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My Drinking Career And How Alcoholics Anonymous Ruined It...

My name is PrincessMaine and as of August 28, 2010, I had 6 years of sobriety with the fellowship and support of Alcoholics Anonymous...

When I open up at any given commitment meeting and stand up at the podium, I usually give the same opening line, even though it's been passed around most likely millions of times. The reason being is that in the back of my mind I believe there is most likely a newcomer in the crowd somewhere feeling a little skeptical about AA in general and s/he is there because s/he HAS to be. It may be the Court system, a spouse, a Judgment, part of an Order or anything else which may lead the reader to believe the attendee simply wants to be anywhere else other than where s/he is at.

The opening is usually a catchy little line and quite witty. It goes as follows, but is not always verbatim..

"My name is PrincessMaine and I am a Recovering Alcoholic." (Then I may say something about the small meeting we had on the way to that meeting..)

"I am allergic to alcohol. The effect that it has on me is very ugly. I break out in handcuffs, bars, jails, institutions, detoxes, etc..."

There's always someone at the meeting who hasn't heard the line. And then I continue on about my drinking career, where it got me and where I ended up. And then I share about how AA has changed my whole life and how I became a spiritual person. I never had that before as I grew up without being introduced to any kind of religion whatsoever.

I love to share my experience, strength and hope with others because others have always been so readily willing to do this for me.

There isn't any way of sugarcoating what alcohol has done to me. They say, and I truly believe this, that the lady takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes the lady. True in every one of my horrendous cases. I have been to the point of being arrested several times, had police guns drawn on me, jailed until Monday many times, been in over 15 detoxes, over 5 rehabs, several halfway houses, one women's sober home for a year and a mental institution for two weeks for attempted suicide. I have also slept on the city streets of Boston for a period of time when the Judge threw me in a women's shelter there, but it turned out that after the lights went out the "crack thing" was going on with some of the girls and I just wasn't into that so I upped and left. I currently have three OUIs on my record and I am still trying to straighten out the wreckage of my past. It's been one hell of a ride and I wouldn't recommend this one to anyone..

I didn't really care about what happened to me at that point. I just couldn't seem to hit my bottom. The bottle ruled my life and I was determined to satisfy that monkey with every bit of my being. I couldn't live without it. I couldn't talk to anyone, I needed the poison for everything and every reason was a good reason. I actually heard someone say at a meeting once that she didn't want to die because "she wouldn't be able to drink any more". Imagine that?

I think a lot of people here at EP know who I am. So don't be shocked when I tell you that I have quite the "RAP" sheet. All  from the use of alcohol, of course. I'm a blackout drinker. (Notice I didn't say "was". You are an alcoholic until they put you in your grave) One can never be "cured" from it, and it's always lingering-waiting for you to take the bite while growing even stronger...the disease of alcoholism wants you dead. It certainly did me. They actually told my Mom my blood alcohol level was .50 in ICU and that I "may not make it through the night". Damn what I put my family through!

The hardest things for me, especially in the beginning, were the resentments. I have learned, through AA, how to let them go and forgive those who've hurt me. I do believe in Karma and It will handle those who intentionally hurt me and others and/or who are evil. So, I find it in my heart to let go and forgive and not let the evil people rent space in my head.. The others...., well, I pray for them because they must be as sick as I am..

Let me quickly give you an example of something, stemming from my alcoholism, on my "RAP" sheet:

Assault and Battery:

Our old neighbor: A well known alcoholic and pain pill user. She was friendly with my Mom, but my Mom never trusted her. I was friends and grew up with her daughter. Let's say her name is "Ida". Ida did take care of my Mom when she was dying from Cancer. My heart aches because I was married to the bottle at that point. I SO couldn't deal with that as I thought my Mom invincible..She was just always so very strong. When my Mom found out that she had Cancer, she told Ida and Ida never told us. Mom didn't want to worry her children, especially me. Funny thing about my Mom, she was always happy when I was jailed or in rehab because that was one night that she wouldn't have to worry about me..

Well, on the day of my Mom's intern, my brother gave Ida the key to our home and asked her to set up some food plates and try to straighten up a little for company after the funeral. There was a guy who went with her, an alleged "friend" of my Dad's who lived up the street and used to visit Dad. (Dad and Mom passed 6 months apart in 2003 and 2004).

