They say that as alcoholics the elevator only goes one direction for us: down. Bottom line: I felt like there had to be a criteria that was unbearably painful and tragic in order to qualify for being a real alcoholic. In other words, it’s different for people that clearly have a drinking problem. For me, I had to get to that tipping point where the pain of being fearful of getting sober coupled with the fear of what people would think was less than the fear of keeping up my drinking progression. I know for a fact all too well that listening only to the differences will put you on a path opposite of recovery.
Everyone knows, drinking is affecting their life negatively and it’s just pretty obvious. All alcoholics have been in a “wasn’t that bad” place. I can choose to stay there and feel sorry for myself, or remember that my disease is the same as that woman on Intervention.
But, for us, very few people, if anyone knows about our alcoholism. I know in my heart that had I kept drinking, or if I ever go back out, I will end up a tragic, rock bottom story. My children will end up in therapy talking about their alcoholic mother. And the guy at a meeting who’s back with a 24-hour chip for the 50th time.
A quick snapshot of my story: I’m 37 years old, and I got sober last year. I have a great husband who ironically does not drink, 2 great kids, a house in the ‘burbs, I drive a safe and practical Volvo, and I own a successful business. I was wearing designer jeans, my expensive Banana Republic coat and I was at an Alano Club (at that time I thought it was the “Alamo Club”, like it had something to do with Texas). I would even come to this blog and read stories of women who had humiliated themselves at BBQ’s, or driven drunk with their kids, or had even tried over and over again to get sober and couldn’t stay sober. A story that was somewhere between good enough for Oprah, but not bad enough to be on Intervention. And all the while my addiction was like a smarmy attorney- building this case against the notion that I was an alcoholic.
I have great friends and all-in-all, we have a great life. I didn’t become active in my alcoholism until about 18 months before I got sober. I saw my path being the same as his, I knew it was in my DNA, I knew exactly how the story would end if I kept drinking. There were homeless people outside and I double checked the address when I saw them. “Your honor- my client clearly cannot be an alcoholic.
Sure, I had been slightly crazy in other ways, but once the mental obsession around drinking plus its fast progression happened, I knew exactly what was happening, so I quit quickly after that. Luckily, I saw my father get sober when I was 18 with AA. She has no DUI’s, no arrests, no stripping down to her thong at parties while drunk, no blackouts, and as evidence A will show you- her pictures on Facebook clearly show a woman who has it all together.” Case closed. My first sponsor told me that for people with a high bottom- our insides don’t match our outsides. I really don’t think staying sober is harder or easier for anyone. I do know that it’s very slippery to let the ego meander too long in the “Well, my alcoholism wasn’t that bad...” In AA they tell us to listen for the similarities- not the differences.
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