Annie Lane: Beating addiction
Dear Annie: This is in response to the letter from “Outside the Bottle Looking In,” whose wife is an alcoholic. I will start by saying I am so tremendously sorry for the heartbreak you are experiencing, and I admire the unselfish love you have for your wife and your never-ending desire to see her healthy. You mentioned that you hoped and prayed someone else will see themselves in your letter, and I felt compelled to inform you that I not only saw myself in your letter but also felt the pain that you, and my significant other, must experience on a daily basis at the hands of someone’s self-serving addiction. I know I will have to take multiple breaks to “cry it out” throughout this letter, but getting the pain out of my system is part of the process.
As is true for most alcoholics, I grew up with an alcoholic father, who, at 74, is now drinking himself to death on a daily basis. As much as I would like to help him, I can barely keep my own boat afloat most days, so jumping into his boat right now would simply drown us both. I have quit drinking in the past, due to health issues as severe as pancreatitis, but for the past five years, I have managed to drink just under what it takes to noticeably hurt myself. Needless to say, the damage I am knowingly doing to my body is nothing short of irrational and unnecessary.
Being a high-functioning alcoholic, I hold a full-time day job running a Christian school, where I get all the love I need from the kids, without judgment. They, however, deserve an adult in their lives who does not miss Mondays because Sunday was a bit too rough. My son is set to graduate from high school this year, and he deserves a mom who can masterfully plan his graduation party, attend commencement and not have to drink during the celebration because it might be a little too stressful. And my significant other needs to know that while he’s busy caring for the family and tending to those things outside of the house that pay the bills, he need not worry that someone is home drinking the moment he leaves the house and taking advantage of his generosity and trust.
In every situation, good and bad, people need to hear a message from someone else. Parents convey things to their children redundantly, but until the children hear it from the teacher, it doesn’t stick. Today, you are my “someone else.” Although I’ve only been sober for a month or so, since your letter was published in our local paper, it has been the greatest month of my life. Everyone finally got the REAL me back. That is the same amazing ME I’ve always been but spent years drowning in alcohol, so thank you for breathing life and hope back into my life. I hope God delivers the support your wife needs, just as you delivered the message I needed to help myself. God bless those who love and care for alcoholics, because until we choose to care for ourselves, we hurt so many. You are all priceless.
— Finally Crawled Out of the Bottle
Dear Finally Crawled Out of the Bottle: Thank you for sharing you letter and your beautiful story of courage and success. Alcoholics may be self-serving in their addiction, but the addiction itself is a disease. The choice for the sober alcoholic is whether to take that first drink. If he or she succumbs, all future drinks are manifestations of the disease. That’s why they say that for an alcoholic, “One drink is too many, a thousand not enough.” Millions of others share this disease, so you don’t have to go on this journey alone. I hope you are going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for reinforcement, support and advice.
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