Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How Many Of You Are Like Me?

***Submitted by Anonymous

I am new to this site but find it incredibly inspirational at the stories of courage. 

I have not found this yet and need help.

I am a professional executive who has struggled with "the temptation" for over 10 yrs.

I call it that because it happens every evening and it is not like I desire to drink during the day.

After all, I feel I have it under control. 

I want to stop. Stop feeling like I have to have it.

How many of you are like me? 

Feel like you are not an alcoholic in the commercial sense of the word yet need a drink every night to cope?

As an executive, it all started in an airline club room. From there, I found the soothing and numbing effects helped me not to feel on the outside, yet my insides have so much pain.

I would appreciate any advice from any ladies who have been in my position.

I need help and not sure where I can go. 

If I reach for community help, my secret will be known...maybe this is what I need to do.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Drinking and Motherhood - A Mom Wants To Get Sober


***Submitted by Anonymous

I decided this morning that I must make a change in my life before something bad happens.  

I have an awesome husband who would do anything for me and three perfect children who want nothing more than to be with me and I am screwing it all up because I drink way too much.  

I have always loved to drink since college but I would always binge drink.  

When I was doing this with my friends I never thought much about it being a problem, even still when we get together we all drink too much. 

I cut down in my thirties but as soon as I had kids after each one was born I was right back on the booze and with each one it became so much worse.  

Since the last one came along I have steadily become a daily drinker and within the past few months it is quite scary.  

I know my husband knows it is a problem but it is like he doesn't want to say anything to me about it.  I am always scared that I have ruined my health but more importantly my relationship with my kids. 
   
I work out daily, I run marathons, I am involved in all of the kids activities but as soon as we are home safely I start drinking immediately to "cope"  but the weird thing is that all my life I wanted to be married and have kids so now why do I have to drink to "cope"???    

I am stopping today or I am afraid I will not be around to see my kids grow up. 

I just can't do this anymore it is too exhausting to get up each day and face myself in the mirror with shame and guilt and I know my kids know even though they are young.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Binge Drinker Tells Her Truth


***Submitted by Anonymous

This is the hardest thing I've ever written, but I can't not write it.

I'm hoping that getting it down on paper and seeing how bad it looks will convince me to stop binge drinking. I've spent the past hour or so reading other stories on this site, and I'm completely blown away by the bravery and honesty of everyone. Thank you all so much.

So I'm 28 and I've been drinking since I was 16. It's been out of control since my early twenties. I've always thought I'm not an alcoholic because I rarely drink during the day, and I can go weeks without drinking. But I can't face social situations sober, and I drink in secret. 

I have driven drunk once, because I couldn't face a dinner with my closest friends in the world with only one or two drinks; I had to drink half a bottle of wine in my car first. The thought that I could have killed someone still scares the hell out of me, but not enough to stop drinking. I've rarely had sex sober. Or kissed anyone for the first time sober. When my sister and I go to our parents place for dinner every couple of weeks, I drink in secret and then have to make excuses why I can't drive home. 

Once I went to birthday drinks with an old flatmate and her friends, who I didn't know very well. Because I was so nervous I drank a bottle of wine and god knows how many vodkas before I left my flat, and ended up so drunk that my neighbors found me later passed out on the driveway, covered in vomit, and I ended up in the back of an ambulance on my way to the ER. I have no idea how I got home that night, but I think I probably walked, both along busy roads and quiet dark streets. Anything could have happened to me. I was so lucky.

These are the very worst examples. If I wrote about every negative event in my life that included alcohol this would go way over 1000 words. But you get the picture. And nothing extreme has happened for awhile now, and I don't drink everyday, but when I do it's easily a bottle of wine, sometimes more. I always used to tell myself that I need to drink because I'm naturally shy. When I'm around new people, or people I don't feel comfortable with, I need a few glasses of wine. But it never stops at a few glasses. Once I start I just keep drinking. And I do the same with my best friends and my family too, even though I can sometimes be around them totally sober and be completely comfortable. So it's gone from drinking to be confident, to drinking because I can, because I love it, and I love getting drunk.

