Monday, October 25, 2010

Taking It Day By Day

***Submitted by Anonymous

The downward spiral began probably 10 years ago. I have always struggled with depression and a childhood full of rejection, and dealt with both of those challenges with a fierce independence and rebelliousness. That independence has been a strong suit, yet it also created the perfect nurturing ground for turning to alcohol instead of others for relief. Bored? Have a drink. Restless? Have a drink. Sad? Angry? Anxious? Excited? Relaxed? Tired? Energetic? You get the picture, and I can see that I am not the only one who has dealt with life this way.

Not to bore with too much detail, but I ended up going through more than a bottle of wine practically every night. The nights I didn't have my wine, I thought about it all night and first thing in the morning. Toward the last (I have made it over 2 months, with one relapse) I was drinking half and half--half wine, half vodka, so I would drink it more slowly and no one would be the wiser. Hid bottles of wine and later vodka, too, in special places--my favorite place was the bathroom cabinet--could go in there with my wine glass, guzzle, fill up my glass, and flush.

I have embarrassed my boys (now young adults) and my loving husband and my mom and myself. When drinking in a social situation, my tendency was to get very deep, very fast. I would bring up topics like, "Who would you call if you had cancer?" or something brazen like, "How did you turn out to be so arrogant?" or interrupting someone's toast to tell them to "hurry up". If others were fortunate, I would go home early to pass out, leaving them to go on to much lighter subjects. It is only through dumb luck I was never stopped for a DUI. Toward the last years of my drinking, I would drink mostly alone at home. Hoping no one would interrupt my reverie, and feeling resentful if they did.

The hardest part has been what to do with my time and feeling like life isn't so fun anymore. I am so used to drinking to to pass the time--everything was so much more fun and tolerable with a wine warming my belly and brain. Activities like, cleaning the house, writing a thank you note, paying bills, camping, horses, dealing with teenage mood swings and husband's expectations, surfing the net, reading a book by the fireglow, all took on a sense of excitement, or tolerability, or coziness cuz I had my glass of wine for security and company.

I would have my best, most creative ideas when drinking. The things I could look forward to! It certainly seemed to help with my depression--the heaviness would lift and I would feel energized by "life" and it's possibilities! But when the morning would come, I would have lost all my confidence and motivation to follow through with any of those ideas--leaving me feeling the lowest of lows. It started to eat away at my belief that I could follow through with any of my ideas, which eroded my sense of purpose and confidence.

So, I haven't been drinking, but started smoking. Why is it that I am so driven to change my feelings by a substance? I read somewhere that "almost no one" starts smoking after 25 years old. I'm 46. One of the most helpful things (besides smoking) has been reading books like, "Drinking--A Love Story" by Caroline Knapp, "An Uncommon Drunk" by Jeff Herten, and "Mommy Doesn't Drink Here Anymore" by Rachael Brownell. These books have really made me feel not so alone--knowing that if others have made the change, then maybe I can, too. And maybe there is life after drink.

Yet, here I am, taking it day by day. Not planning on going to AA, as I live in a very small town and I cannot bear to put myself out there like that. Plus what if I decide to drink again down the road? Then it would open my heart up to have people judging me and thinking I failed. Maybe if I am ever in a situation where I can slip in anonymously, I will try it. But for now, I am reaching out here--maybe this is something Ido need others' help with managing. Oh, I don't know. But today, I am not going to drink.

