This is a hard one to write but on the off chance that someone out there, who even suspects they may have a drinking problem, finds any comfort in these words...then I am duty bound to write them.
I am the adult child of an alcoholic who was the adult child of an alcoholic. My father drank for most of my life and his father drank until I was born. I have no idea whether or not my great grandfather drank but the odds are that yes, he was an alcoholic as well. My mother was addicted to gambling and her father was an alcoholic as were his brothers and most of his family.
I never had a chance.
My sister has been addicted to anything on which she can get her hands since her early teens. She’s still in active addiction and we are not in contact. Her story belongs to her and so, with a few exceptions, I will not try to tell it here.
I think I’ve always known I had a problem with alcohol from the time I took that first drink. It was Sloe Gin and one was not enough. I got drunk and sick and swore I’d never drink again. Yeah...right.
I drank a lot in my 20s because it was the ‘80s and everyone drank then right? Right...but not everyone got drunk every single time they drank. I did. I made up rules to keep from drinking too much like never drinking at home or trying to go 24, 48, 72 hours without drinking. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.
I was always the first to a party and the last to leave. I was always the one who didn’t know when to go home. I was the one trying to get everyone to go get “just one more.” With only a few exceptions, I never drank the hard stuff, only beer and wine...mostly wine. Oh how I loved wine. I’m the one you could count on to throw a great party, organize a wine tasting or find the perfect bar. Unfortunately I am also the one who, more often than not, made an ass of herself and then chalked it up to “a good time.”
I never missed work. I never had a DUI. If you knew me, you would never have believed I had a drinking problem. You would have thought I just knew how to have a good time. My kids were happy. They got terrific grades and everyone loved to be around them. I was a good person. I held down a high-paying and complicated career getting promoted on a regular basis. I didn’t look like the average skid-row alcoholic.
As the years passed I began to lose control more and more on my perceived “rules” about drinking. I started drinking at home; first one night a week, then two, then before long every night. First one glass a night, then two, then a bottle, then two or three. Every night.
I began to isolate and sit up in my room, watch TV and drink. I turned down invitations if they didn’t involve alcohol. I drunk texted and emailed and then was shamefaced in the morning when I realized what I had done. I checked my eyes every morning to see if the whites were turning yellow. I wrote notes to myself that said things like, “Normal people don’t drink like you do.”
I’d wake up every morning and promise myself I wasn’t going to drink, only to find myself in the grocery store at about 4 o’clock picking up the nightly stash. Of course there was always a reason. I had a bad day. I had a good day. I had a day. I stumped my toe. I broke a nail. Whatever...
One of my “rules” was that my children would never see me drunk. They did. It made them cry. That’s one memory I hope I never forget.
I tried to quit a couple of times before I got it right. I’d get to about three months, see how “easy” it was and then think I could moderate. Um...not so much. Each time I was back to two or three bottles a night faster than the last.
Finally I came to bed one night and, trying to slur something or another to my husband, he sat up in bed and said, “I think you’re drinking too much.” And that was it. I quit.
It was and continues to be a work in progress. I have good days and bad. I white knuckled it for a while and then truly entered recovery with the help of AA and some really fabulous people. I continue to discover new, shocking and interesting things about who I am and who I want to be.
But the most important thing is that I put down my wine glass on January 7, 2010. And I’m grateful every day that I did.
Hi...I’m Sherry and I’m an alcoholic. I stay sober by blogging at Oh for the Love of…Me.