Island of hope
April 2020 | Home Group

Island of hope

An old-timer recalls moving as far away as she could to stop her drinking. Somehow, this time it worked

I was born in the borough of the Bronx in New York City. In about the seventh grade, my drinking started with little glasses of beer. In high school, I would drink a little bit here and a bit there.

This continued until I was 31. I was able to complete nursing school, but as the drinking progressed, I would switch jobs.  I did that because I thought the drinking would catch up with me and I’d be fired.

I started to look for ways to stay sober, but nothing worked. Once, I gave up my job and went to stay with my sister and her husband. They lived outside the city up on a mountain. There was no alcohol around and I was able to stay sober there.

I needed a job though, so I sent letters to government agencies asking about nursing work. The first offer I received was in the midwest. I didn’t take that job as I thought it would be too easy to come back home. But I knew I had to leave New York, so I asked if there were any other opportunities farther away.

Soon, an offer came through in a remote town located on an island in Alaska.  The person I spoke to said she thought I would do fine there. Since I had the required education, I was hired as assistant director of nursing for the community.  When I arrived, I drank one more time and that was it. Word got out. It was a small community and everyone knew what everyone else was doing. So I went to AA and quit drinking.

At the time, a doctor at the hospital where I worked was involved in treatment for alcoholism.  He found a room in the hospital to house seven men who he helped get sober. One of those men, Pat, was my future husband.  The seven men learned about alcoholism and soon started their own AA meetings every day.

My marriage to Pat was a long and fulfilling one, which eventually included five beautiful children.  When my husband died in 2013 at age 88 I was so sad. There were so many people in our house. All my grown children were there and everyone was crying. I didn’t know how to help them with their sorrow and I didn’t know how to help myself. I felt that my life was over. I wanted to get a bottle, go in the bedroom and drink myself to death. As I went into the hallway that day on my way to drink, I heard a voice say, “Go to an AA meeting!” And that’s what I did.

I now have 50 years of sobriety and I am so thankful, at age 81, that I have many friends who come to get me to go to meetings. The Twelve Steps are a way of life for me. 

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