Hi! I am a recovered alcoholic, my name is Vickie W. My last drink was March 8, 2004! I pray that by sharing my experience, strength and hope with you, there will be some hope and strength for you to enter into this spiritual journey of recovery. I am 54 years old and still a baby in this program. I got sober on March 9, 2004, to everyone’s surprise. I did not find this program easy, but I kept it simple and I didn’t stop before the miracle happened!
From birth in 1960 until my 13th birthday, my father was an active alcoholic. By the grace of God and the blessings of the 12-steps, he sobered up in 1973. Because of my father’s alcoholism, my parents were divorced three times and married for the fourth and final time when he celebrated one year of sobriety. My father was my hero. I have two sisters, one older, one younger, but I was my daddy’s princess. I was very blessed to be from privilege. Unfortunately, because of what I would later come to know as jealousy on my mother’s part, she was extremely physically abusive towards me, but not my sisters. I would go to school with bruises, welts, and broken bones only to be called to the principal’s office to ask me what had happened. I was smart enough to know to lie, as I knew if I told the truth it would bring further harm to me.
I was sexually molested by my mother’s boyfriend, Larry, when I was nine. The night that it happened, I went to my mother crying to tell her what he had done. I remember all too vividly how she slapped me and called me a liar. She allowed this man to move into our home and even come into my room and close the door behind him. This sexual abuse took place for the next two years, my mother never believing me. She finally broke up with him, but we never spoke of the abuse again until I was 18. It turns out he was convicted of inappropriate behavior with a minor, sexual abuse, and pedophilia and shipped off to prison. She still didn’t believe it happened to me.
My parents remarried when I was 13 and that’s when it all came to light with my father. One day my mother raised her fist to me and my father walked in. I still remember his face. At that moment he saw every bruise, welt, broken bone I had ever suffered.
My father later learned of my sexual abuse because of my first attempt at suicide. I attempted suicide by slashing my wrists in my mother’s white bathroom. Once I was out of ICU and seeing the psychiatrist I held nothing back. I was diagnosed manic/depressive with suicidal thoughts. You think? Today I suffer bipolar disorder, the new manic/depression.
Through junior high and high school, things changed dramatically. I was very popular, involved in sports, band, cheerleading, all kinds of activities. I was homecoming queen and voted “most likely to succeed.” Well, I succeeded in becoming an alcoholic. My friends were all drinkers but I didn’t consume, I suppose because of my father. I was always the designated driver. We never got into trouble and I thought I was set for life.
I went to Pennsylvania State University with my boyfriend. School came easy for me. I attended on both athletic and academic scholarships. I fulfilled the athletic part by being a cheerleader. I just always wanted to fit in and, though popular, never felt I fit. I always felt fake and inside I knew I wasn’t the person I portrayed.
Upon graduation, I married and my husband took a position with a major university. I didn’t want to work for the state, so I opened my own temp service and for 18 years poured life into a very successful business.
I began drinking in my early 20’s, but never alcoholically. At 30 I found out I was pregnant. We were thrilled. Life was what I dreamed it could be.
And then it hit. My husband started out verbally abusive and soon after became physically abusive. I started drinking to numb the pain and fear. Because of pride and my position in the community as a business owner, I kept this fact from everyone. Everyone had their suspicions, but I just told them I was not very graceful.
In September of 1989 I found out I was pregnant. I thought this would save my marriage. Unfortunately, the violence got worse. My beautiful son was born on June 9, 1990. He was ten and a half pounds and 23 inches long. He was the sunshine of my heart. Unfortunately, when he was two he was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. I was devastated. They gave him a 1% chance of survival. He was treated at Duke University and we were there every single week for two years for his treatments. I can’t tell you how many times they told me I was going to lose him.
I could never sleep at the hospital, so my best friend suggested drinking a glass of wine once my son was asleep. I started taking on or two bottles of wine with me to the hospital. I drank them and bought more. I had crossed the line into alcoholism. On one occasion I drank so much and passed out in the hospital room. My son went into cardiac arrest and they had to bring me to. Though truly embarrassed, I continued to take wine to the hospital with me for “sleep.”
I would return home from the hospital and the drinking would continue. I, at this point, was a functioning alcoholic. I owned my business. I was there every day we weren’t at the hospital, saw clients, and managed my staff and business. I would go home at 5pm and take care of my family. Give my son his chemo meds, read to him, and wait for him to fall asleep. I would explain to my husband that because of spending so much time in the hospital I would have to return to work every night to catch up, but the real fact was that I went back to my office where I had a locked drawer filled with my favorite libations. I thought I was fooling everyone. I would drink on the way to see clients and then brush my teeth in the car. Insanity!
