Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Why Did I Stop Drinking

Dear Readers,
So many people struggle with trying to stop drinking.
I was one of them.
It took me several years to first come to the acceptance I had to stop, and then trying to stop.
This was not easy.
Below is my story. It might be similar to your story.
I am sharing it in hopes it might help someone today.

I never thought I would grow up and develop a drinking problem.
I was an average Midwest girl who loved riding her bike, hanging out with friends, and reading.
I didn’t start to drink early in life. In fact, I didn’t drink until I was 20.
But when I did drink, it was a lot. I was a binge drinker from the very start.

There were alcoholics in the family, but I didn’t know that at the time.
My mother’s sisters, my father, and my grandfather, all had drinking problems.

I didn’t have an easy life health wise.
I suspect that some of my problems with drinking were a result of not knowing or learning how to cope with these issues.
I developed depression and anxiety.

I graduated with a teaching degree, married, moved, and found a teaching job in Minnesota.
I did not take life easily, and life didn’t make things easy either.
I was very sensitive.
I have a hearing loss and my speech is different because of the loss.
I also have almost no vision in one of my eyes, and it turns inwards.
Children made fun of me, and so did adults, asking, “Where did you come from?”
I wasn't able to have children.

I had no idea how to cope with the painful realities of life.
My drinking increased ever so slowly; with me having no idea it was happening.
I loved a good time, but felt ever so much better and funnier when I drank.
I would always be out for happy hours.
I loved talking to friends over a beer, and later wine.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 50’s that my drinking increased by bottles of wine.
It seemed it happened overnight.
I was staying out later and later at bars.
I did my lesson plans while drinking wine in bars.
Or martinis.
I often drove drunk.
I would drink too much at parties and throw up on the way home.
My husband and I were fighting over how much I was drinking.

I would run away to hotels after these fights.
Still drunk, I would buy more wine there.

Things were deteriorating quickly.
Teaching was getting harder, and I didn’t know how to cope with the demands.
I took life seriously, and when I couldn’t get every child reading on grade level I would get angry with myself.
I really did not like myself much. In fact, I hated my eye, my hearing loss, and my weight.
Drinking was the only way out for me.
I desperately wanted to escape.

School was out for the summer, and I started drinking at noon with friends and drank all day. I passed out at a friend’s house while in the bathroom.
She had to call the paramedics, who showed up with the police.
They knew me, because I worked in that city.
I was humiliated.
My husband had to take me to the hospital because he was unable to control me.

I decided to go into treatment for 30 days.
I went into an outpatient treatment center for four hours a day.
I tried AA.
By the next summer, I was drinking again.

It would take about 4 more years and more humiliation for me to face the fact that this was not working. When I drank I would wake up sweating, with horrible thirst. I would binge eat. I had bowel problems and sometimes couldn't make it to the toilet in time.
I was blacking out and hiding bottles.

I retired from teaching as soon as I could, but felt lost.
Now I could drink all day.
Alone.
The bartenders were my friends.
The liquor store clerks were my friends.

One afternoon I was going to meet a friend for lunch, and later a massage scheduled at my yoga studio. I had an extra hour, so I went to a bar to drink. At lunch, I had more wine. Then I went shopping, and by now I was slurry, and stopped at my favorite bar for more. 
The next thing I remembered is when I showed up at my yoga studio and I had no idea how I had gotten there. I was crying about being drunk and my yoga teachers tried to help me. They called my husband to drive me home. 
Later I learned, after looking at my checkbook, that I had stopped at another bar. I have no memories about this.
I had to stop.

But I knew I needed more help if I was going to be able to so this.
I also know trying to quit by myself would not work for me.
It was too easy to lie to myself.

I reached out to as many people as I could.
I started Belle's 100 Day Sober Challenge.
A yoga teacher connected me to a wonderful AA sponsor.
I went to meetings.
I went to Women For Sobriety meetings.
I started a blog.
I got a life coach and a therapist.
I told all of my family and friends that I was trying to get sober.
I had to keep myself in the light, because I knew there was darkness in my soul that would try to destroy me.

