From the March 2011 magazine.

Web Exclusive: White Wine Did the Job

From a childhood of fear to years of heavy drinking, she finally found AA in Paris

"Ooh la la, I'm sober!"

I was born into a French family, in Algeria, in a civil war. There was chaos, permanent anxiety, bombs, murder, corpses on the pavement for mothers to pretend they weren’t there, as they walked by holding their children’s hands. Denial for survival, for sanity.

Age 5½, I was one in a mass exodus of one million people across the Mediterranean, to France. My family was lucky to have a place to go to, but it was exile all the same. This home country wasn’t home and the children at school made sure I did not forget that I was a stranger to these parts. I soon gave up trying to belong and pretended I didn’t care, so that I didn’t have to face rejection again. No one at home would speak of what had remained on the other side of the sea “over there.” It was buried in their souls. Though living now in peaceful surroundings, my mother kept getting up at night to check that my brother and I had not been kidnapped, and that our throats were not cut. I pretended I was asleep. I still have a very light sleep, something keeps night-watch in me.

-- Caroline C.

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