| print this
THE HOUSEWIFE WHO DRANK AT HOME
hid her bottles in the clothes hampers and in
the dresser drawers. She realized what she was be-
coming. In A.A., she discovered she had lost nothing
and had found everything.
MY STORY HAPPENS to be a particular kind of woman's
story; the story of the woman who drinks at home. I
had to be at home. I had two babies. When alcohol took
me over, my bar was my kitchen, my living room, my bedroom,
the back bathroom, and the two hampers.
At one time, the
admission that I was and am an alcoholic meant shame,
defeat, and failure to me. But in the light of the new
understanding that I have found in A.A., I have been
able to interpret that defeat, and that failure, and
that shame, as seeds of victory. Because it was only
through feeling defeat and feeling failure, the inability
to cope with my life and with alcohol, that I was able
to surrender and accept the fact that I had this disease,
and that I had to learn to live again without alcohol.
I was never a very
heavy social drinker. But during a period of particular
stress and strain about thirteen years ago, I resorted
to alcohol in my home, alone, as a means of temporary
release, as a means of getting a little extra sleep.
I had problems. We all have them, and I thought a little
brandy or a little wine now and then could certainly
hurt no one. I don't believe, when I started, that I
even had in mind the thought that I was drinking. I
had to sleep, I had to clear my mind
and free it from worry, and I had to relax.
But from one or two drinks of an afternoon or evening,
my intake mounted, and mounted fast. It wasn't long
before I was drinking all day. I had to have that wine.
The only incentive that I had, toward the end, for getting
dressed in the morning was to get out and get supplies
to help me get my day started. But the only thing that
got started was my drinking.
I should have realized
that alcohol was getting hold of me when I started to
become secretive in my drinking. I began to have to
have supplies on hand for the people who "might
come in." And of course a half empty bottle wasn't
worth keeping, so I finished it up and naturally had
to get more in right away for the people who "might
come in unexpectedly." But I was always the unexpected
person who had to finish the bottle. I couldn't go to
one wine store and look the man honestly in the face
and buy a bottle, as I used to do when I had parties
and entertained and did normal drinking. I had to give
him a story and ask him the same question over and over
again, "Well, now, how many will that bottle serve?"
I wanted him to be sure that I wasn't the one who was
going to drink the whole bottle.
I had to hide,
as a great many people in A.A. have had to do. I did
my hiding in the hampers and in my dresser drawers.
When we begin to do things like that with alcohol, something's
gone wrong. I needed it,
HOUSEWIFE WHO DRANK AT HOME
I knew I was drinking too much, but I wasn't conscious
of the fact that I should stop. I kept on. My home at
that time was a place to mill around in. I wandered
from room to room, thinking, drinking, drinking, thinking.
And the mops would get out, the vacuum would get out,
everything would get out, but nothing would get done.
Toward five o'clock, helter-skelter, I'd get everything
put away and try to get supper on the table, and after
supper I'd finish the job up and knock myself out.
I never knew which
came first, the thinking or the drinking. If I could
only stop thinking, I wouldn't drink. If I could only
stop drinking, maybe I wouldn't think. But they were
all mixed up together, and I was all mixed up inside.
And yet I had to have that drink. You know the deteriorating
effects, the disintegrating effects of chronic wine-drinking.
I cared nothing about my personal appearance. I didn't
care nothing about my personal appearance. I didn't
care what I looked like, I didn't care what I did. To
me, taking a bath was just being in a place with a bottle
where I could drink in privacy. I had to have it with
me at night, in case I woke up and needed that drink.
How I ran my home,
I don't know. I went on, realizing what I was becoming,
hating myself for it, bitter, blaming life, blaming
everything else but the fact that I should turn about
and do something about my drinking. Finally I didn't
care, I was beyond caring. I just wanted to live to
a certain age, carry through with what I felt was my
job with the children, and after that—no matter.
Half a mother was better than no mother at all.
I needed that alcohol.
I couldn't live without it. I couldn't do anything without
it. But there came a
when I could no longer live with it. And that came after
a three-weeks' illness of my son. The doctor prescribed
brandy for the boy to help him through the night when
he coughed, a teaspoon of brandy. Well, of course that
was all I needed—to switch from wine to brandy
for three weeks. I knew nothing about alcoholism or
the D.T.'s, but when I woke up on this last morning
of my son's illness, I taped the keyhole on my door
because "everyone was out there." I paced
back and forth in the apartment with the cold sweats.
