Tuesday, May 8, 2012

12 Hours Since Her Last Drink


***Submitted by Leigh


Last night my husband sat me and down and talked to me about my drinking. This is a day I had feared would come but hoped would not. What pushed him to confront me was an embarrassing display at a party where I flirted with the husband of one of my best friends. And here’s the scary part: I don’t remember any of it.

I took my first drink when I was about 12 and even from the start, I had a hard time “pacing” myself. Over the next 3 decades, I have convinced myself that my drinking was normal. College is a blurry haze, but isn’t that the way it is for everyone? I would go long periods of time without having anything to drink. But at the next social event or mom’s night out, I would overindulge. I don’t remember things that I have done while drunk and quite frequently end up on the floor of the bathroom throwing up. Stomach issues are common for me and I’ve always said that I must have IBS. I’m not so sure anymore.

Since becoming a mother, I have found a wonderful new set of friends. And just like others I have read about online, the play dates would often include a glass of wine (or three) starting well before the socially acceptable 5pm mark). How many times have I said “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!”? That old joke.  Whenever the kids are acting up or the pressures of marriage get to be too much, we would joke to each other about needing that glass of wine. Never stopping to think that it was a problem. After all, we were not homeless and disheveled. Our kids were clean and smart and loved. How could this be a problem?

But now my drinking has gotten excessive. On a recent trip to my parent’s house, I went out and bought a few bottles of wine to get me through the visit. They don’t drink so I would wait until they were in bed, and then I would open a bottle and settle down with a movie. I wasn’t driving or going anywhere and my son was safe in his bed, so what was the harm?

I’ve also been mixing pills with alcohol, telling myself that I’m not taking enough to cause a problem. But I’m a healthcare professional. I know better.

I’ve been wondering if I drink too much for the past few years. But that is as far as I would go. Just wondering. I have never said it out loud, but when my husband brought it up, I knew it was true.  The reason I started wondering about it in the first place was Stefanie Wilder-Taylor’s story. It was as if I had written that story. I couldn’t believe the similarities. And I really didn’t realize until that moment that my behavior was a problem.

So I know now that I do not have the ability to have just one glass of wine. And now I’m scared. I feel alone and frightened and I don’t know where to turn. I’m so grateful that my husband said something to me before anything worse happened. And I know I need to stop. I’m tired of losing whole days of enjoyment with my family because I’m hung over. I’m tired of being clammy and irritable with my son just because I’m coming off a bender. And I’m especially tired of the guilt I feel the morning after. It’s a guilt so deep, I feel it to my bones.
But I don’t know how to get past it. I don’t know how to live with myself and the awful things that I have done without medicating it away. I don’t like myself very much and I can detach easier when I drink.

It’s been about 12 hours since my last sip of alcohol. I have no doubts that I should never drink again. I just don’t know what to do now. AA doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not a Christian and so I don’t think I would feel sincere standing there during the Serenity Prayer. I’m sure it’s a good program; just not for me.

I’m hoping that if my story appears on this website, that someone out there will reach out to me. I really feel alone and awful and guilty and ashamed and embarrassed and horrified and any other negative feeling a person can  have. I really hate myself right now and even though I don’t think I deserve support and help, I need to ask for it.

Thank you for listening.


45 comments:

  1. i hope you don't mind me sharing this article, but it's a non-Christian's view of AA. You CAN do this, because you are a brilliantly strong woman. Give your husband big kisses for me for being a strong enough man to reach out to you.

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/28/my-take-an-atheist-at-aa/

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    1. I know PLENTY of people who put the group as their ''Higher Power'' or the Program itself. I, for many years was a non believer of AA. But what it came down to is that I became willing and to go to ANY lengths to STOP drinking. I had too much to lose. My Husband and children were at risk of going away. That whole, ''don't knock it till you try it'' thing very much comes to mind. Sometimes, finding an easier, softer way won't keep you sober. (as we say in AA)

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  2. Hi there Leigh and thank you. Thank you for writing down my exact story and reminding me why I am sober.

    I was you.

    I know precisely what you mean by bone-deep guilt and shame, those are feelings which kept me from getting sober for years.

