, a few of us transitioned into a booth. Alone in my drunken stupor, I vaguely recall trying not to eat too much to not ruin my buzz or my waistline. Far more interested in “drinking my calories,” I nibbled mindlessly at a piece of salmon.
When my husband said that it was time to go, I quietly lost it. I didn’t want to leave.
Dazed and entering a blackout, I managed to stumble out of the restaurant’s bar muttering to myself until November’s fall air slapped me and I let out a stream of obscenities aimed directly at him.
Later, my husband, lover and friend of 32 years would tell me that he thought of taping me with his iPhone. But despite his disgust, he could not bring himself to capture the sordid scene.
At home, I woke up at 2:00 a.m. in another room. I got up and staggered half-dressed until I found my husband asleep in a guest room. There I woke him up and promised that I’d check into Betty Ford or Sierra Tucson.
“Who do you think you are? Get over yourself,” he said, voice low and furious.
The next morning he hardly spoke to me. As he left to play tennis, he managed, “Get your fucking shit TOGETHER!” And then he was gone.
The dogs stared at me stunned that their usually happy dad could make so much noise.
Terrified, sick and alone, I managed to get to my computer and Google, “Alcohol help. Help for drunks. Drinking help.”
Every single time, Alcoholics Anonymous would be the top hit. Finally, after enough surfing and no real information, I called the main office of AA. A woman named Jackie talked to me for two hours and ultimately directed me to a meeting nearby that day.
Ninety days ago, I parked outside a rickety old building on the other side of town just hours after taking to Jackie. The low-cloud Midwestern day perfectly punctuated my somber mood as I entered into my first AA meeting.
“Wanna dive right in?” asked the group’s smiling leader as he handed me my first coin and beginner packet.
Anxiously, I did exactly as he suggested. I read from the Big Book, shared my first 12 hours of sobriety and how I came to look for my first-ever AA meeting. Deep down I knew that I was in the right place. This first meeting held 6 men and three other women all of whom shared the same dream: A desire not to take a drink that day.
Today, 90 days after that first meeting, I woke up this time next to my husband and in the early dawn, we dared to whisper words such as “beginnings, fresh starts and hope.”
I got out of bed and wrote my “morning pages” a writing exercise for the book, “An Artist’s Way.” I took a spin class and then drove through the snow to get to an AA meeting where I ran into a friend and picked up a green coin marking my 90th day of sobriety.
As a surprise, my husband created a comfy spot for me to watch TV and have a fire in the fireplace. We are closer now than we have been in years.
Tonight, we are going out for an early dinner with friends. Everyone drinks alcohol. But I know that I will not.
I have new tricks and tools to help me navigate the stressors and triggers of every day and in life. They include books, TV, tea, music, meditation, movies, candles, candy, sparkling pops, popcorn, peanut butter, pillows made of down, blankets, comfy slippers, exercise and of course penguins.
Today I am humbled, grateful and am very relived to be here. Today I am sober.
Submitted with love,
If you are investigating your own drinking and would like online support you can go to the Booze Free Brigade or Crying Out Now There is help!
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on February 3, 2014 9:12 am
• Don't Get Drunk Friday
8:00 am Wake up super excited about the zoo if only to see the Asian elephant exhibit. Try to rally kids to my level of excitement. Fail.
8:30 am Argue with kids about the value of a good breakfast bringing up the excellent point that I don’t want to start buying expensive snacks at the zoo as soon as we get there since it defeats the purpose of using free passes.
9:00 Give 5 minute warning that we are leaving for the zoo.
9:05 “Please put your shoes on.”
9:06 “Please put your shoes on.”
9:07 “Please put your shoes on.”
9:08 “Put your shoes on.”
9:09 “Put. Your. Shoes. On.”
9:40 Leave for the zoo.
10:30 Arrive at the zoo with clenched jaw and sore neck from listening to kids argue about whether or not orangutans are monkeys. I settle the argument by letting them know orangutans are indeed monkeys. After Googling it in the parking lot find out I’m wrong. Orangutans are apes. I do not share this.
10:45 After waiting in long line to get into the zoo, realize passes are expired and we must pay full price.
10:48 Kids say they are starving. We head to the nearest snack stand.
10:55 Pay $67 for 3 hotdogs one order of onion rings a pretzel and three lemonades. One four dollar lemonade spills on the way to the table. Shed my first tear of the day.
11: 20 Throw away most of the food and listen to kids yell that they want ice cream. Think about wanting a beer. Remember I don’t drink anymore and shed a second tear. Begin to suspect this may have been a bad idea.
11:22 Head to flamingos. After making it 20 ft. six-year-old claims she’s too tired to walk. Carry her for two minutes before deciding that it would be best to rent a stroller. Other six-year-old doesn’t want to walk either. Pay $11 for a double stroller.
11:35 Heave double stroller weighed down by ninety pounds of the combined weight of two six-year-olds in the general uphill direction of the flamingos.
11:45 Stop at flamingos. Kids can’t see through the fence. Suggest that getting out of the stroller might provide access to a better vantage point. Get met with dead stares.
11:47 Begin hyping the Elephants of Asia exhibit.
12:00 Attempt to bypass the insects due to intense dislike of bugs. Fail. Spend next ten long excruciating minutes in front of a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. Find out against my will that female Madagascar cockroaches give birth to live young. Know in my heart of hearts that there won’t be enough Tylenol PM in the world to help me sleep that night.
12:15 Head in general direction of elephants, which seem to be at the farthest point of the zoo.
12:17 Kids spot playground and insist on stopping to play.
12:58 Explain that we really must move on to see some animals since if the kids were just going to want to play on a playground for an hour we could have just walked to the park.
1:15 Move at snail’s pace toward elephants. Nine-year-old wants to stop and rest. Sit down on bench. Kids decide they are ready to go home.
1:25 Insist that we stop at Bat-Eared Fox exhibit because we are going to see some goddamned animals if it fucking kills us!
1:27 Start questioning parenting ability.
1:39 Generate a small amount of interest in stopping to see the apes.
1:50 Maneuver all kids out of stroller, through throngs of unruly kids and adults and finally get them positioned right smack in front of the apes. Success. Feel secretly smug about being a great mom.
1:51 Look up at where people are pointing to see the biggest ape standing front and center furiously masturbating.
1:51:30 Remember thirty seconds too late that most apes unlike humans have zero sexual modesty. Begin trying to explain about how apes sometimes can get a very very itchy penis.
1:52 Six-year-old wonders if ape’s penis got poison ivy since it seems so extremely itchy.
2:00 Push on toward Asian elephants while answering question after question about itchy penises.
2:10 Promise ice cream just as soon as we see the elephants.
2:11 Stop at ice cream cart and spend $16 dollars on 4 glorified popsicles. Curse life.
2:20 Ask kids to please stop saying the word penis.
2:30 Arrive at the elephants which are all sleeping. Feel like crying. But then start joining children in yelling to elephants to “Wake up!” “Wake up, you lazy elephants! You have a job to do! You are asleep on the job! Start giggling. When six-year-old yells “Hey, they don’t pay you the big bucks to lay around all day!” Start laughing.
2:32 See elderly couple gives kids and me a dirty look. Laugh harder. Think to self that some people take the zoo way too seriously.
2:40 Return the stroller.
2:45 Carry six-year-old through the parking lot because her “legs hurt from walking so much!”
3: Drive home while mentally tallying the cost of the day which including entrance comes out to $157 dollars. Look in rear view mirror and see two out of three kids fast asleep one of whom is covered in chocolate popsicle. Admit to self that in the end, it actually was totally worth it.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on January 23, 2014 11:06 am