So I don't know where to go from here. I don't want to go to AA and I can't face admitting any of this to my family or friends. They know I have a drinking problem but they don't know it's this bad. And I don't want to stop drinking completely. I want to still be able to have a glass of wine or champagne every now and then. 

There are no words to express how much I love drinking, especially wine, and especially the first mouthful. Almost all of the best nights of my life have involved copious amounts of alcohol. Binge drinking is such a part of life in Australia, and so many of my friendships are based on going out and getting drunk. I'm scared of what I'll lose if I stop drinking. But then again I'm terrified of what I'll lose if I don't. 

Can anyone offer me any advice? Has anyone done this, gone from drinking heavily to just having the odd glass of wine every now and then? Is it possible? Any advice would be so appreciated.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I Almost Died Today


***Submitted by Tracy

I could have died today, but I didn't. 

Instead I clawed my way out of an upside down heap of metal an broken glass into a rain filled gutter of rotting leaves.  Wet, cold, shaken and in shock.  Can't I just flip this thing over and head on home...I was almost there.

I am making today the end of my tumultuous relationship with alcohol.  My heart pounds as I write.  My fingers blistered, head aching and nausea visiting me in waves...yet I am here, alive, barely.  Forlorn, remorseful...trying to find hope on the other side of a wreck that has been a slow train coming.  I guess I knew in my heart of hearts that this day would come.  The one I've been denying for so many years.  Thankfully, it was only me involved in a brush with death.  It could have been much worse.  I could have harmed more than my flesh and bones and ego.  

To look at my life and how blessed it is and then to blame such poor decision making on the stress of it, the demands of it, the drama of it and the absurdity of it.  I can always find a reason for some escape.  

At this moment, I am terribly saddened...face red and eyes puffy.  I don't even smell good and I hate what I have done and how deluded I have become in my everyday existence...and why?  Have I nothing better to do?  But of course, but of course...and as my tears stain this page, I am looking into my mind's eye at my drunken morning accident.  

Hours of shivering cold, wet, covered in dead leaves at a police station with some very gratuitous and kind officers...I am looking back and seeing my husband and daughter drive by at three in the morning to see mommy walking the line in the flashing lights...car wheels spinning in the misty night.  

Broken glass, broken heart as they have to leave such a mess behind to let the police do their job.  It's horrible.  

A horror story.

As this page as my witness, I am committing to living a life free of alcohol.  Damn, just thinking that makes me sad.  I will miss enjoying a tasty brew and a complex wine, but it's killing me...it's burying me alive.  

Today I am digging my way free from my self imposed grave.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Help Us Change The Word 'Alcoholic' From "Bad" to "Brave"

***Submitted by Ellie, Founder of Crying Out Now.

The goals of Crying Out Now are lofty, but simple: to provide a safe space for women to tell their stories of addiction and recovery to help heal themselves, and to let others know they aren't alone.

And to change the way the world thinks of what it means to be an alcoholic.

Yes, the WORLD.

If you're going to aim, aim high, I say.

What do YOU think when you hear the world alcoholic? Quick - knee jerk reaction.  What image pops into your mind? Be honest with yourself. Even if you've been reading here a while, my guess is there is still that image of a scraggly homeless man slumped on a doorstep that slinks around in your brain.  It slinks in my brain sometimes, when my disease tries to tell me I wasn't that bad.

Maybe you've been wondering about your own drinking.  Do you have a niggling voice in the back of your mind that bursts through sometimes and tells you that drinking might be a little too important to you?

Whether or not you're in the earliest stages of wondering about your drinking, or firmly entangled in the trenches of low-bottom losses from drinking, it doesn't matter.  I have always said it isn't how much you drink, or how often, it's what alcohol does to you that matters.  It begins to possess your thoughts, you start arranging your life around drinking, you start to have doubts that you're fully present for your life, your work, your children.

