Monday, February 22, 2010

Day One

Posted by Anonymous.

Before I can tell you about today, I need to tell you about last Tuesday. Last Tuesday was my first day of sobriety. But before I can tell you about Tuesday, I need to tell you about what happened before Tuesday.

Looking back, it's obvious that I've been an alcoholic, or an alcoholic in training, for a long, long time. My parents tell stories about me as a toddler or preschooler, stealing sips of beer. I remember drinking a glass of champagne or wine with dinner as a young child (maybe age six or seven) and liking it so much that I wanted a refill. I know that at age seven I preferred my mother's tropical cocktail (Planter's Punch) to my own Shirley Temple. I remember at around age 13, our family had a leftover keg in our garage from a block party, and I drank one or two glasses a day from it until it disappeared.

The first "official" time I got drunk I was 14. Fuzzy Navels and tequila shots. My friend, who had driven us to the party, wound up putting a very dizzy, barely conscious me into bed, obviously disappointed by what a crummy sleepover guest I'd turned out to be.

College? Plenty of binge drinking, followed by throwing up and blacking out. Bad behavior.

After college, more of the same.

I took a break for a few years, when I was pregnant and had small kids.

But once the kids got old enough to go away for sleepovers, more binge drinking. No more throwing up, but plenty of overindulgence followed by passing out and nasty morning-after hangovers.

Fast forward a few years. My husband's diagnosis of metabolic disorder gave us a great excuse to drink daily: red wine is a key part of the Mediterranean diet! My frequently-used jest was, "My doctor told me a glass of red wine a day is good for me. I say two glasses are twice as good!" In reality, however, two glasses? That was by six o'clock. We quickly got to a level of drinking that meant we recycled three or four boxes of wine per week. I was keeping up with his every drink, sometimes surpassing him, and he outweighs me by about 150 pounds.

I stopped going to sleep. Instead, I blacked out. Many mornings, I'd wake up naked, but not sure if we'd had sex. I had to ask my husband what we had done.

But certainly, I'd told myself, I wasn't an alcoholic. I didn't miss work because of drinking. I didn't start drinking until at least 5:00 p.m. (of course, sometimes I'd sit staring at the clock, with a glass ready, for ten or more minutes). I never got a DUI. I never went to jail. I never hit my kids.

But I started to get sloppy. Over the holidays, I drank too much and was obviously drunk at my in-laws' house. I embarrassed my husband. And the week after New Year's, my husband and I had a sincere conversation in which we determined that we drank entirely too much, and that we needed to cut down.

What happened? He cut down, even skipped nights, drinking one or two drinks at the most. I, however, started putting my wine in coffee cups, or, more disturbingly, waiting until everyone else had gone to bed before starting to drink, and getting drunk.

And that brings us to Monday night. The husband went to bed around 10:30 p.m. As soon as he was in bed, I went to the kitchen and turned on the faucet, as though I were filling up the tea kettle. Instead of tea, however, I made myself a glass of bourbon with one ice cube. (The water running disguised the sound of me pouring the liquor into the glass, as well as the clink of the ice cube.) I took my drink to the living room and played computer games, sipping on the drink as I played. Soon enough, it was empty. By this time, he was fully asleep, so I didn't need to disguise the noise when I poured the second drink. This one polished off the bottle, and for a moment, I considered funneling the bourbon back into the bottle. I quickly dismissed this impulse, however, and put the empty bottle into the recycling bin (in the back, so it wouldn't be easily seen). The second drink went down faster than the first. And here's where it gets confusing.

I must have gone outside to smoke a cigarette. I had my coat on. I fell. I don't know if I tripped or if I passed out on my feet, but I went down face first onto the patio. I don't remember falling. I don't know how long I lay there before I got up. I remember seeing blood on my right hand. That's all I remember.

