From the first moment I drank alcohol I became intoxicated. My girlfriends drove me home in my own car, escorted me to my room past my oblivious parents, and took my car back out by drifting it down the driveway to find someone to follow them back and take them home as well. It took years before I realized that I was the only one in our group of friends who drank this way.
When I met my husband I was not drinking at all but smoking marijuana with a group of friends who played chess incessantly. We smoked, played, and focused intently. My future husband was the champion and I desired to beat him. This took many hours over the better part of a year, during which time we bonded. Finally he suggested that the whole group have an old-fashioned booze party, which we did. After that, he and I were off and running.
Several years later it was his stepfather, my father-in-law, who pointed out to me that I was “an alcoholic”. I was insulted, because my mother-in-law and my husband were daily drinkers as of 4 pm even during the week. However, PapaSan had been in recovery at that time for about 20 years and recognized my disease. He referred me to a 12-Step meeting, the first time I was to hear of this society.
Years later, I suffered at the hands of the stigma of being an alcoholic. My husband and I were ‘stay-at-home’ drinkers to reduce the cost of our addiction, and so a great deal of the imaginations of others did not apply. Still, the fear loomed large about what others thought or were currently thinking as I slowly grew to accept that I was not anonymous, not at all, not from the start.
These fears are not unlike walking, talking panic attacks that stay with you around the clock. My situation required that I, as the responsible party I was, return to work after a short 5-day detox. This was a horrific experience for me. In my mind everyone knew and I suffered moment-to-moment with this ‘knowledge’. Whether it was real or not I could not say, but a therapist I was seeing at the time told me that the best way to achieve a sense of control over the situation would be to assume that absolutely everyone knew. In that way, acceptance could begin. Indeed it did.
As time passed and I came to accept my situation, my false sense of anonymity fell away entirely. To the shock of many throughout the oncoming years I did not bother to try to maintain my anonymity. I realized that this, albeit a painful experience for myself and others, was the key to long-term sobriety and ongoing recovery.
The Promises in the 12-step program I attend state that we will not regret the past. This has come true for me. “Nor will we wish to close the door on it” is an amazing grace. For it has been during my darkest hour that I had nowhere else to turn and found the last relationship possible, that of my Higher Power, whom I choose to call Jesus. He and I crossed paths for the first time when I was a wee youngster, and now He loomed large to reclaim me. It was Him I begged to relieve the obsession to drink and the hole in my chest from the pain of discovery, and a mere several days until I realized these things had been lifted, completely and for all time, 28 years and counting. Thanks to the Grace of God.