When I returned home, I saw 3 large contractor bags full of my Mother's things, EVERYTHING!! Clothes, all her jewelry, everything that was in her top drawers that even *I* never saw! She said she took a "couple of bags* to her house already because she "knew they wouldn't fit me". She claims that she was "doing me a favor". I started yelling and then she put on this fake panic attack for my older brother then ran and pretended to throw up in the sink. She was The Great Manipulator and actor, but then again, aren't all of us alcoholics?

I can't explain to you what an absolute RAGE I was in. I lost my closure that day, NEVER to get it back. A couple of days later after having had a few, I met Ida in the back yard and started telling her how I, uh, felt about what she had done. Then I walked right up to her and socked her in the eye. Hence, the black eye I gave her. (I had taken quite a few Tai Kwon Do lessons in my 20s & 30s).

Now this would have been handled quite differently today. AA has taught me how to deal with things responsibly. An officer would have been the best route for all involved because what she actually did was steal from the family. From me. That being said, the guy that was allegedly friends with my Dad ended up scoffing some things downstairs that belonged to my Dad (a bunch of very expensive tools), as did Ida, but she took home some other things I will never know about. Neither one of them had any business being downstairs.

I have always wanted to write about this episode because it has haunted me quite a bit since then. She sent me an email later saying my mother hated me and hated "dealing with me". I know for a fact that my mother loved me more than any person could possibly love another unconditionally. That was simply meant to hurt, and I knew it. My Mom spent her life wondering where SHE went wrong in raising me.. I actually still have that email!

But ya know what, folks? One of the best choices I ever made was NOT having children. I knew I was emotionally and physically too ill to take care of myself let alone a cat! But those are the choices I made and the only really good one was the aforementioned. All of the former ones brought me nearly to my death several times.  

It breaks my heart when I see some young men and women who are still active and suffering and as I read their stories I can't help but feel their pain. And sometimes the tears, well, my tears roll with theirs...

AA saved my life. I have seen AA save many many lives. The members didn't give me dirty looks when I went to meetings in the beginning with vodka on my breath and emanating through my pores. They always welcomed me with open arms through my journey of what seemed perpetual revolving doors. And I have enough one-day chips to start a poker game all over the world! Don't give up folks, you can "fake it 'til you make it"!

Alcoholic Anonymous gave my Mom the gift of 24 years of sobriety before she passed.  And 124 AAers attended her funeral that day. I hope she hears me when I tell her how many people adored her. She never noticed because she spent so much time worrying about me and those she loved around her. And she loved Alcoholics Anonymous as much as I do today. I thank God every day that she pointed me in the right direction.
PrincessMaine PrincessMaine 46-50, F 154 Responses Dec 23, 2010

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Well spoken

AMEN. God Bless You

This is a very moving story, I hope you are still recovering and that you are letting go of your old demons. Well done for being so strong.

You are the AA Promises, personified. On behalf of our fellowship, I'd like to say We Love You :)

Thank you. dear heart....

Gawd! I had to re read this story again and I am uncontrollably crying. But it's OK. It's warm for me as I remember both my folks....Thank you, kindly....

Hugs :(

Wow. That's horrendous but your interpretation was funny in an massively ironic way and i'm ashamed to say, I did laugh out loud in parts.
I am also a regular drinker, I admit I drink more than I should but I never dreamed alcohol could effect someone in such a way however, my Dad was a really bad, abusive and violent drunk, 'nuff said!
In my defence, and this is by no means a criticism, my alcohol use (i'm 49) has never been redflagged as being a problem threat or anything like that but nevertheless, I think it's time to cut down now and maybe even ditch the **** too. thank you for making me think sweetie!

I can't pray 4 u for your future, i'm not religious but I can do the next best thing and will you on telepathically from across the pond! (without a beer)

Best Wishes

Steve. XXX

PS. Penny dropping time, I've just realised that my son Jason 25, can become a totally different person if he overindulges and for nr 10 years I've been on his case when he seems he has had 1 beer too many, I still send him to bed like an 8 yr old now! How the bloody Hell was that not in the forefront of my mind when I read this!
I.Q of 156 and I didn't think! Time for a cup of tea I think. Ewww!

Awww. I'd love to indulge with a cup of tea with you....

I would love to join you for a cuppa, only, I can't stand the stuff, lol. So I hope you don't mind if I have a coffee or hot chocolate instead.......