By May of 1995, I was out of control, missing work, making excuses, and drinking as much as possible. One day I fell and cut open my chin and my husband rushed me to the ER. He knew I was drunk. The doctor started to numb me and give me pain medication and my husband stopped him. He told him I was drunk and wanted to make sure I felt each stitch. The doctor tried to reason with my husband, however, to no avail. My husband even insisted that the doctor use bright blue stitches so that I would see them each day.
My husband and my father confronted me about my drinking problem and I went to a private spa. It was actually a private psychiatric hospital, but truly it was a spa. We went swimming, had art classes, and played games. There was nothing about recovery. However, I left there after ten days and did not have another drink for two and a half years.
During those years I was angry as hell that I couldn’t drink. My husband, ironically, still insisted that his bourbon and water with a lemon twist be ready as soon as he came home from work (he was a university professor). We entertained constantly, so I was forever pouring drinks for our guests and it bothered me like you can’t imagine.
I would leave three nights a week with my 12-step book and a novel, unbeknownst to my husband, and tell him I was going to a support meeting. Actually, I would go to the park and read my novel. But I had grown up in 12-step programs with my father, so when I returned home and my husband would ask about the meeting, I would have something so profound to tell him about alcoholism and how the program was working in my life! I never attended a 12-step meeting during the whole two and a half years.
I did, however, attend an aftercare program, which was good. There were about 28 in the class and I attended 3 nights a week. I knew I was an alcoholic, but my pride would not allow me to go to actual 12-step meetings. Because I was a business owner, board of director of the Chamber of Commerce, and board of director of the National Bank, I was afraid of running into someone I knew and they would be judgmental and ask me to resign my positions.
I still was alcohol free and in February, 1997, I had a stroke at the wheel of my car. I hit an old Chevy pickup truck. We were both making left hand turns and hit head on. I was turning into a gas station and my car stopped exactly two inches from the gas pumps. The front of my car was actually in the trunk. It took rescuers four hours and the jaws of life to get me out of my car. I had been crushed from the waist down. Thank God the driver of the pickup walked away unscathed.
They first told my husband I was probably not going to live, so much damage and I’d lost so much blood. The first thing he told the doctor was to test me for alcohol. Yea, he was a real charmer.
They did surgery on my left leg for 13 hours and then put me in a morphine-induced coma. They woke me at 7 am the next day and asked me to sign a waiver that they may have to amputate my left leg. I would not sign it. My husband jumped in and said he’d sign it. Fortunately, legally he could not. And I would not.
I ended up in a body cast and a fixator on my left ankle. I was immediately told that I would never walk again. I was then flown to a hospital that could better care for me. I spent three months and a lot of physical therapy, but I would not allow myself to believe that I’d never walk again.
I was transported home, the physical therapist came every day, and I returned to work immediately. A week after returning to work, I was served divorce papers at work, in front of my staff. When I went home, I asked my husband why he couldn’t have given me a heads up and why a divorce now? He said I was the most attractive, sexy woman he’d ever known and he couldn’t live the rest of his life watching me from a wheelchair.
And then things got worse. His physical abuse escalated and I had no way to protect myself. Because I was in the position I was in, I was vulnerable, felt alone, and depended on him. I prayed a lot and cried a lot.
Out of the blue I met a wonderful woman who was a physical therapist (the wife of a good client of mine). She began working with me every night and before I knew it I was taking two to three steps at a time using a walker. Next I was up to ten steps and then we were walking up and down the driveway.
I remember walking into the doctor’s office and there wasn’t a dry eye in the office. It was wonderful.
Unfortunately, I was now living in a new home without my husband and decided it would be a good time to drink. That’s when things got really bad. I’d just gotten divorced and my franchiser decided they were buying back all 83 franchises. They pushed me hard, but I was one of the last five to sell out.
I had no place to go anymore so I drank all day. My son was in remission so the hospital trips had stopped. My husband found out about my drinking and took me to court for joint custody. My son would get off the bus at my house and my husband would pick him up at 8 pm every night and then I would have him every other weekend.
This infuriated me. Stephen was the love of my life, but he’d leave at 8pm and I would drink until I passed out. I lost my house and went to stay with a friend until she couldn’t put up with the drinking anymore. She had called my sister in Kansas City and they made arrangements for me to fly home.
My father took me to a women’s recovery house for an interview. It was very intensive and I didn’t even know if I wanted to quit drinking. We got back home and there was already a message to pack my bags and be back at the recovery house by 5 pm.
I actually found myself excited to move in. Of course, there were all kinds of rules (which I hate authority) but soon found that, because of who my father was and the fact that I was going to work at the other residents, I did make two good friends.
