Last Call

The winds of change are blowing for Lorna and Chuck. Batten down the hatches and be prepared for a more serious moment from Lorna’s life story…

 

Are you getting a good feeling about these blowing, changing winds? I'm not.

 

Exactly two days (and probably as many words between us) from the 1984 Valentine’s Day Meatloaf Massacre, vodka and I parted ways.

I didn’t plan to stop drinking–quite the contrary. It was a normal day for me. The moment Chuck left for work, I began to blur reality with daytime TV and vodka.

Keeping up with the the "soaps" became a full-time job. Vodka relieved the stress of that drama and pressure to keep the crooked plots straight. All those years of higher education sure came in handy in sorting out whose baby was whose.

That evening something happened to disrupt my dulled-down world—a neighbor’s house caught on fire. I knew it wasn’t a booze-induced hallucination because both Chuck and I heard sirens. 

I imagine it looked something like this. I had the common decency not to go outside and take a picture or offer assistance in my inebriated state.

Curious/Concerned Chuck dashed outside to assess the situation. He reported back and encouraged me to come out so I could stand among the other Curious/Concerned Neighbors in a show of spectator support. I declined, telling him Humphrey looked upset and needed company. I also reasoned that more people on the street would only get in the way of firefighters doing their job. He rushed back out, either ignoring me or agreeing with me.

Some people can't resist playing with fire. This kind of thing would just hamper the efforts of those brave firefighters. They'd have to watch.

My reasons for staying inside had nothing to do with Humphrey or my civic duty to keep the area clear. I had a rare Chuck-free evening and I wanted to take full advantage of it to drink. And I did.

He would pop in every now and then to bring the people outside refreshments and supplies: cookies, coffee, blankets, towels—anything we had that may help on a cold, damp February night. I’d ask how things were going. He’d report that the house was going to be a total loss and how sad it all was. Then back he’d go. I’d drink some more, knowing he’d be gone for a least 15 minutes.

It's perdy serious Lil Lady. I reckon I best git back up there before things git too far outta hand. They're countin' on me.

I was sitting on our living room couch about 2 hours into this situation and began a woozy kind of pondering. One very clear question made its way through my hazy brain: Who am I? I was kind of glad that the neighbors had a crisis so Chuck would be out of the apartment and I could drink freely. I was self-centered, heartless, and deceitful—not the qualities I wanted others to think of when they thought of me.

Good grief! I turned into Lindsay Lohan and she wasn't even born yet.

Shamed to the core, I started sobbing. Alcoholics in recovery always talk about their “bottom”—the event so bad they could no longer deny their addiction to alcohol. That was my bottom.

Everyone's "bottom" is different. At least I hadn't sunk so low that I was a complete gonner.

Chuck came in, looking for more things he could hand out to people shivering outside. He saw his wife in a tearful, messy lump on the sofa. This got his attention. I wasn’t able to speak for several minutes. Both concerned and frustrated, he asked what was wrong.

My face is more oval and skin tone more peach--but the blue eyes are spot-on.

When I was able to eek something sounding like words between my sobs, I told him I’d been drinking heavily since my birthday, that I knew I had a serious drinking problem and I didn’t recognized myself any longer.

That could be me on our 10th anniversary, if my liver held out that long.

Once again, he surprised me. He said he suspected as much. I guess I wasn’t as clever as I thought. Most alcoholics aren’t.

This time the deal was that I had to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. He stood there as I shook like Jello in a running toddler’s bowl and watched me call AA to find out the details of The Program. I was on my way to becoming an alcoholic—before, I was just a girl who drank too much.

Dialing a phone is amazingly difficult when you're scared, drunk, and have a phone with no dial.

Does AA work for our A+ girl? And what further strings does Chuck attach to Lorna’s sobriety?

~ by Lorna's Voice on September 11, 2011.

25 Responses to “Last Call”

  1. […] read 3 recent posts: the meatloaf fiasco, the 9/11 essay, and my alcoholic “bottom” story. While he thought they were effective and well-done, he had one piece of constructive criticism: […]

  2. Yes, this story lives on in infamy in my family. And “Chuck” never ate meatloaf again–in 30 years. I’m a vegetarian and found a great recipe for lentil loaf. He wouldn’t eat that either!

  3. The 1984 Meatloaf Massacre — what a memorable name. Guess no one will be forgetting that one. Oh wait – it’s been almost 30 years, so obviously not forgotten. And now I too will not forget. You are such a great story-teller. I can see this happening in my mind. Glad you survived!

  4. Thank goodness for the pictures–that’s the only way I could temper the tale with any light-heartedness. Looking back, I think the whole thing was harder on my husband than on me. It’s so difficult to watch someone you love self-destruct.

  5. Great post around a very difficult tale to tell. Having been through one of those “bottom” moments with a very close family member, I appreciate very much your relating what it is like. And you inject just the right amount of humor.

  6. Your comments are so helpful in guiding me through the writing of the ups and downs of my journey. Thank you so very much, Izzy!

