Monday, October 24, 2011

Beer Belly Up

***Submitted by Anonymous

A note from Ellie:  Anonymous submitted her original post about a month ago, and since that time she has sent the following update:  I'm no longer drinking.  I was at the grocery store with my children.  I picked up a 12 pack of Sam Adams and put it in the cart.  My daughter started pleading with me.  "Please, Mommy,, I don't want you to be sick."  I was so sick that I made it to the check out with the beer.  She asked again, "Please, Mommy, put the beer back."  I very nicely refused until... Her lip started quivering.  I could tell that she was trying not to cry.  I put the beer back and haven't had a drop since.

I chose the title for this post because not only do I have a beer belly, which looks ridiculous since the rest of me is thin, but I do feel like I have gone belly up as the expression goes. I am a practicing alcoholic and mother of two.

There is an art to this. I can't buy hard liquor even though it would be more economical than beer or wine, because if I have alcohol in the house I'll drink it from the moment I wake up. I usually buy a twelve pack of cheap beer.

I drink two in the morning to ease my hangover then wait to buy more until just before the kid's bus arrives. As soon as I have gotten the kids off the bus I start drinking beer from a travel mug with a lid pretending that it's coffee. Another way that I try to prevent people from knowing what I am doing to myself is to never buy beer in my hometown and to alternate between three stores in surrounding towns, always buying something else along with the beer, like a soda, so the cashier won't know that I plan to start drinking shortly.

I spend most of my social time with my ex husband because he accepts my drinking, though he didn't when we were married. He makes quite a bit of money, and I have a small income. My checking account is currently overdrawn. I knowingly took money out from the ATM when I had none because I am physically addicted to beer and had no other means of obtaining it. I often rely on my ex husband and mother to provide me with groceries for the kids because I spend most of my expendable income on beer.

I've been to rehab several times. I've tried AA. I always return to my best friend and worst enemy... alcohol. I'm hoping that talking about it will help.
Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Mother Tells Her Story

***Submitted by Anonymous

I guess I'm like every other contributor, not sure how to start. Not sure where to go. The semi-beginning??

It is way past when I should be in bed and yet, I sit here, wanting a drink. It's one of the first nights in the last week that I haven't succumbed. What makes that even more shocking is that I have a 3 month old baby girl. I buy those test strips that tell you when the milk is okay to give them or not. Because some nights, nay most nights, I just don't control it, it controls me.

I was a good kid. Very athletic. I did athletics for part of my college career, and that kept me in check. Then I quit athletics. I told myself "I have to live the party dream, that's college, right?" Still did well in school, but I drank 3 nights a week and skiied the other 4. Then real life hit. I was supposed to be up every day for a job and fully ready to perform every task asked of me in a most timely fashion. I did not like this adjustment. And I didn't like the career path I'd chosen to boot.

Enter the drifter phase. You meet a lot of like minded drifters in this phase. Everyone who thought my use of alcohol was "normal" or mentioned my use in a non-agressive way. And my boyfriend at the time (now husband), mentioned it, but never fully criticized. He'd put it in the context of his own alcohol use (his use is absolutely normal and unabusive by true standards), but he'd say "WE should drink less", or "WE should only have 2 a night". When clearly he was quite capable of doing those things and I was not. So I started to hide liquor. If he didn't know I drank it, it didn't count in the "drink tally" for the night...

Anyway, we married and opted for children. Before our first was born I would drink so heavily that I'd drive to the gym in the morning and work out so minimally only to be retching in the shower. I would think to myself "at least it worked off some of the alcohol smell." I would hide alcohol and just drink anything available, straight from the bottle. It didn't matter, I was going to "get my buzz on".

Then our first was born... I credit her with saving my life. If I'd continued with those behaviors, I'd easily have lost my job by now and my husband. I didn't even think about drinking when I was pregnant with her. The thought didn't even cross my mind!! But sadly I found a way to eke alcohol back into my life without effecting her. Or so I thought. Until you wake up for the first time and say "wow, she slept HOW long??" But you secretly wonder to yourself if you just "slept" through it in an alcohol induced blackout again.

Then we were pregnant with our second 6 months later. We semi-planned it. I wanted them that close together. But as it turns out, my body actually attacks my poor babies when I'm pregnant. It sees them as foreign bodies and just goes to town. But we didn't know this until our second was born. And this time, my body exacted a rather awful punisment. My son should have been born 4-6 weeks early, when he stopped growing. But they didn't catch this growth restriction and it wasn't until a serendipetous morning near 40 weeks that we went in for monitoring that we found out he had stopped growing long ago. Absolutely no fault of alcohol, I am so very lucky to say. But he had brain damage. He has Cerebral Palsy and we deal with that every day. I think if I knew alcohol had contributed in any way I'd have already gone insane and been committed.

