Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Saw Myself In My Daughter Tonight

***Submitted by Anonymous

(A note from the moderators of CON: this was submitted a while ago, and because of our queue of posts it is just going up now. We are so pleased to update you that as of today Anonymous has over 90 days of sobriety, and is going strong).

I saw myself in my daughter tonight....

I was a very moderate drinker for many, many years. As a divorced single Mother with no help, trying to run my own business I was too busy and frankly exhausted at the end of the day to think about anything but hitting the bed! I appeared to be like most normal drinkers. I would have one glass of wine with dinner on holidays, one beer on a hot day at a cookout. But somehow I was always able to stop because I knew all those two girls had was me. And as a constant worrier I couldn't stop thinking about the "what ifs" What if one of the girls got hurt or sick and I had to drive to the hospital? What if they saw me drinking? All those mind seems to never stop with the worst case scenarios!

13 years ago I married a wonderful, responsible man. And I also inherited his two fabulous children. He never drinks. We had a perfect life. No blended family issues, no money problems, great house, schools, neighborhood, lots of friends and extended family. Life was great. At this point I began having a glass of red wine while cooking dinner, just one and I never wanted more. 

Then 7 years ago things changed. I lost both of my adored in laws in a tragic accident. My oldest daughter left for college, one of my best friends was diagnosed with terminal melanoma and as for myself, symptoms I had ignored for years ended up being diagnosed as MS. My life felt like it was out of control and my life long anxiety peaked to unbearable levels. I began to drink.....heavily.

This has gone on now for 7 years. With some periods of sobriety here and there. If anyone notices they haven't said anything, besides the occasional joke about hangovers from my husband. My hangovers HAVE become unbearable. I spend 2-3 days a week in bed. I drink 3 nights a week.

My 24 year old daughter has moved back home after a breakup. She is drinking 4 beers a night and more on the weekends. My husband was out of town last weekend and I realized just how much she was drinking(she ran out of beer and switched to whiskey) broke my heart. I refuse to become her "drinking buddy" after a bottle of wine I even smoked after quitting almost two years ago.....I can't believe I did that! This stops NOW.....I need to be an example. She needs me to be present.

I watched the video that you made. I was in tears, but inspired. I'm not such a bad person....and I AM NOT ALONE

Monday, January 28, 2013

Wants To Love Herself Again - A 53 Year Old Wine Drinker Asks For Help

***Submitted by Anonymous

I am a 53-year-old wine drinker whose imbibing has exploded into full-blown binges. 

I have just gone through a massive transition in the last few months: moved to another state, beloved daughter graduated from high school and is in college,  my own parents are aging and beginning to drift into dementia.

I've always tried to avoid painful emotions, either through sex or food and now it has developed into alcoholism.

I am ready to pull myself in front of a mirror and say to my sad self:  "See, here you are - meet yourself. Love yourself.  Stop avoiding this poor woman."

I want to live an open, clear, clean sober life.

I want to make a contribution to this world.

I want to meet myself and get to know me.

Is it possible at this late stage?

I'm not sure whether I have hope or not - my mind is a bit fuzzy at this point!

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Struggling with the "A" Word

***Submitted by Steph K. 

A note from the co-moderators: our policy is to post submissions chronologically, unless we get one from someone who is struggling with active drinking or new sobriety and needs to get support/feedback right away. If you have a submission in, it will be posted in the order it was received unless this exception applies.

I don’t like to use the term alcoholic to describe myself because it has such negative connotations with the general public.

Or…maybe its denial.

However, I fit the description to a tee. Today is another late night/early am filled with remorse, guilt, and shame, all by-products of alcoholism.

I have been to AA – had continuous sobriety for 7 or 8 months at most. I do not count the 9 months I was sober during pregnancy. I wouldn’t allow myself to harm my unborn child. Now that he is out of my body, do I think its okay to expose him to the type of drinking that scars people for a lifetime? 

