Friday, September 1, 2017

Hi, my name is Laura...


Hi, my name is Laura and I am an alcoholic. 

I’m also a writer, mother, daughter, girlfriend, sister, stepmother, friend, volunteer, mentor, political activist, cousin, Trustee Exemplar, advisory board-member, former wife, former PA President, former publicist, former assistant production coordinator, former documentary director, former “party girl,” former King Cobra girl and former receptionist/hostess.

Depending on how long or how well you know me, you may have questions about how I got to be an alcoholic or what it was like when I drank.  And depending on how well I know you, I may answer some of those questions.  

I think its important for me to tell you that I'm not trembling with angst at every social function, trying to figure out a way to break away and sneak a glass of wine.  I want you to know that I don't ever romanticize about "how much better my life would be" if I could join you at the bar for a high ball or a lemon drop (although I really used to like those).  I don't feel sorry for myself because I "can't" drink.   But I know to some of you, it may seem like drinking is some kind of privilege that has been stripped away from me.  And the fact is that, yes.  I did like to drink very much (and take pills).  But after they stopped working, it took a very long time (years) for me to finally give up on trying to get them to work again.  And during those years, I hurt and pushed away everyone who loved me.  I didn't like living like that.  I didn't like who I had become.  After I got sober,  I recoiled from alcohol as if from a hot flame. Drinking scared me.  I didn't long for it.  In fact, I was absolutely terrified of who I might become if I took even one drink or one pill. Some years later, I find myself in the promised position of neutrality when it comes to alcohol.  I'm no longer tempted nor terrified by it.  It is just there.  But it is not for me. And I'm completely fine with that.

Also please bear in mind, that I am speaking for myself only (and a little for Scottie). But here are some things I can tell you about my alcoholism/recovery without you having to ask:

You can drink around me

If you we’re out to dinner, you can feel free to order a drink (or three).  While I appreciate the consideration, (really I do) PLEASE don’t not have a cocktail on our account. In fact, if you want to, you can get totally drunk.  It’s really okay.  Ironically your concern about how to make Scottie and I feel comfortable at dinner or at a party, usually serves to make us more uncomfortable. On a side note,  I’ve found that outrageously drunk people, while sometimes entertaining, often make less than enjoyable dinner companions for the one(s) who are abstaining.  But as far as my sobriety goes, rest assured — your indulging in a few cocktails while we’re together won’t jeopardize it.


It’s actually an allergy

So, yeah - I’m literally allergic to alcohol (there’s a joke in program that goes something to the effect of “I’m allergic to booze -- when I drink it I break out in handcuffs")!

Just think of me like you would any friend who’s allergic to say, shellfish.   You’re probably not going to make a big deal about eating a shrimp in front of that person or fret too much about whether or not to order the crab salad at dinner.  It doesn’t have to be some taboo subject, you know?  I’m simply allergic to alcohol. Of course, there are also other components (obsession of the mind and a spiritual malady), but my point is that I am bodily allergic to alcohol.  Once I take that first drink, I am powerless over what happens next.  But you don’t have to worry about protecting me from your alcohol.  Have a drink!  I’m good.



You can invite me to go to Las Vegas or The Wine Country, but I will probably decline:

I don’t drink, smoke, gamble (or shop or spa recreationally), so a trip to Vegas sounds about as appealing to me as the five-hour car ride in bumper-to-bumper traffic that it takes to get there.  And since I’ve been sober, I’ve really just found it to be too loud, too dark, too smoky and generally kind of skeevy (Although I could maybe be persuaded to fly in for a day to see Michael Jackson “One” by Cirque du Soleil.)  I do love me some MJ…

As for wine country, which sounds really fun and romantic in theory. The whole point of being there is to partake in wine tastings and whatnot.  So what’s pitched to me as a relaxing, picturesque weekend with amazing food, in actuality, can turn into a whole weekend of me having to politely cover my glass with my hand and say, “No thank you, I don’t drink” over and over again.  Also, I find that hanging out with a bunch of drinkers in wine country is just kind of boring without a buzz.


I don’t ingest anything that changes me from the neck up

I don’t vape, smoke cigarettes, smoke weed (or do edibles or oils).  I avoid all narcotic pain meds (i.e., Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet) and I’ve stayed clear of any kind of sleeping pills or anxiety medicine (like Ambien Xanax and Klonopin).  Obviously I don’t partake in any kind of illegal amphetamines (speed, meth, cocaine). But I also won't take your prescription Adderall or Ritalin.  I don’t take NyQuil (it’s a like a full shot of alcohol!) or drink “non alcoholic beer” (we have a saying in program that non-alcoholic beer is for non-alcoholics).  I don’t drink Kombuchas (if you don't know why, just Google it) and for totally different reasons, I don’t even drink coffee anymore.  I don’t drink those special “natural” teas brewed from opiate or amphetamine-like derivatives that are supposed to be “calming” or give you “energy” (like Khat or Kava).  And while we’re on the subject, I don’t drink energy drinks either.  But I do eat chocolate.  Don’t judge me - I know that’s a drug.  I also eat sugar, which is totally a drug. Okay, fine — you're right!  Judge away!


