Barbara: I stood alone, not for the first time, with a sense of pride and humility, holding the mike in my hands, once again, about to share my story. I looked around the room and saw the faces of so many brethren who were trying to pull their lives together; so many who were called “the old timers”, some who were called the “newcomers “, and then there were those who relapsed and were trying sobriety a second, third and many times again. I was here in my meeting, that I called my new home for a year now, and was celebrating my first year of abstinence. My hands were shaking and I thought my knees were going to buckle. A wave of heat ran through my body. I glanced across the room and focused on the one man who helped make this day happen. His name was Al and he had been in AA for thirty-five years and yet, we were both on the same journey. I knew that if he could do it, I could too. He looked at me as if there was no one else in the room and gave me a smile of confidence that spoke to me. It was as if he was saying what I was thinking, so I cleared my throat and began:
Oh boy! Where do I begin? I had a great life; one that most women would be envious of. I had beauty, brains, and a loving husband who was a very successful lawyer. I lived in a gorgeous home on the water, with three beautiful kids, with time to do whatever I wanted with no questions asked, and time to get into so much trouble. However, time, or too much time, wasn’t the culprit. It was my addictions. I was an alcoholic, cross- addicted with cocaine, shopping, and assorted sexual enhancing drugs and, of course, men. I was an insatiable addict with an eating disorder to boot! I never did anything in a small way. I had a greedy appetite for everything. But my drug of choice was alcohol.
Although I stopped the use of all other drugs except the alcohol, men were still up there in the running. Even while married, I had at least two boyfriends, sometimes at the same time, each never knowing about the other. The fact that I can write this story is a miracle. I should have been dead at least three times; and not from the drugs. My choices were crazy. I made these crazy choices because I was rarely clean and sober. My moods were altered most of my adult life.
My childhood and teen years were filled with whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and wherever I wanted. Most of those things should never have been allowed. However, my parents were addicts, my siblings were addicts and the only way they knew how to love us was to let us get away with whatever we did. I was coddled, spoiled, over indulged and emotionally incested. I grew up with the idea that I could continue employing this winning formula without too many obstacles, as I learned early on, how to bamboozle everyone.
I didn’t know or understand any of this when I married Sam. In fact I really didn’t know much of anything although I thought I was hot shit. I had a law degree and no idea what I would do with it. I was uncertain about my future as a lawyer as well as myself as any twenty-four year old would be. I mean, who has any insight at twenty-four?
Sam and I met in law school. I know that sounds amazing. I had the smarts and the tenacity to see it through. But, it felt like an accident that I was even accepted. I was cocky, aggressive and arrogant, but I am sure that was just a cover up for my insecurities and my addictions had not yet fully blossomed. Sam was three years ahead of me. I was just starting when he was finishing. He looked nothing like a lawyer; more like The Marlboro Man, but never smoked cigarettes; a bit rough around the edges, with rugged features, the kind of guy you were either turned on to or not. To me, his lack of good looks made him attractive. He was straight as an arrow, tough as nails (on the outside, that is), and sported a new Jaguar instead of a horse. Moreover, he didn’t act like a lawyer. He was gentle, kind and had more integrity and humility than anyone I had ever known. Sam came from a very intellectual and severely dysfunctional family. I didn’t; mine was just dysfunctional. His parents were both professionals. His mom was a writer and his dad, a physician. My parents were well heeled, but my Dad was in business, (often the wrong kind) and my mother never worked outside the home. My Dad was a high functioning alcoholic and my mother was your classic codependent. So I got both: the alcohol addiction and the codependency. I guess my saving grace was that even though our family was highly dysfunctional, there was plenty of love to go around. We were enmeshed according to my therapist, but I always saw it as love.
I took on the role of caretaker/rescuer at an early age. I was the youngest of five, and yet, in many ways the eldest even though I had been pampered and spoiled. I coached and nurtured my mother and siblings. Dad had his own agenda and was not interested in my opinions; for that matter anyone else’s. He had plenty for me though. He told me how to dress, how to wear my make-up, my hair, etc. and some of his compliments felt laced with inappropriate language. I felt exploited and often”icky”.
Sam and I were so happy. He joined a large law firm that was well known in our community, and the nation. He had