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Boston D.J. Alcoholic

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Boston D.J. Alcoholic

I didn't drink more than my share; I just drank it all by the time I was 40!

And even that assumes that people drink two bottles of wine every single night, starting at 4:30 (5:00 was just a bridge too far) to the point of blacking out.? I wouldn't remember what happened the night before, every single night.? I would wake up 3 or 4 hours after going to bed (anywhere from 8:30 to 10:30 or so) dehydrated. The night I woke up and cracked open a third bottle of wine I knew - FINALLY - I was in deep, deep trouble.? You'd think I'd have known that a few bridges back, but that's not how the alcoholic mind works.

I am a career radio disc jockey.? I spent 20 years on the air, playing classic rock & smooth jazz in Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.? I worked as "Annie Ashe" and I have zero problem with anybody knowing that.? I'm proud of my radio work and have no shame about my sobriety.? And that's important:? If you are a sober alcoholic - or about to be - BE PROUD!? It means you've had a well of courage and discipline few NON-alcoholic people have, never mind addicts!? It's a great, brave, strong, courageous thing to kick an addiction so BE PROUD!

Anyway, I was in the "mommy" years of my radio career, having quit full-time work to stay home and raise my 3 under 3 but picked up a Saturday gig just to keep my feet in the water.? I truly loved being on the radio; it was a darned fun way to make a living and I took up a classic rock gig in Boston every Saturday midday.? (The guy who hired me just published a book {Fall 2013} about the station that made "The Big Mattress" morning show famous if you're just dying to know who hired me and where I worked - the station this guy went AFTER "The Big Mattress" station?? Okay?)

One Saturday I went to work still drunk from the night before.? It was the spring of 2005.? I was a functioning alcoholic.? There are millions of us.? We get up, do what needs doing, then drink to the point of black-out every night, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year?? until we can't.

Or won't.

I felt so sick. So disgusted with myself.? The radio studio at that time was in one of Boston's two big skyscrapers.? It had a view of Fenway Park.? I remember leaning my forehead against the cold, thick glass, and looking down on that park and thinking?? "I can't go on like this??"? Fenway.? The Red Sox. I passed out before they won the World Series in 2004. I don't remember it.? I went to bed before it happened because I was ready to pass out.? I woke up a few hours later, my husband still watching the celebration.? He told me they did it, but I didn't personally see it.? I watched every night that season and the season before (Remember when Grady Little let Pedro keep the ball in 2003? Yeah?? THAT season was the season I became a die-hard rather than a casual fan!).? I remember seeing Pedro blow 2003, but by the time we won the 2004 series, my drinking had advanced, darkly.

So, with my forehead still cold from the glass, and no amount of coffee or Tylenol able to save me, I realized I was alone, in a radio studio, entrusted with the awesome, wonderful, *fun* responsibility to guide this heritage, 50,000 watt jukebox over the air of Boston to hundreds of thousands of moms & dads running errands, going to ball games, along with nurses, hairdressers, truck drivers, restaurant workers and retail workers getting through a busy Saturday, and all these people tuned in to have our music & me keep them company through their day and I was drunk from the night before and there was nowhere to hide.? No way to fake it.? Either I piloted the ship or it didn't get piloted.? You can't fake being on the radio.? People know it.? If you're an a**hole in life, you're an a**hole on the air!? If you're a miserable drunk in life, you're a miserable drunk on the air - and people will know it.

Yes.? It should have been my family knowing I was a miserable drunk that shamed me into it.? You're right.? I should have been ashamed, years before, to have the people who's love & respect I valued most see me stumbling around, but I didn't. Stipulated. I hope it's enough for you to know that that's what KEEPS me sober.? It may not have GOTTEN me there, but it KEEPS me there - truly.

