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Don’t Get Drunk Fridays: Me

If I’m being honest, which I always am, I’m struggling a bit with my sobriety. Today, I’m going to check in with you for Don’t Get Drunk Fridays because while you’ve been hearing a lot of people’s stories, I haven’t been sharing mine.

As I approach a year, I have dealt with more and more firsts without the calming balm of wine or a Vicodin or even one little blue Xanax. I may be getting further and further away from my last drink, but there are times when I feel it all right behind me nipping at my heels trying to pull me back. This is to be expected. But as an addict, I’m always surprised at the ferocity of those cravings. And, as an addict, I’m convinced that whatever I’m feeling is going to last forever. The addict voice kicks in like this: “God, I’m so anxious. Why am I so anxious? I don’t know why I’m anxious so maybe this is just my new state of being. Great, I’m now a person who has heart palpitations, a clenched jaw and a generally nervous disposition. This is horrible! It will never change no matter what I do and I cannot live this way right? No wonder I had a prescription for Xanax – I have an anxiety disorder. It’s a medical condition dammit. Am I really supposed to just sit here in this crazy anxiety and not just take one little fucking Xanax to make it all better? God invented Xanax for people like me! I am special and I need a Xanax to function!” And that’s when I call someone close to me who understands my problem and they intervene with some words of wisdom like, “Xanax is for people who aren’t alcoholics. People who are alcoholics will take a Xanax and then take one more for good measure. Then, the next time they feel anxious, they will say, ‘Hmm, I took a Xanax last time I was feeling this way so I should take one now’ and pretty soon they will be crushing up Xanax, putting it in a gel cap and using it as a suppository.” Okay, so that person’s advice may be a little hard core but you get the point.

I can’t take Xanax. I can’t have a drink. But there have been times I want one so badly it scares me. I guess I thought that once I got over the hump, I wouldn’t deal with this anymore. This seems like Sobriety 101 this whole white knuckling it through an hour of I WANT A GLASS OF WINE RIGHT FUCKING NOW feeling. I feel like I should be past this.

What I’m figuring out is, I’ve never had to do it before. I’ve never had to tell myself no. And I’m a big baby. I want what I want and I want it now. I don’t want to feel better a week from Tuesday, I want to feel better as fast as possible. In those moments the thought of sobriety being a long term solution sure sounds like bad news to me.

But, the more times I go through this feeling and come out the other side, the more confidence I have that this thing can be done. If I can be on a deadline, have three kids, two of whom are usually crying and manage to not give in to a craving, anyone can do it.

I do this not drinking thing one day at a time and with a lot of help. But I don’t have any fancy slogans to make it all better for anyone else who’s doing it too. All I have is the truth. And the truth is that I am an alcoholic and I need to keep reminding myself of that.

When I wrote that post last May that I had to stop drinking, I described a pattern in my drinking that had emerged in the last couple of years since my twins were born. My drinking did step up with the stress of having preemies. It had crossed a line into daily drinking and a feeling that after a glass or three I really didn’t want to stop until I was completely out of it. But as the months have passed without mama’s feel better juice, I’ve come to realize that that line had been moved back inch by inch long before I ever even crossed it. I’ve gotten a prescription for pain killers and plowed through them like a bag of chips on more than one occasion. I’d be pretty darn dangerous with my own prescription pad, let’s put it that way.

I’ve driven drunk. I’ve gotten so drunk I puked repeatedly –on a first date. I’ve done things I don’t remember and don’t care to remember. I’ve embarrassed myself and other people. I fell down the stairs at my in-laws house after coming home literally stumbling drunk. So don’t let me paint a prettier picture of myself for you. Don’t let me make you think that I just quit drinking because I had “a couple of glasses” of wine at night. Because that may be true, but it’s not the whole story.

My name is Stefanie and I’m an alcoholic.

You can get help from the Booze Free Brigade here.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on April 9, 2010 4:59 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday,Drinking52 comments  

Ex Alkie Mommy Who Used to Be Known For Writing Funny Funny Books: The Stefanie Wilder-Taylor Story

So today I’m driving my minivan in to Hollywood to tape Larry King Live -although don’t run to your TiVo because it’s not actually live, it’s being taped for an upcoming Friday (possibly this Friday). Naturally it’s about drinking or not drinking as the case may be because I’m the go-to blabber mouth ex-wine swilling mom who kind of had a career as an author that wrote about drinking being a fantastically good old time to be shared with other wino mommies. Or so people thought. In actuality, I wrote a lot of jokes about drinking and made funny references to celebrities who liked their substances a little too much. It was on the Today Show that I got my rep as a defender of the wine playdate. Which, by the way, was blown out of proportion because I was always saying that there is nothing wrong with getting together with your friends and having a glass of wine to relax. I never said to have a bottle of wine then smoke a joint then go into your host’s bathroom, rifle through their medicine chest to see if you can find some left over Vicodin from the root canal they had last spring and maybe swig a few shots of their kid’s cough medicine with codeine while flushing the toilet over and over to cover the noise. So, if you ever did that, don’t blame me. Do as I say not as I do.