I don't like AA. I'm not religious and however much they protest that it is not religion, it has all the tenets of a religious doctrine and try as I might, I could not put my faith in it. I have been to over a hundred meetings, read the books (their descriptions of alcoholic habits and behaviours, denials, delusions etc.are all undeniably bang on; it's their methods to tackle them that are hopelessly outdated), and roughly 140 hours of AA based rehab. That's roughly nine standard working weeks, having it CONSTANTLY PREACHED at me time and time again, in an often aggressive, coercive and often humiliating way (weekly random room inspections, without permission for example, with the results (often deeply insulting), being posted in the common room; being rebuked if you didn't shave every day, and so when my boiler packed up and I missed one day's shave, I was singled out in front of the whole group and was asked why I looked so scruffy. When I told her that my boiler wasn't working I was told I should have used a bloody kettle then - very practical in a house with three other people sharing the same facilities and getting ready for work).
I know it is a broad church, but I fail to recount a single positive thing I experienced from it. I lapse in and out of sobriety, am currently sober and believe I have finally garnered all the tools I need to stay that way. The only good thing actually, just to contradict the sentence before last was that I met my current partner (not an alcoholic - she was using the de-tox as a kind of women's refuge), of six years there. Oh and in some of the meetings they put out hob-nobs. I have had four detoxes, 4 rehabs, eight hospitalisations due to severe alcohol seizures withdrawal symptoms and had other people not been there when they happened, well, I probably wouldn't be writing this. Every Medical professional I have come across has told me that on no account should I try and quit unsupervised, and when the question of AA came up, they couldn't actively condemn it, but most of them kind of rolled their eyes and said, "Welll, it does work for SOME people".
I believe it is an anachronistic, ritualistic, religious based, inflexible, patronising waste of time - in my case, I believe it put my recovery back by about 4 years.

Like the people of AA say"It works if you work it"! I disagree with your opinion. AA is not religious per say, it's more spiritual. I, at first thought AA was some kind of cult and I wasn't going to a cult to stop drinking! I found out later on, that AA is not a cult and if a person can find strength in a higher power then so be it! It is not for everyone, I'm sure. But it saved my life and the people of my group have helped me become sober. I thank God and the people of the Easy Does It Group every day for my sobriety!

I appreciate your response...and will elaborate later....

I am sorry that AA didn't work for you. I do hope that you find a recovery program that does work for you before it is too late.

That's OK. AA isn't for everyone, but it kept my Mum sober for the last 25 years of her life. You obviously have some knowledge about the program. It's kept me sober for a number of years. I love the community.

Take a good LONG look at this woman you have written this to. Look and SEE for yourself how many friends and admirers she has; the way she expresses herself with compassion and humor for those of us who need to hear it. Look at her face, full of fire and yet gentle and caring. Read her stories, all FULL of the promise AA gives for those who WANT it. This program ONLY works if you WANT it to. Obviously, for PrincessMaine, it WORKS. Not only do I disagree with your stand on AA, but your reply to her story is chocked FULL of the self-pity of someone who thinks they can go it alone. And they CAN. But, it's just that: LONELY. Are you as young at heart and vibrant as this girl is? Do you have as many devoted fans and virtual LOVERS as this woman has? Do you have the kind of CAN-DO spirit, come what may, that this child of God has? I think it ludicrous and reprehensible that you would tramp all over this girls story with such a selfish POUR ME response. You are totally lacking in support HERE, where SHE has offered it FREELY, and the only reason she has thrown her pearls before swine is in the earnest hope that someone like you and I MIGHT give a listen, and a second chance at LIFE. Shame on you for trouncing all over this woman's flower bed. You've no respect. Keep your mouth SHUT if you cannot say something good in response to what she has poured out of her heart!

