From the April 2012 magazine.

April 2012: Out of the Doghouse

After years of hiding booze and driving drunk, she made a phone call to save her life

I remember the exact day, time and circumstance when I accepted the fact that I was an alcoholic. I had known for many years that I didn’t drink like other people and that my behavior, when I drank, wasn’t normal. I broke into my boyfriend’s house, destroyed his living room and stole his stereo system, hiding it later in my doghouse. During parties, I hid booze in the bushes so I wouldn’t run out during the night. There were feeble suicide attempts that were nothing more than attention-getters. For the last six months of my drinking, I had a blackout every time I drank. One moment I was drinking, the next moment the blinds were closed and I had no remembrance of anything from that point on. I remember waking up one morning and hearing my front door shut. Someone had left, and I had no idea who it was. I would wake up some mornings and my car wouldn’t be outside, so I had to walk all over town, visiting the bars trying to find it. And then there was the car accident. I was driving down the freeway on the wrong side of the median and ran head-on into a truck. The driver saw me coming, stopped his truck, got out and watched me plow into his vehicle. I got a small scratch on my head from the accident, even though the car was totaled. I got a DUI, and so I simply rode my bicycle to the bars.

By the time I called the AA hotline on the evening of Dec. 4, 1982, I had accepted that I was an alcoholic, even though I had never been to a meeting and didn’t know what a First Step was. What finally convinced me to make that call was that I was about to lose one of the only things left in my life of any value—my job. As a department manager at a specialty store, I was required to be there every Saturday and had simply not shown up for work on two weekends. I lied my way out of these two absences (something I was very good at) and kept my job. I told myself that I could not let this happen again. I felt confident that the “three strikes and you’re out” rule would apply and I would be fired.

-- Brenda N.

Lakemont, Georgia

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