But wouldn't you know, it laid itself out in such a way that I was able to return to drinking even sooner. He couldn't breastfeed and I could pump at "optimal intervals" to allow myself the drinks. So I started drinking a lot sooner than I would have otherwise. And he was SO bad at sleeping. No more than 45 minutes at a time for the whole first year!!! If you got more than that, it was a total fluke and you'd say, "did I pass out and not realize?? Was it the alcohol??" And this time, there was no second child looming on the horizon to temper my drinking enthusiasm. Any time he would allow us sleep I wondered if I was sleeping too soundly from the prior alcohol use.

Fast forward to 13 months, he's diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. My heart knew it, but now it sinks, it is official. And worse? Now I have another "real reason" to drink. People "understand". It's like a license. And so I do. Every night. I still hold a job, but I have to say, I'm just exceptional at it. I can hide my hangovers and slow reaction by good work and getting it done right the first time. Even that makes me feel a little guilty!! I'm not being arrogant, I swear. I would rather be held accountable. Then maybe I could finally figure out a way to make it all stop.

This persists for 3 years. We manage. I drink too much, my husband tries to get me to stop, I back off just long enough to do it again later. He videos me in drunken stupors, trying to show me the next day what I look like. I actually threw up on my son's wall one night, evidence enough that I should stop!!!! I DROVE 1 mile one night in a complete blackout. Sure, only 1 mile at 11pm, but in a blackout, I could have killed or hurt someone. WHY would I ever let that happen??? That is NOT ME!! I have alcohol hidden in the house. I drink a little wine, then go have the hidden stash. That way I can blame the smell and drunken state on the supposed amount he's seen me drink. Yeah, that'll fool him (yeah right).

One night, two glasses (and some hidden shots), three minutes of unprotected sex... and we are pregnant. We weren't supposed to be. I am not sure I can handle going another year without drinking. I am so engrained now! But I do. It's really even not that hard. Why is it so hard when it's NOT for a child???? Why can't it just be this easy to quit or restrain ALL the time?????? Seriously, I find this out, I'm no longer an alcoholic.

She's beautiful, born without the same complications as my son. But our son had surgery 2 weeks after she was born. We have to do the surgery then: for insurance reasons, for timing reasons, it just has to happen. So he's in the hospital for 6 weeks, she's less than 3 weeks old, I'm already at a friend's drinking one night. It's a "stress reliever", I can pump and dump (she can't breastfeed well either... why my small children can't seem to I don't know!!). Anyway, it starts so soon. I can feed all day, pump the extra and drink from 8-9pm, feed pumped milk overnight and then not pump until 6am. I check with those strips to be sure. Really?? Those are meant for occasional use, not every morning...

And that's where I am now. A 5yo bloody genius, 4yo still in the throes of recovering from his major rehabilitative surgery, and a 3 month old. Back to work full time. And taking that glass of wine at 8:30pm while I do my last pump. Then going to my hiding spot and supplementing my addiction with vodka shots and swigs. I don't do it until the older 2 are in bed. I don't want them exposed to what I saw as a child: wanton abandon and disrespect for the other people you are living with, much less yourself. But come on, they're going to realize sooner or later. Once, while my son was in the hospital, my oldest told me: "Mom, your breath stinks like fingernail polish". Oh dear God, really??? Not even 8 weeks old and I'm back in "the pattern". I am pathetic.

And so the cycle goes. I get up at 5am, do what needs to be done with kids or work or home or whatever is on the agenda for the day. Then I come home, bound and determined to make it a "good" night. But the kids go down, I am done pumping, and the wine beckons me. The vodka screams my name. WHY?? I don't know. It was a good day, I love my kids, I love my husband, nothing went tremendously wrong, but it is that time. The time I get my drink on. WHY?? If I could answer that question I could stop. But I can't. And come morning, I get up, feeling a little groggier than necessary, and do it again. And the whole day I rack my brain, WHY?? Why do I do it. Not tonight I say. Not tonight. Tonight I get a good night's sleep, I try to nurse the baby instead of pump (with no success, but at least I am still trying), I try to stay away from the drinks. But by the time it's quiet, I have a glass of wine in my hand. And that is the license to go have a swig off the hidden vodka bottle. I just tried to capitalize Vodka there. Seriously?? That's the influence it has on me??? Alcohol is not worthy of personal distinction, yet I try to capitalize it, that is just another symptom of my systemic issue!!!!!!! I don't LIKE the feeling of being drunk, so why do I keep doing it?? I know I'm "functional". That doesn't make it alright and it doesn't make me want to continue this way. I want to stop. I want it to go away and be done. I want to be able to say out loud, "I am an alcoholic and I don't drink anymore". And I want that to be okay. I want to not think about drinking ALL the time. I just want to be able to let it go. Someday, I will be able to let this ALL go.