  7. Humor is good … but … to speak of a painful situation, sometimes, requires a little more of a somber tone.
    it was well done, as alwyas, Lrona.

    Namaste,
    Izzy

  8. He was, indeed, a trooper. I think this whole episode in my life was harder on him than on me.

  9. Can’t wait ot read it! And I’m flattered that I’m rubbing off on you. 🙂

  10. Well I hope you never really do a “last call” on here because I am well and truly a Lornaholic, LOL Love the blast of funny your words and amazingly appropriate pictures shoot into my veins. Did I tell you that you are contagious? Well you are. I could not sleep last night and wrote the longest thing I’ve ever put on here (Online Dating: Phooey). Would never normally do it but hey, I was tired and nothing else to do that seemed like it would be more fun, lol. Anyway, this morning I re-read the thing and OMG. It’s long. But it reminds me of your humour in some parts. I think you are rubbing off on me. In a good way. Thank you for being you, my pleasure 🙂

  11. On your way to recovery. I’m glad Chuck showed calm and grace in the midst of everything going on after your confession.

  12. You got that right! All of this feels like another lifetime ago. I don’t even think about it anymore, except for now that I’m reliving it in vivid detail. Looking at this newly married Lorna and “Chuck” objectively, I feel badly for both of them (for different reasons). But we both lived to tell the tale, albeit different tales I suspect.

  13. I’m going to be dealing with all of that in subsequent posts. But to briefly answer your question, that “bottom” moment was a watershed moment for me. It’s as if a switch got fliped. That’s all I’ll say for now. I’ll explain in more detail as the story unfolds.

    Thanks for sharing your story with me. It reinforces that laying my life out there is the right thing to do.

  14. Well, Izzy, “proud” came a lot later. I was devastated to think that I had been labeled an “alcoholic.” But that’s for an upcoming blog, which will hopefully be a little more uplifting. This one had to be serious, I didn’t know how else to do it but put it out there and use my “crutch” of pictures to put a bit of humor into the piece so it wasn’t so Earnest Hemingwayish…

  15. It’s really hard to treat such a “sore” subject with I suppose sometimes the best I can do is just be honest.

    Alcoholism hurts everyone. It’s such a selfish thing. I often thought it was harder on my husband than it was on me because he wanted to be rational about an irrational disease that he didn’t understand. I didn’t understand it either, but it wasn’t happening to someone I loved. That’s a sad thing to say (I didn’t love myself), but it’s true on some level about all addicts. At least that’s what I think…

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Comments like yours make me glad that I’m putting my whole life story (warts and all) out there.

  16. It is a rather chilling moment of self-discovery when you do come to the realization of just how far down the rabbit hole you’ve fallen. Reflecting on it must make you wince a bit. Again, great story telling.

  17. I come from a lineage of alcoholics. My father being the closest one to me. As a child, it was no fun living with him. I never have had a drink because of it.

    I guess I’ll find out if AA helped you. But because it was your husband’s idea for you to go–I wonder if it worked for you. Your humor does take the edge off the seriousness of the situation, but I know first hand how un-funny it is.

  18. Congratulation on getting to the bottom. I don’t mean that to sound condescending. I was hoping that, eventually, I would hear that you were getting some kind of help. It was no longer enjoyable or social drinking for you. The burden of overindulging was, now, bearing down on your shoulders. In making that call you began your climb up. Ultimately, how proud you must have been to make that call.

    Bravo …
    Isadora

  19. An interesting way of coming to terms with an addiction – write it out, expose it, even though you’ve left it behind. I have written a fair bit (but not nearly as much as I still want) about my valium addiction that I kicked a few years ago. The trouble being for you – and me – is that the addiction itself is always there even though the substance isn’t. And with an ‘addictive’ (or ‘addicting’) personality, it’s too easy to turn to other things.

    You were lucky that you admitted yours to yourself, my valium addiction only really made sense for what it was about two years after I stopped (and I stopped under duress), having realised just how damaging it had been to my mind and body. Its effects continue to cause me problems even though I’ve not taken any for years. Do you still suffer the effects of the alcohol?

  20. You forgot the ugly…;)

    Thanks, I’m glad you’re enjoying what you read. I hope you stick around. There’s a lot more of this story to come…

  21. Yes. And no one can come to that realization but the alcoholic or addict themselves. That’s the toughest part of the situation for those who love the person with the addiction…

  22. I suspect this is the beginning of a new life for you. It’s amazing how alcohol and make someone so selfish.

  23. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh i don’t know what to say, i am the product of an alcoholic family, I myself am not a drinker. But i know the pain. I guess i just want to say that i enjoy your blog. The good and the bad.

  24. This one was a hard one to write. I needed the pictures to take the edge off, otherwise it would have read like an Earnest Hemmingway short story! Thanks for the vote of confidence!

  25. Lorna, your funny pictures and humor are like icing on the cupcake that is your raw and emotional story. I love your storytelling more with each “episode”.

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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