The West Vancouver (Canada) police officer rang the doorbell of my house on Cypress Creek on a fine Tuesday afternoon in April. He told me that a citizen had seen me driving “wildly” the previous Friday afternoon on the Upper Levels Highway and handed me a letter.
I thought back to that day. It had started with a large goblet of Chardonnay while making the kids’ breakfast. I drove them to school, returned to the house and continued with the white wine. Then I got into the cocaine. Then I was too wired to do anything so I popped a Zopiclone, a tiny blue pill that is guaranteed to put me to sleep no matter how much cocaine I’ve snorted. So that’s what I did—and went to sleep. Well, actually, I passed out and when I woke up and looked at the clock I freaked out. It was 3:30 and I was due to pickup Dixie at 3:30 at school. Her sister, Willow, was going to a friend’s house. They were thirteen and fifteen years old.
I jumped into the car—a silver RX7 convertible Mazda which I inherited from my husband (the girls’ father)—and raced along the Upper Levels Highway to the school. The top was down on the car and my crazy blonde hair was flying everywhere. When I arrived, Dixie was milling about with her buddies on the lawn in front of the school. When she saw me she rushed over, took one look at me and said, “Let’s just go, Mom.” I was supposed to drive her to her cousin’s in Surrey but she was screaming at me, “Mom, just pleeease take me home.” So I turned around. The rest I don’t remember because I blacked out. I woke up in my bed. That was my bottom. But for the grace of my higher power, I did not have an accident.
I simply thanked the officer and said goodbye. After shutting the door, I tore open the letter which basically said what the officer had told me—I had been seen driving wildly by a fellow citizen. I promptly called my lawyer and rehab centers.
I did not become an alcoholic and addict until I was 42 years old.
My father was a raging alcoholic who yelled at the other members of the family—Mom, my two brothers and my sister, probably the two St. Bernard dogs and two cats as well—but not me. When I got sober, I realized this was a sick form of neglect—I wasn’t good enough to be a target of his rage. What also happened when I got sober is that I asked Mom why she hadn’t left Dad. She replied, “Oh, he never hurt me dear.” Oh, and that reminds me, when I told her I was going to rehab because I was an alcoholic she said, “You’re not an alcoholic, dear. You just drink a little too much white wine sometimes.”
I was a pretty straight-laced kid until my mid-twenties when I started to really enjoyed dope, the odd LSD and MDA trip and cocaine once. That all settled down when I married the love of my life. Then I just indulged in Chardonnay. I didn’t drink too much and I took no drugs for our entire marriage of seven years. He died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma when our daughters were two and five.
He had been sick and dying for eight months, at the same time my brother was sick and dying of AIDS. This was 1991when AIDS was a death sentence. My brother lasted half year longer than my husband.
Needless to say, I was a wreck. The children were two and four and reacted to the stress by behaving badly. I held it together, somewhat, for six years, until one fateful cocaine-fueled evening with Mr. Wrong. Ahhhhhh…the euphoria from those lines of white powder inhaled though my nostrils was the answer to ALL of my problems. It prompted a six-year-long, self-destructive, downward spiral of cocaine, pharmaceuticals and white wine—until May 3, 2002.
That afternoon when I blacked out with Dixie in the car was a blessing. It was my gift of desperation. It was my bottom which certainly could have been lower.
Within two weeks of my bottom I was in treatment at the Orchard Recovery Center on Bowen Island in British Columbia, Canada. Crying in my bed that first day, in that joint, I had never been more terrified, sad, ashamed and just plain beaten. Because of that I was able to surrender and be a vessel for recovery. I embraced the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as an instruction manual on how to live. I followed all the ‘suggestions’ like get a sponsor, get a home group, do the steps, go to meetings and, for God’s sake, don’t ‘pick-up.’
I have been clean and sober since May 3, 2003, and I am not as zealous a member of AA as I was. I am still certainly a work in progress. I have succumbed to two other addictions—McDonald’s Diet Coke and shopping. I am working on these with the help of Russell Brand’sCourse, “Recovery with Russell Brand,” (First Step: “Are you a bit fucked?” Don’t ya just love it!) and She Recovers which, “is an international movement of women in or seeking healing from substance use disorders, other behavioral health issues, and a myriad of life experiences.”
Contributed by Rosemary Keevil, author of The Art of Losing It: A Memoir of Grief and Addiction, to be published by She Writes Press this October 2020.
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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.