I am a late bloomer to the whole getting drunk thing. I did not have my first drunk until I was 17 years old. I sit in meetings, now, in the Central Valley of California and it is not unusual to sit next to 20 year olds with 10 years of sobriety. That's not my story.
At the age of 10 I read the children's book Harriett the Spy. I started keeping a journal and I have kept one ever since. Today, the journals are called blogs or they are 10th steps but a rose by any other name....at one point in my journal I made a list of all the things I wanted to do.
1) win 5 Academy Awards in a row
2) write Pulitzer prize winning novels
3) raise Irish Wolfhounds and Scottish Terriers
4) be a wife and mother of at least 6
These are good goals. There is nothing wrong with goals like these - in fact there are men and women who made such goals at the age of 10 and met those goals later in life.
Nowhere on that list was 'grow up to break my mother's heart'.
I never once wrote that I couldn't wait to be a lousy daughter, horrible sister, unreliable employee or the type of person people who went to high school with talk about as though she is already dead.
Alcoholism took me to those goals - not the good ones that involve love and dogs and getting prizes; rather, because of my alcoholism I became a post-abortive, promiscuous, criminal with my talents squandered and my life force virtually extinguished.
Today I celebrate 17 years of continuous sobriety. I look back on all I have done and all I have accomplished in the past 17 years and I have a very real sense of who and what I am. I know, without a doubt, that of myself and by myself I am a commode hugging drunk. I steal, I lie, I do whatever is necessary to live the life I want to live and the rest of you can go to hell.
I also understand that what happens to me when I drink alcohol is not the norm. It does something to me that it does not do to the average person and it is one of the reasons I do not believe society needs to change to adjust to MY illness; rather, I believe it is my responsibility to learn how to live in society as a woman who has an illness.
Probably the most difficult part of being an alcoholic is having that knowledge - always - that whatever it is you are feeling right this minute can be changed with one shot of JD or one pill, or one toke off a joint or.....and having to remember that whatever I am feeling doesn't have to be changed because it will pass. Alcoholics tend to think that whatever it is they are going through right then and there will last forever. It's as though we were born without the 'grown up' gene that seems to kick in for everyone else. Other people do not get as caught up in their own emotions as I do.
I will never know why I was born this way. Because of it, my life has been an incredible journey so far and I am actually glad I have been on this path. Alcoholism lead me back to Truth. It gave me friends I would never have had the chance to make. It has allowed me to travel, to share, to be a part of an incredible recovery family of people who are creative and loving and unselfish in their giving to each other.
There are times I wish I could be anyone but me. This is not one of those times. I am so grateful to God, to my 12 step program and to my sponsor and sponsorship family for allowing me to be a woman of grace and dignity today.
Thank you, Jesus Christ, for my life today exactly as it is...I wouldn't change a thing, even if I could.