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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.

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