I know firsthand this typing of scarring, being that my own father is an alcoholic. It is absolutely not okay with me. 

My precious son is only 9 months old. Ironically, today is January 18th and he was born on ApriI 18th

Maybe today can be my new sobriety date – one that finally sticks.

Not saying I want to go to a rehab, but they won’t take me (covered by insurance) anyway. I haven’t been drinking steadily for days on end. I am a binge drinker. Apparently, a 3 day bender doesn’t count?\

I thought about posting this on my facebook page in an effort to de-stigmatize alcoholism. However, I don’t want to wear the Scarlett Letter A. 

A for Alcoholic. Posting on the Booze Free Brigade is my best attempt.

For those of you who are like me and can go for periods of sobriety but then have hardcore binges – you may not want to call yourself an alcoholic… but… a wise person once told me that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck…guess what…it’s a duck

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rachel's Story - Trigger Warning - Talking About Sexual Abuse

***Submitted by "Rachel"

My story begins as a 6 year old child.  The day the life I think I might have had ended.  I’m building my new life now and telling this story is a start. 

I grew up in an affluent neighborhood filled with doctors, judges, college professors, and politicians.  On the outside it was picture perfect. Nice homes, nice families, nice kids. 

 I lived with both of my parents and although they drank socially they are not alcoholics.   My relationship with my mother did not match the ideal neighborhood.  Outside of the home we were the Cleavers, inside the home she was difficult, and both physically and verbally abusive.  I was afraid of her moods and my sister and I did our best to keep her happy.  My dad was mostly absent or oblivious as he worked on a graduate degree in addition to working full-time.   In the battle to keep my mom happy and to stay safe, my sister, older by 4 years, was my biggest ally.  I often went to her for comfort when things were particularly bad at home or at night when I was afraid of the dark and storms. 

I spent many summer days and evenings traveling our perfect neighborhood with my best friends while my parents enjoyed cocktails and games with theirs.  Winters were spent in a similar fashion inside and the kids ruled/policed themselves in a rotation of basements.

Our favorite game was Capture the Flag.  In addition, the older kids on the block built a fort in the woods that was the pride of those granted entry and the envy of those that were not.  Access to the “club” was invite only and the clear leaders were 2 older brothers whose father was a judge.

I was invited to join the “club” by my older sister along with my 2 best friends when I was six.  Initiation into the club was performed in a dark basement and involved acts of sexual abuse performed by the older kids. I was the last to be initiated and by the time it was my turn the oldest boys were amped up by their experience and were increasingly violent.  All participated, including my sister.  I left that basement bleeding and in tears. 
Threats from the older kids, as well as fear of my mom and her reaction, cemented my decision to never tell anyone what had happened that night and I convinced my friends to do the same. 

I wish I could say that it stopped there, that the one evening was the end of my pain.  It was the beginning.  Following that incident my sister began to sexually abuse me in our home.  The person that was my biggest comfort became a source of tremendous pain.  The abuse stopped when I turned 12 and finally stood my ground and was willing to accept any threats and consequences of that decision.  I never spoke of any of these experiences to anyone.

In that basement I lost my innocence and I believe to this day that what occurred there, along with the circumstances within my own home, set off a chain of events that forever altered the path of my life.   I was left with both physical and emotional damage.  I felt a hole inside of me that felt dirty.  I experienced a deep level of shame that over the years has grown like a cancer.  I felt a constant need for approval and an unquenchable thirst for success as a way to erase my pain.   I experienced nightmares and was terrified of sex.

My coping skill was to attempt to be as perfect as possible.  I had to be the best at everything I did and I always thought that the next big thing I accomplished would be the thing that would erase my pain and fill that hole. On the outside I looked like a superstar, on the inside I was slowly falling apart.   I developed an eating disorder while trying to find something I could control in my life.  I spent 10 years thinking that starving myself was the answer.  I was not a drinker yet, it was too many calories and it did not fit with my perfectionism.  Instead, I was the designated driver and the “responsible one” that everyone else teased but called when they needed a ride home.

