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Grapevine : August 2010
weeks after stopping the medication, and with 12 years of attending AA in sobriety, the unthinkable occurred and I relapsed on vanilla extract. Getting sober this time was a nightmare. I just couldn't stop drink- ing and, of course, my marriage be- gan deteriorating. I kept cooking and putting vanilla extract in everything, from pancakes and waffles to all kinds of baked goods. I would always put some vanilla in a glass of regular or chocolate milk and have "a little buzz" all the time. I learned this tech- nique at an AA meeting and loved it. After a series of calamitous events, I switched to mouthwash, thinking no one would suspect I was inebriated, but I would inevitably return to my old sweetheart, vanilla. That's how I ended up in treat- ment on Antigua telling the required life story. My daughters were under- standably devastated and our once happy, loving home was in shambles. Upon my return from treatment, my husband left us and went back to his hometown in Texas. I then embarked upon life as a single mom with four girls. I continued attending my al- most daily AA meetings, proclaiming my love and knowledge of my Higher Power while plowing through scores of frustrated sponsors and friends. My home group knew I was scarfing down vanilla because I always volun- teered to bring the baked goods on birthday nights or special occasions, stumbling into the meetings after making whatever was requested. I returned to my college love and became a beer drinker again--- the nasty, cheap kind of beer. By now I was in reverse tolerance and could get a real buzz on just two or three tall cans of the vile stuff. I drank alone at home, hiding the beer un- der the kitchen sink. I thought no one knew even though, of course, it smells, and I was stumbling and slur- ring my words again. I usually wait- ed until the girls were asleep or out for the evening, and then I sat on the couch writing bad poetry or watch- ing television. I would either pass out or fall into bed fully clothed. After many long years, I learned from my awesome sponsor what a Higher Power really is. I was taught to thoroughly surrender and accept the fact that I am a real alcoholic and can never safely drink again, (I now use maple syrup instead of vanilla when I bake.) My ex-husband and I are good friends today and my girls are dreamboats who always tell me they will never, ever drink. I attend an awesome church where most of my women's Sunday class know of my past and let me in the door anyway. Slowly, I completely accepted all the tenets of the program and am trying to live one day at a time with God's help. It isn't always easy, but it sure beats the alternative. Ann W. Winter Park, Fla. Grapevine 43