I promised myself I was only going out for two drinks. I told the eleven-year-old babysitter I'd be home in a couple of hours—no later than nine. I walked out the door on my way to a fancy charity event in a long, sequined gown, high heels, hair and makeup to the nines. At the event, with drink in hand, I started chatting up a guy. I was doing straight shots of tequila and quickly spent $200 buying drinks from the bar—what every classy lady does. Mr. Not-So-Prince-Charming invited me to continue the party at his place. I remember following in my car, gripping the steering wheel, trying to steer in a straight line. The next thing I remember is waking up in Mr. Not-So-Prince-Charming's bed at ten the next morning, thirteen hours after I'd told the babysitter I'd be back.
I drove home overcome with dread, silently promising never to drink again. The scene that met me there was Dickensian: my three children—two, five, and eight years old were lined up on the sofa in their pajamas, eyes wide with horror, staring at me. And no wonder—I was still wearing the sequined gown from the night before, which I'd thrown up on, and my hair and makeup were in shambles.
My five-year-old son asked me, "Mommy, are you okay?" I was not. For the first time in the twenty-one years I'd been drinking, I acknowledged there was something really wrong with me. I said, "No, Mommy is not okay." He grabbed me and hugged me. Then he ran upstairs crying.
I had made that promise more times than I could remember to stop drinking. But now, for the first time, I listened to a voice in my head. Ask for help, it said.
On November 13, 1999, I finally picked up the phone to get help. I knew in that moment that if I didn't get help, five o'clock would roll around and I'd be drunk once again. Within the next six weeks, I had to face Thanksgiving, my daughter's birthday, my son's birthday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the new millennium! How the hell am I not going to drink through all of this?
Well, I got through the holidays by getting the proper help I needed from experts. I learned addiction is a chronic, progressive, and fatal disease. The reality was I had no idea what would happen once I started drinking. I feared I would die, kill someone or myself in a car crash, go to jail, and loose my children. I was told if I didn't put my sobriety first I would lose everything—including my kids.
Getting help and treatment during the holidays was the best gift I ever gave my children, my family, and myself. There I found other mothers who felt the same way I did. At last I knew I was not alone. I stopped drinking one day at a time and learned how to face life without a drink or a drug. In my recovery—seventeen years as of this writing—I have found peace, compassion, and forgiveness for myself. I respect myself and love the woman I am today. The greatest gift my children have given to me over the years was to thank me in their own way, for giving them a sober mom!