MY lot falls the rather doubtful distinction of being
the only "lady" alcoholic in our particular section. Perhaps
it is because of a desire for a "supporting cast" of my
own sex that I am praying for inspiration to tell my story
in a manner that may give other women who have this problem
the courage to see it in its true light and seek the help
that has given me a new lease on life.
When the idea was
first presented to me that I was an alcoholic,
my mind simply refused to accept it. Horrors! How disgraceful!
What humiliation! How preposterous! Why, I loathed the
taste of liquor-drinking was simply a means of escape
when my sorrows became too great for me to endure. Even
after it had been explained to me that alcoholism is a
disease, I could not realize that I had it. I was still
ashamed, still wanted to hide behind the screen of reasons
made up of "unjust treatment,""unhappiness," "tired and
dejected," and the dozens of other things that I thought
lay at the root of my search for oblivion by means of
whiskey or gin.
In any case, I felt
quite sure that I was not an alcoholic. However, since
I have faced the fact, and it surely is a fact, I have
been able to use the help that is so freely given when
we learn how to be really truthful with ourselves.
path by which I have come to this blessed help was long
and devious. It led through the mazes and perplexities
of an unhappy marriage and divorce, and a dark time of
separation from my grown children, and a readjustment
of life at an age when most women feel pretty sure of
a home and security.
But I have
reached the source of help. I have learned to recognize
and acknowledge the underlying cause of my disease; selfishness,
self-pity and resentment. A few short months ago those
three words applied to me would have aroused as much indignation
in my heart as the word alcoholic. The ability to accept
them as my own has been derived from trying, with the
unending help of God, to live with certain goals in mind.
Coming to the grim
fact of alcoholism, I wish I could present the awful reality
of its insidiousness in such a way that no one could ever
again fail to recognize the comfortable, easy steps that
lead down to the edge of the precipice, and show how those
steps suddenly disappeared when the great gulf yawned
before me. I couldn't possibly turn and get back to solid
earth again that way.
The first step is
called-"The first drink in the morning to pull you out
of a hangover."
I remember so well
when I got onto that step-I had been drinking just like
most of the young married crowd I knew. For a couple of
years it went on, at parties and at "speakeasies," as
they were then called, and with cocktails after matinees.
Just going the rounds and having a good time.
Then came the morning
when I had my first case of
Someone suggested a little of the "hair of the dog that
bit me." A half hour after that drink I was sitting on
top of the world, thinking how simple it was to cure shaky
nerves. How wonderful liquor was, in only a few minutes
my head had stopped aching, my spirits were back to normal
and all was well in this very fine world.
was a catch to it-I was an alcoholic. As time went on
the one drink in the morning had to be taken a little
earlier-it had to be followed by a second one in an hour
or so, before I really felt equal to getting on with the
business of living.
Gradually I found
at parties the service was a little slow; the rest of
the crowd being pretty happy and carefree after the second
round. My reaction was inclined to be just the opposite.
Something had to be done about that so I'd just help myself
to a fast one, sometimes openly, but as time went on and
my need became more acute, I often did it on the quiet.
In the meantime, the
morning-after treatment was developing into something
quite stupendous. The eye-openers were becoming earlier,
bigger, more frequent, and suddenly, it was lunch time!
Perhaps there was a plan for the afternoon-a bridge or
tea, or just callers. My breath had to be accounted for,
so along came such alibis as a touch of grippe or some
other ailment for which I'd just taken a hot whiskey and
lemon. Or "someone" had been in for lunch and we had just
had a couple of cocktails. Then came the period of brazening
it out-going to social gatherings well fortified against
the jitters; next the phone call in the morning
sorry that I can't make it this afternoon, I have an awful
headache"; then simply forgetting that there were engagements
at all; spending two or three days drinking, sleeping
it off, and waking to start all over again.
Of course, I had the
well known excuses; my husband was failing to come home
for dinner or hadn't been home for several days; he was
spending money which was needed to pay bills; he had always
been a drinker; I had never known anything about it until
I was almost thirty years old and he gave me my first
drink. Oh, I had them all down, letter perfect-all the
excuses, reasons and justifications. What I did not know
was that I was being destroyed by selfishness, self-pity
There were the swearing-off
periods and the "goings on the wagon"-they would last
anywhere from two weeks to three or four months. Once,
after a very severe illness of six weeks' duration (caused
by drinking), I didn't touch anything of an alcoholic
nature for almost a year. I thought I had it licked that
time, but all of a sudden things were worse than ever.
I found fear had no effect.
Next came the hospitalization,
not a regular sanitarium, but a local hospital where my
doctor would ship me when I'd get where I had to call
him in. That poor man-I wish he could read this for he
would know then it was no fault of his I wasn't cured.
When I was divorced,
I thought the cause had been removed. I felt that being
away from what I had considered injustice and ill-treatment
would solve the prob-
of my unhappiness. In a little. over a year I was in the
alcoholic ward of a public hospital!
It was there that
L-- came to me. I had known her very slightly ten years
before. My ex-husband brought her to me hoping that she
could help. She did. From the hospital I went home with
There, her husband
told me the secret of his rebirth. It is not really a
secret at all, but something free and open to all of us.