I somehow got my coat off, and got undressed, and put myself to bed. I wasn't quiet about it, though, and my husband woke up. He says it was around 3 a.m. He told me the rest of it. I fell down on the floor on the way to bed, then got up and fell down again. He asked me what was going on, and my answer was "floor." He got up and saw what I would see the next morning: my face was covered with blood, with my upper lip bearing the majority of the injury. My glasses were scratched, my nose looked broken (it wasn't), and I'd broken a tooth.

Next morning, I woke up, aware that something was very wrong. I took inventory of my injuries with fingers and tongue. My front teeth were there. Good. But the next tooth, oh no. Was broken in half. My lip was numb, but everything else hurt. A lot.

My husband came into the room and discovered that I was awake. I'll never forget the look on his face, and the sob in his voice, when he asked me, "What have you done to yourself?" I tried to answer, to make up a story, but he already knew the answer. He wanted to take me to the hospital. I refused. He tried to clean up my face a little. And then he helped me get to the bathroom, where I took a long look at myself in the mirror, then collapsed onto the vanity. He helped me clean up more, then put me back in bed, where I was freezing and needed blanket after blanket. (I guess I was in shock or something.)

He ran me a hot bath, picked out some clothes, and took better care of me than I deserved.

While I was in the bath, he poured out the only liquor remaining in the house (1/3 of a bottle of vodka).

I spent the day resting, occasionally sleeping, crying a lot, and I asked for help. I called a friend who'd been sober for years, and asked her to take me to a meeting.

And that's day one. Today is day six. I've been to five AA meetings. I have not taken a drink since that night. I hope I never do again. I came very close to death that night. My blood is on the patio, only inches from four ceramic and terra cotta flower pots. I shudder to think how the whole thing would have gone if I'd fallen a few inches to the right.

I lied to my husband. My integrity? Non-existent. My self-respect? Right there with it.

I've got nowhere to go but up. I want to live in reality. I want to have integrity. I want to deserve my family's trust. I don't want to die because of alcohol.

29 comments:

Shelby said...

Wishing you the best on your journey. I'm sure it won't be easy, but I applaud the courage you have for trying.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry it took so much to get there, but I wish you luck on your recovery.

Anonymous said...

My mother always says that where you've been doesn't matter nearly as much as where you're going. You're on the path now and step by step, I know you can make it to sobriety. It won't be easy, but I'll be pulling for you (and I bet a lot of people in your real life will be, too!).

Good luck and big (((HUGS))) to you!

mmichele said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing. All the best on your journey and please post on your first anniversary so we can hear from you again.

Dee said...

Oh my dear. If the prayers/ good thoughts of strangers can buoy you up, you've come to the right place. Please continue to check in via the comments, we will be here waiting!

Anonymous said...

Wishing you lots of strength and peace and love for your difficult journey. Good for you for starting this path to sobriety!
((HUGS))

ShellSpann said...

Wishing you the very best. I wrote a post last week about alcoholism and my dad. I've really only seen it from one side and it was really interesting to read it from the other side. Thank you for sharing this with us.

*HUGS*

Karen said...

The best of luck to you. Good thoughts and prayers out to you.

Crystal R R Edwards said...

Sending you warm hugs and thanking you for writing your story. I wish you peace and strength; you're doing a courageous thing.

Cecily said...

I am so proud of you. Trust me when I tell you this: the first week of sobriety is harder than everything that comes after. I've been sober over 14 years because I do not want to have to relive that first week every again.

If you need any support, please feel free to email me at cecilyk at gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!

Anonymous said...

Thank-God the worst is over and things can only go upwards for you. Keep going to those meetings girl. Keep your hopes up. One day at a time. I'm so glad to hear you're into your recovery.

Anonymous said...

Just keep going.
You can do it.
You know you can.
Just keep going.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! You deserve to be treated well by yourself.
Set aside any left over guilt and move on forward, sweetheart!

A Skin Bag for Jesus! said...