Wow, I've never EVER told that to anyone. I am still quite nervous at the people I know that might read it and say, hey, that's HER. But you know what, if they're reading this, they have a reason to need this story. And I hope it does them some good, and maybe we'll be closer after they tell me they read it. I don't know. I don't care at this point. It just needs to be said, for me. Not for anyone else but me. I NEED HELP. I wish I knew how to get it or how I could get myself from being this way. I want this for myself, my family and my friends. I want to break the cycle and let these kids just grow up being kid!!!

I wanted to read this in the morning and be sure it's what I "want" to say. But I know if I do that I won't send it. So, please forgive any grammar or spelling issues. It is just pure "spill the guts". My love and heart to anyone dealing with this as well

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'm Nearly Ready

***Submitted by Jessica

I've joked for years about being an "alcoholic", usually the day after a crazy night of drinking. I've being drinking for more than 20 years now, I remember my first time I was 12, sipping the vodka from under the kitchen sink at my Dad's house and putting water in so he wouldn't know. Then things progressed to weekend binges, I was 14. It was fun we'd have or go to parties were we'd smoke pot and drink so much we'd puke (that wasn't fun). I kept this hidden from my family for years until I was old enough to legaly drink. From that point on at just about every family get together I was wasted!

In 2006 we bought a house an hour away from all family and friends. Over time my drinking got progressively worse. There were many days my husband would come home at 4 pm and I'd already be drunk. I was working part-time at a local grocery store and on the days I wasn't working I was drinking. Ha, who am I kidding I would drink before I went to work, there was even a few times I had to call out because one of the kids was "sick"~code for I got to drunk to go in. There were even a few times I got a call from the school to pick up a sick kid and I had to brush & gargle and hope they didn't smell the beer on my breath.

It was about a year or so ago when I realized I had a "real" problem. I told my husband I couldn't do this anymore I need to quit. That never lasted more than a day. One things sets me off and well "I've had a rough day" and I need a drink.

I have driven under the influence on many occasions, yes I have done it with my children in the car. It's almost shocking I have not gotten a DUI. Most recently we had hurricane Irene roll through and to prepare I stocked up on batteries, water, candles, a liter of Bacardi, 2 bottles of Diet Coke and a case of Bud. I started drinking at 9:30 am and ran out of Diet Coke before noon so I sent my ever so faithful hubby out for the middle of a f~ing hurricane! Not more than 5 min after he pulled in our driveway a tree fell in the road, if he had been any later it would have landed on him. But hey, I got my Diet Coke!

I've recently started seeing a therapist to come to terms with my problem. I know I need to stop but I'm scared. I'm scared that I won't be fun anymore, I'm scared to live a "sober" life, how will I "relax & unwind"? What about all those awkward social events, how will I "fit in"?

I'm nearly ready, I have been slowly weaning myself. I know that probably sounds silly but I tried to go cold turkey and it was NOT pretty. I'm not sure if this is the right way but it's all I can do for now.

I went to an AA meeting a few weeks back. I sat in the parking lot watching all the people, I waited til they all went in hoping to seek in. Well I didn't know what room the meeting was in so I had to ask the girl at the front desk, I couldn't say "alcoholic or AA" for that mater so I simply asked were the 6:30 meeting was? Of course she called me out wanting to know which meeting I was referring to~bitch! So I had to say it out loud. When I found the room I passed the floor a dozen times almost going in, finally I went in. Well there was NO sneaking in the back row. The group all sat around at tables set in a giant square, talk about awkward (I was wishing the hole time I had a few beers before hand so I would feel so out of place). I sat through the hole meeting harding looking up in fear of making eye contact, listening to random people talk and tell their stories of what lead them there. Their were bits in me in each of there stories. I have yet to go back but may soon as I come to grips with the fact I AM an alcoholic and I NEED help.

