I started blogging my way sober a bit over four years ago. Sometimes I rant against the alcohol industry for marketing wine, gin and vodka as health and beauty products. Sometimes my posts are about alternative paths to recovery, and sometimes I write about the stigma of addiction that prevents so many of us from proudly “coming out” sober. I focus more on hope than fear. The empowerment of sobriety is more interesting to me then the horror of addiction but, it was one of those horrific addiction stories, the story of Audrey Kishline, that saved my life .
Those dark stories need to be told.
I stumbled over Audrey Kishline’s name in my third sober week while reading Gabrielle Glaser’s book ‘Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink-And How They Can Regain Control‘. Gabrielle’s book encourages women who are drinking too much, but not yet dependent, to try the Moderation Management approach developed by Audrey Kishline. She encourages women to look for solutions outside of the traditional rooms of AA where we are sometimes the awkward other. Gabrielle highlights Moderation Management but says don’t be deterred by the story of Audrey Kishline.
I had never heard of Audrey Kishline so I google searched. The article that I read on Audrey tells the story well so I’ll leave that link at the end for you to open. I won’t try to synopsize what’s in that link because it’s what I REMEMBER of Audrey’s story and how it affected me in my third sober week that is part of my story.
Audrey drank like me and was a woman who was similar to me in many ways. She was educated and hard working and in control of her life but she developed an inability to stop drinking once she started. The drinking took her to a dark, self-destructive place, a void that she couldn’t control the depth of. But as frightening as Audrey’s drinking was, identifying as an alcoholic did not work for her, so she co-founded a group called Moderation Management hoping to be able to do just that. She hoped to moderate her drinking.
What I remember of Audrey’s tragic story was that she absolutely could NOT safely drink but she could also not STAY stopped and that terrified me. At three weeks sober, after finally digging my claws into sobriety, reading Audrey’s story of relapse after relapse and a horrific, deadly bottom, has helped keep me sober for over four years and going strong.
I did not reach the tragic series of dire rock bottoms that Audrey Kishline did but that was simply a matter of luck and time. When I stopped drinking in 2015 I was at the point where opening a bottle at the end of the day was my golden moment. I craved the numb and I craved the oblivion and once I started drinking “just one glass tonight” all bets were off and a senseless, walking , talking, blackout was likely.
The solution that I found through blogging has had a community aspect that mirrors an AA meeting in some ways. We tell our stories as a group. We support each other and learn from each other’s examples. Both positive and negative.
I’ve been working with many of the same people over the four years I’ve been blogging and in that time I’ve learned that some grab a hold of sober and don’t let go. Some struggle and struggle and seemingly endlessly struggle but eventually DO stop. And some meet a gut wrenching, tragic end like Audrey Kishline. Even though they know that they can’t pick up a drink, even though they have tasted the freedom of sobriety , they pick up a drink , and it opens the door to the binge that kills them.
This is a post that I wrote last year to tell one of those stories.
As the host of a blogging community on my website I’ve had the opportunity to share some wonderful posts on this blog that were offered by our members. Two of those we’re from a brilliant man I’ve “known” since my first days blogging my way sober. He had a wonderful way with words. He could be caustic at times and at times I found him arrogant. There were times that I chose to avoid him because I found him difficult and confusing but he could also wrap me in a comforting blanket , elevate my soul or make me laugh ….simply with words.
My friend had love and family and dreams but after several months of hard won sobriety he reacted to intense emotional pain in the way he was most accustomed and drank again. At 51 a heavy binge killed him far too young. He told me a month or so before the tragic waste of his life that he wanted to help addicts. That he thought he had an ability to pull people through, people no one else could reach, with his words.
So if you are struggling to stop drinking or to stay stopped please, today let his words speak to you.
“The philosophy according to YOSSARIAN in the pursuit of sobriety. That task can be as convoluted or as simplistic as you see fit. Being a simple man, I choose the latter….you must be committed. It sounds simple and it is. I knew I was an alcoholic for a very long time. I knew it was killing me for a very long time. It wasn’t until I landed in hospital with my body “literally” falling apart that I knew I had to change. I brushed having a leg amputated by a bee’s diaphragm. My body was simply rejecting itself. At the tender age of 50, I sat on a hospital guerney, shaking with fear like a little kid. The surgeon’s were ashen faced and blunt. I had to commit.
…. Somewhere, somehow, by design or not (the addict’s mind is cunning) you will “stumble” upon opportunity. This is where commitment is integral. DO NOT PICK UP THAT FIRST DRINK or you are fucked, with a capital F. The idiom, “one is too many and 100 is not enough” didn’t just fall out of the sky. It has been proven time and time again, probably even by yourself. Do not pick up that first drink. Do not and do not. End.
…. all you tough guys out there. You think you can do it alone. You think you can white knuckle this thing, in the dark, on a Friday night. When every ounce of your soul is screaming for a sip. When the noise of the city is out there having “fun”, guess again. This bitch, alcohol already has you on your knees. Do you think she cares if you fall flat on your face? That is what she wants. Humbled and hopeless. You cannot do this thing on your own. End of story.
……connect with people that resonate with YOU…..It’s about support. In a rare example, the means really does justify the end. “
My friend did try to “white knuckle it” in his last month or two. He withdrew from the communities that he found support in. Like people who stop attending AA meetings and then relapse , he took a “social media” break and stopped the connection that he knew we all need. It’s a common mistake to withdraw.
Addiction is isolation and community is the cure but you have to stay connected to your community for it to continue working. Whether you’re in AA and working the steps or not it is the humility of allowing yourself to NEED people that discourages you from thinking you NEED the drug. Talking openly and honestly with your tribe helps you stay true to yourself.
Audrey Kishline’s story was a key in the door for me of understanding myself. Of understanding WHY I could never drink again . Of understanding just how serious it was. I hope that someday we’ll understand why some people can stop using without going back and others die from addiction but in the mean time, if you’re struggling to hold onto or achieve sobriety, use every single resource that you can get your hands on.
Don’t let go.
If attending AA meetings and working the steps works for you then do it proudly. Try Smart recovery or Rational recovery or join one or several of the many cyber communities that are popping up.
We’d be happy to have you join ours and we’ll fight this beast together. Because addiction is a BEAST! A senseless hungry beast that kills!
So here is our address and byline……
If you stop by I’ll roll out the welcome mat ! because I have found the Beauty of Life shines through in sobriety even without working those traditional steps and I want to share that gift with everyone I can.
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