 I met my husband during this time and I hid the seriousness of my problems from him.  We dated long distance and I managed to look totally together on the weekends and would then fall apart during the week.  When he asked me to marry him I was both thrilled and terrified.  I knew he fell in love with the woman I portrayed on the outside and did not know the awfulness on my insides.  He had no idea how much I dreaded and hated sex.  I felt like a fraud.  I married him anyway because I loved him and he took care of me, he took me away.    

Our first year of marriage was a disaster but was the impetus for me getting treatment for my eating disorder.  I spent time hospitalized and in intensive outpatient.  I still did NOT talk about my abuse, but I did find meaningful recovery from my food obsessions and the next several years of my life were pretty good.   I discovered that with a glass or 2 of wine I could manage a sex life.   My career was skyrocketing and I loved the professional success, my marriage was stable, and I had 2 beautiful children.  I battled periods of depression, but I managed with medication and therapy. 

I found a therapist that I loved and trusted.  For the first time, at the age of 33, I began to talk about the abuse from my childhood.  It has been a slow and painstaking process.  I have spent many years pretending that it didn’t happen and then convincing myself that I was a willing participant and therefore at fault.  It is not easy to rewire that thought process and for every step forward I feel like I follow it with 2 steps back.  Drinking became a wonderful way to escape the shame/guilt spiral.  

My life felt overwhelming, 2 kids, a high pressure career, a desire to be the perfect employee, wife, mother, friend, neighbor.  I needed a level of perfection that was impossible to achieve to even feel worthwhile. Perfection was no longer enough.  Hard painful work at therapy was stirring up painful emotions that I didn’t want to feel and a glass of wine or two at the end of the day seemed like the perfect answer. 

From there the downward spiral was fast.   Fast forward a year and a half and a glass or 2 of wine had become a bottle or more a day.  I began to hide my drinking from my husband, I had blackouts.   I was and continue to be obsessed with alcohol.  How much did I have on hand, is it enough?  How can I drink more without people noticing?  I was full of shame, guilt, and hatred towards myself.  My life felt worthless and unlivable.  I found myself in a hotel room with 2 bottles of wine, 2 bottles of sleeping pills, letters to my dear sweet children and husband, and the intention to end my life.  I’m still not sure what stopped me from acting on my plan that night, but I will feel forever grateful that I did not.  

I found the Booze Free Brigade through an article in a magazine.  I found a group of women and a few men, with successful careers, mothers who also struggled with balancing it all, women who are not afraid to be real even when it is ugly. Women that may or may not also have experiences like mine, but   offer support in a way that I never dreamed possible.  I know that I was drawn to the group for a reason.  I still struggle with the idea that I am an alcoholic, but what I do know right here, right now, is that alcohol is running my life in a way that I am not ok with.  It is ruining my life.  My children deserve more, my husband deserves more, I DESERVE MORE. 

I am working hard at building a life I can be proud of.  I am giving that six year old girl a second chance at the life she should have had.  It’s not easy and I have many bumps on the road ahead of me.  I am going to take this journey SOBER with the help of my therapist and BFB.  

This is where my story begins…

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

One Day You Will

***Submitted by Ellie

I created an umbrella organization, called Shining Strong, to encompass the Bubble Hour and Crying Out Now. My hope is to turn Shining Strong into a non-profit organization so we can continue to maintain and grow these sites.

I created a promotional/informational/inspirational video that I'm hoping people will share (if they can, I understand anonymity may prohibit you from doing so), or at least provide hope to those of you who are still struggling or who are in early sobriety.

So please listen, remember you are far from alone, and share if you can.  A BIG thank you to the incredible women of the Booze Free Brigade for their messages of hope.

(Song "One Day You Will" performed by Lady Antebellum).

One last anecdote: I know this looks like the Anniversary Video, but it's different (although you may seem some familiar faces in it).