FYI~I opened my new issue of Redbook and when I came across the article about Mommies and alcoholic I thought oh my god it's a sign but I hurried uo and out in my bag to read when I got home because I could dare let anyone at work see me read it. When I finally did read it and found this Blog I knew, I just knew, I was not alone.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Living Sober

***Submitted by Shannon

I’m grateful for this website because I never want to forget what life used to be like. Like I ever really could… I still have moments when I run through those old painful reels in my head and it feels like yesterday. This may sound weird, but that is a blessing in its own way. It helps to keep me sober because I never want to go back.

What was life like? I started as a social drinker… quickly turned into a binge drinker… and then drinking became a necessity to get me through the day. The shame, guilt and the inability to look at myself in the mirror kept me drinking because I just wanted the pain to go away. I was drinking 1+ bottles of wine per day. I was great at hiding my drinking and my pain. From the outside, I looked fine. I had a college education, I had a great job, I had a handsome husband who loved me, and I had a house. But on the inside I was a horrid mess of a person.

I grew up in an alcoholic home. I was driving a car by the age of 14 because someone had to run the errands. I knew what a terrible thing alcohol was because it robbed me of my mother and my childhood. So why did I even start? I started because at first it was fun, it numbed the pain, and it made me social. But the fun soon stopped. I continued because this is disease. I drank heavily for about 11 years.

I had my last drink on May 2, 1997. I woke up the next morning after another horrible night of blackout drinking. As I attempted to look at myself in the mirror I cried. I finally realized that I had become the one person I promised myself that I would never be… I had become my mother. With that realization I knew that I’d never allow myself to have the family I dreamed of because I wasn’t going to put my future children through the same painful childhood that I had. That was my bottom.

What is life like sober? Once the fog cleared and I did the hard worked through the steps of recovery and healing, I could finally look at myself in the mirror and not feel shame or guilt. Then I had an epiphany. I was finally present! I was present for my own life and I was there to experience everything! It’s kind of like relearning how to walk. I had experienced everything for so long while being medicated with alcohol that I had to get past the fear and just FEEL it – feel the happiness, joy, love, loss, pain, sorrow, gratitude, kindness – I get to feel it and experience ALL of it… and it is wonderful! The happy times, like the birth of my daughter and the adoption of my other daughter, are truly filled with unbridled emotions because there is no sense of shame hiding beneath the layers. The sad times, like the loss of a loved one, are ultimately much easier for me to handle because I get to work through the grieving process and come out the other side as opposed to numbing myself and never fully recovering from the loss.

Going to parties is great because I know for certain that I’m not going to make an a** of myself. If I go out for “drinks” with the girls, I order my cranberry and tonic. No one really cares what I do or don’t drink (… and those that do notice are probably the ones that throw away the cork as soon as they open their wine bottle at home, too.)

What do I like the most about sobriety? I like the fact that I’m proud of myself and who I am as a person, as a wife and especially as a mother. My children have never seen me drink and I love that.

My mother never did get sober. She passed away two years after the birth of my daughter, her first grandchild, at the age of 58. The death certificate listed “failure to thrive” as the main cause of death. A few years earlier she had beaten breast cancer by having a double mastectomy. The irony was that she was willing to cut off parts of her body to save her life, but she was never willing to put down the bottle to do the same. That is definition of utter powerlessness.

The disease of alcohol is cruel, but it can be put into remission. Even at 14 years sober I still consider myself “in recovery” as opposed to “recovered”. I know that if I took a drink today I’d be right back where I left off 14 years ago. I will never let myself forget where I have been, but I now live for today!

Living life on life’s terms and loving it!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Today Is The Day

***Submitted by Momto7

You don’t know me. You just think you do.

We wave to each other as we wait in the “car rider” line at school. You don’t know my McDonald’s cup has vodka mixed with the Diet Coke. You stop me in the grocery store to ask my advice on choosing a teacher. You don’t know that I’ve been drinking since ten this morning. You ask me to volunteer to help with a project. I write it down immediately. You say “That’s how you stay organized with so many kids!” I know I must write it down because I may not remember.

I don’t even remember going to bed last night.

I do remember why I started drinking. I was trying to relax, enjoy myself, stop stressing so much. Then one drink leads to another…and I do relax a bit and even laugh…until I’m on my third or fourth drink of the night, then I turn mean. I yell at my children, I pick fights with my husband. After last night’s fight, I decided (again) that I have to stop. But this time I mean it. When he threatens to leave and take my baby, I know I’m over the line.

So this morning, I dropped one son off at football practice, then drove to the store. I took the empty vodka bottle and a half full bottle, disguised by a grocery bag, and threw them in the trash. Returned home to deliver my other two children to school.

