My first drink was at age 14. I got drunk. I blacked out. I vomited. I passed out and my friends took me home and put me to bed (parents were gone for the night). I was still very drunk 12 hours later. I'm lucky I didn't kill myself.
Every time I drank after that first drunk, I drank alcoholically. I drank with the sole intention of drunkenness.
During those early years, there WERE a few consequences such as being suspended from school for 10 days for being drunk at a band trip to an amusement park. Mostly however, I was binge drinking in the same manner as my friends and at that point, I'd not crossed over that imaginary line yet.
My early adulthood consisted of drinking and drugging and I even ran off to another state with some people who thought they were going to make me a prostitute - that's where it took me. I utilized the authorities and came back to my hometown with my tail between my legs - swore off all the drugs, but continued to drink socially (to excess).
I married an alcoholic. Our social activities consisted of drinking with friends. I was pretty in control during this 10 year time span simply because he was so OUT of control. Plus, we started having children, and my drunks were fewer and further between.
When I DID drink however, it was when we had a sitter and again, I only drank to get drunk. Even during this time, if there were only 1-2 beers in the fridge, I'd simply not bother. I went weeks and months between drunks, so again, I assumed I was just like my peer group.
The next phase of my drinking career came after my divorce. I was back on the social scene and did a lot of partying. Again, I was not yet an "every day" drinker - just one hell of a binge drinker when out with my girlfriends. I still never bothered if I was not drinking to get drunk.
Ahh now we flash forward to that invisible line that gets crossed . . . . In 2004 I had gastric bypass surgery and lost 150 pounds. This surgery re-routed my intestines in such a way that two important physical changes contributed to a big problem.
ONE - I had no valve in my tummy anymore that slowly released food and drink into my intestines - everything just went right through. TWO - the upper 5 feet of intestine had been removed. We absorb alcohol in the lower portion, so basically I was just POURING alcohol right into my bloodstream when I drank.
Two drinks would get me drunk. Therefore, every single time I drank, it was over my tolerance level - whether it was 2 drinks or 12.
During the first couple of years after my surgery I did a LOT of social partying. I also developed a big problem very quickly. I was always sloppy drunk. I was inappropriate with men. I was obnoxious. I did a lot of vomiting.
I was eventually drinking every day. I'd begin the day saying I'd only have one to kill the hangover and end the day in a blackout only to do the same thing again the next morning. I developed THREE stomach ulcers. I kept drinking to the point that I could not keep food down. I got down to nearly 100 lbs and continued to drink.
On July 30, 2006, I left a friend's birthday party with the intention of going to see my boyfriend who lived about 2 hours north of her house. I was absolutely in no shape to drive. Four hours later, I emerged from a blackout. I'd driven nearly 300 miles south instead of north and apparently I was on the way to the beach (a thing for me).
I'd just caused a six car pileup and my car was smashed up on all four sides - was even hit by two tractor trailers. They had to get me out through the rear passenger door after cutting it off. Needless to say, I received a DUI for the trouble with a BAC of .22.
I'm very lucky I did not kill anybody, but there WERE people hurt and I'm still dealing with that to this day - there is a huge civil suit against me right now since my insurance maxed out with all the claims. The day I went to court for the DUI, I was let go from my job.
Did I stop drinking? Yeah for 3 whole weeks. Sigh.
September 23, 2006 I attended my first AA meeting. I had been to see the doctor to get him to help me detox without making me check in somewhere, which he did - but on the condition I'd go to some AA meetings.
The night before my first meeting, I nearly committed suicide. I remember sitting in my room, drunk as a skunk looking and my bottle of Xanax and Ambien he'd given me to get me through my first 10 days and decided I was going to take every single pill and wash it down with straight rum. I wanted to die.
I had my own sort of spiritual awakening in that moment. A voice came into my head and asked me, "well Dana - have you had enough yet?". I figured I was just hallucinating or just really messed up (which I was). This same voice told me, "OK - so you want to die? OK. Do this first. Just go to ONE AA meeting first. Just go to one meeting and see if they can help. THEN you can kill yourself tomorrow."
I'm serious - I really had this nutty internal conversation. So I went to bed and got up and got to my first meeting.
I managed to put together 14 months of sobriety after that first meeting. I attended regular meetings, got a sponsor, worked the steps. I got a new better job. I became complacent. I became convinced that my problem was more related to my new physiology than the fact I'm alcoholic.
I slacked off on meetings. I went around people and places where drinking was going on. I slipped. I fell. I went out with a bang. In a four month time period, I was drinking just like I was before I'd gone to that first meeting.
I had one very bad night where I did some horrible things to my boyfriend and couldn't remember most of the evening. I got up the next day after he told me to go to Hell and got his stuff out of my house and dragged my butt back to AA to pick up another white chip and admit defeat.
I get it now. I so so so totally get it. I hated myself again. I was so ashamed. So humiliated. So defeated.
So here I sit with about 120 days sober this go round. I do NOT want to forget. I do NOT want to start thinking or questioning my status. I surrender. All reservations are gone. I'm an alcoholic, and drinking **WILL** kill me - either slowly from the inside out, or violently from my stupid behavior.
I'm very grateful to be sober today. I'm grateful for AA, and most of all, I'm grateful for other AA's like YOU who let me share this to help keep it green least I forget.