Thursday, January 26, 2012

33 Years of Drinking

***Submitted by Anonymous

33 Years…..

Thirty three years—that’s how long I have been drinking to escape from my feelings.  I never drank for fun.  I never drank to be more social.  I had a problem from the first glass of wine. I drank to escape obsessive compulsive disorder, extreme social anxiety, low self esteem, perfectionism, guilt, and on and on and on.  I never sought help for this drinking; I just let the voices in my head beat me up, panic about my health, and then beat me up some more.

During this time, I was able to function in the real world quite well.  I got several advanced degrees; found a wonderful job where, despite my opinion of my work, they love me; divorced the wrong husband and found the right one; contributed to the raising of two absolutely wonderful young women; and found a wonderful spiritual home.

Of course, the whole time I was living two separate lives—the fake one where I did what real people do with their lives and the real one where I worried, obsessed, beat myself up, and drank.  Both of these lives were miserable.  This is the point where you think I’m going to tell you that I quit drinking and my life is wonderful now…..well sort of.

I first sought help for the psychiatric disorders.  I received medication and finally found a really good psychiatrist that I can work with.  But of course, I never told him about the drinking.  I never told anyone (but my husband…sort of) that I was drinking and that I was worried about it.  I didn’t tell my doctor; I didn’t tell my priest;  I didn’t tell my best friends.  No one even seemed to notice or worry about it.  No one ever said a word to me about my drinking.  Because of the medications, I became less obsessive and less anxious but I was still living two miserable lives because of the secret drinking and I had the added worry of drinking with the medications.  What was I doing to myself!

Sixty days ago today, I decided to stop drinking.  I was tired of two lives.  I was tired of the guilt and worry.  I didn’t go to AA, I didn’t go to rehab.  I read myself through the sixty days.  I have read every book by a recovering addict I could get my hands on.  I have a read a few books about how to quit drinking but I did not like them as much.  I have also read every blog I could find.  I found that reading these stories helped me understand that I was not alone, I was not unique, and that sobriety was possible. I also prayed.  I asked Christ to let my sobriety bring me closer to him.

In that sixty days, I have seen some wonderful, wonderful changes in my life.  I feel like my two worlds are slowly coming together because I do not have quite as much to hide in my public world.  It is nice to go to work and not have to hide a hangover.  It is nice to not have to hide my drinking in private or public.  It is nice to not have to worry about how much there is to drink, getting enough, not seeming drunk.  It is also really wonderful to have a clean kitchen at night, be able to read a book at night, and wake up feeling okay in the mornings.

So, my life is wonderful now and that is the end of the story….wrong.  What I now realize is that my really hard work is just beginning.

You see, I don’t want to drink again.  I don’t want to live two lives any more.  I want one life where I really live all the time.  In order to do that I began seeing a therapist last week and I finally told the truth.  I had seen therapists before about the obsessive-compulsive disorder, about my divorce, about my anxiety, but never about the drinking.  

So I finally told the truth.  It was hard and after I left that session I was extremely anxious.  The cat was out of the bag.  I had asked for help with the thing that was the center of my hidden life.  I was not sure that I could go back.  Maybe I would just cancel our next appointment and keep working on this on my own.  Maybe I didn’t need to bring drinking into my public life.

I called the therapist and told her about my anxiety after our first meeting.  She was very kind.  She encouraged me to come one more time and talk with her about what we could do to make the session tolerable for me.  So, once again I told the truth.   As my second appointment approached, I was not sure I was comfortable with all this truth.

We met today.  I told the truth.

At the end of the session she asked me what would happen if my secret became public.  I could not answer that.  I do not know what I am so afraid of.  But, I am not as anxious after this session.   I have made another appointment.  So, tonight as I soberly cook dinner, watch TV, read, and interact with my family, I feel  hopeful that it will be possible to live  a life with no secrets and in which I am fully and comfortably present.

I am grateful for this forum to tell my story and ask for your prayers and positive thoughts.


  1. I know you are afraid to go "public", but AA is anonymous, the men and women there are all in recovery. You have already taken 2 of the spiritual steps in AA. For some this is extremely difficult to do. But the reality is for most you cannot do this alone. You need someone to hold you accountable, to accompany you and urge you on this journey. I was afraid to tell my priest/ spiritual director about my alcoholism, but when I did he told me he was in recovery and had 14 years of sobriety! That's a God thing! Please join us in recovery, we will love you until you can love yourself. Ask your therapist to get you a list of meetings, Find a women's mtg. and go. Keep in touch with your progress.

  2. You have my prayers and positive thoughts and much, much love. I have a lot of hope for you and I think you should be infinitely proud of yourself for taking the first steps past fear, and the first 60 days into a clear and peaceful life.

  3. Congratulations on 60 days! I was also in the closet about my sobriety. When I finally came clean to my husband about the whole truth it was a giant weight off my shoulders. I am glad you have someone to talk to.

