Sober Moms

My Story

I was an alcoholic from a young age, but so was my Mom, and in "those" days it wasn't discussed, if you drank too much you were told to cool it for a while and shortly after all would be forgotten.  I had kidney disease as a child and I'm pretty sure that's when my getting my own way became very easy to me.  I was born in 1964 in a small town in New Jersey; I struggled with my weight for most of my life and drinking alcoholic made me feel better about myself and whatever insane thing was going on in our dysfunctional family.   My mother’s father which is my grandfather was an alcoholic and my Mom was one of 14 children, I still have a picture of all the girls (my mother’s sisters) sitting down at our patio table in New Jersey one summer and every one of them has a beer and a smoke in their hand, about a year after my Mom passed away I noticed this picture and it hit me hard, they were all dead!  Either from the drinking or smoking but I knew they were not that old and were gone, of course this wasn’t enough to shake my alcoholic foundations at this time, I was different!  I would never become my mom, she drank that hard stuff and she was totally nuts, not me I could control it, I could do better! I would do better.  My mother’s life is a classic Cinderella story, she gets the guy who is crazy about her takes her to a better life than she ever would have imagined and still she managed to find the displeasure is everything around her, “why” me, “poor” me, if you had my life you would drink also.  Now I don’t want you to misunderstand.  My Mother was a great Mom, she was like the gal on the Chex’s commercials in the 60’s with the video running, the house perfect, blah, blah, blah you get the idea. She was beautiful and could be a lot of fun.  But my Mom was an alcoholic and that is the best and most truthful way of describing her, she lived for her children to a fault and expected things from them that she thought should be automatic and when we didn’t deliver she made it very clear of her disappointment.  I like to think at one point and time my Mom was ok, which she was, she loved us children very much, we never went hungry, lived in a middle class family and appeared on all surfaces to be a normal family, but alcoholism runs deep in some families and mine was just one, I just thought I was doomed to stay a drunk, to live the life I was shown, I had no idea that in 2009 my life would dramatically change for the better.  Part of some of my many wonderful qualities are from my Mom, she could always make me feel better when I felt down, but she had no tools to deal with her alcoholism and no one really ever said anything, it’s just the way it was, today that makes me sad, we all sat around thinking how much longer can this go on? Go on it did for years!  Now I don’t mention my Dad so much, we call him St. George, just kidding but we do as a family joke, any one that could put up with my Mom for 45 years, was just a Saint in our book, my Dad is a gentle man, soft spoken and doesn’t say much, but when he does you will stop in your tracks and take notice!  My dad is and was the classic example of an “enabler”, he was torn with what he knew, his background concerning drinking and just having no knowledge of the disease, his Dad my grandfather was a rum runner for Bill McCoy in the prohibition years, but my Dad’s side really never had any drinking problems, one Uncle the brother of my grandfather, and I only asked this recently to my Dad about alcoholism on his side of the family, which I guess is really enough in any family, back than in his time, you were just weak and most people didn’t know what to do.  I will always be grateful for Bill Wilson; he has given our generation a totally different take on this disease.  I look at young people in AA and get this sense of pride, they have their whole life ahead of them, my life was not that terrible, but I could have done far more with it. So when you think you can’t!  Remember you can! There is help you just have to be willing to take the suggestions and do the work. There are days when I don’t feel grateful but most days I do. 

