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Grapevine : January 2012
I lived my childhood and teenage years on a farm with five siblings and a rag- ing alcoholic dad. At 18, i married a Wisconsin farm- er and escaped my father’s physical, verbal and sexual abuse. i vowed that i would never be like him. My first alcoholic drink was at my wedding reception. i was enjoy- ing a cola, when my new husband’s friends decided that i needed some- thing stronger. i had no clue of what to order, so they set me up with some whiskey concoction. it took me the whole evening to nurse two of them. They did nothing for me. it wasn’t until five years and three children later that i began to drink alcohol—and liked what it did to me. i felt the fire and the liquid courage. Alcohol helped to blur some of the pain from my childhood. Be- fore long, i was drinking alcoholical- ly. i would drink while my husband was at work. i was a cruel mother. i would sit down to watch my soaps with a bot- tle of beer in my hand, and my little girl would look at me with big, sad eyes and say, “Mommy, do you really have to drink that?” At such a young age, she already knew what drinking did to me—the horrible screaming and yelling, the put-downs and in- sults that i inflicted on her and her two siblings. The hurt and guilt that i felt at seeing her so sad was unbear- able, but i pushed the pain and guilt down deep inside me. i defended my right to drink by yelling, “i can’t even drink in peace in my own home!” She would run to her room cry- ing. i made a decision right then that i would drink in taverns from then on. i began frequenting a local dis- co with a drinking friend. i loved to dance, but i needed the booze to boost some courage, and the drunker i got, the better i danced—or so i thought. When others began taking their seats and i was the only one dancing, i just knew they all wanted to watch me—the “disco Queen.” i later learned that my wild dancing drove them off the dance floor to avoid getting kicked. i was living life in the fast lane and the rest of the world had not a clue about how exciting life could be. When i was drinking, i felt like i was hip, slick and cool. When i got sober, i realized i was hip, slick and sick. i began avoiding friends and party bars. i hung out in dark, quiet taverns to do some serious drinking. By then the drinking was all that mattered. i would go to several tav- erns in one night so no one would see just how much i drank. On the inside, i was afraid and withdrawn, with that lonely desperation many of us are so familiar with. People seemed to think i was quiet and sweet, but i was dying on the inside. i tried to give the impression that aagrapevine.org 41 GRAPE_40-46.indd 41 11/22/11 3:59 PM