  4. This is beautiful. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Well done. Continued rigorous honesty with yourself and others is so important. I pray that perhaps someday you will consider engaging in a spiritual journey with others like you (and me) who can walk with you on this path shoulder-to-shoulder. Ultimately, that is your decision. I had to make that same one and I'm so grateful I chose not to do this alone. Thank you for your courage & honesty.

  6. It is amazing what happens when the alcohol is removed from our lives. But it is even more amazing when we become honest with ourselves and others: the shame goes away and we no longer have to live the double life.

    LOVE your post. Such insight.

  7. I agree with Elizabeth, so very insightful! It takes courage to admit, especially to one's self, that alcohol has taken away our personal power. It is by acknowledging this fact that we begin to reclaim our power...and our true selves!
    May you be Blessed on your journey to your new life, your one life!

  8. This story could be mine in a nutshell (except I only have one degree) but I do have two incredible daughters who confronted me on my coffee cups of wine I constantly had in hand. Something I learned the hard way is that more people know than you think, and more people drink than you think. Everyone has secrets. It's great to read anything you can get your hands on, but do yourself a favor and read Rational Recovery. It helped me conquer that voice you talked about that wants a drink no matter what. It's written by an atheist, but as a Christian I can tell you that it did not offend my beliefs in any way. I can't tell you what the answer is for you, only to try everything and trust God. You are on the right track!

  9. Thank you for sharing this. I think you are brave. I haven't stopped drinking entirely but I've cut back and I really, really, want to stop altogether. Stories like yours help me know that I can do it. Thank you, Brave Girl.


  10. Why aren't people stressing 12 step meetings? I worry when someone decides to go it alone. This disease is too powerful to try to make it without the support of recovering women.

  11. I love your description of two lives ... and of them coming together into one now that is sober and sane and enjoyable.

    I think you can get an awful lot of what you get in meetings from reading about recovery, even enough to get a great start at a sober, sane life, as you seem to have.

    But I hope you do get to a 12 Twelve Step meeting now that you have come this far. As Karen noted, AA is not public. Anonymity is sacred. What is shared in meetings stays there. And, in fact, you don't have to share immediately if you don't want to. Go and just listen. Go knowing you don't have to go back if you don't like it. "Take what you like, and leave the rest." We say that and we mean it.

    Reading about recovery is great; but sitting in the same room with others sharing their stories will take your recovery to a whole new level. It will build upon and solidify what you've already accomplished. And I think you will be really pleased at how it will shrink your fear about your secret.

    Peace and all good!

  12. Congratulations. What a reassuring and wonderful post to read. Thank you :)

  13. Congratulations! This is beautifully written. I'm so happy you're on the road to recovery. Having a good (great!) therapist has been the most valuable thing for me. Finding some sort of support system (AA, Women for Sobriety, SMART Recovery, etc.) is very important for most people as well. Keep trying until you find the right support for YOUR path to recovery. I wish you my very best.

  14. Thank you for your post - I am always fascinated when one says no one knew of her drinking - I was a public drunk and had no control in being able to keep it a secret.

    AA has been my life for almost 28 years.

    All the best.

  15. Wow ~ you just wrote so much of my story! After three years of sobriety, I still haven't 'come out' to many people in my life because I concealed my drinking career so well. I knew I was a mess inside, I knew my drinking balanced out an exhausting mood disorder, but since I was able to acquire higher degrees, hold fairly impressive jobs (or at least make them look that way) and travel, no one imagined that anything was wrong. But it was. So I stopped, finally. I managed four months without AA until I realized I did need the help and started attending meetings. After three years, I just recently got a sponsor and have started (slowly) working the steps. Everything in it's own time, right? It's such a relief to no longer live a double life, at least within myself. Love your story and wishing you all the very best... ~ Lulu

  16. I really appreciated reading your story and it is very similar to mine in many ways. I've "danced" around my drinking for years--telling trusted friends, therapist, husband about it but never really being able to pull the plug on it and probably minimizing it in the telling. 54 days is as long as I've ever been able to go. I'm afraid to go to an AA meeting because I don't know yet what to say about the whole thing and I'm afraid someone will ask! Congratulations on 60 days. I hope you will find the support and accountability you might need if it starts to get tough.

  17. CONGRTULATIONS change is difficult for all ,the self doubts, the fear that we surround ourselves with,,as with the AA program bringing your life to measuerable ammounts of time is crucial .no one stays 10 years sober in a day .Learning to handle our situation on a daily or hourly basis is a good start .just to deal with the problems and situations that are diretly before us ,instead of bringing in all the possible future events ,which we normally do .live for today ..I know you heard it all before .but live and I mean truly live in the now .its a beautiful world out there .especially looked at through new eyes..see the beauty within and outside ..stay sober today ...

  18. I agree with the person that said this is too powerful to go it alone. i have tried and tried to overcome this without anyone's help and I can't do it. Go to AA!!!!!!

  19. I am so inspired by your's me all over again. The saddness, loneliness, despire and over all powerless, but you have given me hope. I will read your letter over and over tonight to help me get through the night. I have already started looking for AA meeting to attend. I wish you all the best life has to offer. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful part of yourself.