Little Bottles of Lies

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On Saturday, as I stood in Walgreen’s photo center waiting with my family for pictures to be developed, I glanced around at the grocery aisles.  My eyes landed on some shelves that held 4-pack glass containers of the personal size bottles of wine.  I immediately felt a twinge of sadness and thoughts of my former sister-in-law came to mind.

Years ago, while I was in college back in Arizona, my sister-in-law was my drinking buddy.  I would sometimes pick up these small bottles, throw them in my purse and head to her house.  Two for her.  Two for me.

As I stood there in Walgreens, tears welled up in my eyes.  I made it out, Lord, and she didn’t.

At the time of our mid-afternoon drinking meetings,  I was unaware (and I believe she was too) that she struggled with bi-polar disorder.   Recovery from addiction is one of the hardest roads a person walks down.  But, attempting to stay on that road when suffering from mental illness too? Beyond hard.

Because of her struggle with pills and alcohol, her life eventually fell apart.  She lost her husband. She lost complete custody of my young nephews.  For a decade she was in and out of treatment centers.  She would briefly stay clean and then quickly fall back to her old ways. In the Fall of 2012, an overdose finally took her life.   She was the mother of my nephews, yet she hadn’t been a mother for years to them.  Addiction took that away from her.  Addiction robbed my nephews of their mother.

As I stood in Walgreen’s the other day, I silently cried as I remembered the loss again.

*******

On Monday, as I was driving my son to school,  a news report came on the radio sharing details of the overdose of Philip Seymour Hoffman.  The heroin needle was still in his arm.   The news report prompted a discussion about addiction.  I shared with my son the advice my dad used to tell me years ago about drinking alcohol.  Deciding to drink can be a risky choice when you have a history of alcoholics in your blood line.   My dad told me as a teen, “if  you don’t start, you’ll never have to stop.”  I didn’t understand how true that was until I came to a point in my own life when I had to stop nearly 13 years ago.  It was the hardest road I have ever walked down in my life.   In many ways, surrendering my drinking problem, was even harder than losing my mom to cancer, one I could try to control and one I had no power to control.

I told my son that when it comes to drugs like heroin, the choice is simple.  It’s illegal for a good reason.  Heroin is highly addictive and it will kill you.   If you don’t start , you’ll never have to stop is the only choice when it comes to drugs like that.  But, alcohol is different.  It’s legal and the choice to drink or not drink becomes ours.

The other day in the car, I didn’t tell my son to never pick up a drink when he hits drinking age. Instead, I shared with him all the reasons why I couldn’t drink anymore.  I used to use drinking as way to run away from my problems instead of facing them. When I drank, I didn’t have an “off” button.  If alcohol was there, I had to drink it.  I told my son that normal drinkers don’t have this problem…alcoholics do.

We also talked about the facade of having it all together.  It never ceases to amaze me how celebrities ,who seemingly have it all, are really dying on the inside.  I told my son that this will be true with peers he will encounter in his own life.   They might drink and smoke (or do harder drugs) and look happy and cool on the outside.  But on the inside, they are scared, and lonely and desperate.

I pray my son makes wise choices when he gets older.   I pray he is a leader who can see through the facade.  I pray he has the confidence to walk away knowing, with complete certainty, that he’s chosen real.  He’s chosen life.  He’s chosen freedom.

16 thoughts on “Little Bottles of Lies

  1. Kristin

    Oh I so admire you Eileen! I watch alcoholics all the time and it is such a demon. I’ve seen them fight it and it is such a battle. Some make it and some don’t. It takes such a strong one to make it. Watching the battles brings me to tears too and I drop to my knees for all the precious souls who are fighting it. Would you please say a prayer for these dear ones in my community ?
    Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Eileen Post author

      I’ve seen glimpses on Facebook of how you help these folks, Kristin. You’re an angel! Yes, I will pray.

      Reply
  2. Rick Dawson

    32 years under my belt now in recovery, and that on top of concomitant mental illness – yeah, God is good. The struggle doesn’t exist for me the way it used to; my sons know our family history, and have so far shown a more responsible approach to alcohol than I displayed at their age. Might it become a problem for either one? I can pray not, but the fact that they’ve both already started means that, if it comes to it, they’ll have to find out on their own what I went through to stop.

    As to the legality of a substance? We tried Prohibition – noble motive, but bad thinking. You cannot legislate moral behaviour; encourage it, absolutely. Demand it by judicial fiat? That’s how we build criminal enterprises – and it will be the same with every other drug that seeks to be legalized via the vocal supporters.

    I’m the oddest of ducks in the situation though – when offered real wine for communion, I don’t turn it down and it doesn’t act as a trigger for me to want to get a bottle – it is a sacrament, one on which both my body and mind seem to agree on. It doesn’t happen often – I don’t venture far from home these days too often – but I won’t refuse the Lord’s Supper if the cup passed me holds something closer to MD 20/20 than Welsh’s Grape Juice.

    Great post, Eileen – timely.

    Reply
    1. Eileen Post author

      Some good thoughts, Rick. Yes, the struggle isn’t “in my face” like it was when I was freshly sober. I remember the first time in sobriety when I actually went a whole day without thinking about a drink. It was the coolest thing! Now, I rarely think about it. Wine was my drink of choice so I would pass if real wine was offered for communion. I love sobriety and I just want to ‘er on the side of caution. But, I do see your point. I don’t like beer. Never have…so it has never been a temptation. With wine, even after all these years, if someone brings it over to my house to drink during a social gathering they will be taking the leftovers home with them OR I will pour it down the drain after they leave. I’m not tempted or feel a desire but just want to er on the side of caution.

      Reply
      1. Rick Dawson

        Just to clarify – I don’t go looking for churches that serve Mad Dog for communion 🙂

        Wine was the same as Brandy was the same as Bourbon, or Vodka, or Gin, or Scotch, or Rum, or Heineken – I used whatever I had to get as far away from who I was as I could, always to no avail. Don’t ask me what special switch – if any – was flipped for me that allows me to do communion without regard to alcoholic content because I simply can’t tell you and don’t know why it is so; it simply is so for me. Your mileage will vary, don’t try this at home, choose your caveat – I don’t seek out the stuff, but neither will I refuse the sacrament, and in all the years so far? It has happened perhaps a dozen times, the last one I think around ’04. I’ll accept God’s gift and God’s grace over the issue and have no desire to return to self-destruction on the wine plan. 🙂

        Reply
  3. David Rupert

    Good advice to your son. And i’m impressed that you are so honest with him. So many families just cover it up, gloss it over. What will the next genration learn from if not our mistakes?

    Reply
  4. Anne Peterson

    Appreciated your transparency. Great post. Really liked it. And I’m sorry for the pain your family had to endure with the loss of your sister-in-law. I feel for her children. Thanks for your post.

    Reply
    1. Eileen Post author

      Thanks,Anne. In many ways, we grieved the loss of my sister-in-law years before she ODed It’s such a sad path.

      Reply
  5. Pamela Hodges

    Eileen,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry for the loss of your sister-in-law. I understand the addition of alcohol and how it runs in families. My Uncle gave me my own bottle of Peppermint Schnapps for Christmas when I was 14. My parents didn’t mind that I drank in my room. I have been to Al-Anon and Celebrate Recovery, and I don’t drink.

    Reply
    1. Eileen Post author

      Wow, 14. You were so young. I also attended 12 step meetings. Also, when I was only a few years sober I started a CR group at my last church. Such a beautiful program.

      Reply

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