He asked me if I believed in God or some power greater
than myself. Well, I did believe in God, but at that time
I hadn't any idea what He is. As a child I had been taught
my "Now I lay me's" and "Our Father which art in Heaven."
I had been sent to Sunday School and taken to church.
I had been baptized and confirmed. I had been taught to
realize there is a God and to "love" him. But though
I had been taught all these things, I had never learned
When B-- (L's husband)
began to talk about God, I felt pretty low in my mind.
I thought God was something that I, and lots of other
people like me, had to worry along without. Yet I had
always had the "prayer habit." In fact I used to say in
my mind "Now, if God answers this prayer, I'll know there
is a God." It was a great system, only somehow it didn't
seem to work!
Finally B-- put it
to me this way: "You admit you've made a mess of things
trying to run them your way, are you willing to give up?
Are you willing to say: "Here it is God, all mixed up.
I don't know how to un-mix it, I'll leave it to you."
Well, I couldn't quite do that. I wasn't feeling very
well, and I was
that later when the fog wore off, I'd want to back out.
So we let it rest a few days. L and B sent me to stay
with some friends of theirs out of town-I'd never seen
them before. The man of that house, P-- had given up drinking
three months before. After I had been there a few days,
I saw that P-- and his wife had something that made them
mighty hopeful and happy. But I got a little uneasy going
into a perfect stranger's home and staying day after day.
I said this to P-- and his reply was: "Why, you don't
know how much it is helping me to have you here." Was
that a surprise! Always before that when I was recovering
from a tailspin I'd been just a pain in the neck to everyone.
So, I began to sense in a small way just what these spiritual
principles were all about.
Finally I very self-consciously
and briefly asked God to show me how to do what He wanted
me to do. My prayer was just about as weak and helpless
a thing as one could imagine, but it taught me how to
open my mouth and pray earnestly and sincerely. However,
I had not quite made the grade. I was full of fears, shames,
and other "bug-a-boos" and two weeks later an incident
occurred that put me on the toboggan again. I seemed to
feel that the hurt of that incident was too great to endure
without some "release." So I forsook Spirit in favor of
"spirits" and that evening I was well on the way to a
long session with my old enemy "liquor." I begged the
person in whose home I was living not to let anyone know,
but she, having good sense, got in touch right away with
those who had
me before and very shortly they had rallied round.
I was eased out of
the mess and in a day or two I had a long talk with one
of the crowd. I dragged out all my sins of commission
and ommission, I told everything I could think of that
might be the cause of creating a fear situation, a remorse
situation, or a shame situation. It was pretty terrible,
I thought then, to lay myself bare that way, but I know
now that such is the first step away from the edge of
Things went very well
for quite a while, then came a dull rainy day. I was alone.
The weather and my self-pity began to cook up a nice dish
of the blues for me. There was liquor in the house and
I found myself suggesting to myself "Just one drink will
make me feel so much more cheerful." Well, I got the Bible
and "Victorious Living" and sitting down in full view
of the bottle of whiskey, I commenced to read. I also
prayed. But I didn't say "I must not take that drink because
I owe it to so and so not to." I didn't say "I won't take
that drink because I'm strong enough to resist temptation."
I didn't say "I must not" or "I will not" at all. I simply
prayed and read and in half an hour I got up and was absolutely
free of the urge for a drink.
It might be very grand
to be able to say "Finis" right here, but I see now I
hadn't gone all the way I was intended to go. I was still
coddling and nursing my two pets, self-pity and resentment.
Naturally, I came a cropper once more. This time I went
to the telephone (after I had taken about two drinks)
and called L to
her what I had done. She asked me to promise that I would
not take another drink before someone came to me. Well,
I had learned enough about truthfulness to refuse to give
that promise. Had I been living after the old pattern,
I would have been ashamed to call for help. In fact I
should not have wanted help. I should have tried to hide
the fact that I was drinking and continued until I again
wound up behind the "eight ball." I was taken back to
B's home where I stayed for three weeks. The drinking
ended the morning after I got there, but the suffering
continued for some time. I felt desperate and I questioned
my ability to really avail myself of the help that the
others had received and applied so successfully. Gradually,
however, God began to clear my channels so that real understanding
began to come. Then was the time when full realization
and acknowledgement came to me. It was realization and
acknowledgement of the fact that I was full of self-pity
and resentment, realization of the fact that I had not
fully given my problems to God. I was still trying
to do my own fixing.
That was several years
ago. Since then, although circumstances are no different,
for there are still trials and hardships and hurts and
disappointments and disillusionments, self-pity and resentment
are being eliminated. In this past year I haven't been
tempted once. I have no more idea of taking a drink to
aid me through a difficult period than I would if I had
never drank. But I know absolutely that the minute I close
my channels with sorrow for myself, or being hurt by,
or resentful toward anyone, I am in horrible danger.
know that my victory is none of my human doing. I know
that I must keep myself worthy of Divine help. And the
glorious thing is this: I am free, I am happy, and perhaps
I am going to have the blessed opportunity of "passing
it on." I say in all reverence-Amen.
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