I need all the help I can get. Believe you me. But outside help has always been a secondary measure to the program. Alcohol became a way of life for me in a very short period of time. It dictated my moods. It made my decisions. It said, “You will do this.” I found it very hard to eventually surrender to the fact that whenever I take the first drink, it may as well be the twenty-first. Well, whenever the first drink of alcohol went into this body, mind, and spirit, two things happened. One, I didn’t know how many more I was going to have. And two, I didn’t know what my behavior would be like. However, if you met me along the way and you said, “Sister, how many drinks did you have?” I would say two, because that’s what a lady should have. I wanted to pretend to be steady as you go because that’s how I saw myself, but I know today it was very different. I was a first grade teacher at the time and I had the reputation in those days of being the best teacher in the school.
When the children came in first grade after Labor Day, by the end of September my kids were ready for college. At 10 o’clock in the morning, I’d be working real hard with these kids and something would start in my body, mind, and spirit, they were screaming in there. I needed to drink and the very next thing I would do, morning after morning; I would push back against the screaming. People told me I had so much willpower. Well, the willpower approach was futile. I went on to learn, and I’m glad I did, that it wasn’t that I was a weak willed individual, but rather when I was a diseased person, I was just an untreated alcoholic. When you’re in that condition, it goes beyond the strength of your will, you have to do what needs to be done to satisfy what’s going on. So I moved to the next phase of the game plan. A couple of minutes after 10:00, these kids can go out to the bathroom then they can have their snack, I would get the teacher next door to keep an eye on them, because I’m a responsible teacher. I would run over to the convent morning after morning to get a drink to quiet the screaming. Every time I would get it, I would say it’s going to be my last drink, or at least until I’ve done the rest of my day’s work.
So whenever I would take the first drink, everything was centered around what I was going to do to get the next one. Yet if you met me along the way and you said, “Sister who is the center of your life?” I would have been insulted by the question and sternly told you God. But this was not true. The focus in my life shifted, and it shifted from God to that next drink. And I justified the use of alcohol in my life. It was not one of my goals in life to become an alcoholic. I do not see alcoholism as self-inflicted. I believe it is a disease, a sickness, a condition that comes to a person. I think it’s a marvelous a wonderful idea that we have steps that suggests to us that in God’s time we make amends because we are accountable for our alcoholism. I don’t hold myself responsible for the sickness that came to me. However, I hold myself very, very, very, responsible for the precious life giving gift of sobriety that has been given to me. I could not get sober on my own. I tried to get sober that way. I couldn’t pull it off. To get sober, I believe something bigger; something greater outside of the person has to take place. They call it a miracle, and I believe the precious life giving gift of sobriety, and the precious life giving gift of recovery and Al-Anon. I believe it’s given and it’s given by One Big Greater Power than all of us put together. I choose to call that one God.