This is the second part of Eleanor’s story and her struggle with addiction. It’s yet another example of how God can use unlikely circumstances and situations to grab our attention and remind us that He is in control. It’s then, that we realize, He can do anything to help us. We just have to be willing to listen to His voice and respond to His promptings in our lives.
In April 2006, I quit smoking. Unfortunately, when I quit smoking, I started drinking more. It’s definitely in my genes — my mother was an alcoholic as was her father (my grandfather). During my childhood, I remember doctors coming to our house and explaining to us that my mother was going to a nursing home to “dry out”. She was in and out many times. It was very sad.
Everyone used to tell me what a beautiful woman she was and how when she walked into a room, people would turn around and look at her. When you are going through something like that with someone, it’s hard to see beauty in it. She wasn’t beautiful when she was drinking. She died when I was 16 years old.
Because of my mother’s addiction, we didn’t have alcohol in our house growing up. We would have a drink when we went out with friends or if there was a party, but we didn’t drink at home. I really didn’t drink by myself at all until years later when I was alone.
After my first husband and I divorced, I moved into a quiet, beautiful condo. I remember coming home from work and making myself a drink, lighting a cigarette and turning on the news. I thought I had died and gone to heaven — that’s really the way it felt to me. The height of luxury.
My second husband and I would have a cocktail together and smoke every night. At the time, it seemed like fun. He passed away a few years later and that’s when I really started drinking heavily. It became a daily ritual that was a big part of my life. Then, out of the blue, something happened that changed everything.
In June 2010, I was over at the beach with my cousin, Jean, and her daughter, Kim. Jean’s mother, my aunt, was my mother’s sister and also an alcoholic.
I remember Kim mentioning that she was going to have a glass of wine and I went ahead and made myself a drink. I drank about half of it, but it didn’t even taste good to me. Later, we went out to eat and when I came home and got into bed that night, my legs hurt so badly. At the time, I was taking Xanax to sleep. When you mix that with alcohol, it’s like the atomic bomb. I would go to bed after having five or six drinks, take a Xanax, pass out and then wake up in three hours. When I woke up this time, I took a few Aleve tablets and finally went to sleep.
The next day, I didn’t go down to the beach at all. I took a shower and went to put makeup on, but my hand was shaking violently. I couldn’t even put my eyebrow pencil on. Eventually, it subsided.
At dinner that night, I had a glass of wine, but I knew something was wrong. I really didn’t feel well and I had an upset stomach. We came home and I got into bed. The room I was sleeping in had a high bed with it’s own bathroom and lanai. I went to sleep, but woke up because I had to go to the bathroom. When I got out of bed, it was pitch black. I couldn’t see anything and it was like I didn’t have any legs. I felt like I was having a seizure and was reaching for something, anything, to hang on to. I ended up finding the the curtain and grabbing a hold of it — that was the first thing I touched. Everything else was like air. As I grabbed a hold of it, I started to fall backwards and hit my head on the sliding glass door. When I fell, my back landed right on the corner of a marble ledge. I screamed, but no one could hear me. I just sat on the floor and tried to catch my breath. I had to go to the bathroom so badly when I first tried to get out of bed, but it was like I didn’t even have to go to the bathroom anymore. So, I grabbed a hold of the sheets and the mattress pad, and pulled myself up and back into bed. As I was laying there I said, “God —this has happened for a reason. Why?” He said, “I think you need to stop drinking.” And I said, “I know. Is that what you want me to do?” “Yes.” The closer I get to God, the more I hear him when he speaks to me. He’s repetitious. I don’t usually get it the first time, but this time, I did.
It’s been almost six years since I’ve had a taste of alcohol. Every once in a while, a glass of wine sounds tempting, but I would never, ever touch a drop of alcohol with the help of the Lord because addictions stay with you — they never leave. I learned that from smoking. I wouldn’t chance it with alcohol because I wouldn’t want to go through it again. I knew someone who was an alcoholic, but hadn’t had a drink in 12 years. She had a weak moment at one point and ended up turning into a raging alcoholic which ultimately killed her. It’s not worth it.
After I stopped drinking, my cousin, Dicky (who is also an alcoholic), suggested I go to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) with him. He said, “Cousin, you really should go to AA.” And I said, “Dicky, I could get up there one time and tell them my story — that God did it for me. I did nothing. He did it for me. It was His grace.” As far I’m concerned, that’s the only way anything gets done.