Drinking was cool for me and it worked to lessen the anxiety I felt as a new mom. It also helped bond me with other moms who still enjoyed an adult pastime like having a glass of wine. It worked until it stopped working and became a problem. I’ve talked that to death. But the thing is, it’s interesting to people that I seem to have no fear chatting about my decision as if I just got a shitty haircut and felt the need to permanently change hairdressers -which is dramatic, don’t get me wrong.

What I’m finding out is that a whole lot of women out there have a problem with alcohol and these women are not homeless, gutter drunks or slurry abusive moms swilling vanilla extract and mouth wash when they run out of Bushmills. Many of us problem drinking moms simply have too much wine, at night, by ourselves or with our husbands, while our children are asleep and out of harm’s way. But we know inside that the wine stopped helping and is now hurting and we can’t seem to moderate or quit and we don’t like where it’s headed. We need help and we need to hear from another mom who gets it. So when I’m asked to be on a show, I usually say yes.

My husband, Jon, is not psyched that I’m going to be on Larry King. He feels that I’m losing my identity as anything other than “That Mom Who Used To Drink Too Much.” He may be right. But, Tom Arnold is going to be there. And Dr. Drew! And I have some questions for Dr. Drew! Like what’s with the pout? Does he practice that in the mirror? Does he place his chin just so on top of his fist while he practices? Does his wife give him shit about it? Has he ever wanted to haul off and punch Kari Ann in the spleen? Does he really think the chick on Celebrity Rehab that was on the past season of America’s Next Top Model should have been a constestant on that show? If so, does he think I could be? And if not, is it because I’m fat? Does he really think I’m fat? Or does he think I should be the next Bachelorette? Also, just how unfamous can you be to be approved by him for Celebrity Rehab? These are things I need to get to the bottom of.

I suppose there are worse things to do with yourself when you quit drinking than spreading the word that it is possible to quit right? I figure that I can be a funny mom/writer and a humorous ex-drinker at the same time. I’m a woman -I can multi-task! And share a Diet Coke with Mackenzie Phillips while I’m at it. So, I’ll be leaving in a couple of hours to do it and hopefully I’ll have some good stories for you when I get back.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on March 1, 2010 8:59 pmDrinking,Uncategorized41 comments  

Don’t Get Drunk Fridays: Amanda’s Story

A brave and powerful story from Amanda who blogs at Sober Mommy. Amanda, thank you for sharing your story.

“My name is Amanda.

My sobriety date is February 28, 2007.

I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.

My story starts as so many do. I never felt “right” like it seemed the other girls did. I participated in every sport available to us and became quite good at them. I tried to be a good friend. But I still had that feeling inside of panic – that my life wasn’t good enough – that I wasn’t good enough. Without going into too much detail – my life wasn’t perfect. There were reasons why I had panic attacks as a child. I was consumed with trying to be perfect at home, not make an issue of anything, be quiet, be good.

My father was, during those days, an alcoholic and my mother was terrified of losing me after having two children pass away. Now as I parent I can only imagine how difficult their lives were but at the time I had nothing to relate it to. The reality was this: I couldn’t be perfect. My life was a mess – the amount of dysfunction in it was enormous. In truth I had all kinds of reasons to be panicked.

I found my way out of my house at twenty when I married. I tried so hard to marry someone that wasn’t my father. My first husband wasn’t necessarily a bad man – just someone who couldn’t fill the emptiness I felt inside. I had two daughters.

Finally when I was thirty-three I just fell apart.

When I was young I told myself I would never become an alcoholic. It was easy just not drink and it worked for many years. Unfortunately, once I started to drink I found that I was very good at it. I know that sometimes it’s a slippery slope but for me it was a downhill slide. I found that drinking took away the pain, took away the anxiety, and took away the last of what made me that was left. Let’s just get to the point. Drinking ruined my marriage.

I chose to not to go after custody of my daughters when I divorced. I didn’t want them to grow up like I had. I felt a tremendous shame in not pursuing custody of the girls. In society there is such a stigma to not have your children after divorce regardless of whether or not it was the best thing to do. After all no one wants to admit that they chose drinking over their children. Today I have my girls more but I still feel like I did the right thing – regardless of who thinks otherwise.

I struggled with getting sober. Just saying that “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who will not completely give them to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” This simple message was my struggle. I couldn’t be honest with myself.

