August 24, 2006

First: a can of Budweiser, stolen from my grandparents’ refrigerator and consumed while hidden among sand dunes on the Lake Michigan shore. Maybe twenty years ago or more. It was metallic, cold, bitter, delicious.

In high school, forty-ounce bottles of cheap high-octane beer. Old English 800. “Old E”, we called it. Swilled and passed from hand to hand, the bottom of the bottle always warm and flat and tasting of someone else’s saliva. Bottles of wino wine: Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill.

Early twenties: six-packs of Henry Weinhard, the green bottles. Microbrews. In the winter, Snow Cap Ale (“Go to jail ale”). Sweet Riesling. Chardonnay. Red wine. A progression of the palate, of the minimum requirements.

Crown Royal and 7-UP. Beam and Coke. Bacardi Limon and Diet Coke. Absolut Mandarin and ginger ale. Beer. Beer. Pitchers. Pints. Imperial pints. Grey Goose. Dirty martinis. Shots. Tequila, lime, salt. Margaritas. On the rocks. Blended. Tanq-and-tonics. Double, please. Better make it a double.

Then: vodka, vodka, vodka. Because it’s easier to mask on your breath, because I could tolerate it straight. Blue Skyy bottles, clear Absolut bottles; later, plastic pint bottles of the cheapest gut-burning garbage. Hidden in drawers, in purse pockets, under cabinets, poured into unsuspicious containers.

At my worst I would get up in the morning and feel sickened through and through, I felt like I had an internal rot like a dying tree. Everything was dirty, everything was black and hateful, and I knew exactly what had caused it all and yet I would check the bottle levels, look and look again, because if there wasn’t enough I would have to get more, more, more. Get through the worst of the day by thinking of the bottle. Take the first drink and for the first time in hours the mental shouting quiets, the self-hatred is dialed down, the pounding headache starts to retreat.

Over and over. Get up and do it again. Drinking at work, while driving a car.

Sometimes I would get drunk and cry and try to write down why it wasn’t working and why I should remember, the next day, that it wasn’t worth the pain and the lying and the endless life-fuckery. I’d read my blurry scrawl the next day, take three Excedrin, drive to the liquor store.

It was like being with someone who beats you senseless every night, leaves you bloody and gasping, and waking up every day to kiss him hello. I wanted to stop. I wanted to drink until I disappeared. I wanted to physically gouge out the sickness from my body.

I saw no end. No possible end.

Antabuse. Therapy. Drugs. Threats. Nothing worked.

Then: a DUI. A horrible, expensive, shameful, life-altering legal mess. A night in jail. Fines. Court appearances. I can’t bear to describe it in detail.

Then: a pregnancy. The best thing that’s ever happened in my life.

I never drank when I was pregnant with Riley. That is probably not something to be particularly proud of, but I am.

I don’t drink today. I am only able to write about this now because it is at bay, it is a safe distance away. I feel strong. I feel I am on top of it. I don’t want to numb myself, I don’t want to re-visit that hell, I have so much to live for now. I want to remember every moment, I want to be clear and present.

There are long periods of time when I do not think about drinking at all. I spent years of my life chasing the next drink in my head, being eaten alive from hour to hour by something I could not control. I can’t begin to explain the freedom of not thinking about drinking.

I am scared to post this.

But I am telling you this because to tell the story is to accept its truth. To lay it out where it can be seen, to admit to this part of myself, and help diminish its power over me.

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A
A
16 years ago

Thank you so much for sharing with us. You have reminded me today that I am not alone.

Heather
Heather
16 years ago

Aww, Linda. So proud of you. And I mean that more than I can convey in a silly note.

christine
christine
16 years ago

it doesn’t make you who you are. you are still the same funny, sweet, self depreciating person you were before. the urge to say you are brave is there but perhaps I dont want to enforce the idea that the truth is bad or scary or defines you. you are a better mother and wife for what happened. I wish you the continued strength to survive this.

Rachel
16 years ago

I think I will not be the only person to say how brave you are.

Or how much I have thought about you in odd hours and days, since the time you initially ‘went public’ with this issue back at diaryland, wondering how you were doing with it, hoping you were doing well.

Thank you for sharing this. Truly. I know you will help someone with it. You are awesome and a half.

Donna
Donna
16 years ago

Linda = courageous

Jessica
Jessica
16 years ago

I have four months.

And it’s because of what you posted, more than a year ago, that I finally looked at myself and started to admit that it was ruining my life.

So thank you.

briar
16 years ago

Thank you for not being afraid to share this with us, with your readers, with the whole internet. I think you’re a beatiful person, even though I only know you through this blog. I started reading regularly just before Riley came into the picture, but you’ve grown into yourself so wonderfully since then. It takes courage to write the way you write. So thank you, again, a million times.