Usually, though, these thoughts are easily dismissed by the stigma that the word "alcoholic" carries with it.  Alcoholics aren't successful business people, financially secure, happily married or mothers who try as hard as they can for their kids.  They aren't funny, creative, loving, compassionate and articulate.  They don't live next-door, or in your own house.  They aren't YOU.

I am passionate about breaking down this stigma that keeps people stuck and alone. Especially for women and mothers. We drink alone, usually, in our kitchens, with a few too many at dinner, with sneaky extra gulps from a glass when nobody is looking, or stolen chugs from a stashed bottle.  And we tend to think we're just bad, morally corrupt. And, as women are prone to do, we think we need to be perfect, so we hide this secret as deeply as we can, even though the shame is there, corroding our confidence and making us feel worthless and alone.

There is a change happening, though.  More and more women are using the internet to reach out, find out they aren't alone, and get help.

This is still a controversial topic, and I have been a lightening rod for criticism, as have other women who were some of  the first to be outspoken about their own addiction and recovery stories.  I understand the criticism.  I listen to it closely, because being open about recovery means constantly balancing the desire to reach out to the person who is suffering in silence with the role of Ego in recovery.  It's a tightrope walk of adhering to the importance of one's own recovery program and coloring outside the lines a little bit.

Here's what I see, though. More and more people (especially women) are exploring the idea of recovering from behind the safety of their computer screens, WAY before they would consider a recovery meeting, or even TELLING anyone else about their problem.

Entire communities are forming online to support each other, cheering each other on, offering encouragement and support - and often, the information that helps people walk into their first recovery meeting.  I don't think that one can stay sober long term completely online.  At some point you need to have real people in your life who can help you face-to-face.  But MANY people are meeting each other online first, and taking those initial brave steps towards admitting a problem because they can identify with the stories they read, the people they meet.   The stigma of being an alcoholic is broken down, so the compassion, love and support can come flowing through.

It's been a while since I made a video celebrating Crying Out Now.  I don't know where the last two years went, but I haven't made one since the first anniversary, and now Crying Out Now is 3 1/2 years old, and it is time for a new video.

MANY of the women (most, in fact) you see in this video met first online, by reading sober blogs, through the Booze Free Brigade, or through reaching out initially and tentatively from behind their computer screens.

They are getting off that elevator of addiction - the one that only goes one way .... DOWN - before they go all the way to rock bottom.  The internet is helping them identify with others who are exactly like them, where before they thought they were the only one.  The internet is helping many of these women go to a recovery meeting, and supplement the support they get online with people in 'real' life.

I know the statistics, that many people never crawl their way out of addiction. I don't care about the statistics. Admitting you are an alcoholic and doing the brave work involved in getting well takes serious guts, and it's this bravery I want to honor.  Crying Out Now shares the struggles (many people try for years before they finally get sober, if they get sober at all) and the successes, to show people that they aren't alone and that there IS hope.

Please honor their courage in sharing the messages in this video by commenting and PLEASE share this video on your Facebook and/or Twitter pages.  Odds are addiction has touched your life in some way - either directly or indirectly - because more than 52% of American adults are impacted by the disease of addiction.

Please share this video so it can reach that one person who is suffering in silence - you may even know her, but you don't know she's suffering.

Please help us change how the world responds to the world 'alcoholic'.

Please help us change the world, one story at a time.

(P.S. - I recommend watching this in full view screen for better viewing.  To share, click on the "share" button - SUPER easy).  Thank you.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Four Days Sober, Needs Support and Advice

***Submitted by Anonymous

I've been waging a serious war for the past 5 days. With alcohol. And with myself. 

I'm 30 years old. I've been drinking pretty steadily since my early 20's. I don't drink much hard alcohol anymore, but I enjoy beer and I especially enjoy wine. I've been drinking several glasses a day, almost every day, for years. I've had a few periods of sobriety in between, but they were mostly forced. Like when I attended boot camp for the Navy, or when my ship would go on deployment. I didn't drink then for weeks or months at a time, and that was ok, but it's getting harder and harder for me to not drink every day now. 

