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.

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
178 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ashley
15 years ago

I could repeat what every other person has said. You are courageous beyong belief in admitting what you have, both now and inthe past. The fact that you were able to turn your life around for Riley depicts your great love and all of the comments above shows your great friendships. I think that all of these things are things that you can be proud of.

Trina
Trina
15 years ago

I am a child of a recovering alcholoic.

It is with this experience, and the birth of my son that I thank you on Riley’s behalf.

You are BRAVE

You are a ROLE MODEL

M.A.
15 years ago

Linda — thank you for this. For me it is very timely; I’m about to put the bottle down (again), and I’m looking forward to it. Made it 6 months last year and I miss the days of clarity and calm. Thank you for your courage and selflessness by sharing this — I’m sure it was difficult. But this is one of the many reasons I read you every time you post. You are the only blogger I can say that about. I LOVE YA, MAN!

squandra
squandra
15 years ago

You are amazing.

mandy
15 years ago

I started reading your blog over a year ago, I got hooked. I felt there was something so special about you and about your life. I was thrilled to have a glimpse into it, kind of share it. I never knew or had any idea of the things you have been through or battled. Knowing these things makes you even more real, even easier to relate to than before, somehow. It really helps when you realize that you are not the only one who has struggled with depression, self doubt and just angst in general. I know that you don’t share it for that reason, but more from a recovery aspect…but the effects of your sharing are real. Just wanted you to know that. We all support you, as much as we can from a computer screen, but we do.

ana
ana
15 years ago

Just want to reiterate others and say that you are indeed amazing, and your words are so powerful and honest. You give me hope.

Q
Q
15 years ago

My family has a fine tradition of drinking oneself to death.
Not everyone stops in time– you should be proud of knowing you needed to change and proud of making changes in your life.
You’ll fight this forever, but you’re not alone.

Squeeky
15 years ago

You should never be afraid to speak the truth, no matter how ugly you think it might be. When the truth is finally out in the open it never seems quite as bad as it did when it was hidden. I’m happy for you! Congratulations!

Polichick
15 years ago

Wow. I’m impressed by your courage and honesty. I’m so glad that you are on top of it, and that you always find the will and way to stay on top of it.

nan
nan
15 years ago

wow you are awesome. for looking at your self truthfully and writing about it too.
thanks for being so courageous.

Julie
Julie
15 years ago

I was so proud of you when you quit drinking. I don’t think any of us, your readers, knew how bad it was. I am happy for you, and I hope you continue to be clear and present.

Lola
15 years ago

I have been reading your blog for quite some time now and I’ve always lurked, never commented.

I always start my day by reading your blog. Today I stopped and decided to comment because you need to know how many people you touch with your words. You are brave, strong and wonderful. Don’t forget that.

Kelly
Kelly
15 years ago

As the child of an alcoholic, I think becoming healthy and sober parent may be the best gift you could have given to your son, your family and probably to yourself too. Congratulations on being strong enough and brave enough to do it.

CK
CK
15 years ago

I admire your honesty. I admire your ability to be real. I admire your ability to put yourself out there and not look back or beg for approval. I’ve only read your blog for a short amount of time, but your writing and willingness to give us a perspective that is memorable and eye-opening is a true gift. Thank you.

Cindy
15 years ago

This entry sent chills down my spine. My bf is going through this. Except over the course of eight years he has racked up three DUIs ,spent several nights in jail, a stint in detox and had countless black-outs, he’s still drinking.
I wonder if he’ll ever get better. I wonder what its going to take for him to stop.

Anais
Anais
15 years ago

I too remember your entry from Diaryland a few years ago. I have to say that you are one of my personal heroes. I hope to someday be a wonderful wife and mother just as you are. Seeing how many souls out there you’ve helped by posting this has moved me to tears. Kudos to you for beating that demon. JB and Riley are very lucky.

SalGal
SalGal
15 years ago

It’s funny how we spend so much time and effort to hide the “Ugly” when, in the end, its what binds us together. We all have an ugly side of some kind. We just can’t/wont/don’t always summon the courage to acknowledge and deal with it – much less share our hard won experiences.

I’ve been fortunate enough not to be touched adversely by alcohol or drugs so I thank you for sharing the “inside” view. Congrats for having the strength to face your problems and the strength to share your battles.

Kristina
Kristina
15 years ago

I’ve never commented before, but I read you every.single.day. I wanted to thank you for sharing your story. It’s amazing how a persons journey in life can help others that have never even met them. Reading the comments to this entry blows my mind. Your honesty has given hope to others. Through the telling of your story, you’ve given complete strangers the courage to stand up and follow in your footsteps. Most importantly, you’ve given yourself a chance at life.