I drink because I have seven children, a demanding job, and an unemployed husband.

I’m stopping the drinking because I have seven children and a husband.

Today is the day.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I Thought I Was Going to Lose My Friends

*** Submitted by Elizabeth

When I knew it was really, really, REALLY time to quit drinking, I was afraid to do so. I was afraid of it for many reasons, but what really comes to mind was my fear that I was going to lose my friends.
I had a lot of friends. I may have been able to count up to 100 or more friends. I had collected them over the years and I maintained them on one level or another. In fact, if I had to draw you a visual diagram, I would say there was Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3.

In Tier 1, I had my more casual friends. I saw them at parties or out at bars and we gave each other big hellos, maybe a kiss or a big hug, we engaged in small talk and bought each other drinks. When I had a few drinks in me, I loved to see them because they were part of my enormous network of friends.

In Tier 2, I had closer relationships with these people. We would talk sometimes or frequently on the phone, email regularly or sometimes. Many of them were at my wedding and some of them I reluctantly had to cross of the list of guests because there were too many people on it.

In Tier 3, these were my closest compadres. They were all at my wedding and we had gone through time together, lived through many laughs, tears, accomplishments, losses, milestones, fights and reconciliations. Some I met in college, some I met in grade school. We rented beaches houses in the summer or traveled across the country or moved to another coast together.

They were all my friends and I wanted to keep them all!

The thought of quitting drinking meant no more bars and parties, no more of my buddies in Tier 1!

The thought of not drinking meant I was no longer going to feel chatty enough to pick up the phone after a long day and touch base with friends. I mean, who on earth wants to talk on the phone without a huge goblet of red wine? Bye-bye Tier 2!

And how would I tell my bestest friends in the whole world, my sisters from other misters who I had laughed, cried and boozed with for decades? I was the lovable, drunk buffoon, the party-start, the Dorothy Parker of the Our Round Table! I just couldn’t.

I delayed and putzed around and dragged my feet until I just couldn’t stand myself anymore. Then I decided there was a few important events I needed to attend and I needed to attend them WASTED. The list kept growing and I kept pushing my quit date farther and farther out.

Finally, enough was enough and I had to quit. I decided I was not going to broad-side my peeps with the news. I was going to release the information very slowly. I came up with all the cliché reasons: “I am trying to lose weight,” “I’m on medication,” “I’m taking some time off because, but DON’T PANIC! I will be drinking again!” I rehearsed these lines in my head all day long because this was really, really big. A lot of peoples’ lives were going to be affected.

In the end, it was no big whoop. Looking back over the last two years since I quit, I have learned a lot about myself and the people around me:
  • My Tier 3 friends are all in my life today and they are proud of me because I took the steps to change my life for the better and, frankly, some of them were a little worried about me! Did I know this? No.
  • There are people all around me that do not notice I am not drinking and still offer me something from the bar. And I thought they were going to feel so uncomfortable that they were drinking when I was not. Uh, no.
  • I don’t like to talk on the phone after a long day and wine was the only way I was going to pick up that ringing phone or dial that number.
  • I don’t need 100 friends. And besides, many of those “friends” were really more like acquaintances or parallel drinking buddies. If I saw them coming down the street in daylight when I was sober, I’d have probably ducked into an alley to avoid having to get through a conversation with him/her.
  • A lot of my friends in Tier 2 were in Tier 2 for a reason: I really didn’t enjoy their company that much or relate to them or trust them with personal information. I didn’t know the real them and they didn’t know the real me. So when many of them fell away after I stopped drinking, it was because we had a very superficial relationship. I may have kicked any one of them to the curb had they stopped drinking while I continued. I would have thought they were smug or judgemental. In reality, I would’ve felt shame and insecurity around them.

As I have recovered, I have lost much of the neediness I had for so many years. I needed to have a lot of friends, I needed to feel adored or admired or, well, needed.

Cultivating and keeping friendships that don’t hum on their own is work. It takes energy and, for me, it took a lot of booze to keep up. I am not a naturally energetic person. I am a mellow, observant, reserved person.
The real me wants a certain amount of time to be alone and regroup.

I have met amazing people in recovery who inspire me and give my life a new layer of peace, wisdom and knowledge. I feel like my life has slowed down to a pace where I can actually stop and smell the roses instead of frantically planning my next event where I can smother myself in alcohol and people.

If you are afraid of losing your friends when you stop drinking, try to remember that your real friends will never abandon you because you are doing something to help yourself.

Anyone who walks away is in your Tier 1 or Tier 2 and you won’t need them anymore where you are going.