I was there for five months and believed I did want to be sober. Then the day came that my husband called. I don’t even remember what it was about, but we had an argument. I remember going to my room and getting my big black bag and walking straight to the liquor store. I came home, got a glass of ice and went to my room and started drinking. I had an excuse not to go to work and this lasted two weeks before they caught me. Well, the one rule I did have to follow was if you drink, you leave. So the girl I was drinking with (she didn’t get caught) was elected to take me home. My father was furious.
However, we talked the next day and I resolved not to drink and I would go to meetings with him. I got a new job through a friend of his as an insurance broker. It wasn’t two weeks before we found out that my father had stomach and kidney cancer. I was heartbroken. They took out all but an eighth of his stomach and right kidney and said the surgery was very successful. I’ve never prayed so hard in my life. I continued to drink, thinking nobody knew it.
Two weeks after his surgery he developed a kink in his large intestine. They took him back into surgery and stapled down the intestine. He never came out of it. He lived another week and we were asked to make the decision to take him off life support. I lost my father on June 7, 2000, at 2:34am. I was beyond devastated. I got through the funeral and then couldn’t stop drinking for the life of me.
I had my own apartment next door to my father’s best friend. We had a strange relationship. I’d known him since I was 15, but now I was a woman and there was a sexual chemistry between us. I would never let anything happen. One afternoon I had been drinking and he used his key and came in. He came on to me and I rejected his advances. Before I knew it he was on me, and I was being raped by my father’s best friend. He left and I called my boyfriend. He immediately took me to the hospital and they did the rape kit test and I had to talk to the police. I wouldn’t press charges because I had been drinking and he’d been sober 20 years and was the director of my father’s recovery house.
I immediately moved out of the apartment and I went to stay with a friend. I met her ex-husband, who was also an alcoholic and we hooked up. We went on a six-month hotel run, staying at different hotels for a week or two a time. Then he got hooked on crack. I tried it, but preferred my drink. We finally went to stay with his sister and her family for about a month and got our own place.
He spent days at a time in the bedroom smoking crack while I drank. One day he got very violent and broke my nose. I called the police and had him arrested. When they were checking his pockets they found the crack pipe and there were more charges.
I, of course, bonded him out the next day and returned to the same routine. We finally couldn’t pay our rent, no one would let us stay with them, and we were homeless. We went to a homeless shelter and you could stay from 6pm to 6am and then we just drank and walked the streets.
One day there were a bunch of us on a corner and the police walked up and asked everyone for their IDs. My boyfriend had a warrant and was immediately arrested. I was homeless and alone. I was scared to death. This time I couldn’t get him out.
About a week later I was walking near a parking garage and four men walked up to me and asked if I needed anything. I kept my head down and said no and tried to keep walking. They grabbed me and drug me into the parking garage and repeatedly raped me. I was torn up, bleeding with black eyes, and they ran. I saw their faces and two of them had tattoos. I crawled out of the parking lot screaming for help. Someone called 911 and the police showed up and called an ambulance. I was taken to the hospital and spent two weeks. This time I did file a police report and within a week they had found them and they were arrested. They were found guilty and sentenced to seven years each.
I’d had it with this life. I knew I no longer wanted to drink. I had nowhere to go when I was released from the hospital. I went back downtown and walked into a drug store and bought straight-edged razor blades. I decided that was the only thing to do. I went to the town square and started slashing my wrists. People kept walking by staring but just kept walking. A security guard came out and asked me how he could help me. He had already called an ambulance. He rode with me in the ambulance and we talked. I told him of my drinking and I didn’t know how to stop. He gave me the name of a treatment center. The ER stitched me up and let me go.
I got on a bus and went straight to the treatment center. They told me they had no beds. I actually slept on the front porch for six nights. One morning the intake coordinator came out and asked me to come in and talk with her. She commended my tenacity and told me they still had no beds. I begged her and told her what I’d recently been through. She took pity on me and said they had an old cot and if I could sleep on that, they would let me in.
It was the lumpiest old cot I’d ever seen, but to me I was in heaven. Even when a bed became available, I chose the cot. I went through the 30-day program with a new zest for life. I knew that I wanted sobriety more than anything. I had lost everything. I wanted a relationship with my son, with my sisters. I never missed a class and went to meetings every night. The closer the end of my stay came, the more nervous I got. I didn’t know where I was going to go.
That’s when I knew that God had my back. I was contacted by a faith-based women’s recovery house. Without an interview or anything I was offered a place in their home. I moved in on my 30th day of treatment. It was such a blessing.
She told me she never sponsored women in the house but she was going to be my sponsor. I felt honored. Little did I know she had her own agenda. Within three months of living there she asked me to be on the board of directors as Secretary/Treasurer. I was honored and thrilled. She also asked me to be the Events Planner and Director of Development. She knew that I owned my own business and thought we could expound on my talents.
