“Honey, you are going to have to watch the kids tonight because I’m going to an A. A. meeting,” I said as my handsome husband walked in the door. He obliged seemingly relieved. I thought I’d get interrogated with questions, but I guess when you sleep next to someone and drink with them for a decade you realize who needs help.
My love of alcohol started with a bottle Crown Royal. My older brother brought some home one night and when I caught him drinking it with his girlfriend late that night, he offered some to me to keep me quiet. He filled my mug with the sweet smelling, nose tingling brown liquid. I slurped it down and felt the sting as it hit my stomach. I’d seen my dad drink beers and was excited to see why he always chose so many beers as opposed to chatting with us.
Soon, I was in a world of spinning and choas. I was alone for my first drink. It was weird. Not all entirely awful, but at 15, it wasn’t all that bad either. I fell into a slumber and awoke with a headache.
In high school I played with drinking even more. I found that I could “hold my liquor” better than most. My parents didn’t know when I’d come home drunk. Sometimes I’d sneak the old bottle of whatever from the pantry just to feel the buzz that I’d come to love.
During my early twenties was when the rage of my alcoholism began. My boyfriend was a few years older than me, so when I was 18, I could have been classified as a full blown alcoholic. I’d down at least six beers which made me understand now why my dad loved drinking so much. I was the life of the party. College frat parties? Yep! Keg stands? Funnels? YEP! Even my roommate at the time mentioned that I could certainly drink a lot and didn’t act stupid like most people do when they binge drink. I was a master of college drinking. Beer wasn’t so bad after all.
When I turned 21, I was introduced to Grey Goose. What a fun way to drink! I could get drunk so quickly and mix it with so many different things to my taste. Martini at night turned into a Bloody Mary in the morning. Three years later, I was crying for help as I’d realized maybe I shouldn’t drink so much. I remember cutting back, but back then, I had no clue that I needed real help. Instead, I just moved states, got a job teaching, and starting running marathons. I was healthy. I lifted weights, ate healthy, and only had an occasional drink here or there… for the most part. Then the drink started creeping back into my life, again.
A few celebrations started turning into weekend blackouts on a regular basis. I’d be at the bar and come home not even realizing I’d driven the car home and the guy in my bed in it. I was a second year teacher at this point and realized I may have had a problem. I googled A.A. meetings, but never worked up the courage to go. I worried about the stigma of being The Alcoholic Teacher in a small, Southern town. So, I tried to quit. It never worked.
Luckily, the guy I drove home without recollection is now my husband. We were drinkers in company. Lush meets her match! He was fun; I was fun. He now tells me he never really knew how drunk I was at the time. Even when I tried to break up a gunfight outside the bar with some foolish talking and “calm down” statements, he didn’t realize I would have no memory of it the next day. My mid-twenties were entirely filled with weekends of blackouts.
It never really mattered how much I drank because no one realized I was blacking out and I could function. I always woke up the next day, put on my blush and carried on with my duties. My finances sucked because I would spend all my money at the bar or shopping. My health sucked because as I now know, the liver doesn’t always bounce back and the stomach takes a huge toll. But vodkas and Red Bulls made me the life of the party. They also made me very anxious and depressed. If only I could have gone back to the girl who googled A.A. and said, “Do it! You won’t regret it!”
That first A.A. meeting two days ago taught me two things: Alcoholism has no boundaries and I was at the right place! I saw so many different “types” of people in that room. The stories I heard were so familiar to my own. I couldn’t say much during my first meeting because I was holding back tears of shame and tears of pride both for sitting in that seat. I met a potential sponsor who comforted me even more in my decision to go to the meetings. It’s not scary like I thought it would be. I’ll be continuing and excited to earn my next chip!
So far, I’ve been 3 days sober and it’s been such a shitty journey. I feel angry, anxious, sad, weird. I want to discuss my feelings with my friend, Merlot. Instead, I’m discussing them with absolute strangers. I’ve been reading so many stories that have helped me get through these first few days of angst, so I thought, why not? Why not share my journey for those who may be seeking some help too.
“I once was lost but now I’m found. I was blind but now I see,” -John Newton