Friday, July 23, 2010

Answers - Part One

Thank you, everyone, for your questions!   I tried to answer as concisely as I could, but I didn't want to skimp on my answers, either, so I'm posting the responses in two parts.   Here's part one:

Question:   Was there a point where you knew without a doubt that you had a problem with drinking? If you did, at that moment did you think you were an alcoholic, or did you think you were a problem drinker? Also (again, if you had that moment) did you think you would end up sober or did you believe you could control it?

I knew I felt differently about alcohol than "normal" people for many years. Thirteen years ago I read Caroline Knapp's Drinking, A Love Story, and I saw myself in those pages, not because I did the same things she did, like hide alcohol, black-out or obsess about it (that would come later), but because I felt the same way she did about drinking. After I read that book, I wrote this in my journal, in the fall of 1997:   I feel like I'm standing on the edge of a dark, deep abyss, and if I'm not careful it will swallow me whole. I was writing about my relationship to alcohol. It sounds insightful, to a degree, but the subtext reads like this to me, now: I'm not as bad as her - not nearly - so I'm going to be sure to watch my drinking so I don't end up having to quit.

There was another moment - the moment I knew I was an alcoholic - and it came almost nine years after reading that book. I woke up one night at 2am, shaking and sweating, and went downstairs to get a glass of milk. Instead I stopped at the liquor cabinet and did a shot of whiskey. Up until that point I rarely drank hard liquor, I never drank during the day, and I had never woken up shaking. Once the whiskey hit my stomach, the shaking stopped. I vividly remember thinking: well, that's it then. I'm an alcoholic. My next thought was: nobody can ever know. I couldn't imagine a life without alcohol, so I just drove it deep under ground. I drank for another year knowing I was an alcoholic, but incapable of admitting it to anyone, and tried everything I could think of to moderate (not stop) my drinking. Nothing worked, and with each attempt it just got worse and worse.

Question:   Did you go to college? What did you major in? I went to Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. I was an indecisive student, and majored in Psychology (didn't like statistics), then Philosophy (didn't like the endless conversations about nothing) before settling on French.

QuestionDo you have one favorite piece of jewelry that you make? Or a top three? I don't have a favorite. To be honest, I fall in love with each piece I make for about a week, then I design something new, or figure out a new technique and I fall in love with that one. For about a week. I'm easily bored, so jewelry making is perfect for me - the design possibilities are endless and there are so many mediums and materials I haven't even tried yet. I'm always setting my sights on the next thing.

Question: Has your husband stopped drinking entirely since you stopped drinking? Or does he still drink socially? Steve stopped drinking altogether when I was newly sober. I never asked him to - in fact, I insisted that he keep drinking, but he didn't. After a several months he would have a beer or two when he was out with other people, and then eventually when he was out with me. Beer doesn't affect me like wine does, so I ask that he drink beer only. We don't keep alcohol in the house. If we did I could probably manage to stay away from it, but it speaks to me, distracts me, and it would make it that much harder, so it's not a risk I'm willing to take. He was never a big drinker, and he insists it isn't hard for him not to drink. I'll never understand that, so I stopped trying to.

Question: I'm giving birth to my first baby on Sept 7th. What are people not telling me about how awful it's going to be?   I hate the book What To Expect When You're Expecting. It makes it seem like pregnancy and childbirth follow some kind of blueprint, and sets - to my way of thinking - totally unrealistic expectations. Every single birth is completely different, and expectations just lead to unnecessary disappointments. I gave birth 'naturally' (sorry, can't bring myself to type the V-word. I hate the turn of phrase 'naturally' - there is nothing natural about pushing something the size of a watermelon out something the size of a lemon) the first time and the second time ended up being an emergency c-section. Each delivery has pain, fear, wonder, joy and awe, sometimes all at once. And, as my friend Damomma says, at the end you get the most incredible reward possible.

