An Incredible Journey

I came from a family that did not drink excessive alcohol. An occasional cocktail before dinner was the norm. Not so for me. I loved the taste of alcohol from the beginning and I also loved what it did for me. It would become my best friend before it turned on me.

By age 30, I drank both to start the day and to fall asleep. I was teaching and I had to guzzle vodka down just to drive to work and start my day. I was selfish, grandiose, filled with fear, remorse and sadness. I spent my time drinking to oblivion and looking for love in all the wrong places. I knew I had a problem, but I did not understand that I could not take one drink without a second, third, fourth, and so on. Since I never knew where my drinking would take me, I stayed home to imbibe. There were bottles in my car, under the bed and hidden in my closet. It was killing my family and ruining whatever chances I had of being a respectable woman, artist, teacher and member of society.

My first treatment experience for alcohol was in 1986. I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous. It took me 4 more years, 3 more 30-day stints and countless hospital visits/detoxes before I found Grace House. The staff at a treatment center highly recommended that I attend Grace House upon completion. I thought I couldn’t possibly be as bad as the “women at Grace House”, so I refused.

Finally, I had a terrible fall. I lost a lot of blood, needed a transfusion, and ended up on the Sub Acute floor of Touro. My doctor told my mother there was little hope for me and suggested calling a priest. I was tired of hurting everyone around me and it tore me apart to see my mother’s tearful gaze. I was very close to death and I prayed that if I was to continue as a drunk, to please let me die- it was too painful to see the hurt I caused those I loved. However, if I was meant to live, please give me the strength to do what seemed to be the impossible… to STAY STOPPED!

Surrendering the only way I knew how, I called Grace House.

Grace House was on Coliseum St. and Sr. Ruth was the director. She told me that I needed to change EVERYTHING.

There began my journey of true sobriety. I started everyday with prayer and meditation. I attended AA literature and support groups as well as two AA meetings a day. I had chores and rules. I had to be accountable. I learned about humility, and the disease of alcoholism. I learned about myself.

Because of Grace House, I was given another chance and a different outlook on life. With time, I was able to get a better and clearer understanding of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I watched my self- esteem grow as I returned to my teaching profession. I began an exercise program, which is still an important part of my recovery. I went back to art school and got a dream job teaching Talented Art in a nearby parish. I picked an AA home group that Grace House introduced me to and a sponsor who had done service work there, (I still have that same sponsor today). I began to give back to the program through service work. My family was no longer ashamed of me and my co-workers trusted me and enjoyed my company. Finally, I was able to get out of the way of myself.

One of the greatest joys was the renewed trust and respect of my mother who told me countless times how proud she was of me. That would not have been possible without Grace House, AA and Al-anon. Today I am in a loving, committed relationship of 20 years to another incredible sober alcoholic and we enjoy a deep, meaningful partnership. I am Godmother to four beautiful young women and a mom to three furry, 4-legged beings. I am still in contact with countless students who have become parents and teachers themselves. Some actually call me for advice and lunch… Who would have guessed?

I pray everyday to stay open and teachable in my recovery and to never forget who I am and where my journey has taken me. My sobriety date is July 24, 1990. Thank you Grace House for starting me off on this incredible journey. I will always be grateful to you.

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