I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore.

In fact, I don’t think we are even in Oz.

And we all know about The Wizard, right?

The Abridged Version:

One day, I woke up and discovered The Wizard (the other alcoholic in my life) isn’t all-powerful and all-knowing. He is a drunk. So, I went to Al-Anon.

When I couldn’t fix The Wizard, I started looking at myself.

A year and a half later, I woke up and discovered I am a drunk, too. Surprise! So, I went to Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Full-Text Version:

I am an A-Student, Over-Educated, Confirmed-Geek, Nose-in-a-Book, Good-Girl, Perfectionist who feels like I don’t belong. Think: Dorothy in her gingham blue jumper running away with Toto in the wicker basket.

At least, that’s the facade I present. And, for awhile, it worked.

Little did I know, my alcoholism was hiding, waiting, watching for me. Think: Wicked Witch on her broom screeching, “I’ll get you, my pretty.”

I was sixteen when I drank myself into my first blackout with wine coolers from plastic two liter bottles–fast-acting and sweet-tasting. When the bottles were gone, I went searching for more. The friend hosting the party said I couldn’t drink his mom’s tequila, vodka, rum, scotch, brandy, drain cleaner (OK, the drain cleaner is an exaggeration, but the rest of the story is true). So, I threw up in his toilet and forgot to flush. I counted my toes while I sat on the front porch. I wanted to make sure they were all there and hadn’t run away. The next morning, my toes were still attached to my feet. So, I guess the counting worked.

I don’t remember the night. The story comes from my friends who had only one or two drinks. They aren’t my friends anymore.

I was seventeen when I mixed beer with Peach Nehi because I hated the taste of beer. The peach flavor along with my craving to belong (not to mention that whole I’m an alcoholic thing) over-powered the bitter taste of the beer. The mix was half and half, at first: more peachy than beery. Then, more beery than peachy. And, then, just beer. Straight up.

I was eighteen when wrote in my journal: “I really hadn’t planned on drinking last night. In fact, I wasn’t going to drink just to see if I could resist. Then I had just one drink and then another and another and another until I was a blubbering, babbling drunk. I am afraid if I don’t get some control I am going to become an alcoholic, if I’m not already.”

I was twenty-one when I married The Wizard. It was love at first drink. He bought me 25-cent cups of beer at a college party. He was cheap. I was easy. We were great together for a lot of years. Drinking is what we did and we did it with the grace and ease of…  well, with the grace and ease of a couple of alcoholics in denial.

Life was good… until it wasn’t.

I was thirty-nine when I began to find The Wizard’s bottles of Southern Comfort hidden somewhere near his affairs (the love kind).

I went to Al-Anon thinking I was simply The Wife of an Alcoholic. My time in those meetings taught me to look fearlessly in the mirror. And what I saw shocked the hell out of me.

I thought as long as I didn’t drink as much as The Wizard, I couldn’t be an alcoholic.

I didn’t hide my bottles. Unless, of course, I count those empties I tucked in the garbage the morning-after so no one would know. Oh, and there were the little blackouts when I didn’t remember how I got to bed. And the drinking alone. And the drinking together. And the drinking because I was in a sh*tty marriage. And the drinking because I deserved it.

I was forty when I walked into my first AA meeting–scared, shaking, ashamed, hurt, angry, and alone. My willingness followed a few days later. It is my willingness to grow along spiritual lines that keeps me in meetings, even in those moments when I am not convinced I belong. The people in those rooms have something I don’t yet understand; and, they make me laugh at myself. So, I keep coming back.