Hi, I’m Ali, and I’m an alcoholic.
Yup, bet you didn’t see that one coming. Or, because you know that I’m a former child star, you totally did. Anyway, it’s the truth. I’ve been sober since Oct 28th, 2007 and I haven’t touched a drink or a drug since.
I didn’t have a crazy bottom where I became a stripper and wore my Broadway costumes and called myself “Curly Suzanna.” I didn’t shoot heroin in an alley or drink till I blacked out (well, not everyday) but my story is my story, and it was enough for me to know that enough was enough. You see, so many people can’t see past the word “ALCOHOLIC.” They can never understand that it’s not even really about a drink or a drug. In fact, it’s really not about substance at all. It’s about how you see people, how you treat yourself, how you feel about things, how you think people feel about you, what you could do, should do but don’t do. Your resentments, your lack of respect, your lack of power, power you think you have to change sh*t, your ego… the list goes on. You live life in your head ALL THE TIME, self-centered and all kinds of entitled. Also, when I personally talk addiction or say alcoholism, I’m talking about “alcohol” in all its forms — meaning snort, pill, smoke, drink, even SHOP (I won’t give that one up.) It’s all the same. When we don’t recognize these things they rule us like that Lanister bitch in Game of Thrones. It ain’t pretty.
I was living in NYC when I realized I needed to get sober. I was miserable and overwhelmed with life. I was heartbroken and realizing that what had always worked for me in the past was NOT working at all. Not even a little bit. I felt trapped, scared, and sad and I was ready to really go for broke or get better. So, I did what every good user does and I prayed to a god I had never believed in… and then called my mom. Days later I was off to treatment, just like that. For the next four years I went to meetings, worked the steps, got a sponsor, found a god of my own understanding, prayed, meditated and basically grew up. Growing pains were inevitable, I felt them often but I continued on the path because unlike my old ways, this way was working.
It was crazy. I would wake up everyday HAPPY, and not because I got something or had a hot dude in my bed. I was finding genuine happiness. I wasn’t numb anymore. I saw things differently than I ever had. Like, trees and flowers. I found out that I didn’t know everything! That was ok for once in my life, I didn’t know everything and I didn’t have to figure it all out and that was ok. My head slowed down, my life got better, and everything I had ever really wanted but never got suddenly started to appear. I just hadn’t been ready for it yet. It didn’t come until I was ready.
I got married, I had kids, I got a new house, I re-did the floors (I love my floors), I got a car that my dad didn’t pay for, I got a life (that my dad didn’t pay for). I became a better friend, a better daughter, a better artist, better sister… I just got better. I grounded. But, you see, I also got responsibility. Addicts don’t like responsibility. I got responsibility not only in the form of doing the dishes and making my bed. I got PEOPLE. People that look like me, people that need me, people that copy everything I do and learn basically everything from me. I am their mother. THOSE kind of people. I got babies. Two of them in two years. (Possible addict behavior.)
Anyway, things got really good, hectic but really good and ya wanna know what started to feel like a good idea? A drink! ‘Cause COME ON! I was young… I was sad… I wasn’t really THAT BAD. I’m a mom now! Moms drink wine!
PS… I never liked wine nor did I drink it very often because it gave me the runs and a headache. BUT I’m an addict and we have really sh*tty ideas. So here I was fantasizing about my wine relapse. My 7:30PM post-putting-kids-to-bed, ONE drink. The warm fuzzy, heat in my chest, loose gaze in my eyes and yummy taste in my mouth. I would put on a lace nightgown, dance around with my husband, do The Sex and then wake up like sunshine on a dollar bill the next morning. Right?
THEN I REMEMBERED…
This would be the real story if I actually drank the glass of wine…
I drink wine, and then I want a cigarette, so I go out into the garage and smoke one. Then I decide I should have some more wine because I’m only a LITTLE bit buzzed and I want to be more buzzed. Then I decide I want to get high, but only this once. I mean, I’m already drinking again so, who cares?! So I smoke some pot, then I start calling my friends, getting into fights for no reason, stirring up unnecessary drama because I’m so important. Then I have epiphanies about life and how I can change the world. So I get all DEEP and sh*t. Then I think I’m so smart, THEN I think I’m god. Then I take a Xanax because it’s so hard being all of these things. Then I pass out. I don’t hear the baby crying until someone has to wake me up. I go puke. I wake up in a daze with the people I love around me shaking their heads. I feel like death and I can’t wait to do it all again tomorrow. My kids lose their mother and, worse, I lose them.
Thank god I didn’t drink the wine.
I don’t drink because I don’t want to miss one second of the responsibilities I get to have today. I don’t drink because I can’t. I want to, a lot of days, because I’m human and because life gets hard. But I don’t. Sobriety offered me everything I ever wanted and never got. I have always had the image in my head of rushing to put my kids to sleep, being so frustrated and angry. Rushing just so I could go disappear into a bottle or take a trip on cloud of smoke. When I think about that my skin crawls, because that’s in me. Everyday I work to take contrary action against that poor unfortunate girl. I know how fast this beautiful life I get to live could all be a distant memory. I get to live this way today and everyday if I decide to and if I’m willing to do the work.
I will miss out on getting wasted with my mom friends and barfing all over the strip on some crazy girls trip to Las Vegas. I wont get to go wine tasting in Napa. I won’t get to eat a marijuana olive oil infused stir-fry or trip balls at Coachella. I’ve lost that privilege in this lifetime. But every day that I wake up to my kids clear as a bell and ready to take on another day in this new skin, I am grateful. It’s a high like no other and it only comes from me and the Universe that provides for me. Blessings are abundant in this chapter and I’m sitting pretty one day at a time for as long as possible. I’m sure that someday my kids will ask me why I don’t drink and my answer will be simple: “I never want to lose myself and not be able to find you.”
“God grant me the serenity to accept the diapers I don’t want to change, the courage to pump the milk I can, and the wisdom to do the dishes.”
PS. In no way am I shaming or judging parents who do drink. This is just my story and why I can’t.
PPS. If anyone feels this hits a little too close to home, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to share more and help you find a meeting close to you.
Photos by: Lee Cherry and Jane Inch