In everything I do, and with everyone I meet, I am open to learning.
I am learning about self-compassion.
I am learning how to take care of myself, and love the parts of me I deem unlovable.
I am learning that yes, life and people can be cruel, but they are also a source of beauty.
I am learning just how strong I am.
I am learning to be ever so thankful for all that I have.
I am learning how to help other people get sober.

My story is a story of love.
It is a story of being human.

Without the love of all the people around me, who never give up, who encourage me, who support me, I wouldn’t be writing this.

With Much Love,
Wendy

52 comments:

  1. This a sad and beautiful post. It is raw. It hit me into my gut because I recognized myself in so many sentences and situations. Wendy, you are amazing. You've come so so far. You are very strong. Inspiring. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Thank you, TATB.
      I have come far, and I sometimes forget that fact.
      xo

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  2. Wendy, you're such an amazing, beautiful person. I'm so pleased you got the support you needed, and more importantly that you found the courage and strength to ask for and accept that support. Thanks for telling your story. Wishing you a happy solstice, and merry Christmas! Big hug to you xo

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    Replies
    1. Dear Thirsty,
      I am so glad I could finally face my addiction.
      Merry Christmas to you, too!
      xo

      Delete
  3. Thank you for sharing your story. It makes me so sad to know how you suffered. Alone. I know, because I did too.
    But then I am happy because we have found freedom and are sharing it with us. That is what matters.

    Anne

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    Replies
    1. I love our new freedom, Anne!
      It's an amazing way to live!
      xo

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  4. This is beautiful, Wendy. Thank you for sharing. I feel so greatful to have found you and your blog. Your honesty and bravery are so inspiring! Sending a Christmas hug! xx

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    1. Thank you, Lori!
      Merry Christmas to you, too!
      I'm glad I found you on Lucy's blog!!!
      xo

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  5. While I've haven't been there in the way that you have I can appreciate the struggle to stop and finally doing it. That's where the focus should now be, what great gifts of learning you are giving yourself now and how wonderful are the ways in which others will benefit, perhaps without you even knowing.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Gael!
      Yes, I want to focus on all the things I am learning!
      xo

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  6. what a beautiful and raw post. thank you for sharing it with us.

    one of the parts that struck me on re-reading it was how much effort you have put into your recovery. that is a fantastic paragraph on all the ways you found support for yourself. so often we think that the strongest people can do anything on their own - whereas in fact the choice to reach out to others in as many ways as possible shows far greater strength and determination. and now you are perpetuating all that goodness by sharing your message of strength and hope here - how wonderful is that?

    I am honoured to know you in this crazy online way, Wendy, and look forward to carrying on sharing this path with you in 2016! Prim xx

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    1. Oh Prim!
      I thank you so, so much!
      I tried to get sober by myself, but I couldn't do it alone.
      Yay to 2016!
      Here's a virtual dance of joy!
      xo

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    2. doin' a little dance RIGHT NOW :) xxx

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  7. Wendy thank you so much for sharing your story - it bought tears to my eyes. Sending you a big hug across the pond xx

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    1. Hi Lucy!!
      May your season be Merry and Bright!!
      xo

      Delete
  8. Wendy. So many similarities, but not the same story. You really are wonderful, and strong, and compassionate.
    Sending lots of love and so pleased to be along on your journey with you - always learning from your insight.
    With much love x Claire

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    1. Hi Claire!
      I hope you get some good snuggle time!!
      I will have some busy times, but I will breathe all the way!!
      xo

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  9. Wendy, this made me cry- not just because it's so honest but because you seem so unlike the person you describe in it, and the way you took your life back is amazing and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing this!! I hope you have a Merry Xmas!!

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    1. Thank you, Betty!!
      Merry Christmas to you, too!!
      xo

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  10. Thank you Wendy. I know sometimes it's hard to write the story down. Sharing your story is invaluable for others. I can relate to what you've written. You are amazing. xxx

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    1. Hi MTTS!
      It's hard to read it myself, but I keep it, not to make myself sad, but to remind me of where I could end up again if I chose to drink.
      xo

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  11. Thank you for this post Wendy! You are an inspiration xx

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  12. Thank you for your honesty. You are a strong and wonderful lady and people like you help me with my journey x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, KB!
      Now I need to up my exercise!
      xo

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  13. After reading that I need a drink!

