I never wanted to admit I was an alcoholic because for me that meant I was a failure, and that wasn’t going to be this mother’s story. I grew up in an upper-class home, my dad was an alcoholic and I was never going to be like him.
I moved from Minnesota to California in the late 70’s, not knowing what it was I wanted to do with my life. I followed my family out here shortly after my dad went through treatment for alcoholism. I never talked about my dad’s drinking with anyone. We were never allowed to share the pain or feel the emotions his drinking caused our family. I learned to stuff those feelings. I started drinking when I was about 12 and experimented with marijuana during Jr. high and high school.
Once I moved to California I went to Beauty College and got my hairdressing license. I was introduced to many different drugs while attending school that I swore I would never try. I found myself very lost and unhappy, not making many friends or feeling content here. I thought I would move back to Minnesota and lookup an old boyfriend who liked to drink and party like I did.
God had other plans for me. I met a man that had something I wanted. I just had no idea it was Jesus. He started taking me to church we married 2 1/2 years later. My husband didn’t drink like I did so my marriage started out with very little alcohol much to my dismay. I found myself drinking during the day at times but hiding it (so I thought) from my husband. As life got busier and we started having children and the stress of having 4 kids, and twins the 3rd pregnancy, I found myself wanting to drink more than just on the weekends. I soon began to drink earlier and earlier in the day. And before I knew it I was drinking every day.
My children were now in middle school and high school and my drinking career was in full swing. I was able to stay at home and be apart of most everything my children were involved in. I drove many carpools every day, attended back-to-school nights, was able to be team mom, and be on the football and cheerleading board…drunk. That was my son’s true mother’s story. I never showed up to anything without having had my fair share of wine first and more later when I returned home. I hid my red solo cup in the garage for fear my perfect mom image would be found out. I wore so many different masks throughout the day I would refill my cup as it emptied. I never could stop. I just continued to hide my cups and wine bottles forgetting where they were, drinking and driving, and putting my children, their friends and anyone else on the road and myself in harm’s way. Thank God no one was ever injured, I never had a DUI or any accident.
Our 2nd son started to have trouble with drugs and alcohol while in middle school. This brought much pain and denial to our family and my marriage. I was an at-home mom. I was home to be a part of my kid’s life in hopes he wouldn’t get into trouble. We went to church. We raised our kids with good moral values, how could my kid use drugs or drink so much? I thought I was hiding my drinking and the more trouble he got into, the more my disease progressed. My husband was concerned about both of us. He said, “Maybe if you stop drinking it would be a better example for him.” I became so angry I was drinking at everyone and everything. I never wanted to quit and would blame his problems for the reason I drank so much. If you had a kid like I did you would need to drink your wine too. I was drinking at least 4-5 bottles a day, maybe more. I never wanted to run out. I would change up the stores I went to for fear they would know how much I was buying. It was a lot of work trying to keep track of it all.
We sent our son to a couple of outpatient programs. He was a senior in high school, in trouble with the law, starting to sell drugs, and put on probation. I continued to drink and live in denial about my own problems.
I woke up one morning and I had no memory of the night before. My husband had taken me out for Valentine’s Day dinner. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed that I couldn’t remember the night before. This was happening more and more. I walked out to the recycling bin and I saw all those wine bottles and just started to cry. I thought, “I am the only one who is drinking all this wine. I am sick, really sick.”
I had a moment of clarity and asked God for help. I knew I needed to stop drinking to help my son. So I did. I asked God to remove my obsession of alcohol. I truly believe he did that day. I haven’t had a drink since. That was eight years ago February.
We were able to send our son away to a recovery house up in L.A. called New Life House. This was the beginning of a new life for our family. I was able to watch him get the help that he needed and we had the opportunity to share in his recovery every Saturday. It was family day. Our family began to recover too. I soon wanted what he had; he was working a program in Alcoholics Anonymous, had a sponsor and was working his steps. I watched the director of the house peel away the onion and bring to light the character defects of those young men. I could finally see my own defects. I still had not made the decision to admit I was an alcoholic. Then, when my son was just about ready to graduate, I was at a Speakers meeting and I heard a woman tell my story. I listened to some of the other moms in the family meeting and realized how much we had in common.
I decided to start going to meetings and admit I was an alcoholic. I soon found out I wasn’t a failure. I found a sponsor I could trust. I never liked sharing with other women before; I never trusted them.
Today I love my life. I’m going to meetings, sponsoring other women and I have 3 beautiful gifts, my grandchildren whose lives I am actively involved with today. I will be forever grateful to God for using my son to help me see my own wreckage, and for the recovery house and families that taught me what love and friendship truly is all about.