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Denial by Susan A.

In my early twenties I tried to go a whole week without a drink, and that taught me a lesson.  Never Do That Again.  And I didn’t, for another twenty-five years.  I’d decided I wasn’t going to be an alcoholic, that just wasn’t going to happen.  And somehow, I managed to believe it for a long time.  Talk about denial.

After I’d been sober for a few years, I was still saying, and believing, that I’d never lost a job or lost my family or been arrested because of alcohol.  Then, one day when I was preparing to tell my story at a meeting, it hit me out of the blue that none of that was accurate.

True, I wasn’t fired from a job, but after I got involved with my boss, along with lots of alcohol, he dumped me for someone else in the office, and I couldn’t face him or the job every day, so I quit.  At the time, I was a single parent with three children and had no other way to support us.

I’m a member of a large extended family who, for decades, got together three times a year.  I enjoyed the gatherings, but at the same time I dreaded them because I knew everyone looked down on me.  I was the only one who wasn’t married, I had the most children, and I made the least money.  After I was sober, I discovered that they had never felt that way.  They hadn’t looked down on me.  I had pulled away from them.

Although, technically, I never got arrested for drinking, on my wedding day (how could I have forgotten this?) my new husband and I were drinking champagne (after finishing a few bottles at the reception) as we drove from Houston to Corpus Christi for our honeymoon.  We might have gotten away with it if I hadn’t been distracting him, causing him to weave all over the road.  As it was, we were stopped by the Highway Patrol, and I spent three of the longest hours of my life drinking strong, bitter coffee in the waiting room of a police station in Ganado, Texas.  Today we’d have been arrested for that, and rightly so, but they let us go when we were good and hungover and miserable.  Not a great way to start a marriage.

Even today, after twenty-six years of sobriety, I sometimes think of all the energy I wasted, denying that I was an alcoholic; and as the years went by, it got harder and harder.  The way I feel today, clean and sober, is the way I wanted to feel when I drank.  But to get here, I had to stop denying what I knew in my heart to be true and accept the fact that I was an alcoholic.  And not to just say it, but to accept it down to my toes.  Only then, was I ready to do something about it.  The freedom and self-respect it has given me is a wonderful thing.

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