    Here's what I know, my life got worse before I made it better. My husband had a conversation like that with me, I went to AA once and felt the way you do. I was able to stay sober a few months and then thought I'd learned enough to drink responsibly. I hadn't.

    18 months later I had more guilt, shame and forgotten bad behavior and finally these weren't frigtening enough to stop me getting sober because I was afraid I was going to kill myself. I was desolate, truly empty and begged for help from God, AA and whomever could and would help.

    That first day I was scared my shame could still hold me back but in reality you don't have to deal with it right now. Take today exactly for what it is, it's now. This is the time to change.

    All you have to do is be willing and not drink.

    For me that included a return to AA with an open mind, I had to set aside my feelings of being "different" than others there, my avoidance of the program and sit and listen.

    By being willing, praying, not drinking and attending meetings I've been sober for over 2 years now and my perspective is utterly different. I've managed to address my shame over time....but slowly as it fit the situation.

    Nobody expects overnight change, you need to be kind to yourself and be proud you've begun to face this.

    I'm here, open and willing to help support you my new friend....you're welcome to email me, facebook me...tweet me ....

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  3. Interesting. I am often uncomfortable at AA meetings because there is so much Church bashing yet we close with the Lord'S Prayer. If you want what we have...sobriety from alcohol...do the program. Don't judge yourself or others...don't drink. You can do it.

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  4. You can do this -- just one minute, one hour, one day at a time do not drink. Change a thought, move a muscle. When you want to drink, tell yourself you will do it tomorrow and do something else instead. Do the same thing the next day.
    You also do not have to do this alone -- give AA a try. You will find others who share your feelings and experiences. Go to 90 meetings in 90 days. You don't need to share much, just that you are new, and then sit and listen. See how you feel after that.
    I'm headed to read the article above posted by anonymous at 10:48 a.m. -- Please let us know how you are.

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  5. You deserve support and love! You really, really do. Just as we all do, no matter what we have done.

    You don't have to agree with AA about everything to attend. Take what you like and leave the rest. Just as in life, it is not what is offered but what you take out of it and make of it...nothing is perfect in its entirety. Not you, not anyone at meetings, not the program itself. I find it a relief to know this.

    I echo what someone above said: if you have a willing heart, you will find your way.

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  6. Hello Friend,

    I just have to add to the voices that will say that you can be a complete atheist and still love AA. I am one of those people...and usually at every meeting there is at least one of us, usually a few. I will go out of my way at meetings to let others know that AA works irregardless of a belief in a god.

    I celebrated two years of sobriety last month. I would not be sober today if it were not for AA. I didn't WANT to go. I didn't love it for a long time. But there is an accountability that you get from attending meetings and sharing that you will not get anywhere else. You can sneak and lie and manipulate everyone in your personal life...but your fellow alcoholics will call bullshit on you in a heartbeat.

    If I didn't stick with AA (no matter how much I felt it wasn't for me at first or how I had to learn to train my mind to ignore the words "god" and "prayer" then I would never have stayed sober for more than a month or two at time before going off and getting drunk. Someone taught me early on to replace the god of our understanding bits with the program/group itself. Take away the mystical being and focus on the human beings who have been there and done that and will hold you up when you need it.

    I was so scared to go at first, it took me months. I found a Women's group first. Then I branched out.

    If you need to talk feel free to e-mail me. I'm christinemh1968 AT GMAIL

    I'm 42, have two teenage daughters, a husband and I used to be a falling down, drinking 24/7 drunk. But it gets better!

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  7. Hey, I'm a Jewish agnostic and even I have found a lot of support at AA. I go for the fellowship not the dogma.

    Sir Edmund Hillery could not have scaled Mt. Everest without the help of 3 sherpa guides. My point is that doing extremely difficult things like stopping drinking when you're an alcoholic is much less difficult with a group, and not alone.

    Really any group meeting can help, Smart Recovery, AA, whatever works.

    Keep writing. That helps too. I do it on my blog: http://soberlawyer.com

    Shame and guilt kills. Quite literally. That will resolve over time. Give yourself some credit for being willing to accept your problem. That takes a huge amount of guts. You've taken the very first step and that's huge!

