A recovery friend and I had heard about a book called Drinking: A Love Story, written by Caroline Knapp. As it suggests, it is a woman’s walk through alcoholism as a love affair, and how she had to remove herself from it. My hope is to write a bit about each chapter and share that part of my story with you in conjunction.
Chapter One is titled “Love”, and is the beginning of understanding how a casual relationship blossomed into a love affair and then a co-dependent relationship. The author discusses how she first came to see alcohol as a way to deal with her insecurities and to fit in. She talks about her early enjoyment around drinking in social situations and the progression of her drinking from casual to frequent to daily drinking. The overriding thought in this chapter is her focus on how this could have happened to her – a child of non-alcoholic parents who was raised in an upper middle class environment.
My name is Jackie and I am an alcoholic. That is still not an easy thing for me to say, but it is getting easier now that I have been sober for a while. I heard so much of myself in this story, I wanted to share it with you. It helps us to know that we are not unique and that we are generally more similar than we are different.
I had my first drink at 3. My grandfather poured a swig of whiskey into a shot glass to help me deal with a serious cold and cough. I remember that I didn’t like the taste, and it burned my throat, but then I felt all warm inside and I wanted more. My grandmother told my grandfather to be careful because he would turn me into a “shicker”, Yiddish for a drunk. Little did they know.
I started drinking in high school with some regularity. It made me feel more comfortable in my skin. I was a smart
girl and generally a clown. This was to cover up my embarrassment over my weight and my early blossoming as a “young woman”. It was hard to accept that I was only 14 when I could pass for 21. I attracted a lot of attention and it made me feel pretty. This was important because most of the time I didn’t feel pretty. But in order to keep the attention, things were expected of me. The only way I could stomach it was to drink. When I drank, I was able to feel like a “grown up.” I started to drink during the school day, not a lot but a snort or two at lunchtime once or twice a week. My friend and I would go to her house near the school. No one was home and we would have a lunch of Southern Comfort and head back for the afternoon. I guess I was learning to drink my lunch at an early age.
My friend and I were talking last night about when the transformation occurred – when our love affair with alcohol turned to an obsession. And we agreed about one thing. We just didn’t know. It wasn’t a specific point in time. It was a progression, just like a love for someone can turn into a co-dependence. I think the turning point for me occurred in college, when drinking became an almost daily occurrence and weekends became one long binge. That is also when I experienced my first blackout.
More to come