No, it was the prospect of PUBLIC shaming that finally got me to rock bottom.? I thought about the certainty, the finality - the LIFE LONG finality - of the decision I was contemplating the entire 5 hours I was playing Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Zep, etc?? I thought about how it would mean that the 2 bottles of wine, one of which was already shy the one glass I woke up to have at 1 am, would have to be poured down the sink the second I got home.? Wow.? That hurt.? And then it didn't hurt so bad - not compared to how I was feeling right then.? Right then I didn't want to feel the way I was feeling EVER AGAIN.

So I did it.

I called my husband on the way home to tell him what I was going to do, and then I did it.? If I hadn't called him to tell him I was going to do it, I'm not sure I would have.? That's part of why I called him; to keep me honest.

That was April 9, 2005.? I have not had a drink since.? Not one.

I got on line that day and found A.A. meetings in my town and went to (at least) one per day, (almost), every day, for the first 30 days, like they recommend.? There were a few things I learned - just in that first month - I have never ever forgotten:

1. "Barbara", an elderly lady, sober for decades, told me that my drinking was like my driving: it was a privilege.? And I'd blown it.? I'd abused it.? I lost my license to drink.? So just deal with it.

Okey-dokey!

2. Another piece of advice from those early meetings was "Don't ever forget your last drunk," which sounds counter-intuitive, but it's not.? You don't ever want to forget how MISERABLE you felt that last day, the day you hit bottom. Hold on to it.? Enshrine it.? Burn it into your brain and hang on to it for dear life when you are tempted to "pick up" again.? It will help you remember the sparkling clarity of awakening without bloodshot eyes, without smelling like a distillery, able to walk a straight line straight out of bed.

3. "Bob", another elderly sober alcoholic.? He'd been sober for 40 years.? He'd just lost his wife of 45 years and talked about how he thought about "picking up" but the thought lasted about a second.? Why?? Because, as he said, he knew that nothing, zero, zip, nada, had changed in his propensities or body chemistry to lead him to believe that it would end any less disastrously than it did the first time.? That's was clarifying!? This really IS a life-long thing, and hearing from Bob, who was grieving, and alone, and NOT DRINKING, made my resolve even firmer, and less scary.? If he could do it, at that point, so late in life and alone, and with such calm strength, well hell's bells, so could I!

4. Another lovely lady, who's first name I no longer remember spoke about how her children would not let her see her grandchildren until recently - because of the wreckage she had wrought before she got sober.? She didn't quit drinking until her kids were nearly done with high school so they remembered.? They remembered her showing up drunk to drive her and her friends home from school and being HORRIFIED.? She told other stories, too that were equally horrifying.? My girls, like I said, were all under 3, and only vaguely remember "the smell of wine" but not me being drunk, thank God!? This woman in my A.A. meeting had now been sober for over 20 years but was just now, through years and years of hard work, was finally getting back to a healthy place with her own children.

I didn't ever - EVER - want to be in that place with my girls. EVER.? I had the blessing of hitting bottom when they were really small.? If I "picked up" again, I'd blow it.

I love them, and their father, way, way too much to do that.

My husband has "lost his drinking buddy" as I kid him, occasionally.? He doesn't drink what I used to drink so that helps A LOT, and he was INCREDIBLY sensitive to me for YEARS in the early going, not even pouring HIMSELF a drink until I went to bed, and if he had two or three he'd sleep on the couch so I would't smell it!? Now, I don't care.? Whatever.? If he wants to pound back a few beers on Friday night, God love him!? He works hard all week and doesn't abuse it and I'm much stronger now so I don't care.

My girls are all healthy and strong and doing well and don't remember Mommy drinking and I pray, every day, one day at a time, it stays that way.

DON'T BE AFRAID to quit.

BE AFRAID NOT TO.


This Story of Hope was created in celebration of recovery and to let families know that there are pathways to hope and healing. The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families who are struggling with their son or daughter's substance use. Please consider sharing this page so that families know where to turn to for help, and that there is always hope.

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Comments

1. Julie
What an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. And big congrats to you on 10 years today!
2. Jane
What a fantastic account! You have so much to be proud of.