From the August 2000 magazine.

A Compelling Angel

Toward the end of my twenty years of drinking, I was a tired, isolated hausfrau, caring for a beautiful year-old boy--after a fashion--and continuing my quest to drink all day and in secret, to escape detection and disapproval from my husband. I idly wondered how long I could get away with it. Even though my husband hadn't uncovered the hard evidence yet, I already was paying a stiff price. I stubbornly ignored spiritual bankruptcy, sluggishness, and growing medical evidence of liver problems, which I blamed on other factors, so I could muddle on with my daily quart of vodka habit. I spent a frightening amount of time, energy, and effort in maintaining my secret boozing, which didn't show up as messy drunkenness, but as bloat, laziness, and irresponsibility--on a good day.

Despite what now seem like clear and present dangers, I told myself that I would keep drinking until I got caught, figuring that had to happen at some point. The prospects were scary, but at the time, not drinking was not an option. I was sipping all day and all night, drinking solo, or, when in the company of others, managing frequent bathroom trips accompanied at all times by my bottle-heavy purse. The daily quart had long since ceased to be a source of pleasure or euphoria. I need get out of bed and deal with the day, however badly. I knew from past experience that withdrawal seizures were inevitable if I stopped suddenly, and cutting back was hardly an option.

-- Ellen F.

Manhattan, New York

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