I recently left active duty (after 6 successful years, honorably discharged) and ever since, it's been one long binge... Recently I've noticed that I can drink a lot more than I used to without feeling drunk, and no matter how much it is, it never seems like enough. When I get to the end of a bottle of wine I think, is that it? 

It used to be hard for me to put down an entire bottle in one night, I would have felt so sick the next day, but now I start with a few beers in the afternoon, fly through one bottle of wine and pop open another.  And after all this I'm not falling down drunk or anything... it's weird. I know it isn't healthy to put that much alcohol into my body every day, but once I start, that's just what happens.
 
Every night I go to sleep and think, damn it, I did it again... I don't sleep well when I drink, often waking up in the middle of the night to pee, or with killer heartburn, or just, BAM, I'm suddenly wide awake. For hours. In the morning I feel tired, thirsty, foggy, and it's hard for me to get up the motivation to do... anything. Even showering feels like a chore. I'm easily overwhelmed and irritated by everything. It feels like I'm always angry with my husband, who hasn't done anything wrong, or with the dog, who is just a dog and does typical dog things. 

These poor guys... I feel bad for them sometimes to have to deal with such a shrew. I pretty much wait all day until it's time to start drinking (late afternoon), although that time has been getting earlier and earlier. Since leaving the Navy, I haven't been up to much else, so it feels like I'm pretty much living to drink these days. I only feel "good" or "happy" during those few hours when I'm drinking. Then it's bedtime and I feel ashamed and guilty to have gotten myself into such a state, and the whole thing starts over. 

The other night, I woke up in the middle of the night, just wide awake. I laid there and stared at the ceiling for some time and had a dialogue in my head about the state of things, although honestly I don't think it was a talk with myself, I think I was having a talk with God. Basically, He said that what I was doing was not healthy, and I was heading in a wrong direction. 

What am I going to get out of drinking two bottles of wine that I'm not getting out of one, you know? Whatever it is I'm looking for isn't in there, or I would have found it. In that moment I knew that continuing down the road with alcohol will only lead me to very bad places, places I don't want to go. I don't want to turn out like my father, miserable his whole life, consumed by alcohol, and dead at age 52. Alcoholism runs in my family on both sides, I know that I'm genetically predisposed to the disease. I think my sudden ability to drink more without feeling drunk is the disease kicking in... I'm not sure if that's actually right, but I feel like my drinking has moved into another, much more serious and dangerous phase. I decided it was time to stop drinking while I still have my wits about me, before things really get ugly. 

So, no, I don't have any DUI's. No failed relationships or lost jobs because of alcohol. I don't have any of those markers that would make it obvious to anyone, even my own husband, that I have a problem with alcohol. And yet, I do have a problem! I drink (much) more than the recommended amount. I have a problem limiting the amount I drink. I feel terrible all the time in every way (physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually). I am unhealthy, and I don't think I'll be able to manage my feelings or the amount I'm drinking going forward in my life. Something has got to change. I can't keep living like this. I'm really unhappy. 

So I quit drinking on October 8. And the thing is, although I know it's the right thing, it was hard! I'm not happy about it! 

I still have doubts, like "do I really have a problem? Reeeeeally?" Every day I battle with myself about it. I have a huge urge to just pour a glass of wine already and deal with this "situation" later... but there's something that won't let me. The grace of God, probably. Now is the time. I don't want it to be true, but I know it. I can't kick this can down the road any further... I may not be strong enough later to quit on my own. I don't want to have to take an actual time out from my life to go to rehab. And I definitely don't want any of the legal, financial, and relationship consequences.

There is so much I want out of my life... I have this suspicion (finally) that alcohol has been holding me back all these years, that it's actually made things harder when I thought it was making things easier... but it's still really hard to let it go! And I'm scared, because I'm worried that things are going to get harder before they get easier... I'm scared of whatever feelings might come up as I fight my way into sobriety. But I just know I need to do it, and if not now... then when? 

