Addiction is tricky. It’s the only disease I know of that tries to convince me that I don’t have a disease. It has no memory of pain. It terrorized me and talked at me all day and all night. Then it beat me up emotionally and physically when I would give in to it. Then I did exactly the same thing the next day, and the next, and the next. Before I knew it, I was right where I started – full of self hatred and shame.
Work was tense. I was overwhelmed with fear that everyone knew that I had a drinking problem. One day I decided to ease my anxiety the only way I knew how. I had a glass of wine at lunch. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Of course, I chose to do it the same day I had an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) meeting with the therapist that was totally on to me. She immediately knew. I was given a breathalyzer and it did not register a 0. I was immediately suspended without pay for 30 days. In order to keep my job, I had to agree to attend an intensive outpatient program while I was off.
I was already attending Gateway in Cranberry 3 nights a week. It was totally lost on me. I did nothing to change. I would just wait for it to end each night and then go directly to the Cranberry Wine and Spirits store that was open until 10 pm.
Immediately, I was able to step up to partial in-patient treatment – the folks at Gateway knew I wasn’t well. Partial in-patient treatment is typically 5 days a week for 4 or 5 hours a day. It consists of lots of group therapy, lots of raw sharing, and hopefully, lots of honesty.
Again, I was using fear to keep me sober. I participated. I read what they wanted me read. I said what they wanted me to say. I smiled and laughed and pretended. I met my first “sponsor” there. It was the day I reeked of alcohol and they called for outside supports to come get me out of there, drive me home and dump out all the wine in my house. There was just nothing that could keep me sober. The kids were still in Canada. At least I knew they were safe.
I managed to get a few weeks of sobriety together and “graduate” from the program. One by one people in my group wished me well and gave me a shiny coin. I was headed back to work. I drove up to Toronto and picked up M and E. I was so happy so have them home! They were singing, “Oh, Canada” and saying, “x,y, Zed”.
As part of my 2nd last chance agreement with the corporation, I agreed to random drug testing. At any given moment the nurse could call my supervisor and he would then send me to the medical department for a breathalyzer. I was annoyed by it, but thankful I had a job.
Not even 30 days later, I was having wine with dinner – which led to a bottle, then another. I was so paranoid everyday. I was always trying to calculate how much I could drink and when I had to stop and how much water it would take to dilute it based on how much I weighed and if there was a full moon that night, etc.– thinking I could beat the breathalyzer if need be.
One day my direct supervisor and his supervisor were both out of town. The medical department called a co-worker of mine, a lateral co-worker,, to have them send me for the breathalyzer. My supervisor, his supervisor, HR and the medical staff were the only people who were supposed to know of this “arrangement”. I was furious and embarrassed. That was pretty much all it took for me to go ahead and throw that job away.
That evening I was so angry, I stayed up most of the night and drank the way I wanted to. The next morning I was called down to medical. The reading was not a 0. I was done. Terminated. I left the building, went directly to the wine store and then unenrolled M and E from daycare.
It was easy to justify. Corporate America wasn’t a good fit for me anyway…