I admire you, Linda. I’ve never been in your shoes exactly, but I’ve lived it. My father was an addict. To this very day, my mother still is. As a child, I was often scared, and alone. My parents divorced before I ever knew them together. My mom and dad were there, but they weren’t there. I thought they didn’t love me. For a long time, I just didn’t understand. I couldn’t have. When I was finally able to realize the ugliness of the situation, I lived in constant fear. I thought they were going to die. It was hard, but it’s done now. I suppose the blessing in disguise for me is that rather than making the same mistakes as they did, I was able to see them as an example. I am 21 now, and I love my parents very much, despite the damage they’ve done. I can’t judge them though, because I’ve never been there. I can and will do everything in my power to take a different road. To NOT follow in their footsteps. A couple decades, and three babies later, my mother still chooses the drugs over her children. It’s sad really. The older they get, the more I see that she’ll probably never learn. Not until she’s missed her chance anyway.

Riley is one lucky little boy. His mother has realized the importance of life. Her own life. His life. Life as a family. You really only get one chance. Look at you, you’re taking full advantage. I am sure that he will be forever greatful of his life, and his clear-minded parents. You will too, when you look back without regret. I hear that we grow up too fast.

Thank you again for letting us in. Thank you for giving Riley the best chance at life that you could have.

Stephanie
Stephanie
15 years ago

If the stresses of the first year of your child’s life won’t drive you to drink, I don’t know what will. :> Keep on with the good stuff. We’re all so amazed by your talent, drive, character, and sense of humor. I want to be you when I grow up.

Derrick
Derrick
15 years ago

What a powerful message. Thanks. As I read your posting, I relived my life through your words. Vodka was my “lover” also, and shared a very intimate, abusive relationship with me for almost 20 years. I too was spiralling down the dark abyss of self-hatred and loathing.

This year I spent 11 days of hell in a medical detox and 30 days & nights in a residential rehab program. I am finally sober, for once in my life. One thing I remember from rehab was the comment that “Our addictions are a symptom of our need to fill a hidden emotional void or trauma”.

I know that for me the work has just begun, but you’re right. It is great seeing life and the things around us with such clear thoughts and vision and not through an alcohol induced fog or paranoia .

Congrats on your strength and insight. You’re not alone.

sunShine
15 years ago

That brought me to tears. You are so brave and you were able to get on with your life instead of having it ruin yours. I wish my sister could have been so lucky. There is still hope. She has lost everything, including her 3 children. Her drinking has lead to drup abuse and who knows what else. Thank you for sharing that, I know it wasn’t easy. Riley and JB are lucky to have you!

oregoncoastgirl
oregoncoastgirl
15 years ago

I had wondered. I’ve been there, too.

This reminds me that no matter how frequent a blogger posts, or how frequent we read, we’ll never understand the 360 of their real lives. Thank you for your writing.

Melissa
Melissa
15 years ago

You are beautiful inside and out. You may not know all of us but you have a big support group here. We love you for your faults as much as your strengths. And I know JB and Riley love you beyond words. Thank you for sharing your inner depths…you are not alone.

Zannah
15 years ago

How did JB handle your addiction?

Junniper
Junniper
15 years ago

Thanks.

misha
15 years ago

I’m so 100% impressed by and amazed at you. Thank you for such beautiful openess. It only makes the rest of us – in our own journeys – feel more beautiful, too. Thank you.

breckgirl
breckgirl
15 years ago

Hi Linda – It was good to read your post and realize what it was about you that I liked all this time. I’m telling you I can smell out other alcoholics like nobody’s business. Your story is my story, totally. I thought that my pregnancy would end all of my drinking worries but unfortunately, it did not. I have relapsed a number of times since I had my little boy and I still struggle to fight that daily urge. I am happy for you that you don’t feel the urge to drink – I wish it had been lifted from me. The fight can be draining, but it is certainly worth it, as you know!!

I just want to encourage you to remain vigilant to those insidious feelings that begin to tell you that “hey, a drink would make me feel better.” Sometimes those thoughts creep in on me before I even realize it and I am planning how to get it, when I will drink it, how much trouble I will get in, the possible aftermath – you know the drill. Our disease never stops, even in moments when we are not feeling obsessed. I’ve had several years of sobriety at different times but every time I relapse, my disease is worse and I sink to lower lows.

I am a true believer that alcoholism is a progressive disease. Someone once said to me that while I am being sober and working on recovery, my disease is my head doing push ups and gaining strength, just waiting patiently for my guard to fall so that it can take over again. I like that imagery and I hope it is useful to you.