It was because of this inability I couldn’t get past the compulsion. It was just too great – I still needed something to drown out the pain, take away the anxiety, I was in every way a walking zombie – going through the motions without truly feeling anything. I went on this way for a long time this feeling nothing and faking it around my children. In reality though they realized what was wrong – the big bottle of Chardonnay or the vodka in the freezer. I remember with pain my oldest daughter asking me to stop drinking and I regret not putting the girls before my compulsion to drink.

It was during this time that somehow I met my second husband. He was good man who could see through the walls I’d built up. But he needed me to stop drinking.

I went to rehab three times. The first time I went to frankly make my husband shut up. I didn’t want sobriety for me, I wanted it go get him off my back. The second time I went because I was scared of the paranoia that was beginning to take over my life and somewhere deep inside I knew this as a sign that my drinking was out of control. Unfortunately during both visits the underlying issues of why this was happening wasn’t addressed. Even though I saw the diagnosis of manic depression no one discussed it, no one took the time to help.

The third time, ah, the third time I went to rehab was for me. My was on the verge of leaving – he was sick of my drinking, sick of being alone when I passed out, sick of having to worry about what he would come home to at night. I realized that he and my girls had stood behind me the entire time but I knew that I had to want it.

During that third stint I was placed into a group that was more psychologically based and less drug/alcohol knowledge related. I was lucky that the staff moved me into that group – that they saw the pain, they saw my depression and mania. Working with an addiction doctor helped in ways I can’t explain – he finally looked at the total picture and explained why I wouldn’t be able to continue to be sober until I rewired my brain – that it had been taken hostage from the alcohol and explained that I needed medicine to help moderate my mood until my brain rewired itself. He believed that I had anxiety and knew that I needed the emotional tools to work through the past and how to work towards tomorrow.

With these tools I work through what life brings. I am no longer ashamed of the past. I am no longer in denial. And I am happy. Finally. For the first time in my life.

Like I said, my name is Amanda and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.”

If you want what we have there is support at the Booze Free Brigade.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on February 26, 2010 5:57 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday,Drinking14 comments  

9 Months

Having twins is not getting easier as everyone has promised me a million times. Do these Pollyannas have twelve nannies or have they shipped their toddlers off to boarding school?  Because I can’t right now imagine how anyone can think that two-year-old twins are so much easier than eight month-old twins. Looking back that was the sweet spot as far as I’m concerned. At eight months my girls couldn’t do a whole lot and they were perfectly happy about it. Now they seem to have a lot of thoughts and opinions about things and they insist on sharing them with me every moment of every day. Plus, there isn’t a piece of furniture in the house that they won’t scale to the top and fall right off of.  I’m about one cup of Sanka away from covering my couches in plastic like they did in the 70’s.

Last weekend was incredibly stressful. For some reason it just felt more relentless than usual. I think, perhaps, it had to do with the fact that Sadie had decided that food had been a passing fancy that she was completely over. Eating is so five minutes ago and tubby is right now. I would offer her avocado –my go-to food because, seriously, have you ever met a thin person who eats guacamole every single day –and she’d look at me like I was offering her Michael Bolton tickets instead of a delicious snack. When you have a kid who barely weighs twenty-one pounds, every single day they don’t want to eat makes a difference and when you see a pattern you start to worry. When I worry, I eat. The thing I eat is candy. And I was on like day three or something ridiculous of no sugar so I was a bit out of sorts.

For whatever reason, by Friday night, I’d just reached my patience limit and spent a good deal of time in tears. Then I made the decision to put Sadie back on Periactin –the medication that increases her appetite. The next day she ate a little better but I was still edgy and the Sudafed I took for my sinus headache seemed to work against me. Little red bastard.

So Sunday night came and on Monday I was to wake up and know that I’d made it to nine whole months sober. Nine months of taking better care of myself. Nine months of hard earned clarity. Nine months of not blotting at myself with booze until I dissolved into numbness. Nine months of life.

Sunday night, in the middle of the night, I decided that I probably wasn’t an alcoholic.

A glass of wine wasn’t going to make a huge difference either way.

I’d been waaay too hard on myself. Really? An alcoholic? That’s so harsh! I believe that I may have overreached and made the whole issue too black and white. One glass of white wine is completely innocent. Who are these people who decide to quit drinking and then spend the rest of their lives droning on and on about it right?

So screw it, I had a glass. And then since I was having one I figured I should have one more. And that felt pretty good so I poured myself another itty bitty half a glass. And then I woke up the next day and thought “What the hell have I done? Why, oh why, would I lose my sobriety over a couple of damn glasses of wine? I didn’t even get buzzed or drunk. What was the point?” My heart was clenched up and my chest weighted down by such an incredible waste. I was sick with disappointment in myself and immediately tried to figure out what I had to do. Did I have to start over? I’d have to. Absolutely defeated I lay back down. But hold on, where would I have gotten a bottle of wine? I don’t even keep any in the house. I didn’t go buy any and Jon would never bring any home even if I begged and pleaded.

