***Submitted by Anonymous. Today she is 60 days sober.
My story is not a tragic one. No DUI’s (although I deserved many of them), no arrests, no ultimatums, no embarrassing moments of being woken up by sprinklers in the front yard in nothing but a thong as children walk to school. My kids still loved me and so did my husband.
My father celebrates 19 years of sobriety this year. It’s a miracle and I’m so proud of him. Growing up I watched him drink beer after beer after beer every night. I never saw him drunk, never heard him yell. He was a loving and attentive father and a doting husband to my mother. When I was 18, my mother left him. As their only child, I then watched as our family crumbled. Soon after she left, my dad checked himself into treatment and told me he was an alcoholic.
“Alcoholic?” I thought. “But, we live in a gated community. My dad drives a Mercedes. He only drinks beer!” I scoffed at the notion that he was an alcoholic. “Your father is what is called a ‘functional alcoholic’” I was told by a counselor. I flatly told her she was wrong.
Little did I know then, what was in store for me.
I binge drank at parties and out at clubs with my friends and boyfriend through my 20’s, just like everyone I knew. I went in and out of an eating disorder as well, starving myself and purging with exercise to whittle my body down to what I thought would make me happy and others love me. I controlled every piece of food that went into my body and my worth depended on the number on the scale and the size of my jeans.
When I had my first child, I finally and thankfully put my eating disorder behind me. I was married to an amazing man and all my dreams were coming true. Looking back, I think my alcoholism was lying dormant, waiting for me to “need” it. Waiting for me to be vulnerable. Waiting for me to turn to it. I know now that when I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) cope with life by abusing my body with lack of food and too much exercise, I turned to alcohol. I can’t pinpoint when exactly my downhill spiral started, but it definitely picked up speed after the birth of my second child, 2 years after my first. I was bored being a stay-at-home-mom. I was overwhelmed, stressed and longing for something else. And yet I would sit on my couch with a glass of wine, watching “Intervention” and see other shows about alcoholics and think “Well, at least I’m not that bad.”
Last year after my children turned 3 and 1, I remember that December drinking an entire bottle of wine in one evening. I felt so ashamed and swore I would cut back. My husband is not a drinker, so mostly I was afraid he would see how much I was drinking and confront me. However, I was never drunk, I never yelled. I had it all under control. That was when I know I formally crossed the line and became a functional alcoholic. Drinking a bottle of wine a night became normal for me. Some nights I would only drink 2 glasses, but it was to prove that I could, not because I really didn’t want anymore. Other nights I would drink a whole bottle after drinking 2 afternoon beers.
Pretty quickly I started planning my daily activities around drinking. If it were date night with my husband, I would insist that we go out to dinner because if we went to the movies like he wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to drink freely. I would also plan ahead how much time I would need to get at least 2 drinks down before we went out. If it was mom’s night out, I was always a drink ahead of my girlfriends, and if they didn’t finish theirs, I gladly would.
At times I would promise myself I wasn’t going to drink for a couple days and I actually wouldn’t buy any at the grocery store. Come 4:00 that same day the anxiety was so severe, I would put the kids in the car and rush back to the store for a bottle or 2 of wine and something else that I “forgot”. I found myself justifying drinking earlier and earlier, and it got to the point where I would drink 2-3 glasses of wine before my husband even got home from work, which was usually around 4:30. I would put my glass in the dishwasher, and a half hour after he came home, I would pull out a new clean glass so he would think I was having my first one for the night. A couple times I found myself with the refrigerator door open, drinking strait from the bottle as he was pulling into the driveway. Just to get a few more ounces down. And once, towards the end, I poured wine into an empty soda can at 2:30 in the afternoon so I could play outside with my kids and no one would know I was drinking.
ALL of these things I just mentioned, I always had pretty long moments where the liar in me became paralyzed long enough to think, “Normal people don’t do this. I must have a problem.” And then I would do my best to push those thoughts away. Why? Because I could not imagine not drinking. I felt it was all I had left. And when I admitted that, I 100% knew I was an alcoholic. I was so sick and tired of obsessing. The constant stream of thoughts all pertaining to the alcohol, the drinking itself, or my feelings about it. It had become bigger than me. I could no longer ignore the voice inside me that was done whispering, it was now yelling for me to stop.
And so I did. Today I have 60 days of sobriety. I’m slowly getting my spirit back. The best part is that I’m lucky enough that my kids will not remember me drinking. They won’t remember me guzzling from the bottle or rushing back to the store for wine in a panic.
And if you’re reading this and thinking that you too “aren’t that bad”, well maybe you’re not. Neither was I. But, only you know when it’s bad enough. And what sticks with me is that true alcoholics don’t get any better. We just get worse.
I didn’t want to wait around to experiment with that.