I dove in head first. I wrote a business plan to present to the VP of the bank. We needed operating funds for repairs, events, transportation and future expansion and within half an hour we had our line of credit. I was proud and grateful. When we left the meeting, I thought she’d be thrilled but instead she was upset with me because I had dominated the meeting. Maybe I am making an excuse for myself, but I had owned my own business for 18 years and had been in that seat before. I had a connection with the VP and we were on the same page. When she would speak, he would answer to me.
I wanted to do my very best and show her just how valuable I could be. I planned an open house and invited over 300 potential donors. We spent three days fixing up the house, cooking all of the food and making everything perfect. She had asked me if I would share my story at the open house. We had 112 people show and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house after I shared. We raised $4,143. I couldn’t believe it.
I got very involved in service work with my home group. I attended at least two meetings a day and chaired two meetings a week. I was called the Princess of the house and group. Once again I felt very popular but for the right reasons.
Six months after we moved in we had an opportunity to buy the house next door. It was perfect for a recovery house. My father had passed and left me quite a sum of money, which the owner knew. She approached me and asked for the money. I prayed about it and knew I wanted to do it. I contacted my lawyer to draw up the papers (against his will), and we purchased the house.
Then problems started. She and I started to disagree on decisions about the new house and our relationship began to falter. She told me she had spoken and heard from God that I was never to leave the house and never to be with another man. At the time I was dating a man that she had her eyes on.
At one year sober, I decided it was time to move out and see that I could live on my own sober. So I found a beautiful house in the area and moved. She was furious and demanded my resignation from my positions at the house. I did as asked. I demanded the money back from the house, and of course, she didn’t have it.
Soon after moving into my four-bedroom house people began contacting me to see if they could rent a room. It turned into a small recovery house with the rule that if you use or drink, you must leave. And that happened on a few occasions.
I had to have another surgery on my left leg in March, 2011. When they removed the cast there was a 4 inch line of infection. I talked with my surgeon about it and his advice was to not sleep on that side. I told him I wasn’t a doctor, but that I knew I needed an antibiotic. After much reluctance, he gave me a week’s supply of amoxicillin. The infection persisted and he would do nothing about it. I was in and out of emergency rooms trying to get help. Finally in August, 2011, I went to an ER and they did an ultrasound on my leg. I had two blood clots, a perforated vein, and the infection had spread. The doctor came into my exam room, sat on the table next to me, put his arm around me and told me they were going to have to cut my leg off. I laughed and didn’t take him seriously. He told me he was serious and on September 16, 2011, they amputated below the knee. My life had changed. But instead of being bitter, I embraced my new challenge. It was two months before I got my first prosthetic leg. I was so happy, I cried.
Unfortunately for the original doctor, I sued due to negligence. What a nightmare! I was in and out of court, listening to him lie and not take responsibility. However, his colleague and my primary care doctor testified on my behalf and I won the lawsuit for $3.4 million. Guess he’ll think twice next time he deals with infection.
Today, there is nothing I cannot do. I embrace every challenge and nothing stops me. I see it as a positive in my life and not because of the settlement.
God provided another miracle. After being told for years that I’d never walk, He provided me with a new leg and I continue to walk and I’m very active. I continued with my service work, meetings, and chairing meetings and loving sobriety. I got a new sponsor that was awesome. We started with step one and within two months had thoroughly worked the 12-steps!
Today I am a little over ten years sober. I never knew what love was or how to love. 12-steps taught me first to love myself and the rest would come. They were right. I currently sponsor three women and they keep me sober as well.
The promises came true. God has not only blessed me with my needs, but He is giving me some of my wants. It is amazing; since I have been sober I haven’t been raped, homeless, or empty.
I have a full life and do lots of volunteer work. I teach classes on “The Cycle of Domestic Violence” at two of the domestic violence shelters, I speak once a week at the treatment center that I went to. On Fridays, I grab someone I sponsor and we pack 75 non-perishable lunches, get donated clothes from the recovery house my father founded, and go out and feed and clothe the homeless. You see, I know that in order to keep it I must give it away.
I embrace sobriety. I’ve had so many miracles. Each day He wakes me up is a miracle, and even a bigger miracle: I don’t want to drink. He allows me the freedom that I never had in active addiction. My son is another miracle. Having been given a 1% chance to live I am proud to say that he is 23 years old, a head chef/kitchen manager at the nicest restaurant in Blacksburg, VA. The miracle is we have a very unique relationship. I am first his mother, but secondly he says I am his best friend. My journey isn’t over, but I know that I look forward to every minute yet to come.