You are courageous and you should feel good about what you’re doing and I am very glad to know all of this about you. Just remain ever watchful because I know from experience that it can take you down when you least expect it. Best wishes for you and your family. I bet my husband and JB could talk some good shit about us!!!!!

cecilia
15 years ago

darling. you are one of so many. some of us drink and some of us destroy ourselves in other ways. it will never leave you completely – it is tattoed on your soul and in your senses – but having tasted it and turned away you are experiencing and will continue to experience a birth and a phoenix flame that so many miss in the in between of black and white. having taken that bitter pill and chosen a different way your eyes have been opened and you have become so much larger a soul than you would have been on an easier road. thank you for sharing it – keep remembering it – and thank god for it

Cris
Cris
15 years ago

Have had an incredibly shitty day of dealing with ‘you’re not qualified’, ‘couldn’t handle that’, ‘that company is ‘picky’. blah blah, employment gap, blah blah. Then I surf on in here for some relief and totally forgot that I had read you earlier. You give me courage to keep going too. Why can’t more people be real? You are incredibly awesome, rescued me twice today. Thank you so much.

Breck Girl
Breck Girl
15 years ago

An afterthought (I’ve been thinking about you!) about a book I bet you’ve already read but just in case you have not…

Drinking…A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. Get it – you will read it cover to cover overnight. Caroline’s story is riveting and you will be amazed over and over as you see yourself in her. Not to mention – she is a fabulous writer (like you). Unfortunately, I heard that Caroline died a few years ago from cancer, the same disease that took her mother. I actually cried when I heard – that is how much her book means to me! She left us all a wonderful gift so if you haven’t read it, run out immediately and get it!

That goes for everyone who has an alcoholic in their life – even my husband read it. s

honeybecke
honeybecke
15 years ago

welcome to your life (the good one!)
you deserve it. :)

Annie
15 years ago

Congratulations on your continued sobriety. It is truly the greatest gift to you and your family. I hope your strength and joy build with each passing day.

veralynn
15 years ago

Needs a retitling. This sort of truth is beautiful. You are beautiful. And, reading how many folks have been inspired to change their own uglies from here, gotta say that’s damned beautiful too.

Carolyn J.
15 years ago

I came here directly after writing a short post about a kid I know who seems headed in the same direction. I hope he can raise himself up the way you have done. You seem much happier now.

Lisa
15 years ago

I think honesty is awesome. It shows the real you…you know the one that has faults just like everyone else. I just posted about my own addiction on my blog a couple weeks ago. It was 4 entries long and it felt so good to get it off my chest. I was not judged and that was awesome to feel understood. Congrats. You have made it very far!

Pete
Pete
15 years ago

Good post.

TB
TB
15 years ago

Sundry, I’ve been reading since before you ever posted about going on antabuse a few years back. You never made it sound that bad. Yes of course when someone goes on drugs to stop drinking you assume there’s a problem. I had no idea. I’m so sorry it got so ugly for you and so happy that it’s better now.

Rayne
Rayne
15 years ago

I’m so proud of you and only love you all the more for sharing your story. Which I’ll admit is a bit crazy since we don’t know each other!

Michele
15 years ago

For me it was meth. crystal/glass/smoke/speed. If I couldn’t be pretty I could be useful. And if I was useful, it was better to be useful all night. And if I wasn’t asleep, then there’d be nobody sneaking into my room. And no more rape. We all have our demons, and we all choose to fight them different ways. I’ll be 9 years sober in october. I’m proud of you.

Martha
Martha
15 years ago

Addiction sucks. You are a brave, strong, beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing.

thejunebug
15 years ago

I would read you on and off before you became pregnant with Riley, but I sensed something changed at that point. I’m so glad it was this change. You’ve grown and you’ve strengthened and through it all you’ve had JB — you have a blessed, wonderful life. I’m glad you’re protecting it. And I’m glad you’ve shared this, too, because maybe it will help someone else to make the same change, to protect themselves. You’re a wonderful woman, Linda.

Adrien
15 years ago

You are awesome for sharing this. We are all proud of you.

Sara
15 years ago

(comment number bazillion)
Wow. Thank you for sharing — I wish you the best…
As with everything you write on this site, it is well written and powerful (well, it’s a little more powerful than the snakes on a plane review, but you know what I mean).

KD
KD
15 years ago

Wow. I don’t know if you’re doing the AA thing, but when I read your story I can’t help but think of the little signs up in my stepmom’s house saying, “one day at a time.” That’s the only way it can be done, and you should be proud that you’re doing it.

Test
Test
15 years ago

Hi

G’night

trackback

Triple penetration sex clips.

Triple penetration sex clips.

Eric Silkwood
8 years ago

Fantastically superior bless you, It is my viewpoint your trusty followers may well want more information similar to this keep up the terrific effort.

Rosia Salguero
8 years ago

Good post. I be taught one thing more difficult on completely different blogs everyday. It will at all times be stimulating to learn content material from different writers and observe a little one thing from their store. I�d prefer to make use of some with the content material on my weblog whether or not you don�t mind. Natually I�ll provide you with a hyperlink in your internet blog. Thanks for sharing.

does adipex work
8 years ago

Your style is really unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this site.

toronto theatre database

Hi, I do believe this is a great site. I stumbledupon it ;) I will revisit yet again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.