You don’t have to feel bad for me because I "can't" have a glass of champagne at your wedding:

If you invite Scottie and I to your wedding we will dance, eat too much and perhaps over indulge on wedding cake.  We will “ooh” and “ahh” and maybe even get teary when you say your vows.   We may sit down and laugh with our table-mates while taking pictures of your flower girls.  We will watch with curiosity as the drama unfolds when your uncle or cousin reappears after having had “one too many.”  But please don’t be offended when Scottie and I say our goodbyes soon after the first dance.  But after all that food and cake, we’ll just want to get home, get in bed and watch Homeland or Game of Thrones.  And while we really don’t miss champagne at all — its nice when our hosts have some sparkling cider on hand for those who don’t partake (I also love a good “mocktail” menu at a wedding!)


Don’t smile condescendingly and say “good for you!” when I tell you that I don’t drink

I know you mean well.  I also know you probably just don’t know what else to say.  But the fact is that I’m not in recovery to get yours or anyone else’s approval.  I don’t drink because I made a decision nine-plus years ago to choose life.  I don’t drink because I have my best life ever now.  It’s not punitive or shameful.  It’s also not a badge of honor.  It’s just my life. And while it is in fact “good for me,” and I say this respectfully, please don't point it out while giving me a thigh pat or a mini fist pump.


Feel free to talk to me about the problem drinker in your life (even and especially if that person is you)

The most crucial call to action in recovery is our charge to pass our experience strength and hope along to anyone that wants (or wants to want it).  So I am more than happy to share my story with you when it’s warranted.  And I’m equally happy to simply to listen if that's all you need or want instead.  What ever is required, I will do my best to be of service.  So please don’t be too polite, shy, ashamed or afraid to bring it up.  People in recovery are great respecters of confidentiality (it is sacred to us as well as essential for healing from this terrible disease).  And more than likely, any horrible, scary thing that you have to say will probably sound perfectly normal to me.  

Again, this is just me talking.  I can't and don't speak for anyone else in recovery (well, again, except for Scottie).  I just wanted you to know this about me in case you were wondering what it is like for me to live life as a sober person.  I hope you that if you were confused or had any notions of how hard it must be to live without alcohol (believe me, I could NEVER have imagined it!) -- that this might have helped to clear it up or expel them.  Because as I said at the top, it is true -- I am an alcoholic.  But it is because I'm in recovery that I'm able to be that and so much more. 

#grateful

Please share this with anyone you know who may be struggling with their (or someone else's) addiction or recovery.  Also, please leave your own "do's and don'ts" for me in the comments.  Thank you!


11 comments:

  1. Very well said, Laura! I agree wholeheartedly.

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  2. "...Except for Scottie"... PRICELESS!! You're an amazing example of what recovery could look like for anyone willing to walk the path you have. I'm grateful to be getting to know you both.

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    1. Ha! I love that you quoted that! Thank you so, so much, Phil. I feel the same way about you and Mia. I appreciate you taking time out to read and comment - really. It means a great deal to me. Thank you.

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  3. Laura, I just love you and Scottie. This month I will be celebrating 43 years of sobriety. I have heard many people share about their alcoholism and other addictions. I have read and reread everything I can find on the subject over the years. You know I am a fan of your writing, but I must say this is the best open letter for all to read about how we live and enjoy life without the need to drink. For me I have to say I live a much better life because of my recovery. The things and people in my life I have learned to accept, be grateful for and to love, have made me a far better person than I would have otherwise. Thank you for being in my life. Frank Ludwig

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    1. Frank! I absolutely adore you! And I'm so excited for your upcoming birthday - wow! 43 years is incredible. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your kind words, truly. I have nothing but love for you. Thank you.

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  4. Once again, thank you! Thanks for being so open and honest and shedding light in corners most are afraid to look in. I'm always so inspired by the spirit of your writing and this is no different. But, I must add, the MJ One show is completely worth a plane ticket and dry cleaning the outfit that smells like an ashtray when you leave. I've seen the show twice and would go again in a heartbeat! 😊 Rehani

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    1. Lol! Scottie just said "Hey, Hon - do you want to go see that MJ show? It sounds like fun!". I'm totally down for that. Thank you so muc, Rehani for always reading and for your thoughtful, personal responses. I'll let you know if we go!! Thank you again! xo L

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  5. Is orange still your favorite "with" flavor for chocolate indulgences?

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    1. Yes!! I can't pass it up!! It is my absolute favorite. But! You have such a great memory!!! Xo

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  6. That was an amazing read. Thank you very much, I really needed to hear that ♡

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