Keep my mouth shut? Hmm, that's what my counsellors in AA rehab wanted me to do every day. Before long the other residents were taking joke bets on how soon I would be chastised. I think the record was less than 90 seconds. Thank you for labelling me with a bunch of tired old AA favourites 'the pour me' attitude etc. For your information I have now been sober for nine months without AA. I am not lonely and am helping to galvanise a post de-tox peer led support group that avoids AA doctrines. I never had any issue with Princess Maine's story and it is not an unfamiliar one. How dare you assume that mine, along with most other alcoholics, can relate to it and the experiences she had. She wrote her opinion, I did not criticise her, I merely forwarded my own. All this 'shame on you' and 'no respect' nonsense is a tad childish isn't it? Incidentally, shame is a key reason that drove a fair portion of alcoholics to drink in the first place.
Just because I disagree with the woman's opinion of AA does not mean that I do not appreciate the enormity of the events which drove her to it. And what's with the 'child of God', 'Pearls before swine' stuff about? I feel like I've just been lambasted from an extremely judgemental pulpit. You judge me for disrespecting her story (again, I am not) and yet you do not even consider my own. In a nutshell, I am lucky to be alive. Very lucky, and consider that every day. The fact of my survival owes nothing to AA and everything to do with the support of others around me, including some I never met. This support enabled me to begin to fully explore the reasons why I was drinking in a way that AA never offered. It proposes a METHOD of stopping but does not encourage exploration into why we started in the first place. That is just labelled as "stinking thinking".
AA demonises drink, tells us we are "powerless before alcohol". Well, I don't see most people having that problem. Or for that matter, do I see people who do the lottery each work turn into gambling addicts or people who like shopping become shopaholics or those who would like to lose a few pounds in weight become anorectic. There are underlying reasons for all these excesses and AA does not encourage (in my experience), the search for these reasons.
Remember, for every happy AA member, there have been dozens of failures - just like in most methods of pursuing abstinence and I know of many people who have attended meetings for over 12 years and still crashed and burned. Of course there is the get out clause here that 'It works if you work it' and if it doesn't work, you just didn't work it properly. Sorry, but you could say the same of anything.
Fighting alcoholism has been a ten year battle for me, and a concern for twelve years before that. Please do not patronise that time with the accusation that I am a mere cynic. I have searched very hard for my recovery and believe I have found it. There are no guarantees of permanent sobriety for anyone and I know if I were to have another drink it would purely be because I have given up on life. In my current frame of mind, that is not going to happen, and I don't need to sit in a gloomy church hall three nights a week to prove that to myself or anyone else.

3 More Responses

Thanks very much for writing your story! Am newly sober, 13 months! Drank my life away for 41 years. Can't tell you how happy I am to be sober today! Changed my life in a better way. You are an inspiration to us all! As we say, It works if you work it and you're worth it! Thank you again, Paul

Congrats on making 13 months.
I would like to say it get easier but it doesn't; what does happen is that you gain confidence the longer you go and you learn how to avoid the inevitable bouts of temptation.

Midway into my 10th year but totally aware that I am one drink from disaster.

Thanks for the vote of confidence! I understand about the temptation you talk about and I don't let my mind wander there.And yes, only one drink away from ruining my entire life!

Your story was very moving,thank you for sharing,im very happy to hear your doing well,and everyday move forward well done,its not an easy road as i seen in my dad,he too is off the drink 35 yrs now,his a great man.:)

Thanks for sharing, AA saved my life on April 12,1994, and it is still one day at a time

Wonderful story. My dad was and alcoholic. He is dead now. He ruined my childhood and left scars on me to this day.

Alcoholism is genetic. My dad passed his drinking gene to my sister. Me, I can go months without a drop of alcohol. Its funny how it works that way.

I am moved by your story. I know pieces of this life.......... not from your point of view but as the child of an alcoholic mother.

good girl great story ! i've been sober 24 years & have no desire to drink it at 58 it just amazes me how many my age have thrown away thier lives

I've been happily sober for 26 years, even though bi-sexual and a cd. You don't ever heal, but the longer you keep it out of your system the bêtter you can feel about yourself and others. Much love, have a safe New Years .

Thank you darling....

Thanks for sharing such an intimate story. My Dad was a mean drunk that I just touch upon in my novel "Drunken Duck." There is a scene I write about that you would completely relate to. My older brother was a drunk and one of my three uncles as well. It's funny that I knew I would like you from the first moment I met you on EP because I could tell you lived life and had a story to tell about the living of life that had heartache and meaning. Hugs, Ron

A novel? That's something I'd love to read! Thank you for your inspiring words!

That was very inspirational...thank you for sharing a very difficult past...you are brave, and thank God you are now so much stronger now, and are sharing your past dilemma to help those to cope with their drinking problems...that is truly giving back the good that you got from your experiences...your friend, jb...

Thank you, Sir, for your kind words.....

very inspiring, you should be proud of yourself ... and you look great!

You are very sweet...thank you...

wow ruff life . you look great in pic, i grew up with lot people drugs and drinking young . most are gone others look lot older than they are.

I completely understand...I have been blessed that it didn't the better of me....