It was a drinking dream. And I was officially nine months sober.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on February 24, 2010 6:07 pmDrinking55 comments  

Another Foe

I can’t stop eating. Well, I can – you know to breathe and sleep and run errands and…okay, so I can stop eating. But it’s really hard. The worst for me is sweets. When I start I just can’t stop.  Before I got pregnant with Elby I was sugar-free for almost two years; two happy and free years. But early on in my pregnancy, I couldn’t stop thinking about candy -specifically banana Laffy Taffy. At the time I worked in an office where there was an unlimited supply of old skool candy and it was all I could do to keep away from it. Every night I went to bed and every morning I woke up sweaty from dreams of  Hot Tamales, Lemonheads and Tootsie Rolls. Eventually I caved and went to town on the candy stash. I was ruthless. I’d grab handfuls and tear into them like a savage not letting anyone else eat them. “Get your own,” I’d practically yell, “I’m pregnant over here!”

No one could believe that I ate that way because I was very thin -like, I just got married thin -and so I got a lot of bemused looks and friendly teasing because I guess it’s sort of cute to see a thin, pregnant woman eat like a pig. But inside I felt bad because although it didn’t show on the outside, on the inside I was out of control.  I gained 60 pounds by the time I had Elby and only 7 pounds 2 oz. was baby. Eventually I lost the weight by working out and getting back off the sugar but it took a year and a half. Lately, because of the lack of booze in my life, the sugar has been making a strong come-back.

This problem started long ago. When I was five I distinctly remember being obsessed with the Halloween candy my parents had purchased for the upcoming holiday and stored up on a top shelf in our pantry. One night I climbed up, brought the bag down and knowing what I was doing was wrong yet unable to stop myself, I tore it open and scarfed it down like I hadn’t eaten in weeks.  My mother discovered what I’d done shortly after and she was furious. I distinctly remember feeling burning shame and yet, I did similar things again and again. My mother thought I lacked self control.

As I got older things did not get better. My parents always kept ice cream in the house and every night after dinner I was allowed a half a coffee cup full, a very appropriate sized serving for a child, a serving that I as an adult would feel is more than enough to give my daughter after a healthy meal. But it was not enough for me. I would hear the ice cream calling to me from the freezer after my parents had gone upstairs. Try as I might to ignore it and knowing full well how angry my mother would be if she found me out, I’d sneak into that box of neopolitan and eat an even amount of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry hoping that keeping the three layers even would disguise what I’d done. I was called selfish, piggy and untrustworthy for eating it but I couldn’t help myself.

By the time I was thirteen, food had become a good friend, a buffer to the world. While the rest of the junior high school population giggled on the phone and hung out at the mall, I hung out in the family rec room with slices of dried salami and column after column of Ritz crackers eating myself numb. When I was sixteen I discovered throwing up which enabled me to wear my lack of control on the inside, something I believed to be a major coup at the time.   As anyone who’s been bulimic knows, the behavior is highly addictive. There came a point in my late teens that I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried. Every day I desperately promised myself never again. Sometimes I made that promise several times in a single day. That’s how strong a hold it had on me. It was like there were two people in my head at all times bickering -one that only wanted relief at any cost and one that knew she was dying inside and would have to put up a strong fight to dig her way out of the deep hole she’d dug.

The relief finally came when I gave up fighting. It was in the surrender. I stopped puking for good at 22 but just like with alcohol, I’m not cured. What I’m realizing is that I’m just a big old addict -an addict who will look for any way to distance myself from myself. I’ve heard secondary addictions referred to as a game of Whack-a-Mole; alcohol gets hit with a mallet and sugar pops up, sugar gets whacked down and suddenly out of nowhere it seems like a great idea to take a Tylenol PM. Do you see how insane that is? Who the hell could get high off of Tylenol PM?

I remember when I’d just started getting help for bulimia and I revealed to my mother I’d had this problem.I cried when I told her, sobbed really. But I was so proud of myself for dealing with it, for being brave enough to sit in rooms and tell strangers I did this shameful thing. My mother’s reaction wasn’t what I’d hoped for. She got angry with me and let me know in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t her fault. At that time I was pissed and I remained pissed for a long time because truthfully I had blamed a lot of my problems on my childhood. But looking back, she was right.

I’m an addict and it’s no one’s fault. When I drink alcohol, I can’t predict where it will lead me. When I eat candy, I can’t predict with any certainty whether or not it will end in a peaceful night watching the Bachelor or whether it will set off an obsession for more which will last for days or weeks.

I’m not making any big proclamations here. I’m just letting the secrets out. I know that eating candy is a lot better than drinking. You can’t get pulled over for driving while under the influence of fattening snack food. But it is damaging to my clarity and I have to acknowlege that.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on February 17, 2010 11:01 pmDrinking,navel gazing44 comments  


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