Thanks for watching:

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Disease Is Doing Push-Ups

***Submitted by Lisa 

My disease is doing push-ups and taking vitamins, just waiting…..

My name is Lisa and I’m an alcoholic.  Today I have been sober and in recovery for 444 days.  444 days, not 14 and half months, not almost 15 months.  

I was reminded of this earlier this week.  

I believe that the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and working the 12 steps of recovery is my medicine in managing my disease.  I work a solid program and attend at least 5 meetings per week.  One thing that was taught to me early on in recovery was to start my day by asking for the strength to keep me away from a drink or a drug just for today.  (Drugs were not my thing, but alcohol was and any mind or body altering substance will lead me back to a drink).  At the end of the day, I was taught to thank my higher power for the day and ask to remove the phenomena of craving.  Easy enough.

I practice this ritual daily and am grateful that the daily craving was removed early on.  In fact, I recall a meeting months ago where someone was sharing that he couldn’t stop thinking about wanting a drink, drinking, or not drinking, all day every day.  I remember nodding my head with a sympathetic crinkle in my forehead, thinking, “I’m so glad that I’m passed that”.  

An "Aha" moment that leads me to my story, proving to me that this is a day at a time program.  I have a daily reprieve from my disease IF I am willing to do the daily work that goes along with it.

So, this past Tuesday I came home to prepare dinner after working two jobs that day.  My children are 14 and 15 and were home from school for two days due to hurricane Sandy.  They were on each other’s nerves all day and were bouncing off the walls by the time I came home.  I started dinner, chicken potatoes and veggies.  A standard fare at our house, probably served too often.  They both looked at each other and said, “Great, we’re starving and looks like we’re having a crappy chicken dinner”.  Then standing at either side of the room, with me in the middle, engaged in a screaming match using words that would make your skin crawl.  I yelled, “Hey!  Respect please!” and retreated to my bedroom to take a time out and change my clothes.

If you were watching a movie you would have seen a tired, frustrated mother taking a pause just sitting on the bed.  However, this is what was going on.  For a brief moment I could taste a familiar fruity oaky taste of some sort of white wine.  My chest warmed, remembering the feeling of what that first taste of alcohol does to my body.  A voice saying, “This will help, just settle the nerves”.  This voice sounded like the voice you hear coming from a scary movie, from the body of someone that is controlled by a demon and about to have an exorcism performed.  A stronger voice said, “NO!  You never have to have a day one ever again.  You have the tools, use them”.  This voice sounds like Glinda the Good from the Wizard of Oz.  A little dramatic, yes, but you get the point.

What the F@&# was that!!!  It was my disease in the corner doing push-ups and taking vitamins waiting for a crack, an opportunity to attack, stronger than ever.

I shook it off.  Scared to death.  

Called my friend, another alcoholic in recovery and told her the story.  I knew that I would do whatever it took to attend a meeting that night and I did.  My life depended on it.  I went to a discussion meeting that night and raised my hand and told my story.  Nothing out of the ordinary led to that moment, but it happened.  The fellowship of AA has given me the tools and in this case, the artillery necessary to fight my disease one day at a time.  This toolbox of mine includes writing about it, sharing my experience that might help another alcoholic that faces the same situation.  

So I made it through day 442 and hurricane Sandy safe and sound.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Letter to My Disease

***Submitted by Sherry, who blogs at SoberMomRocks 

Alcoholism -

I will not begin this letter with "Dear" because you are not dear to never have been and you never will be.

You and I have had a long and interesting journey together.  I met you as a child - you and my father were well acquainted.  You lived in my home alongside me every day of my young and vulnerable life.  While I was the first born, you were the most loved.  My father put you before me and cherished your relationship with him more than mine.  You almost killed him three times but not until the third time did he decide to end his love affair with you.

I hated you and because of that, for a time I hated my father.  I cared for him.  Stood by his side when no one else did except you.  I tried to save his life while you tried to kill him.  It wasn't until you had almost succeeded that he turned to me.  By then he was old and you had exacted your toll.  He only had 13 years left for me.  13 out of 35...even I can do that won.

