Sunday, April 18, 2010

My name is Mary, I am an alcoholic

Most of my old blogger buds have moved along, and a lot of you I don't know so well, so although my story is here over the course of 1695 posts written over four and a half years, maybe it would be nice to have a little bit of a refresher.

I was born in December 1951, the youngest of five children. My father had a college degree, a job that required he wear a suit every day, and a hell of a drinking problem. He quit drinking in April of 1965.

I started drinking in July of 1966, while my parents were attending their regular Thursday night meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. In one sip, I went from being a flat chested, skinny kid who felt ill-at-ease in almost every situation to being a voluptuous, womanly, funny, life of the party. Life was good and I knew where I belonged. I knew the answer to life's problems. I held the key to every door. No longer did I wish to become a nun. That desire flew out the window and never darkened my door again. I had more illustrious pursuits to follow!

By November of that year I was 14 years old and pregnant. By August of the following year I had given birth to my first child and had given her up for adoption. I returned to my school with the resolve not to drink anymore or to get in any more trouble.

That resolve lasted for less than a month. I was an overweight 15 year old alcoholic with a world class case of post-partum depression. Trying to go to high school every day. I dropped out of high school after a few months. Then I just devoted my life to drinking every day. I got a job for a few days but it interfered with drinking, so I got fired very quickly.

Mr. Right came along in June of 1968. Oh, I would like to poo poo this and make fun of it. Maybe he really did save my life, because I really did slow down. He encouraged me to go back to high school. I went back in the fall. I kicked ass and finished high school in 2 years. Basically I finished four years of school in two. I know that I brought a bottle of wine (ripple, fine, fine wine) to school every day and drank it. I graduated high school and got married right out of high school.

Then I started seriously drinking again..... Every single day, all day. I had nothing to do. I knew I had made a terrible mistake. I sat in our little apartment and drank every single day. I was only 18 years old.

When I was twenty-years-old I got a decent job. I knew after a few months that I was making enough money to have my own apartment and make my own car payment. So I filed for divorce. I was also about to turn 21, legal age to buy my own alcohol. When I was old enough to go to bars, I started going there - frequently. Oh, how I loved drinking in bars!

By the time I turned 21, I weighed 110 lbs... I am 5'7" - you could see my ribs through sweaters! My long blonde straight hair was down to my hips - oh, yes, I was a hit at the bars. I don't think I ever did pay for a drink in a bar.

When I was 22, I met the love of my life. The man who was to be my husband and the father of my children. He drank like I did. We both drank a LOT. Most men I dated could not keep up with me, but he could. We could drink all night. And then we could drink some more. We had a ton of fun. We went skiing. We went scuba diving. We camped. We went fishing. We got married. We had a big wedding. We had a big honeymoon. We had children.

We moved from a suburb of Chicago to a small town in New Mexico. And then he started traveling for his job. He was gone all of the time. All of the time. I was lonely. I was a young mother. And I lived in this crazy time machine (it only went backwards) town in New Mexico. This is when my drinking really turned pathological. I was still technically young - but I was a mother. I had responsibilities... but I had to drink. I had no choice in the matter. I had to drink and I had to drink every day. It wasn't fun. It was something I had to do.

He stopped liking me so much. He stopped talking to me. I still knew how to go to bars. So I did. It was a small town, I had quite a reputation. I got into a lot of the kind of trouble that women end up getting into. I don't feel like writing all of that tonight... if you are an alcoholic woman or know one well, you know what I am talking about.

I finally got into enough trouble I got really scared to even leave the house. The last three years I drank, I drank at home. I was too afraid to go anywhere. Funny, it didn't occur to me to quit drinking - my solution was to quit going anywhere. So I stayed at home and drank around the clock. Morning, noon, and night. I never drew a sober breath. I wanted to die every single day. I had three small children who needed me. My alcoholic insanity had me convinced they would be better off without me. I was bloated, overweight, red-faced, and insane. I hadn't worked outside the home for many years. I had no idea what to do.

On our ninth wedding anniversary, my husband came home from work and told me he had quit his job and we were moving to Denver. Denver?! I could think of no place I would less like to live. I was horrified. But we packed up and moved on July 5, 1984.

I found myself in a cracker box suburban house that was my worst nightmare. I had neighbors living inches from both sides of my door - and I noticed that they were not drinking morning, noon and night. And for some reason, I noticed that maybe I was the weirdo in this situation. Maybe I needed to change something. And maybe it was my drinking that needed to go.

For weeks, I got out the phone book every morning and looked up Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn't call. I was too frightened.

On July 24, 1984, I made the call. I called the phone number for Alcoholics Anonymous. I got a young man on the phone. He listened to me for a minute and then suggested that he have a woman call me back in a moment. I thought he was getting rid of me... imagine my surprise when a few minutes later a wonderful, intelligent, soft-spoken woman called me back. She understood me! She listened to me! She listened to me for about an hour.