I don't feel drastically better, but somehow I think (I hope) I'm on the right track... I'm going to my first AA meeting tonight, and I have a counseling appointment on Monday to start talking through my feelings of depression. I want out, but I'm at war with a part of myself that doesn't... does that make sense? 

Please wish me luck, it's been a tough 5 days, and it's really, really difficult to imagine going forward from here. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Confessions of a High Bottom Alcoholic

***Submitted by Andrea, who blogs at Your Kick-Ass Life

I wish I could say this post is about how tight my ass is from doing squats- but, alas....it’s not that kind of “high bottom”.

The high bottom I’m referring to is the opposite of a rock bottom. A quick snapshot of my story: I’m 37 years old, and I got sober last year. I was a classic, “functioning alcoholic”. I have a great husband who ironically does not drink, 2 great kids, a house in the ‘burbs, I drive a safe and practical Volvo, and I own a successful business. I have great friends and all-in-all, we have a great life. It’s the quintessential American dream.

I didn’t become active in my alcoholism until about 18 months before I got sober. Sure, I had been slightly crazy in other ways, but once the mental obsession around drinking plus its fast progression happened, I knew exactly what was happening, so I quit quickly after that. They say that as alcoholics the elevator only goes one direction for us: down. And we can get off at any floor. I suppose I escaped at one of the top floors.

Luckily, I saw my father get sober when I was 18 with AA. He was also a functioning alcoholic. Hell, I didn’t even know he was a drunk! I saw my path being the same as his, I knew it was in my DNA, I knew exactly how the story would end if I kept drinking. And it just wasn’t for me.

I vividly remember my first AA meeting. I was wearing designer jeans, my expensive Banana Republic coat and I was at an Alano Club (at that time I thought it was the “Alamo Club”, like it had something to do with Texas). There were homeless people outside and I double checked the address when I saw them. “Surely I don’t belong here”, I thought. “RUN!” my addiction screamed. Just go home, drink some wine and maaaaaaybe try again another day.

Another time I was at an informal book study and a guy looked around and said, “I don’t know about all of you- but when I got sober I was pretty desperate”. Everyone nodded.

Er, nope. Pretty sure I wasn’t desperate.

I would even come to this blog and read stories of women who had humiliated themselves at BBQ’s, or driven drunk with their kids, or had even tried over and over again to get sober and couldn’t stay sober. So much drama. And a strange part of me wanted to relate. I wanted to have a story that was tragic, but not too tragic. A story that was somewhere between good enough for Oprah,  but not bad enough to be on Intervention.

I felt like my story wasn’t good enough. Or, should I say “bad enough”. Like people were judging me, thinking that I didn’t belong there because my story was tied up with a pretty bow.  And all the while my addiction was like a smarmy attorney- building this case against the notion that I was an alcoholic. “Your honor- my client clearly cannot be an alcoholic. She has no DUI’s, no arrests, no stripping down to her thong at parties while drunk, no blackouts, and as evidence A will show you- her pictures on Facebook clearly show a woman who has it all together.” Case closed.

Bottom line: I felt like there had to be a criteria that was unbearably painful and tragic in order to qualify for being a real alcoholic. Then I could be a part of the club. Then I could qualify for sobriety.

My first sponsor told me that for people with a high bottom- our insides don’t match our outsides. In other words, it’s different for people that clearly have a drinking problem. Everyone knows, drinking is affecting their life negatively and it’s just pretty obvious.

But, for us, very few people, if anyone knows about our alcoholism. We have well put together lives and try even harder because of the addiction. We’re desperate for no one to find out, ashamed of what might happen if its uncovered and feel torn about getting sober. We’ve convinced ourselves we’re “social drinkers”. What will happen on bunko nights? What about wine tasting events? Superbowl parties? What will people think?

For me, I had to get to that tipping point where the pain of being fearful of getting sober coupled with the fear of what people would think was less than the fear of keeping up my drinking progression. It was like a little crack in the door. It was all I needed.

I really don’t think staying sober is harder or easier for anyone. It’s so subjective, how will we ever know anyway? I do know that it’s very slippery to let the ego meander too long in the “Well, my alcoholism wasn’t that bad...” In AA they tell us to listen for the similarities- not the differences. I know for a fact all too well that listening only to the differences will put you on a path opposite of recovery.

