For further writing on recovery, you may want to buy the book 30 Days. Life in Early Sobriety. Because the beginning might be the most important part. Material that isn’t available here, written specifically on the first stage of recovery.
I don’t remember the first time I took a drink. I remember first times. I remember a friend’s father teaching me to drive a pickup truck and giving me a bottle of whiskey to pull at. I remember it’s burn. I remember that eventually it didn’t burn anymore. I remember sitting in the dugout of a municipal baseball park, it must have been july; black flies buzzed in the heavy air. I drank blueberry schnapps until I threw up on my shoes.
Years later, I knew all the questions that doctors and self assessments ask about alcohol and drug use. Do you ever drink alone? Do you ever lie or minimize how much you drink to family or friends? Have you ever had a blackout? Do you ever feel guilty? I would have answered yes to any one of them. Yes I sometimes drink more than I planned. Yes I’ve had family worried about how much I drink. Yes I drink alone, I live alone for godssake. Yes. I feel guilty. But I would not have said I was an alcoholic.
My problem was depression.
Or I was angry. Or I was just a tough girl who learned how to party, early, and stay, late. I had bad relationships. I had this problem with my landlord, my job. You name it.
The most obvious thing about alcoholism is it’s denial. I knew I was hurting, that I had failed, that I was embarrassed and life – just plain life – seemed harder for me than for everybody else. But I wasn’t able to connect cause with effect. I hurt because I drank. I failed because I drank. I was embarrassed and life was hard. And I drank.
As I got sober, I needed help. I needed information and support. The essays here deal with the questions, fears, and successes alcoholics and addicts face. They are written not only for alcoholics, but for those close to them.
Not everyone goes through the process of recovery, but it does touch on some universals. An addict asks the same questions everyone asks. An alcoholic struggles the same way everyone else does. An alcoholic may need to fail more loudly and more disastrously than others, but the process of loneliness and finding wholeness again are things that everyone at some point feels. The recovery process is like the human condition, seen through a telescope. Whiskey is a potent thing. It can burn holes right through you and make you think you were having a good time.