Although two things came to mind at more of a nitty-gritty level. Somehow nobody told me (or I decided not to remember) that after the baby you have to deliver the placenta. They made it sound so, well, tidy. It wasn't, at least for me, and I wish I had known that. Also - and I guess this is common - when the adrenaline of giving birth started to wear off I shook uncontrollably for about half an hour - it scared me a lot, but I was assured it's perfectly normal. All I know for sure is that once that baby was placed in my arms (or, in the case of the c-section, nuzzled up against my cheek), all the pain and fear dropped away like a stone. It's an amazing experience - no matter how it happens - and CONGRATS!

Question: what color tutu will you be running in at the BlogHer 5k? ;) And how's it coming? Will you give us a preview??   I haven't even bought the material for the Tutu yet. I'm such a chronic procrastinator it isn't even funny. But I'll be spending a few days at my Mom's before I leave for NYC, so I'm going to hit her up for some help (okay, Mom?) :) And yes, I'll post a preview. I think.

Question: What city/state did you grow up in? I grew up in Wayland, MA - west of Boston. I've lived in California and France at various times in my (young) life - and I'm a die-hard New Englander. I love it here.

Question: What made you decide to be open/public about your recovery? I have always been open about it - and even in the early days I didn't really consider not being open about it.   At first I did it to keep myself safe. I wanted close friends and family to know, so that when I was around them I had to be honest, had to be sober.  I am very respectful that my decision to be open is a personal one, and I consider anonymity to be the cornerstone to the program of recovery I follow. That is why I share only my own experience, strength and hope.

A big reason I started Crying Out Now, though, was that I witnessed first-hand how healing it is to share with other people who understand, and I wanted to provide an anonymous, safe, place for other women to open up, talk about their relationship with alcohol.   It was so freeing for me to finally understand I wasn't the only one - far from it - that I hoped it could be a place for people who don't have any other exposure to a recovery program to learn, ask questions, and find a safe community.    So far I'm blown away by the response - in a good way.   If you want to read about courage, witness real live miracles - stop by and read a few posts.     Their words are grace in motion, in my opinion.

7 comments:

  1. Incredible answers :) Your honesty, as always, is refreshing!
    I had no idea you had a degree in French and lived in France! I visited once and just loved it... over the moon. I need to go back.
    And I'm the same way about beer. Lucas drinks it occasionally (and he likes scotch, which I have never, ever, been able to drink...) but I'm trying to accept that he doesn't need to drink - which, like you said - I don't get...

    ReplyDelete
  2. The questions are just great, and your answers are just like you and your other blogs: refreshingly honest and educational for the rest of us. Thank you.

    And I have LOTS of tutu ideas! Can't wait to help my little girl get ready for her Broadway performance!!!

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  4. Ohhh, I love that phrasing. "It's not my fault, but it is my responsibility." I'm gonna have to remember that one to use with my kids!

    ...

    Except you apparently edited that part out after publishing? Oh well, it was in my feed reader, and I think it was a brilliant explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Rini - I did edit it after publishing, once, because I realized there was another question later about the genetic component to addiction where I was repeating myself.

    But I meant to leave in that sentence, because it's something that helps me a lot.

    I do believe that being an alcoholic isn't my fault, because I believe it is a disease (as I talk about in Answers, Part Two). But I also believe that my recovery IS my responsiblity - some people bristle at the concept that alcoholism is a disease - perhaps because they feel it sounds like just throwing up hands and saying "what can I do? It's not my fault!" So I put my disease and my recovery into two distinct catagories - one isn't my fault, and the other is my responsibility.

    Thanks for pointing that out! I don't usually edit after publishing, and this is why.... :)

    -Ellie

    ReplyDelete
  6. The questions are just great, and your answers are just like you and your other blogs: refreshingly honest and educational for the rest of us. Thank you.

    And I have LOTS of tutu ideas! Can't wait to help my little girl get ready for her Broadway performance!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Incredible answers :) Your honesty, as always, is refreshing!
    I had no idea you had a degree in French and lived in France! I visited once and just loved it... over the moon. I need to go back.
    And I'm the same way about beer. Lucas drinks it occasionally (and he likes scotch, which I have never, ever, been able to drink...) but I'm trying to accept that he doesn't need to drink - which, like you said - I don't get...

    ReplyDelete