    The first few days/weeks suck royally. A total bitch. That's why we say "one day at a time" and to go to 90 meetings in 90 days (seems like a lot but you have to re-train your brain). I did it and I'm a busy lawyer. It does get better, a lot better.

    For me, exercising and taking walks helps process stress. Also reading, spending quality time with the family, some relaxation/meditation stuff. I love Mondays now. I love getting up on Saturday and Sunday fresh and not hungover, able to make my kids breakfast.

    Good luck in your journey, Dick

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  8. Your story is my story. Black outs...gray outs. They really do enable us to drink much longer and to quiet and ignore our inner voice/conscience that tells us our drinking is not normal. I listened to that voice when my son was 15 months old and went to a few AA meetings. Rejected it and wasn't ready to stop. Two years later, another baby. As soon as she was weaned, I became a daily drinker. Ususally after 5 and only wine. The disease is progressive. My son was almost 4 and daughter 1 when I quit. Tomorrow I will have 2 1/2 years without a drop of Vino. AA worked for me. I had to be willing and to surrender. I have met many people in the program who do not identify themselves as Christian. I am not a Christian. I still bristle at a lot (almost all) of the "God" references. Please don't let that keep you from giving it a shot. Giving up my first love/best friend,Booze, was the most difficult, terrifying thing I've done but if and when you come out on the other side, it is so worth it. I didn't believe or feel that for many, many months but it happened for me and so many others. Be kind to yourself and reach out for help, like you've done here. Takes a hell of a lot of courage to put it out here and ask for help. Good luck.

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  9. I got sober after reading Stephanie's story, too, and your story sounds just like mine! I went through AA but there are many other options out there. So glad you are doing this, I'll be praying for you (sorry, I am the praying type) and rooting for ya to travel this journey. You won't regret being sober. :)

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  10. Leigh here: I am overwhelmed by the immediate and supportive responses I have received here in the short time this has been posted. The fact that you took out the time to reach out to me makes my heart sing. I just wanted to let you know that while I'm not a Christian, I am a Buddhist. I know, right? A Buddhist drunk! Anyway, I found a women's as group close to here that I will try. Your words helped so much. I have also let my good friends know and have asked for their support and forgiveness. Thank you again!

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    1. I grew up going to Christian schools but considered myself an atheist. Now that I've been going to AA for 2+ years, I think it's actually more Buddhist in its approach, even though there is some Christian language on top of it. I think you'll actually find a lot to love in AA. I was turned off by the idea that it was Christian at first, but I was willing to try. I really love it now.

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    2. Hi, I wanted to let you know there is a great book called "One breath at a time", written by a man who is a recovering alcoholic and buddhist. A great read and may help you!! Good luck.

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  11. Such good advise from everyone. I was in every major treatment center in the country and thousands of dollars later I still drank. My answer was AA. My best friends today are in AA. Don't worry about the God factory or the prayers, just go. My last drink was August 10, 1989. Good Luck my friend.

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  12. I was you as well. And I didn't feel as if AA was for me due to a multitude of reasons. However, when I finally screwed up the courage to go with an open heart I found the one thing I never thought I would find...

    The only place on the planet where I didn't feel shame.

    Give it a shot - what have you got to lose? Better still...what have you got to gain?

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  13. Try Women for Sobriety.. works for me!

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  14. I wish you great success. Our stories are so similar except that my husband wasn't so kind. I am now divorced and haven't had a drink for over 2 years. You are on your way, I will tell you this honestly, I never thought my life could even be good or fun or exciting without alcohol...but it is and I am sending all my strength to you on this new chapter. You don't have to think about stopping "forever", just for today. At the beginning, the shame feels crippling and it seems that drinking will make it go away, but if you can push through and hang out with some other recovering people, who understand, I promise you that it gets better every day! Big hug out to you!

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  15. AA works for me. I am Jewish and sometimes feel out of place in some meetings. But no one is telling me what to believe or what prayers to say, if any.
    Take what you need and leave the rest. There is nothing like knowing people understand what you are going through, that you are not unique and that there is a beautiful world out there.
    xox

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  16. I love your willingness to ask for help. Big step!

    I have "met" several Buddhists in recovery online and I have heard them give very favorable reviews of a book called "12 Steps to Buddha." I believe it is that missing piece they needed to resolve their trouble relating to AA...