Wow, at the naked truth... but I greatly admire you for posting it. I admire you even more for deciding and being determined to do something about it. I'll be praying for you. I've not been where you're walking, but we've all struggled with something.... yours is just in a different form than mine. So, if you ever need a shoulder to lean on, an encouraging word, or someone that'll pray for you... then, you're welcome to email me too. You'll find me at sharonwlee@aol.com. I'm proud of and pulling for you!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Mmichele-- please post again and keep us updated on your journey to recovery. We'll be rooting for you!

Anonymous said...

Wow, just wow.

I'm glad you hit bottom ... because I very much suspect that is what bottom looks like ... and I sincerely hope it was enough to keep you sober from here on out, one day at a time. Stay strong and good luck.

anonymous said...

So I'm the author, and it's a few weeks later. And I'm still sober. I've been going to meetings every day (sometimes more than once a day), I have a sponsor, and things are going great.

One of the big surprises for me is how many people I knew from other parts of my life are in the rooms of A.A. That's actually been a major help to me, to know that "real" people are there and that the program is working for them.

I truly appreciate the comments. It's been an interesting journey so far, and I'm looking forward to picking up my 90-day chip in a couple of months.

Karen Sugarpants said...

I am so proud of you.
Keep going. One day at a time, some days one hour at time. Keep reaching out when you're feeling down. Good for you.

girlvaughn said...

Congratulations on 6 days. Best of luck to you.

Erin said...

Awesome story!! I am a recovering alcoholic as well...life keeps getting better and better for me. It's nice to be present and active in life...to actually feel the feelings instead of masking them with alcohol. Some days are harder than others, but it always gets better. And I've noticed that those hard moments in life make me stronger on the other side. I welcome them. Growth.

Empathy said...

Wonderful!

Your husbands grace made me cry.

Congratulations to you on making a decision to change and doing it.

And wow - your bravery to expose yourself in this honest way is quite breathtaking.

Chrissy Johnson said...

I'm one, too...and just wanted to say (though of course we don't know each other) I LOVE YOU. I hope love envelopes you from every angle of your life. xoxo

Syko said...

Thank you for your raw honesty. I hope your recovery continues to go well, and you come back in a year and tell us you're still sober.

P.S., your husband really loves you, you know?

Twisted Susan said...

PROGRESS not perfection, Anonymous.

carosgram said...

Thinking of you and wishing you the best

Anonymous said...

you've admitted the problem. That's a big step in the right direction... a step my ex husband didn't take. Good on you.

Anonymous said...

Best thing my dad ever did for me was quit drinking via AA. Good for you.

Anonymous said...

I too am a recovering alcoholic. I am so proud of you. My story is a lot like yours except I had no husband or children. (I am now a single parent of a 4 year old). I had a lot of 'not yets' but hit a major bottom. Each person's bottom is different but it does not matter.

The beauty of AA is that it has everyone: old, yound, female, male, black, white, rich, poor. Alcohol does not discriminate. The first year is tough, but I know you can do it. Keep getting those chips! I just hit (amazingly) 6 years last month. It has not been an easy journey, living life on life's terms, but I cannot go back. Whenever I ponder 'going out,' I make myself walk through what it would be like - and I'm right where I was 6 years ago. So I stay sober. For myself and my son.

I will keep you in my prayers. Sorround yourself with the women in AA, and most important, don't be harsh on yourself. Be gentle, always. It's all about the journey. Even when it's rough, it's still better than the horror of being in alcohol's grip. I wish you all the best... and... thanks for sharing! :-)

Anonymous said...

You are so brave to share your story. I don't know you, but I'm so proud of you for making this decision. If you were here, I'd hug you!

My cousin died 2 weeks ago from liver failure. They told her that if she could stop drinking, she might survive a couple of months, long enough to arrange (and be stable enough to survive) a liver transplant from her sister, a willing living donor. She chose to drink instead, and she lived for 8 days after that prognosis was given. She was only 47.

You have made a decision to do the hard thing, the brave thing, instead of going down my cousin's path. Hang in there, and be strong for your family and friends. Remember, you are LOVED and NEEDED!