Don’t Get Drunk Fridays: Val’s Story

The night of my last drink, I come to in my empty house. I walk out in the living room, looking for my husband. He is not there. I run upstairs to the kids’ rooms. They are not there. I drop to my knees in my daughter’s room, not to pray, but to look for the vodka bottle that I had hidden in the closet earlier that day. Panic sets in. Not because I can’t find my husband or my children. I know they are ok. He would keep them safe. Safe away from me. Panic because I can’t find any alcohol. I don’t feel safe without some alcohol.

I begin looking frantically around the rest of the house. My husband has taken the car and the keys to the other car. He has taken my pocket book and the change jar. I feel desperate. I search some more for the vodka. I remember putting it in the closet but maybe I moved it since then. My heart is pounding. I need something to drink. I begin searching the house for money. I look in jacket pockets, old purses, dresser drawers. Relief! I find a crisp five dollar bill in the piggy bank Mallory was given when she was born. A silly pig wearing a frilly pink tutu. A gift from a family friend. The perfect gift for a perfect girl born into a seemingly perfect family. I push down the guilt and shame and run down the stairs and out the door.

I walk a mile and a half to the gas station. Through our perfect, family-friendly neighborhood. Down the main road. Quiet because it is 12:30 in the morning. Across the bridge. As I sober up, the irony is not lost on me that this is the proverbial bridge. The one I should be sleeping under because down deep I know that I am just a worthless drunk. I plod on. My destination and reward in mind. What can I get for five dollars? Maybe a six pack of tall boys. Maybe three 45 ounce bottles. Maybe a cheap bottle of wine. Which would have the most alcohol? My mind starts doing the math. I walk through the gas station door, determined to not be ashamed. Everyone stops in the gas station at night, I tell myself. That’s why they are open after all. I start looking over my choices in the cooler. The cashier tells me he can’t sell me alcohol. It’s too late. Panic. I think about arguing with him but decide against it. I can’t come up with any words. Instead, I select two travel size bottles of Listerine, the only alcohol I can buy. I pay for my purchases, pretending that’s what I stopped in there for all along. I walk out the door, open one bottle, and tip it back. Relief. I savor the burn as it goes down my throat to my stomach. I save the second one for home. I think, dear God, this has to be my bottom. Please help me!

I had promised my husband during the relapse before, two months earlier, that if I relapsed again, I would get help. So, I called him the next morning (they were at his aunt’s house), and I told him I was ready to check in somewhere. I told him I was done. I needed help. I wanted to die. Later that morning, he dropped me off at the curb of a detox facility. Alone.

While there, I slowly began to surrender. I told my husband and the doctors that I realized my own decisions were no longer working for me, and I would leave everything up to them. A family friend recommended a treatment program, and he contacted them. The day before I was to be discharged he told me he thought I needed a long term treatment program. I was crushed. Ninety days away from my children seemed unbearable. Away from home over Christmas? I was convinced he hated me three times as much as I thought he had because he wouldn’t just put me in a 28 day program. But I was defeated, and now I realize I was also a little willing. A small, feeble, quiet, desperate voice in my gut said, “Go, you need this.” An even smaller voice said, “You deserve this.” So I went.

Two years, four months, twenty days later

Today I am a sober woman. I am a mother and a wife. I am a teacher again.

I entered treatment convinced that I would stay for two weeks, get the three-ring binder full of activities to help me get sober, go home, throw all my “rehab clothes” away, and never take a drink again. I thought that fear, shame, and remorse would keep me sober.

Fortunately, I waited until the miracle happened. I lived with a 23 year old IV drug addict, a nurse who stole meds from the hospital, a girl who had served time in jail for a multitude of charges and, at one point, had a bail bondsman after her. Those women, who are all still sober, and countless others who walked in and out of the treatment program, some successfully, others not, were with me on my journey to sobriety. Through them and the brutally honest and loving counselors, I finally found the woman I was meant to be. Not just a mother, or a wife, or a pony-tailed, turtleneck wearing English teacher. Now I can sit on the floor and put a puzzle together with my children. What other people think is no longer any of my business. I can share my experience, strength and hope with a community of women and show them that life is better without alcohol. For today.