    I wish you peace and joy on this new chapter in your life!

    XO

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  17. I hear so much of me in your story! I am so glad to see so many replies to your post. You are never alone anymore! There are a lot of different recovery ways out there. I really hope you find the one that works best for you. I do a little AA, a little Women in Sobriety and Mindfulness Based recovery (sorta of the Buddist nature). You have made a hard and often painful step in the right direction. Sending you hugs and strength as you start your journey. Please keep us posted with your progress. Here is my email: jtheisen8@gmail.com, I currently sponsor women and can be just a listening ear of you ever need it!

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  18. Oh my goodness, how courageous you are. I can hear you crying out for truth and clarity. I have hope for you just on the strength of your longing. I wish I could help you not be ashamed, shame makes it worse. Go to self-compassion.org and listen to the guided meditations, by Kristen Neff. She's Buddhist, but there is no deity in buddhism, I know many buddhists who are atheists.

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  19. Leigh, it's great that you wrote. You're on your way, I just know it. Glad that your husband is there for you -- you want to get as much support as possible.

    Find a program -- don't worry about the god stuff -- you can do it as a Buddhist in AA too. Just don't write it off until you try it -- there are a lot of people who can help you there.

    You can also find tools -- that site in the post above; and you can even get a mobile app -- check out www.todaysstep.com. Read the stories, the daily meditations and try the quanqifa guided meditation -- very helpful. There are a lot of books out there and counselors and resources. Now is the time.

    Good luck!
    Allyson

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  20. Let go of the guilt and shame. Addiction is a disease. Would you be ashamed if you got diabetes? Don't let others judge you. Don't waste time and use negative energy to judge yourself. Gather your positive energy and be selfish. Use it all for you right now. Use your positive energy to get yourself to a meeting. Be open. You can do this. You are not alone. You deserve to be happy. Your past does not define you!

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  21. Leigh here: Thank you for all of the suggestions. I am going to look into them. I still cannot believe how you have all wrapped me in your arms. I am nearly 72 hours into my new journey. My head hurts. My stomach hurts. When I sat down last night to watch Game of Thrones, I thought "A glass of wine would feel good right now." And when I made that meatloaf the other night, I thought "You know what would make this better? A nice glass of red wine." But I didn't do it.

    The shame part is much harder for me. I cannot seem to stop thinking about all the times I made mistakes in my life and then lost friends or jobs because of it. Sometimes I think I'm not good enough for my husband. I told him that the other night and he knelt down in front of me and took my hands and told me that I am wrong. I just find it hard to believe him.

    I'm reading Caroline Knapp's book right now and I'm going to check out a meeting. Thank you again, sisters.

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    1. I felt so much shame in how I made mistakes with my kids while drunk. As a mom, that KILLED me. It was what finally drove me to quit...I couldn't stand the guilt and shame anymore. And it was what pushed me to work through the emotions after I got sober. But it gets better. So much better. I no longer feel guilty for what I did back then, I feel proud that I overcame it and rebuilt any damage I might have caused. I am so proud of how I live my life now. Still make mistakes, but it feels honest and free. I am soooo rooting for you and I am so glad you received such warm response. We're here for ya!

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  22. I'm grateful that you were able to hear your husbands words. I know you'll find the support you need if you just start somewhere. Thoughts and prayers and love and strength for you.

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    1. Thanks Melissa! My husband had a meeting tonight so I was on my own with my son. I could feel that familiar pull so I took him out to dinner where they don't serve alcohol and we played a game at the table. Then we came home and got ready for bed. All in all, a good night. Now I'm going to curl up with a good book.

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  23. I highly recommend the book Rational Recovery by Jack Timpsey.

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  24. Dear Leigh,
    I am 50 years old and have had a drinking problem for 36 years, ever since I took that first drink at the age of 14 I have been just waiting for the next drink. Today is Day 251 of sobriety for me. I wish I had reached out earlier, as you are doing here.

