Ooh, warm fuzzies. People's mouths moved but who knew or cared what they were saying? Available at fine stores everywhere. The law was 18 then. Sweet!
If one drink was good, then ten must be better. Gin became my favorite. Goddess bless the juniper berry. My friends sneered, "that's a girly drink." Why, thank you. So much the better.
But my new friend slowly turned on me. As my friends moved on, I just wanted to drink. At last, something I was good at. I could outdrink just about anyone. The thing was, it had begun to be hard for me to NOT drink. I had to know where my next one was coming from. I would sell anything, do anything, to get that drink. My tolerance for alcohol began to slip. Ten years in, I was in my late twenties, going nowhere, and becoming ill in mind, body and spirit.
I had begun to have moments. You know, moments. Like, standing on a chair in my bedroom trying to sweep bugs off the ceiling with a broom. I understand that most people don't do this. I was 28. Finally, I did something cruel to the woman I was living with. I don't mean that I said yes, you look fat in those jeans. I mean, I did something that made me realize that I had become the exact sort of person I loathed. I was shocked at myself, at my life. The next morning, I called the AA hot line. I went to a meeting that night.
I lived in San Antonio, Texas, then. I walked in, feeling lower than a snake's belly in a wagon wheel rut, as they say there, and sat down with a group of large men wearing longhorn steer belt buckles. Eeep. I expected they would probably throw my reprehensible skinny butt right out the door. But they didn't. They told me I was the most important person in the room. They told me they would love me until I could love myself. They gave me their telephone numbers. Goddess love them. That was June of 1983. The compulsion to drink, the overwhelming physical and emotional addiction, led me to relapse, more than once, but I kept coming back and I kept on trying to get it. Then I moved back to Michigan, into my childhood home because I had no place else to go. But I kept going to AA.
I found a group that met in the afternoons twice a week, and suddenly I had fifteen mothers. I mean, ones that weren't embarassed of me. Ones who helped me when I needed help the most. In the fall of that year, the compulsion came back strong, riding on my back like a 500 pound gorilla for two weeks until I finally caved and drank one more time. The next time that happened, I prayed for my Higher Power to override the addiction, to please get me through to the next day. It worked. That was September 29th, 1985, the last time I drank.
I started to feel good about myself. I met my future spouse. I got the job I am still at today. I also became reacquainted with the sexual issues the alcohol had kept at bay. Nothing's perfetc. Um, perfect, I meant. But here is the good:
I raised a son who never had to see me drunk, because I never was.
I became a person other people could count on.
I didn't die. I didn't go to prison. I didn't lose my mind.
Today I have 24 years of continuous sobriety. I have a program for living that allows me to be honest, when I never was, open, when I had been full of fear, and willing, when I had been more interested in hiding. I have people I love and who love me. I have my writing. I have me.
I'm not an AA guru. I am just someone who is living proof that miracles can and do happen. I am someone whose life was saved. I am a woman with a choice, today. Sweet!
pictures: Evelyn Nesbitt (top), Charlie Chaplin (upper middle), Michael Keaton (lower middle) and "Fluff" by Nina Paley (bottom).