    Well done!

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  14. Thank you for sharing this! I know it will help someone out there realize that they are not alone.

    You are one amazing woman Wendy. I'm so glad I know you.

    Sherry

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  15. Wow what a great post. I agree with Suburban Betty and the person you describe is a million miles from how I see you now. What courage for sharing so you can help others, especially knowing what a success you have made of it. I have noticed that both you and ainsobriety are the most prolific commenters all across the sobersphere and that is beyond generous. Your support of others I am sure makes a huge difference to them. I know I always value your comments.

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  16. Thank you for sharing your story. I am finding reading recovery blogs tremendously helpful. I think the isolation of trying to deal with addiction alone makes a sustained recovery next to impossible.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you.
      I have to have real people to help me.
      I tried going it alone and just couldn't do it.
      xo
      Wendy

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  17. For almost a year I’ve been poping in and out of the Soberverse because I have a drinking problem. Bottom line, I’m an alcoholic and I’m struggling because I’m trying to do this alone. I’ve seen your comments many times (along with many other inspiring women), but this is the first time reading your story. I’m on a path of self-destruction, and still cannot commit to finding help the right way. But after reading what you so pointely shared, I have to admit I need help as I cannot do this by myself. It’s so hard to take that first step…but it’s not impossible. Thank you.

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    1. Hi Lia,
      It is very hard to take the first step.
      But even by posting this comment you did that!
      Once I found some supportive people, I was able to start the journey of healing.
      Thank you so much for sharing yourself.
      xo

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  18. I appreciate you pointing out that I have made "somewhat" of a first step. I will keep trying. I have to. Smiles.

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    1. Lia,
      It's worth it to keep trying.
      Some people need a big push, other people need a little step by step.
      I needed a big push.
      Is there one person you can trust to tell that you want help to quit?
      xo

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  19. Actually, yes, many - my mother, husband, siblings, and even primary doctor. I've admitted I'm an alcoholic to them all. Everyone has been supportive, but there are still many others I don't tell. Such as my co-workers, some friends, etc. because of the shame. I started this year well, but have slide backwards these past few months. I’m trying one thing different, emailing some of you wonderful sober ladies for help by sharing my story, piece by piece. I’m not going to stop trying. I haven’t given up. Thanks for replying as it one of the little steps that is helping immensely!

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  20. Dear Wendy, you are so brave. Thank you for sharing your story via your blog. Please continue doing what you are doing. BB from Korea

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, BB Kim!
      I am glad you reached out!
      xo

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  21. Hi Wendy
    Sorry but I can't help but add another comment today! This is such an great story. I particularly love the bit where you reach out to EVERYONE you can for help. So determined. I am too!
    Michelle xx

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  22. Thanks for sharing and for always supporting me on my journey.

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  23. Oh my god. Your anecdote at the end about the bar and then showing up to Yoga plastered is seriously MY STORY! It still haunts me to this day. Thanks for this honest account and making me misty eyed at the end.

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    1. I hate having to keep these things in my mind, but it reminds me about how painful drinking had become.
      Thank you for your comment!
      xo

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  24. This story never gets old Wendy.
    I have read this many times but always take something new away.
    All of our lives are not easy but sharing and love will always make it better.
    Merry Christmas 2016 yet another year under your belt.
    Mxx

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  25. So this is my second attempt to comment so I apologize if you get two from me. :)

    Just wanted to say how much I related to what you wrote here, especially the lesson planning in bars, bartenders being friends, staying out later and later, and the overall messiness level. I really appreciated the honesty in this post. ❤️

    -Alicia

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    1. Hi Alicia!
      Thank you.
      It's hard to be honest, but I have to in order to face reality!
      xo

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  26. I just stumbled across your blog, and I'm so glad I did because I can relate to this post in SO many ways. Look forward to reading more about your journey over the years!

    -Alison

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    1. Thank you, Alison!
      I'm now over 34 months!!
      xo

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