As I said I started drinking when I was young, the first time I drank I remember my Mom and Dad went to Atlantic City. I used to babysit for a woman with a down syndrome child and she would let you drink, smoke, and smoke pot, she even popped mescaline with us back in the day, she was a lot of fun and we still keep in touch till this day, but not so much since I got sober, she is still a active drinker. Any way I started at my parents’ house with the Canadian Club and ginger ale, we would put water in the bottle so our Mother didn’t know we were sneaking her booze at least it worked for a while, I was also over my neighbor’s house the one I babysat for and maybe I had a few vodka’s there, it’s been so long that I really don’t remember, but what I do remember is when my parents returned home from A.C. I kept saying did you have a good time, did you have a good time, well it was one too many did you have a good time and I remember my Mom saying “what is wrong with you”, and of course the good drunk I was I said nothing’s wrong with me, at that moment she said “you’ve been drinking”, yes I was busted! I don’t remember anything of consequences happening or getting grounded but like I said I was around 15 years old so that’s a long time ago. A red flag should have gone up to my parents at that point, but my Mom was so in her addiction that, that wouldn’t happen for many years.  I can remember my Mom working 3 days a week and on Wednesday she would go in at 11 and work until 9 pm, she was a beautician for JC Penny’s she loved that job. I was required to clean the house, do the laundry, make the beds and prepare dinner on the days she worked, my dad took us to Burger King a lot on those Wednesday nights, but as we got older my brothers were around less and less and Wednesday night became a big drink night for me, I would get off of school around 3 pm head over to the neighbors and start drinking vodka and diet Sunkist soda, I would plow several down and by 6pm I would be so drunk I’d have to go to sleep to sleep it off before my mother got home, now I’m not sure if my Dad knew what I had been doing, but he was either in denial or just oblivious? I will never know and at this point he is 80 and doesn’t remember so well so I wouldn’t even bother to ask him.  So my drinking like this went on for years, I remember being 16 and going to my cousin’s wedding, my Mom didn’t want to go so my Dad took me, it was a lovely wedding, but of course I managed to get booze and got really drunk! My mother was furious when my Dad brought me home, why would you let her get drunk blah, blah, blah, they argued I slept if off and apologized when I got up the next morning, really nothing was ever said, like we think you have a problem “you think” or maybe it’s not a good idea that we drink so maybe she will not want to drink but in the 70’s  things just weren’t discussed like that, I don’t even think Betty Ford came out with her alcoholism until the late 70’s.  There was another time.  The next time I remember getting really drunk at a family function was when I was around 17, just shy of my 17th Birthday I had met this guy Billy,  the lady I baby sat for knew his Mom for many years, he had just broke up with a girl he had dated for quite a few years.  Anyway he called and asked me out, and of course this was my first boyfriend and it was a big deal, I had struggled with my weight for most of my life and I had finally taken it off and I was extremely good looking which I didn’t realize at the time, I think when we are at that age, and when you go through a lot of bullying your self-esteem gets shot! You don’t think you’ll ever be loved or your ever worthy enough when I look back at those pictures of me than, I realized that I had the world in my hands and didn’t even realize it, that is why I try to always tell me daughter that she is special and beautiful.  Any way Billy was my first boyfriend and he was the first guy I slept with, I felt we were very compatible and at first we had a lot of fun, however Billy had a huge drinking problem and I didn’t realize it for about the first 6 months of our relationship, after I got to know him you could actually tell that after 1-2 beers he would clearly be drunk, he would take me in his truck and drive somewhere and just sit there and refuse to take me anywhere, so the fighting started to escalate. There is a lot more to this story you will have to read my book for the additional details, but I am happy to say that today Billy has over 20 years of sobriety and even though he really screwed my self esteem up, I have forgiven him and realized that I lacked a lot of self-confidence because of the way our breakup occurred.  So when we were broken up, he would call me and want to see me, my parents were having a huge family barbecue and I had been drinking most of the day, I wanted to go meet him and my Mother of course said I was too drunk and proceeded to throw my keys into the pool and of course I proceeded to dive into the pool and try to retrieve them, god when I think back to that I still cringe, I don’t really remember what happened after that, but I do remember the next day my Dad telling me if I ever embarrassed the family in a manner such as that I would be answering to him and of course as I said my Dad is a man of few words and when he speaks you listen!  