I screamed on the telephone for my mother to get up
there; something was going to happen; I didn't know
what, but if she didn't get there quick, I'd split wide
open. I called my husband up and told him to come home.
After that I sat
for a week, a body in a chair, a mind off in space.
I thought the two would never get together. I knew that
alcohol and I had to part. I couldn't live with it any
more. And yet, how was I going to live without it? I
didn't know. I was bitter, living in hate. The very
person who stood with me through it all and has been
my greatest help was the person that I turned against,
my husband. I also turned against my family, my mother.
The people who would have come to help me were just
the people I would have nothing to do with.
began to try to live without alcohol. But I only succeeded
in fighting it. And believe me, an alcoholic cannot
fight alcohol. I had all kinds of reasons for my drinking.
I had problems. I was a woman, tied to my home. What
I needed was a change, mental relaxation, getting out
and doing something. I thought that was my answer. I
HOUSEWIFE WHO DRANK AT HOME
husband, "I'm going to try, every free moment that
I have, to get interested in something outside, get
myself over this rut I'm in." I thought I was going
out of my mind. If I didn't have a drink, I had to do
I became one of
the most active women in the community, what with P.T.A.,
other community organizations and drives. I'd go into
an organization, and it wasn't long before I was on
the committee, then I was chairman of the committee;
and if I was in a group, I'd soon be treasurer or secretary
of the group. But I wasn't happy. I became a Jekyll-and-Hyde
person. As long as I worked, as long as I got out, I
didn't drink. But I had to get back to that first drink
somehow. And when I took that first drink, I was off
on the usual merry-go-round. And it was my home that
suffered. My husband, my children saw the other side
of me. So that didn't work.
I figured I'd be
all right if I could find something I liked to do. So
when the children were in school from nine to three,
I started up a nice little business and was fairly successful
in it. But not happy. Because I found that everything
I turned to became a substitute for drink. And when
all of life is a substitute for drink, there's no happiness,
no peace. I still had to drink; I still needed that
drink. Mere cessation from drinking is not enough for
an alcoholic while the need for that drink goes on.
I switched to beer. I had always hated beer, but now
I grew to love it, bottle after bottle of it, warm or
cold. So that wasn't my answer either.
I went to my doctor
again. He knew what I was
how I was trying. I said, "I can't find my middle
road in life. I can't find it. It's either all work,
or I drink." He said, "Why don't you try Alcoholics
Anonymous?" I was willing to try anything. I was
licked. For the second time, I was licked. The first
time was when I knew I couldn't live with alcohol. But
this second time, I found I couldn't live normally without
it, and I was licked worse than ever.
I found in A.A. enabled me to face my problem honestly
and squarely. I couldn't do it among my relatives, I
couldn't do it among my friends. No one likes to admit
that they're a drunk, that they can't control this thing.
But when we come into A.A., we can face our problem
honestly and openly. I went to closed meetings and open
meetings. And I took everything that A.A. had to give
me. Easy does it, first things first, one day at a time.
It was at that point that I reached surrender. I heard
one very ill woman say that she didn't believe in the
surrender part of the A.A. program. My heavens! Surrender
to me has meant the ability to run my home, to face
my responsibilities as they should be faced, to take
life as it comes to me day by day, and work my problems
out. That's what surrender has meant to me. I surrendered
once to the bottle, and I couldn't do these things.
Since I gave my will over to A.A., whatever A.A. has
wanted of me I've tried to do to the best of my ability.
When I'm asked to go out on a call, I go. I'm
not going; A.A. is leading me there. A.A. gives us alcoholics
direction into a way of life without the need for alcohol.
That life for me is lived one day at a time, letting
the problems of the future rest with the future.
HOUSEWIFE WHO DRANK AT HOME
the time comes to solve them, God will give me strength
for that day.
I had been brought
up to believe in God, but I know that until I found
this A.A. program, I had never found or known faith
in the reality of God, the reality of His power that
is now with me in everything I do.
There is no more resources for this