Beth’s decision to share her story is motivated by the hope that one person will read this, relate and find some help and happiness for themselves in AA.
Doing this anonymously allows her to do it while respecting the 12th tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Beth M’s Christmas holiday involves doing the same things every year: eating homemade lobster stew and popovers and attending Christmas Eve service at church with her family.
The year that Beth realized she was also saying the same things over and over is when she finally decided she was done with her alcohol addiction.
“My niece said to me about three times, ‘Auntie, you said that last night. Auntie, we talked about those boots last night,’” said Beth. “I was so tired of not remembering that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
“My other niece had asked my brother, ‘If drinking is causing Auntie so many problems, why can’t she stop?’”
Her intention was to be the best Auntie that she could be and she was not.
“And then [on] Christmas Day 2018, I quit.”
Beth struggled with self-confidence from childhood throughout her school years due to learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and anxiety.
She had friends and a great sense of humor and shared, “now realize I hid behind that humor,” Beth said. “The outside seemed normal, but the inside was in pain.”
“Being brought up in a family with alcoholism on both sides, I believe alcoholism is a genetic disease and have come to accept that as part of my story.”
The first substance that allowed Beth to feel relief was marijuana, and it was her first addiction.
She worked as a bartender at a young age in a family business and saw “what it did to people,” so she didn’t think she really liked alcohol and didn’t like the effect that it had on people.
“Sometimes people think of an alcoholic as somebody who would drink anything and everything, and that’s just not the case for me. For a while, my vices were the two “P”s: “pot and Pinot Grigio.”
Beth’s drinking became problematic when she couldn’t remember what had happened the next day. It began to affect family, romantic relationships and her longtime friendships.
Her alcoholism led to showing up late, canceling plans and being distracted about milestones for people that she cared about.
That led to disappointing herself and others and not being the daughter, sister, friend and auntie that she really wanted to be.
She attended her first AA meeting in 1990 in Brookline, Massachusetts, after reaching out for help from her bar manager, who recently celebrated 30 years of sobriety and remains a strong supporter of Beth to this day.
Beth bounced in and out of Alcoholics Anonymous for years.
“Every time I came back, I was going to do things differently so I could stop drinking but all that would start ‘tomorrow’.”
Eventually, Beth was getting older– and so was drinking.
“Through my 30s, 40s and 50s I was still trying to get sober with little success.”
She found a therapist for alcohol addiction who suggested an inpatient 30-day, AA-based rehab in Connecticut.
“That was an unbelievable experience for me. I learned a lot, I saw a lot. I feel very grateful. I’m proud of that time.”
“My sponsor walked me through the 12-steps, and as part of that step work, I’ve made some amends which have helped to heal some relationships and bring closure to others.”
Beth has been able to move on and find peace and the serenity prayer has helped to accept the things that she cannot change.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
What helps her today is a principle that comes from her 12-step program: acceptance.
“When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation… unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment,” Beth recited. “I need to concentrate, not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”