Thanks for listening,


  1. I can relate to your not wanting to go to AA for the reasons you've said. I've gone a few times and they were not positive experiences for me (though I know it helps some). Have you looked at the forums on That's been a big help to me and I can be as anonymous as I like. Best wishes

  2. I can relate to 'Not planning on going to AA'. I never planned it until it was the only hour of peace I could find in my day. For me, not drinking was possible but the misery that went with this became intolerable. When I am in an AA meeting I can usually find some peace from the committee in my head. I may have to close my eyes, breath, and pray. At some point it all quiets down and I am free. Working the Steps, talking with a sponsor, sponsoring others gives me this feeling outside of the rooms. I've changed my home group from up the street to 38 miles away because a job had me closer to home and I was uncomfortable with running in to folks I knew from work. I work for a local community service organization. Today I know the benefits of 'it works if we work it'. When I don't make meetings for whatever reason I begin to suffer again so I make a local meeting and I've not been sorry yet. I have an illness and left untreated it feels deadly. It took me seven years of playing with AA to get to my last drink (this go round). This December I will celebrate 16 years sober. AA introduced me to the Higher Power I'd always dreamed of knowing. If you are an alcoholic like me I can only urge you to let go of any preconceived ideas you may have about AA and just give the program a chance. What have you got to loose?

  3. Wow, I feel like I wrote your post give or take very little. However I haven't stopped yet. I am definitely going to look into the books you suggested. Thanks!!

  4. I also feel like I could have written this post. That's the thing about alcoholism - we isolate and get so into ourselves and feel so alone and yet what we are going through is common to pretty much everyone who has a drinking problem. I think that's the real value of fellowship and reading memoirs and such. Trust me, you are not alone and it's amazing to me how much support there is both face to face and even here online. I didn't go the AA route either and have had a pretty smooth recovery, all things considered. It's not been easy and I had to do tons of work in order to get to a place where I could quit and stay quit. Thanks for writing your post and by doing so I'm sure you've helped many others who are reading. Good luck to you and remember - you *can* do this.

  5. I can understand your first reason for not wanting to go to AA, but as an attempt to be helpful, I think you really need to make yourself accoutable to make this work. If it means telling people you know, or strangers, I think it would be helpful to you in the long run. If you always have the out, "Well, I never told anyone so I can have 1 glass of wine" then it is that much easier to go right back to how it was.

    I hope you don't take that the wrong way, but as someone who knows your story well and is new in her recovery too, I am just trying to be honest and help. I know you can do this, and I want you to have all the successes lined up for you! Good luck, you are in my prayers.

  6. I relate very much to the very deep thing. That's absolutely the kind of drunk I was. I still look back with so much shame and embarrassment at the things I said time after time.

    AA helped me so much in the first month alone, I was shocked. Just being surrounded by so much understanding. It's like nothing else.

    All I can say is: do what you need to, whatever that is, to stay sober. Keep hanging in there.

  7. It took a lot of courage to write your story, Your story is similar to mine. We are all so brilliant when we drink aren't we??

    I understand that you are nervous about a meeting close to home, what about doing AA on line? What about maybe going to a meeting further away? After a while of being sober and getting into the program you will see that no one judges, we are all the same. If they are there, they have a problem too!!! I understand though, I just would love to see you get some help for yourself, your worth it!!!

    I read those books also, it is nice to see people that are similar to us.
    Lots of luck!!

  8. I, too, could relate to alot in your post, especially the difficulty I have in going to meetings. It took me a long time to go. But, one thing that has been really important to my on-going sobriety has been accountability and community. While AA meetings have been very helpful to me, I've heard people say "it only takes 2 recovering alcoholics to have a meeting." Not 2 AA's. Two people who share the desire to stop drinking and support each other really help, whether it's reading blogs or books, posting on message boards, or reaching out through email. I find the support I need through so many channels and it keeps me putting one foot in front of the other.

    I wish you the best in your journey.

  9. Thank you for your thoughts and caring. I will take it to heart.

  10. I am reminded of the story a lovely lady told in AA. Like you, she was afraid to go to the local AA group, particularly since she was military. So she drove some distance to an AA meeting only to find not only her commanding officer there, but quite a few of her fellow soldiers at the meeting :). Need I say that she was warmly greeted by her commanding officer who was well aware of her problem and glad to see her trying to get sober.

    Sometimes our higher power has a great sense of humor.


    Mike L

  11. I started smoking at 25 if you can believe that! And yes, it picked right back up again when I got sober. Stay strong, and don't sweat the small stuff, like smoking, for now.