Submitted by Hope of A Song Not Scored For Breathing
I stopped drinking but not because I thought I was an alcoholic. My very last drink was to celebrate the birth of my last baby. My husband poured both of us a drink and we sat on opposite ends of the couch. My drink was gone before he had a sip of his. I remember worrying about what I was going to say if he noticed my drink was already gone. I had had inklings that my drinking wasn’t normal but didn’t like to dwell on that too much. I never knew that was going to be my last drink, but it was. I don’t remember how the conversation went that night, but my husband poured the rest of the bottle down the drain.
There were times during my early sobriety when I would lie on my bed, overwhelmed with the care of 3 kids ages 4 and under and be convinced that a case of beer would solve everything. It’s only by the grace of God that I didn’t try to find out how wrong I was.
One day one of the women in Al-Anon made an offhand comment “Oh you know how an alcoholic is, they can never sip their drinks. They guzzle them.” I felt like I had been punched in the gut. In that instant I knew I was an alcoholic. To this day I still have no comprehension of how anyone can sip a drink.
I went to an AA meeting the next week. I went sporadically from time to time over the next few years. I thought quitting drinking was enough. When I was 6 years sober, an AA meeting started in my home community. I attended for a year, working the steps as best I could. I didn’t want a sponsor as I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do! I wasn’t open to advice from anyone. I do, however, remember the freedom and peace I felt when I did my first step 5 and admitted to another person things that had haunted me for years. What a relief it was to not have to carry the guilt with me anymore.
Eventually I stopped going to meetings. I had a huge resentment towards another member and justified my absence at meetings because of this other person. Other addictions (food and sex) took over. The shame of those, especially the sexual addiction, became overwhelming. One day as I came to a stop sign in town, the thought came to me that I could go buy a case of beer because no one would know if I got drunk. My kids were all grown by this time and my husband was working out of town. The thought of buying booze scared me so much that I got myself to an AA meeting within a few days.
As I sat outside that meeting, I asked God to please soften it a bit by having someone there that I knew. I walked in and knew no one. I was shaking so hard from fear. At the very last minute, in walked the man whom I had had a resentment towards in my last AA meeting over 10 years ago. I said to God, “Okay, I hear you.”
Not too long after I began attending meetings I realized being honest was a serious issue for me. I knew if I did not get honest I would get drunk. That led me to go to a treatment centre for a 20 day program even though I had not had a drink in 19 years. My time there was life changing and it was as if it cleared my head. Afterwards I gave myself wholeheartedly to working a 12 step program. I got a sponsor. I read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I became willing, open and honest. I joined a home group. I went into counselling for the childhood sexual abuse. I stopped thinking that the solutions were all in my head and that I didn’t need anyone else. I lost my need to be right about everything.
I have had moments of wondering through the years if I was an alcoholic because I was a binge drinker. When I compared my story to other people’s stories, I sometimes thought that maybe I was kidding myself and that I wasn’t really an alcoholic after all. I didn’t wonder this as an excuse to go drink. That I couldn’t have another drink had been settled in my mind because God only knew what would happen if I had that first sip. I just wondered if I had truly hit my bottom before I stopped. In time I was able to settle that in my mind when I looked back to what happened after I had that first sip of alcohol. To how in my skin I would feel with alcohol in my body. I am convinced that eventually I would have become a daily drinker.
My mother is still drinking. Her health is poor. We have a decent relationship today. It has been a very long road with deepening degrees of forgiveness towards her. Her actions were fueled by her disease just as my actions were fuelled by my own disease of alcoholism. I cannot hold myself up as better than her. I have my own memories of wretched things I have done to my children. It does not mean I condone her behaviour, but it does not mean I hold it against her either as if it is the sum total of who she is as a person. In that way I am grateful that I followed in her footsteps if only because I understand what atrocities one is capable of when in the grips of this disease. Self forgiveness is a grace.
Today I go to meetings, have a relationship with a God of my understanding, I talk to my sponsor frequently. I follow a food program especially designed for recovering alcoholics. I have someone I’m accountable to for my sexual addiction recovery. I am finally at home in my skin as a sober woman. Life is good.