Because of your relationship with my father, I avoided your company for many years.  I drank beer on occasion and tried wine from time to time.  Since my first husband had lived with you when he was a child as well, there was no alcohol in our home.  Because of you I invented rules to keep you at bay.

No drinking alone.
No drinking at home.
No drinking before 5:00 pm

But you were always below the surface because you had already taken up residence in my soul.  You slept...for a time...until my life changed and I stepped over the line and woke you.

Like the abuser that you are, you began by courting me.  You were warm and inviting after a hard day at work.  You gave an insecure and beaten young woman the confidence she desperately sought.  You made me witty.  You let me fit in to a world that I believed belonged only to the most successful.

But soon you began to show yourself...slowly...and I wasn't paying attention.  Or I ignored you.  I suspect the latter to be true.

Because of you I was not capable of only one drink.  I was the one who always got drunk.  I was the life of the party.  I thought about alcohol all the time.  I became obsessed with when and how I would drink.  I organized my life around when I could drink.  And I rationalized and made excuses for you.  I lied for you (mostly to myself).

And then you woke completely and we came face to face.  And, after all you had done to me, after all the hurt and heartache you gave me, I embraced you!  It was like I had forgotten all of your ugliness.  I had forgotten all of the pain you brought to my life.  I think it was more like I dressed you in different clothes and called you by a different name in order to co-exist with you.  I could not deal with my father's lover.  I had to figure out a way to live with you on my own terms.  I called you fun.  I called you coping.  I referred to you as temporary.

Until I didn't.

When you were finally unmasked and I saw you for what you were I was ashamed.  I hid my face and pretended I was fine.  I negotiated with you to try and pretend you didn't actually exist.  But you persisted.  The harder and louder I denied you, the stronger you became. 

And then one day I gathered my courage and brought you out of the shadows and into the light.  I exposed you for what you were.  Cunning, baffling and powerful.  I decided to fight you. 

I began fighting you alone but learned quickly that you would not go quietly into the night.  I needed help.  I didn't want to need help because it meant I would have to admit I let you in and I was still ashamed.  It meant I would have to call you by name and that I would have to admit to myself that you lived within me...I had to say, "I am an alcoholic."  I wasn't ready for that.

As with any abusive relationship, people tend to look from the outside in, shake their heads and say, "How could she put up with that?  Why doesn't she leave?"  I was still ashamed because those of us that live with abusers's just not that easy.

Finally I put aside my pride and stretched my hand out for help.

And there were hands!  Hands from AA that taught me not to be ashamed.  Hands from therapists who are trained to fight you. Hands from bloggers who have had the same experiences as mine and who taught me that I am not special. My relationship with you is not special.  I am just a drunk and you are just a disease and you CAN be defeated.  They had and continue to defeat you every day.

They also taught me that you never go away.  Like polio you are only sleeping.  Thanks to those helping hands I have learned to be hyper-vigilant and to recognize my cravings for what they are, your attempt to come back into my life.  Keep sleeping - you are not welcome here.

Most importantly the hand of God was there.  By His grace I was able to put you in your place within my soul.  I gave you a tiny, tiny little piece of me because you will never go away.  You will always be waiting to reawaken our love affair and assert yourself as my abuser once again.  But God occupies the remainder of my soul and as long as I stay connected to can never hurt me again.

So remain in that small part of my soul, alcoholism.  I no longer hate you or what you did to my childhood, or my adulthood or the childhood of my children.  I do not hate you for what you did to my body and the work I must now do to regain my health.  I do not hate you because hate and love are strong emotions that sit side by side.

Rather I respect you.  I will never underestimate your power.  I will keep you close because that's what you do with your enemies.  But I will not give you any more power.

Sleep you bastard of a can't hurt me unless I allow it...and I no longer allow it.

My name is Sherry and I am an alcoholic.