CA
CA
16 years ago

It damn well IS something to be particularly proud of that you never drank while you were pregnant. Addiction is an impossibly hard thing to overcome, and you did it for that period of time. Keep on giving him that gift – keep doing it, for his sake, if not for yours. I know you will. You are a good mother.

Beth
Beth
16 years ago

So much courage, both now and then.

Congratulations on ending the co-dependent relationship.

M
M
16 years ago

You wrote an entry about this about two years ago, maybe more. It was before you got pregnant. That was a big part of my deciding the time had come to get my act together and start acting like a grownup. I’ve never thanked you for that, so I’m doing it now. I don’t drink anymore, but the memories came back very vividly as I read what you wrote here. I am very proud of both of us.

Lisa V
16 years ago

Several members of my family are alcoholics. Those that don’t have addictions, just can’t fathom how powerful they are. I am proud of you. You should be too.

Renee
16 years ago

You are a hell of a strong woman. I have no doubt that you will stay on top. I know how hard that was to write but you still did it.

Sara
16 years ago

You’re awesome. Riley is lucky to have such a strong and honest mama!

fellowmom
fellowmom
16 years ago

Powerful–you and this entry.

dorrie
dorrie
16 years ago

I remember, also, that entry you wrote a couple of years ago…and I thought, “hmmmm…” because I recognized myself. Thank you for the wake up call.
You are not ugly, and neither am I.
We are strong.

gnometree
16 years ago

I’m sure that I can say that we are all proud of you. YOU should be proud of YOU!!! To not drink while pregnant is definitely something you should be proud of. “Not every problem has a solution; some problems just have to be survived “

Anne L.
Anne L.
16 years ago

You are my hero.

Cee
Cee
16 years ago

Thank you for sharing this – your bravery and strength are an inspiration.

Melinda
Melinda
16 years ago

A good friend of mine is dealing with recovering from alcoholism right now and reading your post made me understand, just a little better, what might be going on inside her head. For that, I thank you. And way to go, woman. You’re awesome.

Jen - Lance's Wife
Jen - Lance's Wife
16 years ago

You are so great! Thank you for sharing your story. You should be proud – over coming a disease like this can take a life time to over come, and some don’t ever do that. HUGS to you, JB and that beautiful baby Rielly!

Meg
Meg
16 years ago

Awesome, Linda. I know how hard it is to write things that make you uncomfortable, but it really is true that those things, along with all the happy fun entries, are what show that we’re human. This is the kind of entry that will help others, which is really cool.

I have never had an addiction to alcohol, but I am familiar with the feelings (I imagine?), because I have been a slave to OCD, which is a bitch. And I have really worked on letting go of it, too, and I know what you mean about the freeing feeling of not thinking about the compulsions anymore, whether it’s the compulsion to have the next drink or to wash your hands raw.

I’m really happy for you that you’re doing so well! Congratulations!

Lisa
Lisa
16 years ago

the truth will set you free…thanks for posting that.

LLL
LLL
16 years ago

You should be proud of not drinking. You know the hell that it put you through. You should be proud of not drinking while pregnant. You made a choice to not harm tiny unborm Riley. You should be proud of the independent, smart, witty, soulful person you are – without the alcohol. Keep it up and don’t ever crawl back into the bottle. Your life has blossomed away from it. You should be proud.

sooboo
16 years ago

Wow. You are so powerful. Thank you for posting your experience.

kate
kate
16 years ago

Thank you.

I’ve been reading your writing for a few years now, and am so happy to be able to read about where you are now. I needed to read this today, as a friend of mine overdosed on perscription pain meds and died yesterday. It helps to read this, grit and all.

Alex
16 years ago

I remember the post from years ago, too. Thank you for the update.

kate
16 years ago

When I read “I am scared to post this” I thought: “Wow. I would be too. It takes courage.” But the truth is, after reading this post, I only liked you more. And, judging by the comments above, it looks like I’m not alone in that opinion. It’s funny (and sad) how we think the truth will alienate us from others but really it’s what lets others come in.

As always, love your writing!

Deanna
Deanna
16 years ago

Wow. Just……….wow.

Christine
16 years ago

I wish you continued strength, continued courage, continued honesty. Thank you for posting this.

Jo
Jo
16 years ago

Echoing the above posts, thank you for sharing, powerful stuff.

Susan
Susan
16 years ago

Powerful and inspiring.

diane
diane
16 years ago

You better damn well be proud of yourself….you gave your son the greatest possible gift by not drinking…. proving that love does equal strength. You are an amazing person and an even more amazing mother.
Hugs to you, Riley and to JB.

Lori
16 years ago

Hugs and thank you. Addiction is a beast.

Kim
Kim
16 years ago

I think almost everyone has been touched in some way by addiction. Someone like you is an inspiration, and just sharing that might have (sorry to be dramatic) even saved a life. As always, thank you for your amazing writing.

