Turning Point

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how and when I began to know I had a problem with alcohol.  I guess it’s because my youngest are “about that age”, or maybe it’s that I’m “about that age”.  Who knows? But the thought has been rolling around up in the old gray matter so you know what that means?

Yep – Imma be writin’ about it here.

As I’ve mentioned before, my very first alcoholic drink was Sloe Gin.  I have no idea why that vile substance was even invented and why it remains on the market (does it remain on the market?) but I was dating a guy who wanted to get in my pants and he thought the best way to do that would be to get me drunk.

Yeah I know – class act.

Fortunately his brother was the more virtuous of the two and he volunteered to take me home AND I wasn’t so drunk that I would have consented – but something tells me that consent was the last thing on this guy’s mind.

So ANYWAY, from my very first drink I didn’t know when to stop.  I was 16.

Go figure.

In my twenties I remember the thought popping up in my head from time to time (as I recall I was either very drunk or very hungover at the time) and I even voiced it on occasion to either my husband or some very close friends. Those concerns were always met with, “Don’t be silly! You’re fine!” Or, “Oh stop! You’re just having a good time.” Or my personal favorite, “You can’t have a drinking problem because if you do than I do and I KNOW I’m okay.” Really.

So I would file it in the back of my brain until the next time things got out of hand when I would begin to think about it once again.

As the kids started getting older and I began to really drink again, and things with my mom went to shit and then things at work went to shit and I started doing even more stupid shit when I was drinking, the thoughts went from whispers to full out screaming in my head. I was usually able to quiet them by getting them drunk or just sticking my fingers in my ears and singing “lalalalalalala”…you know, mature stuff like that. Sometimes I could even manage to ignore them. For awhile anyway.

They’re persistent motherfuckers.

Then. Then one day I was reading “Dry” by Augusten Burroughs. It was my first real “Drunk Book” and I thought I was reading it as a follow up to “Running With Scissors” cause I’m OCD like that when it comes to books. What I didn’t know was that the Universe brings you what you need if you just pay attention.

There I was, minding my own business when I find myself reading about August’s first AA experience. There in the middle of a perfectly harmless meeting some woman gets up and starts telling her story.

And her story was my story.

As I recall she was a highly functioning alcoholic who held down a job and all the responsibilities of life without anyone outside her own head knowing she had a problem.  She had never been arrested.  No DUI’s.  No job lost.  Some of it’s fuzzy in my memory but what I remember most vividly is the her saying that she was always the first to arrive at a party and the last to leave and that she always drank the most.  Ouch.

I read that little part of the book over and over trying NOT to see myself in those words. I did not want to be her. I did not want to be reading about me in this book about an alcoholic coming to terms. But it was too late. You can’t un-see something.

I think I read that book in 2004. I didn’t quit drinking until 2010.  Those inbetween years were filled with many starts and stops. Many late night discussions. Much soul searching. Lots of tears and even more prayer.

And a lot more denial.

But those words never left me. They stayed with me and nibbled away at my resolve until I was strong enough to battle what was left and put down the wine bottle.  Even though I was that woman at the AA meeting, I didn’t have to stay that way.  I, like she, could get sober.  I could be THAT kind of woman.

Even today, at almost five years “dry” those words cause my stomach to lurch. They still have impact.  I can still see “her” image (the one I conjured while reading) in my mind when I think about it.

I am so grateful to the Universe for putting those words in that book in my path.  I think I’ll read it again and see what my stomach does this time.


12 thoughts on “Turning Point

  1. I remember a similar moment too, reading a book about women and alcoholism whilst woefully hungover.

    This is why we write our stories. Not only to stay sober but to help others recognise themselves in our words…

  2. That’s a book that I have been wanting to get a hold of for a while. Thanks for reminding me – sounds like something worth the read. Amazing how we all have these sort of books in our hands at some point, most often when we are still active. For me, it was the ever popular Drink: a Love Story. I think most folks have read that one. I read it twice, both times still active in my drinking. But we all read them for a reason eh? Perhaps to get a sense that we’re not alone?

    Anyway, great post Sherry. 🙂


    1. Before I quit drinking I read them and watched “Intervention” because I wanted to prove that I was “different”. That’s why this small moment in this book sucker punched me – because it was the first time I realized that I was not different.

      After I read them (sometimes two or three a week) because I needed, as you said, to not feel so alone…so different. Oh the irony.

      And Drinking: A Love Story? One of the best ever.

      Thanks Dude,

  3. I think that I was scared to admit I had a problem with alcohol for many years as you described Sherry because I didn’t want to go to AA. Also, I was very high functionin which made me feel like I didn’t need AA and I was never one to ask for help? I had many day ones and also many tries at moderation some more successful than others. I am so happy that I found all the blogs so that I could read my story with variations over and over and not feel like I was the only one who struggled with the big question am I or am I not an alcoholic? Also, I know that I got through this year, I am 2 weeks away from one year, because of all the blogs. I can’t really believe sometimes that I am really doing this. I am so grateful for this sober life.
    Anyway thanks for the post and I will have to read “Dry”

    1. OMG!!! Congratulations on coming up on one year!!! Somehow, that first 365 marker is just the best. Kind of like, “If I can do this for a year, I can do ANYTHING!”

      There are lots of what I call “drunk books” out there. Some time ago I did a post and listed all of my favorites. I think I even called it drunk books!

      And yes – this sober blogging community is a miracle.


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