    I did not go to AA and, at this point, I don't think I will. That being said I have learned many things about AA from my companions in my journey to sobriety and I am no longer as dead set against it and if I ever find myself in the gutter of drinking again, I will reach out to that organization without the shame and fear that kept me from reaching out before. But I had to get over my own personal obstacles first and there are a lot of people out there, like you and me, that don't feel that AA is an option for them (I am Christian, btw, so that is not one of my obstacles)or that they are strong enough to take that step and we are desperately looking for help from other avenues. I found mine through online support. I started out with moderation management http://www.moderation.org/ and after trying to moderate for a year with little success I joined the mmabsers http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/mmabsers/. These are the two groups on which I rely heavily for support but there are many more out there including Women for Sobriety which has a very active online community as well as face to face meetings. I also read many blogs written by other people who are struggling or have struggled with drinking and I have my own blog http://godwalkedintothisbar.blogspot.mx/ that has tracked my own journey and kept me accountable to the people that follow it.

    So there are other means of help out there, you just have to be willing to reach out and take the help that is offered. You can do this, we will help you. Best wishes. Kary

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  25. Leigh, our stories are so similar. I too thought I suffered from IBS and this condition negatively impacted my life almost as much as drinking did. I’m 17 days sober now and I no longer experience stomach issues. Go figure.

    I’m an atheist and AA doesn’t speak to me, for some of the reasons you mentioned and others. Like you, I think it’s a great program, it’s just not for me. I think every recovery is different for every person and I am going to investigate individual counselling and Women for Sobriety. Trying different approaches will allow you to discover what is the best fit for you.

    As everyone here has said, you are not alone. You’re doing the right things. You can do this.

    Email me via my blog if you want to share the newbie journey together xx

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    1. Thanks! I really appreciate it. I'm on my 4th day. Still having GI issues but I'm hoping it will get better.

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    2. I also suffered from IBS for years and it is no longer a problem since I quit drinking.

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  26. If you have access to a face-to-face Women for Sobriety meeting, you are so lucky! That program is nothing short of totally amazing and I have been sober for almost 6 months following the New Life Program and attending weekly meetings.

    Regardless of what anyone says, AA does not appeal. I am NOT powerless. I am a 4C woman — capable, competent, caring, compassionate. And incredibly powerful. I considered AA in the beginning days when I was weak desperate to find a group of women or place to go so I wouldn't drink, but WFS quickly became my people. Good luck! You can do it, girlfriend!

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  27. Don't knock AA until you try it for yourself. I can't tell you how many people I have heard share in meetings that they resisted AA at first because of the "God component," but ultimately AA saved their lives. Look for the similarities in people there (alcoholism) rather than the differences (religion/faith). I loved Caroline Knapp's book. I have read and reread it. You also might want to consider getting the Big Book of AA, regardless of whether or not you decide to try out the meetings. The book has stories in the back that I read during the dark, difficult days of early sobriety. Knowing I was not alone helped me so much. Hang on. You are worth it!

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  28. Leigh here: I just wanted to make sure that everyone knows that I was not knocking AA. I am so happy that it has helped so many people and I think it is wonderful. I really hope I didn't offend anyone. I am so appreciative of all of the support and love from here. You all are so strong!! By the way, I went out to eat and no wine!!!

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  29. Glad your time has come, Leigh. Hope you find some FTF support. Find a meeting. "Take what you like and leave the rest." Recovery is a wonderful journey. It isn't easy, but it beats the hell out of that other road. It is another chance. Grab it and cherish it!

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  30. Leigh,

    I have come to a place like yourself. I'm actually researching and visiting residential recovery centers. I'm especially interested in ones that combine cognitive practices with AA. Like you, I have issues with the "God" or Christianity component of AA. The other day I talked to my husband about what would link all things if not a Christian God. So far, I'm thinking the hydrogen atom or DNA. You might look into outpatient treatment or residential treatment -- to break the compulsion fully and to learn some new approaches to thwarting those patterns. I'm a professor, and I can understand, too, how scary it all is professionally and personally. Good luck.

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  31. Hello, I was exactly where you are almost two years ago. I felt the exact same way about AA. I wasn't just not a Christian, I was an athist.I tried AA, because nothing else had worked. I was tired of lying, feeling like a fake, being scared I would be found out. I also thoght I had IBS! I tried AA, I am still sober, I have awonderful life. The only requirement to membership of AA is the desire to stop drinking. When they mention God in AA, it is a God of your understanding. You do not have to believe in God to go to AA. You have no reason to feel ashamed, you have a disease. You are not a bad person, you are simply sick. If you have cancer would you feel like a bad person? I hope you can find the peace, serenity and joy I have found.

