When I think of alcoholics I think of the ones around the tables. I realize you might not see us like I do. Maybe your mental picture of an alcoholic is a relative or friend that rages, abuses and throws your life into chaos. Since I had no experience of alcoholic behavior when I was young, I do not have the woundedness in my life caused by the abusive behavior of an alcoholic.
Therefore, without the negative associations I don’t mind admitting I’m an alcoholic. I’m proud to be associated with the organization of AA. I’m even grateful to be an alcoholic because now I’m privileged to have the AA book that was written by Bill Wilson just for people like me. It is a step-by-step guide to living a peaceful life. I now know how to live a more sane life than I ever imagined when I was drinking. I owe my life to the AA program and the people who were there for me at the Fellowship Club in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I’m not ashamed to be an alcoholic so I’m happy to discuss my addiction whenever it’s relevant. With the 12 Steps I have found a way to remove the barriers between me and God. I have an experience and relationship with God that has transformed my life. Living has meaning now.
In a new relationship, I usually wait until the subject of alcohol comes up. Funny how soon that always happens! Then I usually say, I used to drink and everyone was glad when I quit. It doesn’t have the zing of pronouncing, I’m an alcoholic. but it gives the same message unless the person is totally clueless about addiction–in which case it’s better not to have given them my label anyway.
I’m a little off-center when it comes to talking about myself. I’d rather joke about it than make some big pronouncement. Perhaps saying I’m an alcoholic makes me sound judgmental, while using the humor doesn’t make other people feel defensive for themselves or for me. After I make light of it, 8 times out of 10 I’ve had people start to confide in me about their various addictions. Funny how that works.
I do think there’s a stigma attached to women alcoholics, especially moms. People assume that we’re more selfish than the bums under the bridge who appear to have nothing left to lose. Not true. We’re all naturally selfish and self-centered to the extreme. There may be more tragedy involved for family depending on the circumstances but having a drunk family member or friend of either sex is devastating.
What concerns me is that there is such a stigma for admitting to the problem that many women are not willing to seek help. That’s another reason I’m so ready to tell my story all the way through to the happy ending.