All alcoholics have been in a “wasn’t that bad” place. I know in my heart that had I kept drinking, or if I ever go back out, I will end up a tragic, rock bottom story. I will lose my husband. My children will end up in therapy talking about their alcoholic mother. This disease does not give a shit about my designer jeans, house in the suburbs or my high bottom. I am an alcoholic, period.

So, sometimes I don’t feel like I belong. Boo hoo. I can choose to stay there and feel sorry for myself, or remember that my disease is the same as that woman on Intervention. And the guy at a meeting who’s back with a 24-hour chip for the 50th time. The disease will always try to bring me back. So, every day I make the commitment.

One day at a time. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Celebrating Sobriety - I Need Your Help

***A note from Ellie, Founder of Crying Out Now:

Hey everyone! 

I was sick with cancer during Crying Out Now's 2nd anniversary, so I never had the chance to make a second anniversary video (like the first year one you see on the right hand sidebar).

So - I'm making a 2 1/2 year/promotional video instead, and I need YOUR help.

I'm asking for to email me a photo of yourself with a sign, again, except this time you can say ANYTHING you want. I'd love it if you put the amount of time you have - especially if you're new and have days/weeks/months - that is so inspiring, or you can put a message - a piece of advice that has helped you or that you say to others who are still struggling.   

I need at least 30 pictures, so please contribute if you can.  You can email the pictures to onecraftyellie@gmail.com, and if you want a sense of what the video will look like, watch the one year video on the side bar.  You will see creative ways to send a message anonymously there, too, but I'm hoping some of you will be willing to show your beautiful faces! 

The overall message, of course, is that sobriety is beautiful, and NOT the end of the world or all the fun you'll ever have in your life; that it is, in fact, the beginning of the rest of your life and will open doors for you that you can't possibly imagine.

If you aren't in recovery (or active addiction - it's important to note you DO NOT have to be sober to be part of this video.  You could make a sign that says "still trying", or "Desire to stop drinking" or something like that) but have had addiction/recovery touch your life, you are welcome to contribute, too.  You could make a sign that says "in memory of ______", or "love someone sober", or anything else that you'd like to say.

I'd like to get this up next week, so please send along as soon as you can.  I can also use this as a promotional video to spread the word about Crying Out Now to those who are still out there struggling. 

For those of you who have been part of this in the past, you can attest that it's amazing to be part of something that is saving peoples' lives. 

ANY help you can give me by facebooking or tweeting about this would be gratefully received, too, especially you sober bloggers out there. 

Thank you, so much.  Addiction lives in the dark; together we are bringing LIGHT.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Miracle


***Submitted by NH

Today I feel like the world is spinning out of control.  

I have a gift today though, since working through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, to know that it is my head spinning out of control.

I am loved and I can love.  

My daughter is tucked in bed and sleeping.  

I have a roof over my head and food on the table.

I have a strong network of sober women in my life and a sponsor to call.  

So what could really be wrong?

There are times when the lonely feelings creep back in.  They make me feel like I am alone in a room full of people.  They make me feel like I will be "single" for the rest of my life, with no one to share the goings on of busy life.  

They make me feel like I don’t have a voice, that maybe I am not good enough at what I do.

The miracle is that I don’t have to pick up a drink or a drug tonight. 

I don’t have to wipe out my feelings, the ones I can identify and those that lie underneath with anything.  I can ride the rest of this day out, utilizing the tools that I have to relieve my “pain” and wake up clear headed without guilt and shame tomorrow.

The only way I can do this tonight and any other night that the “lonely” strikes, is by remembering that I AM AN ALCOHOLIC. 

I have tried it my way.  It doesn't work. 

I am powerless over drugs and alcohol.  My life WILL become unmanageable if I pick up a drink tonight.  

I will not take this chance.  I am worthy of the life I am living as a sober woman right now. 

Tomorrow will be another day.