Thursday, March 11, 2010

Snapshots from Before ~ Part Three

I'm sitting in my car in the church parking lot.   I want to go in. I don't want to go in.   I watch as people saunter into the meeting, sipping coffee, chatting with each other.   Laughing

I'm sick, and I'm miserable.   I'm here because I have to be here - my husband told me to go to meetings, or else.  I don't know what the or else is yet; in my heart I can't really believe he would leave and take the kids, but that is my fear.   Part of me doesn't care.   They would be better off without me.

I glance at the clock - the meeting starts in three minutes.   I don't know what to do.    I could drive around for an hour, say I went to the meeting.   But I know where my car will go: to the liquor store.   I want to prove to my husband that I can do this.   I still don't know what this is, I can't imagine it will be to stop drinking forever.   I've lied so much, though, said I would stop, tried to stop, and I can't.  I just can't.    I know I need to go in, but I can't get my feet to move.

One minute until it starts.   I burst into tears.   I'm so angry.  So, so angry, that I've let it come to this.    A life of church basements, coffee, strangers.    If only I had stopped after one last night, like I promised myself I would.  Steve wouldn't be so angry today, and I wouldn't be here.

I wipe away my tears, grab my coffee mug, and get out of the car.   Maybe there won't be an empty seat, I think.  If there are no seats I'm turning around and leaving.  

I swing open the door.   Right in front of me is an empty seat.   Shit.   A woman smiles at me, pats the seat, and says, "Welcome."

I knew it was a cult, I think.    I keep my eyes on the floor as the meeting starts.   I feel like everyone is staring at me.   The weak one.   Most people are smiling, so they can't be as bad as me.    I'm the worst.   I'm the worst ever.

The chairperson, or whatever he's called, says, "Anybody new here?  Anyone want to introduce themselves?"    No freaking way, I think.   But my hand goes up.   All heads swivel towards me.   I'm staring at my hand like I've never seen it before.   I'm supposed to say something, I think.    Crap, what do I say?   

"I'm Ellie," I stammer.   I'm not going to say it, I think.   I'm not going to say the A word.  "And, I think I'm an alcoholic." 

"Welcome, Ellie," they say in unison.    I'm shaking from head to toe, and the tears start flowing before I can stop them.   The woman next to me puts her hand on my shoulder.   "It's okay," she says.  "You're going to be okay."

No, it's not okay, I think bitterly.   Screw you.   Screw you and all you people in here.  You have no idea how much pain I'm in, what a terrible person I am.   

A woman about my age gets up to the podium to speak.   I stare at the floor.   She is blonde, pretty, smiling.   She introduces herself, says she is a grateful recovering alcoholic.   Whatever, I think.   Cult

And then she tells my story.    She's a mother, she has two kids, she has been sober two years.   She hid her bottles the same place I do, she came here because her husband made her come.   She stays now, she says, for herself.   

I'm not looking at the floor anymore.   I'm staring at her, agape.  I thought I was the only one, I think.   

Someone else gets up to speak, but I don't hear what he says.   I keep stealing glances at the pretty blonde woman.    There is no way, I think.     There is no way she did those things she talked about. There is no way she's just like me. 

Suddenly, the meeting is over.   An hour passed?  Already?   One whole hour passed, and I didn't think about drinking.   Not once.   Some people come up to me, give me their phone numbers.   I'm just trying to get out of there.   I'm wondering if I'll go straight home, or if I'll stop at the liquor store.  I don't know yet.  I never seem to know.

I stuff the phone numbers in my pocket and mumble some thank yous.   I don't think I'm thankful.   And I'm definitely not calling anyone.     As I open the door to leave, I feel a hand on my shoulder.   It's the pretty blonde woman.    "There is a meeting tomorrow too, you know.   I hope I see you there."   She smiles and walks out to her car.

I don't know if I'm going to the liquor store or not, but I do know I'll be back tomorrow, because I can't remember the last time I didn't think about drinking for one whole hour.

It felt pretty good.


  1. This gave me goosebumps. No matter what each of us is going through, to know you are not alone is a relief like no other.

  2. These snapshots give me chills. I can't imagine what it's like for you to relive them.

    I mentioned to someone else, I remember going to meetings with my mom and dad when I was really little. Church basements, VFW halls. So much SMOKE! But lots of talking. So much talking. I had no idea what they were talking about til I was older of course, but I'm just trying to say I can 'sort of' picture you trying to walk into that first one. No idea what you were feeling, but I can visualize it. Couldn't have been easy.

    I'm glad you kept going.

  3. I'm glad you kept going, too. Don't you just love meetings now? I find such comfort spending and hour and a half with other people I know are dealing with the same issues. I have several "pretty blondes" and "cool dads" in my meeting, and it makes it so much easier to relate.

  4. Stunning writing Ellie. I'm glad you kept going to meetings.

  5. I remember that gripping fear but also my astonishment that another being held the precise distorted thoughts and feelings that riddled my mind and heart. My soul was relieved. The power of sharing is magnificent.

  6. Oh my God Ellie, this was beautiful. And a perfect description. Thank you for posting these snapshots. You are the pretty blonde woman for so many others.

  7. Once again, I thought the same thing. My first meeting was in a run-down office building. Torm carpet, mismatched chairs, a musty smell. I thought, "I'm going to spend the rest of my life in places like this?" Our meetings here are a little different. People don't stand up. I shared at that first meeting a little about while I was there ~ through my tears. When I was done, the woman next to me put her hand on my arm and said, "We need to talk." I still see her at meetings. She and I, of course, are a lot the same. I also remember thinking, "I shouldn't have . . ." and then I wouldn't be here. But now I am so grateful!

  8. That was me my first meeting. The shaking... Oh God do I remember the shaking.
    Beautifully honest Ellie. Well done!

  9. Hello, I've never commented here before. I found you through the booze-free brigade. I'm a British single mother of three kids, I'm 34 and have had a problem with alcohol since I was a teenager. I haven't discussed my alcoholism on my blog, but it's nice to see some women role models for recovery. I had been sober for three months, but I drank again the other night. There's no AA or anything where I live, but I'm going to keep on pursuing sobriety. Sorry for the long comment. Nice to have found you.

  10. Oh, Ellie. I'm so glad you went in.
    These snapshots "get" to me.
    I'm not a big drinker, so I don't know where you're coming from, but the way you put your thoughts and feelings into these posts, makes me want to cry for you. I'm so glad that you're ok now.
    I've only known you through this blog & Shiningstones, and I see Ellie, the Bright & Creative. Ellie, the Fierce & Protective. Ellie, the good and kind.
    Seeing you as you were; while it *doesn't* change my perception of you as a person, in fact, I think it makes you stronger in my eyes, just makes me realize *how* strong you are.
    You are a Rockstar. And I'm glad to know you (even if only through the computer). Warts and all.

  11. These posts have my feet lifting off the ground, reading them. Weightless with the awe...of connecting and of how well you express the feelings. Thank you.

  12. I watched you today, I know it is rerun, but it was was very good.


  13. I'm crying. Thank you for sharing. The authenticity is riveting.

  14. I don't know why I cried when I read this, but I did. Thank you for your honesty.

  15. That was me my first meeting. The shaking... Oh God do I remember the shaking.
    Beautifully honest Ellie. Well done!