Grapevine Online Exclusive
From Cocktails to Chaos
Drinking for her never did resemble the social hours she saw in her childhood home
Growing up in Ohio, in a family of frequent social drinkers, I was exposed to the practice of cocktail hours and the promise of evening camaraderie. We had a dining room breakfront filled with all sorts of crystal glassware for sherry, highballs, low balls, wine and cordials. I thought drinking was the rite of passage to being an adult even though it made me sick from the get-go.
Graduating from high school during the "Summer of Love" in 1967, I began leading a double life. I looked like Tricia Nixon and lived like Grace Slick!
In 1975, I eloped with the man of my dreams, but did not have the personal skills to navigate a healthy relationship. We were blessed with the birth of a beautiful healthy baby boy in 1979. We divorced after seven years of marriage.
I tried everything to help me with the difficult pain and confusion: running, work, therapists, positive thinking groups, Buddhist chanting, you name it. Finally, I reached the abyss. I tried to end my life in 1985. My father cried in the emergency room while the doctors pumped my stomach for drugs and alcohol.
A married couple came to visit me and asked if they could pray for me. They were named George and Mary. Funny, I had an uncle and aunt in New Jersey whom I adored with those same names! It was them--but I was so out of it, I didn't know them.
Two years later, I learned about Al-Anon from a newspaper article about children of alcoholics. I came across this article while I was cleaning a rabbit cage in a kindergarten classroom where I worked as an aide. I went to Al-Anon meetings for the next seven years until my denial broke that I was alcoholic too.
Joining AA in 1993, I took years to fully embrace the fellowship, the Steps, sponsorship and all the other components of the Unity Service Recovery Triangle.
I kept coming back. I had a couple of slips, however. I will have thirteen years of continuous sobriety this coming June. Over the past few years I have lost my aunt, uncle, mother and my dad. I was able to be there for them soberly and responsibly during their 80s and early 90s. I was with my dad as he smiled and took his last breath & I very much felt God in the room.
It was a very joyous and spiritual experience.
If I keep trudging this road of happy destiny, I will have 30 years when I am 84! A sponsor now in heaven gave me her 30-year chip which I have taped to my vanity to remind me of her love, light and illumination! I have worked all 12 Steps with two sponsees and am presently working with someone new (using a lot of texting this time which seems to be the new way to keep connected). I have taken meetings to the hospital that brought me back to life, the county jail, and one International Convention in Toronto 2005. I met my first sponsee from California there even though I moved to Florida after we had done the first Three Steps.
I have been involved in Intergroup, a GSR for my home group, and an ACM for our new district for our recovery meeting place.
I have made lots of mistakes. My character defects do pop up and I have to deal with life on life's terms. Today, I have faith which I liked to think of as an acronym for fantastic adventure trusting in him. I have an army of people to help me in all phases of my recovering life. I have had so many "coincidences" of God's care for me.
I can never fully repay all that I have received in this divinely inspired program. The Grapevine, too, is at the top of my gratitude list. I always have a subscription for myself and have given it for many gifts. God bless us everyone!
—Betsy A., Naples, Fla.
Sometimes Quickly, Sometimes Slowly
It took over 20 years for him to hear the message of AA, but he did hear it