So fast forward, I remained a drinker throughout high school, even getting reprimanded at my place of employment, for going out to lunch and coming back pretty drunk, I had those entitlement issues and when I receive a 100 bonus for Christmas and they took out 50 in taxes, I felt that I deserved way more so to retaliate I got blasted at lunch and a guy told my boss I had been drinking on the job and I was called into his office the next day to be reprimanded and made to sign a disclosure stating if I ever did it again, I would be terminated. However karma is a funny thing and the same guy that turned me into my boss and rated me out, was picked up a few years later for DUI, I had already been living in South Florida and read it in a local paper that my Mom and Dad still received in Florida.  So fast forward, I graduated high school in 1982 and wondered what on earth will I do, my parents had sold the house I grew up in, it was my Dad’s lifelong dream to move to Florida and purchase a hotel by the beach and run it with my Mom, of course I also remember getting drunk and being mad at my Mom for selling the house, I really think “wow”  all of these red flags should have went up to my parents, I had a drinking problem big time at a young age and no one was willing to inconvenience their own life to better mine, that is the only way I know how to put it now. So after I graduated High School I visited my parents in Florida, I had stayed with my mother’s sister in a 3 story house in not the best of neighbor hoods and had to pay her rent, which really galled me that my parents could be doing this to me, it’s like I got everything up until I was 18 and then poof! I was cut off, I had to fend for myself and I really had no skills to be able to do this, I wasn’t encouraged to go to college my belief was that you graduated from high school, your prince charming would come along and he would give you that white picket fence and dream home with children an all, except that wouldn’t happen for me until 20 years later.  Now I’m not sure if this was the way I was brought up, or this was just more of the entitlement issues that I had, but at this point it really doesn’t matter because I make the choices with my own life and it is ultimately the decisions that I make that dictates the outcome.  So for the next 20 years I did a lot of partying, I loved living in Delray Beach Florida, a block by the beach at 18 what more could a gal ask for, it was party time and party is what I did best! I started to waitress in Boca at a restaurant called the Seafood Connection at the time, it was a lot of fun and the cash was fantastic, I was living with my parents and thought I could do this for ever, but somehow after a few years, I knew I needed to do something else I really never had any goals and I could have went to college on a full scholarship and turned it down, as I told my Mother I was not college material, what a fool I was! She said she would support my decision, so fast forward I met my now ex-husband and the first year we were dating, my brother was in a serious motorcycle accident, it left him a quadriplegic for 24 years until he passed away of a brain anerysium. My ex-husband and I met in a bar of course, he was a lot of fun and 24 years my senior, I was looking for someone to take me away from all of the dysfunction in my world and make it better, he was very supportive when Gary was in the accident and I am grateful that he was around to save me from my family, I know I would have been a nurse maid at an early age if he hadn’t been there. So after being with my to be husband for 5 years we planned to marry and instead we eloped on Dec 31, 1994 my Mother was devastated and I never realized how much I hurt her until I had my own daughter, I am also grateful that I was able to marry my 2nd husband and have the big beautiful wedding that every girl dreams of having and her mother, looking back my decisions were at best extremely poor.  So I married my second husband on March 25, 2000 and how he ever put up with me it beyond my comprehension, it was 9 years until I would seek help for my alcoholism.  I’m really not sure what the turning point was for me, I had another older brother who was and had been a heroine user since he was 16, we didn’t get along very well it just seemed like when everything went wrong Georgie would never be around he would be in to his addition and the family would go by the sideline, I can say that even though I was and am an alcoholic I was a highly functional one, I would never drink if I had to work, I was dependable and would show up if I said I’d be there I would never let someone down. Any how poor Georgie, just couldn’t ever stop the drugs he shot up heroine from the age of 16 and was on and off most of his life, we were actually getting a lot closer when he met his fate on March 2, 2007 when he tried to outrun the Boynton Beach Police and crashed the my other brother Gary’s van into a tree going 80 miles an hour, he hit so hard that the van blew up, I never got to say goodbye or tell him that I loved him, even though we didn’t get along very well, we were just starting to get to know each other, so you can see alcoholism runs very deep in our family, one Mother an alcoholic a father who enabled us all, a promising family destroyed because of addiction. My only hope is that I can break the cycle, If my daughter shows signs of having a problem when she is an adult I will say something and I will never enable her, I don’t know what the future holds, but I know as long as I don’t pick up a drink I can get through anything. 

This is a small part of my story, I am writing a book and hope to finish in the the year 2015.