Melis
Melis
16 years ago

You are an incredibly brave person-no, an incredibly brave *woman*. Riley is very lucky to have such a brave mama.

Continue to be brave. Remain strong.

kali
kali
16 years ago

i am proud of you.
for not drinking, for talking/writing, for finding more to live for.
it can be pretty hard sometimes to do any of these things, let alone all of them.
there is no should or shouldn’t feel proud about something. well, i suppose people do feel that way sometimes, but i think that everything is it’s own unique case.
you are proud of you- that is great.
i am proud of you too.

warcrygirl
16 years ago

I can’t say anymore than what’s already been said so I’ll just be as succinct as possible: Kudos to you.

Jen
Jen
16 years ago

Good for you for baring your soul to us, the internet army. You are very brave. Please show this entry to Riley when he is a teenager so he can learn from your lessons.

Allison
Allison
16 years ago

Isn’t is amazing how having another beautiful creature to live for can make all of the difference in the world? Isn’t it a relief not to have it ALL be about you?

Your words resonate so much and I just have to say that you are a warrior mamma and Riley and your boy are lucky to have you.

Congratulations, you are a mamma.

lee
lee
16 years ago

riley has an awesome mom.

Celine
Celine
16 years ago

You are an absolutely incredible lady.

krislinatin
krislinatin
16 years ago

your post is awesome, you write wonderfully, you are brave and strong. i, too, drank and drank and drank vodka for the same reasons you stated, it took me until my son was 5 to stop, after a visit to the mental ward floor of my local hospital. It’s been 8 years. but, unlike you, i think about drinking all the time, whenever someting goes wrong, the first thing i think is, ‘i need a drink’. I don’t drink, tho. I’m thinking right now if there has been a day gone by that i don’t think about vodka. the need is less sharp, less things stress me, the want always gives way to more important things in my life, my son, hubby, etc. battling alcoholism is an everyday, every hour struggle. like you, i say the same thing ” I don’t want to re-visit that hell, I have so much to live for now. I want to remember every moment, I want to be clear and present.” Your not alone.

Donna
Donna
16 years ago

I think we all wondered how you were doing with not drinking, and I know we are all glad that you are not.
And I know that we are all glad that you were not hurt while you were dui.
My father who is a recovered alcoholic disappeared on us once, and we couldn’t find him for days and days. He was in a motorhome no less, not exactly the easiest thing to hide, drive or disappear in, but he did. Finally the PD in a small town found him and told him to go home, we were worried about him.
He never showed up, and we started that way to find him, and found him passed out on the side of the road, still inside.
But, there was front end damage to the motorhome. We never found out who or what he hit, there was no blood, but he didn’t remember hitting anything, and still doesn’t to this day. There were no hit and run drivers reported in the area, and he didn’t have that many miles on the rv.
So.
My point is, it is good that Riley will not grow up and have to worry about his mom that way. It is good that JB has a wife that he loves and is proud of and that he doesn’t have to worry about. And it is good that you realized that not only were you affecting yourself, you were affecting everyone around you too, and CHOSE to do something about it. Our toughest critics and worst enemies are ourselves, and you’ve survived yourself. You have not only given birth to Riley, but yourself as well, and when you look at him, see who you have become. So very much more.

Kristen
16 years ago

I empathize, and also I am impressed: I don’t know how you did it, I don’t know how you stopped.

Much More Than A Mom
16 years ago

I don’t know you, yet I am SO proud of you. Way to go!
And thanks for sharing your story.

Kristin
16 years ago

What they said.

And, what I said, but silently, because I’m not as brave as you.

kate
16 years ago

Funny that you post this today, I was just at the post office and I overheard a woman on the phone talking about a friend of hers who was found last night passed out in the bushes, she had blacked out. This first thing thru my mind when I hear of things like this is “that could have been me”. It has been a long time but I think everyday how I decided to stop, this decision came the week after my older sister died (her death was from complications caused by anorexia) and I decided that if I went down the road I was on my funeral would be the next. These things were long ago, but the thoughts are there everyday and everyday I look at what I have and know for sure that I am exactly where I want to be. So thank you for reminding me again that I made the right decision. You are one kick-ass strong woman and not only is Riley lucky but so is JB. And so are we.

Shawna
16 years ago

My demons are not your demons, but I empathize and am very glad you made it through that particular long, dark tunnel. Keep fighting the good fight.

jonniker
16 years ago

I actually feel lucky just to know you. Could I love you more after this? No. No, I could not.

ferd
ferd
16 years ago

Thank you for your courage. I have a brother who is a recovering alcoholic. He remarried without his wife knowing. When she found, she told him to get help or she would leave. She also said she would not have married him had she know. He started in middle school and quit in his late forties. The physcial damage is great, but the recovery is a beautiful thing to see. His love for his wife and your love for your baby made the difference.

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