I think that people who say that they haven't had a bout of alcoholism are either liars or in solitary confinement. Let's face it: alcohol is the only readily-available drug that can make problems go away instantaneously. What you've done is NOTHING compared to what many others (including me) have done. AA truly IS a Godsend, but you have to realize that you're not 'recovering' at this point, necessarily. Recovered is more like it...as long as you know that you have this 'allergy' and don't engage in it anymore, you're a RECOVERED alcoholic. Recovering is a process, but staying recovered is a choice.

I love your reply. But an "old timer" once told me that an alcoholic or addict will "ALWAYS" be one until their graves. That monkey keeps growing stronger on our backs. All it takes is one sip. The more sobriety you claim, the closer that demon is approaching.....I have seen this countless! (Please NO disrespect) I am extremely well educated on the subject....and thank you...

Unfortunately AA wasn't able to save me but somehow breast cancer ruined my drinking career. I haven't had a drinking thought since my diagnosis 3 weeks ago. Probably because alcohol abuse and chemo is a definite death sentence. Yet, all the time I attended AA all I could think about was drinking. I found the program to be so hard on my already low self-esteem that all I could think about was my character defects. I'm already good at self-blame and it only magnified it to the point that it made me want to drink more to escape my bad feelings. With cancer at least no one is pointing there fingers at me at judging me!!! The stigma of being an alcoholic just really made it bad for me.

OH Dear Lord....If I could hug you a MILLION times....my prayers go out to you...I wish you well....Honestly, I Care.....

thanks!

I'm Tony, also a recovering alcoholic, my b-day is 7-23-2006. I was saved only by the grace of God, Praise God!!! Thanx for posting your story....

Thank you! I now believe what my own true calling is all about.....

Thanks for adding me, and want to say I am so happy and proud for your 6 years sober. I have myself been sober for 16 years this April.

It's been over 8 years now! This story was written in 2010! Thank you!

Sorry I didn't see that, congrats on 8 years

Thank you!

An allfull lot of us have quit drinking/drugs ect ect--But most of didn't replace one addiction for another--- -I'm talking about Religion!

Spirituality and religion are not synonyms...

Yes, most SO many do.....

God bless you. I recently lost an aunt to alcohol. She was not much older than you. Over the years, she lost her husband. She lost her kids. After weeks in the hospital, doctors couldn't reverse the damage and she slipped by degrees until she fell into a coma and they removed the respirator. Someone said, at least she died sober. I didn't know her well, but I'm haunted by her sad story.

That' makes me scared and NEVER want to go back to those walls of emptiness.....thank you for that....

I'm so glad my story had some value to you. Apparently, to die of liver failure is extremely bad. My mom saw it first hand and described it and it some of it made me shutter.

Thank you for sharing. Alcohol has affected us all... Some of us more than others.

Hi,

I'm Howie a recovering drunk that has managed to stay sober for some 19 years by the grace of God and the principles of AA one day at a time. I loved reading your story. Reminded me of me.

Good to hear that you stopped your drinking. I love the way you do the opening, it is so creative and must help break the ice at those meetings.

Thank you, and yes...it's a great ice breaker!!!

I am so happy that AA ruined your career of drinking. I pray that you will spend the rest of your life with that career ruined. It does sound like you have had a hard life but are doing your best to turn things around and make a better life for yourself. I wish you all the success in the world in your endeavors. You take good care of yourself. I am sure your mom hears you when you tell her things. I know I feel it in my heart that my own dear mother hears me when I tell her things. I am also sure that your mom is very proud of the positive changes you have made in your life. Keep up the good work.

Thank you dreamcat. Your words, especially, mean a lot to me...

i have been sober since may 16 2011 its hard but i am doing it

That's wonderful!!!

I wasn't 'court ordered' I had 5 years and then back again w/my 'ole friend' after that.
( 30 days rehab/outside AAA after that) Now I am not in the fellowship anymore but it gave me the tools to keep forever. I see many in the AAA who forgot who/what they are & came from, I couldn't stomach thier judgments anymore, but one needs a steppingstone to at least get serious & back on track! We need that honestly that we had in our childhood. It is true that all we ever really need to know is what we learned in kindergarten & as a innocent child that adulthood we allowed to get stolen from us. BELIEVE!

GOOD LORD I bless You!!!!

I do love what you write about this subject, I figured I'd at least get to know a lil of who/what your about before I go on w/your Q on jurys...

My ex-wife is an alcoholic. Excellent post, very tough disease for family members. I still work on forgiveness and compassion. While I am not religious, the "Course in Miracles helped me greatly, but I had to replace the term God with the term infinate intellengence for it to make sense to me.

Excellent definition for God in it's stead!