And after an hour, like a salesman closing a deal, she said "how about we go to a meeting tonight?" and I told her I couldn't possibly do that. "why not?" well, I told her, I had three kids and no babysitter. She would get a babysitter for me. I told her I couldn't pay the babysitter. She said she would pay the babysitter. I told her my husband had the car. She said she would pick me up. She said she would pick up the babysitter, drive the babysitter to my house, drive me to the meeting, drive me home from the meeting, pay the babysitter, drive the babysitter home.... and I knew she had me licked. I could not think of one more thing at that moment. I figured I could think of an excuse later on and call her back.

But as the day progressed and I started shaking, I prayed instead. I asked God to help me stay sober. I went to that meeting that night. At the meeting I heard what I needed to hear to give me the hope that I could stay sober if I did the stuff that was in the big book. Someone gave me a big book (which I still have) and told me to read it as if my life depended on it. People gave me phone numbers and told me to call them. They told me to get lots of phone numbers because alcoholics are active people and you shouldn't just depend on one or two of them, because they may not be available.

They told me all kinds of stuff. And for some reason I listened. I wanted to stay sober. I was done drinking. I got a sponsor and got her to help me with the steps. I got elected to be treasurer of the first group in my first 30 days (which was insane but worked for me). I got very busy with AA. I jumped in with both feet. I had been estranged from God - and this "God of my understanding" was a revelation to me. Everything was different. I was sober! For the first time in eighteen years!

I could go on and on and on.... This is a very brief summary of my story. And it leaves off just as I got sober. A lot of people would call this a "drunkalog" - I LOVE drunkalogs. I love to hear people talk about their drinking years.

I am so grateful for my experiences. Who knew that when I made that phone call on that fateful Tuesday morning, it would be the beginning of my real life. My sober life. I've not had a drink since. That, my friends, is thanks to the Grace of a Loving God.


Kim A. said...

Another reason I love open AA speaker meetings...the hope.


Zanejabbers said...

Hey MC. It was good to reread your basic story.

shadowlands said...

I like drunkalogues too. I needed to read this one, this morning. It's good to begin to get honest, (for me, I mean).Thank you Mary.

Syd said...

Thanks for the recap. I have read your entire blog but am inspired by all that you have overcome with the help of your HP to be where you are today.

Pam said...

I love drunkalogs too. I've never really trusted anyone in the program until I hear theirs...or at least "how they drank."
I can't feel safe if I don't know they drank like I did.

Mary LA said...

The kind of trouble that alcoholic women get into -- I identify with every word you write on this history Mary Christine.

And you too Pam the Disappeared.

AnyEdge said...

Thank you MC. I'm glad you're still here.

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

Drunk a logs are a favorite of mine too, I like hearing stories, and feeling the experiences of others along with mine, helps me to feel connected. :)

Thanks so much!

ws said...

I always enjoy reading your story. The amazing thing to me is how consistent your story is - the first time I told my story all I did was blame my parents. My perception has changed so much, for the better, since then.

Have a great Monday.

dAAve said...

You know, I like drunkalogs too. Many people don't like to hear them, but it helps me to get to know a person. Plus, I realize that I'm not so bad. LOL

Carverlane said...

I never get tired of hearing your story. You are a walking, talking, blogging MIRACLE!

Kim from sAn Antonio

Sober Move said...

Thanks for sharing, you overcame a lot. Reading drunkalogues/hearing addicts stories is bitter sweet for me. They are always interesting but sometimes it's hard to hear what the ones we love went through.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing your blog...Please continue to write - you help more than you know just by making your posts.

Ed G. said...

I can identify with your pain and that initial pang of hope. I think that might be the point.

Thank you for this.

Blessings and aloha.

Nony Honesty said...

Hi Mary! I thank you for posting this. I am one of the folks who you don't know but who is following your blog and reading your posts. I am not in AA, but thanks to your story I'm thinking about going. I can identify with much of your story.

Again, I thank you.
*slinking back to lurk-spot*

Sober Princess said...

Thank you Mary. My name is Rachel, I am an alcoholic. I ended up getting sober in a tiny isolated village in Spain which is packed full of bars and nothing else - definitely no AA meetings anywhere to be found. Thanks to the internet I was able to find the support I need online . . . I will have 2 years sober on 17th May. I still have never been to an AA meeting - but without AA I would not be sober today. I´ve started my own blog about my journey in sobriety. Hope to see you there sometime :D

Anonymous said...

I don't know for sure if I'm an alcoholic but I suspect it. I haven't had a drink for 47 years and I'm 54. I had a few sips as a child. At times I crave alcohol even though I don't partake of it and have been a teetollar. I never take a drink and do my best to avoid cough medicine with alcohol and food that uses wines. I don't want to find out if my suspicion is true. I want to say that you don't have to take a drink to be an alcoholic. A teetotaller can be an alcoholic.