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Meditations for Alcoholics and Their Families
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“How like herrings and onions our vices are the morning after we have committed them. . ..”
                      —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The hangovers, oh, the hangovers! The churning stomach, the head made of lead, the thumbs that quivered, all accompanied by an eerie feeling of disembodiment.

But even worse was the soul sickness, which included remorse over what I had done, when I could remember what it was, or when I couldn't remember, a chilling fear of what I might have done. Where had I been, and with whom? How did I get home? I still remember clawing through wallet, purse and clothing looking for clues to events that the brain had failed to record.

The title of Florence King's autobiography accurately describes what I was - a failed southern lady. When quite young, I was often referred to as "a nice girl," which may have been the start of my problem, as the description set me apart from many of my peers. I didn't want to be a nice girl; I wanted to be like the ones who were having fun. While I don't know what became of them, I know what became of me. I became an alcoholic.

After graduation, I went to work as a secretary. Vowing to behave myself, I only got drunk on weekends. I married a man who also only got drunk on weekends, and a year later a baby boy arrived. If there's anything a drunk hates, it's responsibility. Soon we were drinking more, fighting a lot, and the marriage ended in divorce.

I got a better-paying job, but it was boring. Another thing a drunk hates is boredom. I was not closely supervised, so I began to drink heavily during the week, and often wore dark glasses at the office to hide my bloodshot eyes. No one seemed to notice. Now the hangovers were so severe that I took an occasional nip from a bottle I kept in a file drawer.

One night after work I met a man in a bar. He wasn't much to look at and had no polish, but we became drinking soul mates. We met at the bar each evening, and things worsened at the office. Only my resignation to get married saved me from dismissal.

After the wedding he took me and my son to his hometown, which proved to be a hamlet in the backwoods of Virginia. Soon my second son was born. By this time my husband and I couldn't stand each other. I couldn't stand his hometown, and we rarely drew a sober breath. The hangovers were daily, and the soul sickness was always with me.

I knew a normal wife and mother didn't go through life falling-down drunk, but by then I was truly addicted. The knowledge of what I should be, contrasted with what I was, kept me in a state of anguish, but I seemed powerless to change.

Though alcohol was ravaging my body, in the end it was the soul sickness that brought me to my knees. I always knew there was a God, but I never thought of asking Him to save me from the consequences of my own actions until I reached the point where there was simply nowhere else to turn.

It has been years now since I left the Virginia hamlet, got my second divorce and had my last drink. Only in complete surrender to a loving God, who sent me the help I needed, was I able to emerge victorious from the deep, dark pit of alcoholism.

Thank you, God, for allowing me to become sick enough so I could begin to get well.


  Book Cover 4
Meditations for Bereaved Parents
Meditations for the Widowed
Meditations for the Divorced