For more stories of women dealing with drinking visit Val, Ellie and Robin’s site Crying Out Now

And as always, you can come to the Booze Free Brigade for support from other women who have been there and are there.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on April 16, 2010 2:40 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday11 comments  


  1. seekingclarav said,

    Val-you are so brave and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story and helping so many of us. All my best.
    .-= seekingclarav´s last blog ..A case of TMI =-.

    | April 16, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

  2. debbie said,

    As I am reading your story, I am struggling with helping a dear friend, who is an alcoholic, admits she is an alcoholic, has hit rock bottom, so we thought, and still drinking today. Right now she is living from friends to friends, no car, barely gets to see her child, going through an ugly divorce, still struggling everyday with her addiction. I have found a treatment center that will take her, I asked her to call, she said she would. She has not made up her mind, I once told her about your blog long ago. I am fearful to let her stay with me, and she has not asked yet. I can’t trust her, and I want to so bad, but I can’t and I won’t. I pray she will come to the place in her mind as you did! Congratulations on your sobriety, you worked so hard for it, and earned it yourself. You must feel like a different person today opposed to two years ago. I have faith in my dear friend, and will not give up on her. Thank you for sharing.
    .-= debbie´s last blog ..MuD RooM =-.

    | April 16, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

  3. Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said,

    What resonates with me is your journey to be okay in your own skin. It’s a theme I see in a lot of these posts and something I struggle with too.

    Why is that? Why are there so many smart and talented people out there struggling to feel okay as they are? As we are?
    .-= Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist´s last blog ..From baseball to beer to books =-.

    | April 16, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

  4. Mommy on the Spot said,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I look forward to reading Don’t Get Drunk Fridays because it gives me insight to what one of my loved ones is going through. Thank you again.
    .-= Mommy on the Spot´s last blog ..Sabotage! =-.

    | April 16, 2010 @ 6:45 pm

  5. Kir said,

    these stories hit me in a place that is sooo real. I’ve mentioned before that I am not addicted, but I feel these emotions while reading your stories and marvel at the shear determination it takes to stay sober in your life, the love you must feel for yourself because you have decided to “LIVE”. I applaud you and thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. You are truly inspiration to me.

    | April 16, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

  6. elizabethsober said,

    Thank you so much for this, as well as for your work on CryingOutNow and your encouragement on BFB!

    | April 16, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

  7. muskrat said,

    Mouthwash? When I read that, I felt my jaw drop like a python that just spotted a rabbit. Holy shit.

    So glad to hear your success story. I wish all stories that begin like yours ended well.
    .-= muskrat´s last blog ..music and the art of behavior manipulation =-.

    | April 17, 2010 @ 1:22 am

  8. brooke said,

    You traded in 90 days away from your family for a lifetime with them. Thank you for sharing your story, Val.
    .-= brooke´s last blog ..rubies and love songs =-.

    | April 17, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

  9. Ellie said,

    I just love you. 🙂

    You are so brave and honest and articulate. I’m so grateful to be on this journey with you. I identify SO MUCH with your story. I made the same mad dash to the store, after my husband took the keys and my purse, but I had managed to slip $10 into my sock. I bought a little four pack of “airplane” wine.

    I am so grateful to be free of the prison of addiction. It’s amazing how far we’ve come, isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing your story – you help me so much, and so many others, too.


    .-= Ellie´s last blog ..Awakening =-.

    | April 19, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

  10. WarsawMommy said,


    I too am sober and able to really BE with my kids. Your story was like holding a mirror to my face.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.
    .-= WarsawMommy´s last blog ..Spring Cleaning =-.

    | April 20, 2010 @ 8:31 am

  11. pthsmonkey said,

    I am very touched by your post. I am also a recovering alcoholic and prescription pill addict. I have been sober going on two years. I didn’t have money for the treatment programs – I went cold turkey, and it wasn’t easy – it still isn’t. I struggle almost everyday with the temptation. Thank you for your post. It gave me strength!
    .-= pthsmonkey´s last blog ..Moving Forward? =-.

    | April 23, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

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