Hi, I came to AA just over 3 months ago at the age of 61. I had my first random drink at the age of 3 – I got drunk on a beer and that story became family lore. When I was staying with grandparents from around 9 – 11 years old, my sister and I had a nip of sherry in eggcups each holiday as a treat. I remember my mother, sister and I getting drunk on one bottle of Reingold when I was 15. Neither parent drank as I grew up. Neither smoked. When I went to university my first year was spent with an evangelical boyfriend so no alcohol there, but lots of God and Evie Tornquist.
My second boyfriend at uni, when I was 18, was a binge drinker and I got drunk on vodka. He sobered up but I took the baton and ran with it. Alcohol numbed all the pain of my childhood. My parents had hated each other from 1958 to 1973 when they divorced. The atmosphere at home was suppressed violence, overt loathing of kids from Dad and strange sexual undertones. My early childhood was rife with neglect and abandonment and continuous poverty.
But at uni, as an attractive, naive teen, I was in heaven. My license to drink came through and I drove that mother til the engine finally cooked.
I drank all through my studies, all through my 20s, all through my diploma, and all through my international jobs by day, drunk by night. I was a high-functioning drunk.
By the time I was 30, I’d lost one alcoholic relationship and a marriage, had 2 abortions, 1 miscarriage, had drunk driven and kept my drinking mostly confined to my living room. There was nothing more important than my drinking. It came first – the rest of the mess always came second. By day I was a hung-over professional. I realised in 1995 that I had a problem with alcohol, well I knew all along since my 20s but kept it secret from myself. I went to an AA group in the country I was working in and got a month of sobriety up – and then I busted for the next 24 years.
In that time, 2 more marriages bit the dust, I attempted suicide maybe 4 times, I tried hypnotherapy, primal scream therapy, psychodrama, meditation, self-controlled drinking! Giving up alcohol forever! Then switching to spirits because surely I wouldn’t guzzle spirits the way I did wine? Then surely I wouldn’t guzzle brandy the way I did scotch?
I tried swearing to never drink again. Nothing worked. My professional life began to dwindle by the end of my 40s. I was no longer a high-functioning alcoholic but I couldn’t see that. My character was still intact enough that I could hold together jobs with a duty of care for others’ well being but in shorter spates of time. I look back and see how exhausted I was getting. Alcohol was depleting my inner reserves. I did not once stop drinking. It was my solace. It continued to numb the inexhaustible well of grief inside me. At the latest counting, I did 29 geographicals.
By the time I was 50, my third marriage was over and out of that settlement came my first ever house that I owned all by myself. It gave me a time to settle into my own life and I stayed put for 10 years. I retreated. I self-isolated. I had a series of short-term jobs and a long-term commitment to drinking all alone in my living room watching crap tv. I let go all of my long-term friends one by one – and I hooked up with drinking buddies in the latest work environment. We understood each other’s needs.
Then began a series of job firings or being let go – not for being drunk at work. In my entire work life, I never turned up drunk. But in my late 50s I started to get fired from jobs for being sober! I put it down to criticising management to their faces about real issues but what was I thinking? Somehow, I thought it would end well each time. Needless to say, I drowned my tears in pretzels and wine each time.
The last time it happened, I simply got fired for being a “bad fit” after 10 days into a 6 month probation period. Unfair, yes and I was devastated. So I got into the pretzels and wine – and I heard a little voice suggest AA. I ignored that for another 2 weeks or so and continued my solitary drinking in my living room alone and watching crap tv. But finally I crawled into a meeting in a town that offers access to 100 meetings a week. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but I was finally home.
I am learning how to function as a sober human being for the first time in my adult life. The groups are loving me back to life and each day my gratitude grows. I am finally among the blessed.