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  32. Try listening to books on tape regarding alcohol addiction, recovery and any other book that will inspire you. Go to audible.com and then download the book onto your Ipod. Listen while driving, making dinner, folding laundry. Will offer hope and inspiration in the beginning.

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  33. I was googling alcoholism versus alcohol abuse, and among the threads I found this story.

    So much of this story resonates with me.

    It has been 12 hours since my last drink, I wrote in my diary "I don't need to drink today" - but I am starting to talk myself into the fact that I am sure 2 or 3 glasses will be fine.

    It's not like I have a problem. Right? i definitely am not an alcoholic. Really I am not.

    Yes, clearly all the warning signs/flags/empty wine bottles are going off like rockets.

    I am not sure that I will make it through to 24 hours ....

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  34. You my friend are not alone! I am a successful person with a great story that many see in the movies. However I am a binge drinker and I would go for months without a drink but when Im off to another part of the world living the dream in a hotel away from everyone I know I would go out and drink. But this time was very different. I would go out and begin to drink at a luxury hotel bar or a dive bar I would switch it up . One night I awoke in my hotel room about 10 am in the morning not knowing how I got home and the last thing I remembered was buying drinks for the entire bar (mr big shot). I was convinced I was drugged and even went to the police to track my foot steps( what a lie) . It wasnt until I came home and decided to go to the local bar and the same thing happened. The person text me the next day and asked me how I was? Then I realized I was experiencing black outs. I was embarrassed and quite frightened. Before I went on the rd 6 months prior I had six pack abs weighing 230 solid muscle and six months later 255 a huge bear gut and get this....I had a panic attack and almost had a seizure. Did I stop ? No I thought oh I can get back into shape went back to the GYM and drank my protein shakes and I was fine !! Really ???? I flew an old friend into town and decided to go have drinks and then go to liguor store and but taquila and vodka and beers and drank sooo much I dont remeber allot except arguing and watching movies all night. Well yah better get ready for this and its coming if you dont stop. I thought I was having a a stroke the next day. All was fine and then suddenly I turned pale and clammy and ran a fever . I layed down and I held on to all my wits about me not to pass out. It took 3 days plus not knowing if I could drive and thats not drinking. Thoughts of going into the hospital again thinking I was at deaths door rushed to my brain . And bringing up the brain we take so for granted . I believe my brain was, well I know was so full of toxins and alcohol withdraw I thought I might have a permanent situation. Its been 4 days of sobriety and Im drinking fruit smoothies lots of water and lots of sleep. I feel better but guess what ? Im not out of the woods. I thought I was having a panic attack at the store today and rushed home and got all emotional thinking about what the heck is happening. I have been doing this for years this cant be! Think again. Its my body telling me that enough is enough and I will and you will die if you continue. We are not like others and I dont think its a disease because how many people you know that are in prison for cancer? Its a life style and a mental and a spiritual state and you dont have to believe the latter but Im so grateful. Why ? Besause now I have a reason other than not to say stupid things and destroy relationships and family. The reason is ,I dont want to die and or if I survive a stroke that my alcoholic dad had and be a vegtable. Sorry for my spelling I just want to shout out at you and to warn you that its coming if you continue. Im done !! I quit for months just to get into shape ,now Im thinking forever to live the once in a billion trillion chances to be given life. Google alcohol related deaths other than motor vehicles and seizures and convulsions etc. I never thought it could happen to me and Im so thankful it did because Im stopping for me and everything that follows is a bonus. God is real but for some reason He will not make you believe you have to search and find for yourself. Unfortunately dont go to the churches they are almost all corrupt. You and God and He will lead and I know and I wont go there but like I said I could be in a movie the things I have experienced with Me and God . I hope this helps and turn ,learn, and fly and enjoy life . Im at the beginning of my journey but wanted to share....

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  35. You are a very strong person. I stumbled upon this through google. God bless you and always keep your head up.

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